Singer/Songwriter MatthewK is set to release his new self titled CD on May 5th. The 12 song collection has a mixture of pop and rock and even an international feel. Matthew worked closely with his producer James Dilella at Rough and Tumble Studios, and the final product has a nice flowing mixture of songs that showcases his talented singing and songwriting. There are also two songs in a foreign language. One in Spanish and one in Italian. Matthew started singing at a very young age and you can "feel" his experience in the music. I caught up with Matthew prior to the release.
R.V.B. - Hello Matthew
M.K. - Hey, how are you.
R.V.B. - Not too bad, how are you today?
M.K. - Good
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new collection of songs coming out. I gave it a listen and I was very, very impressed. How long of a process was that for you to complete.
M.K. - From the beginning concept of it... probably about seven years, when Jimmy (the producer) and I started thinking of working on a record together.
R.V.B. - Did you come up with the majority of the lyrics?
M.K. - Well Jimmy Dilella and I have had a long relationship musically, so anything that we've worked on together have been born out of both of us. Songs like "I love these days" and "Story of love". We come up with melodies and lyrics as we go. I've always done it that way. You try to find your soul mate in songwriting... which is very rare and when you find one, it just clicks.
R.V.B. - You come up with an idea and work it out on a piano or a guitar?
M.K. - Yes, the piano or the guitar. We had the luxury to be able to go into the studio and take our time. It's really a rare thing.
M.K. - Yeah, it is a luxury. Jimmy started this production company around eight years ago. We did this all at Rough and Tumble, which is a boutique studio. Jimmy has always had studios and has grown. Now he has a production company in Philadelphia. So it is a luxury to work things out with an engineer, studio musicians and so forth.
R.V.B. - Now you had attempted a few different genres a few times. How did you decide to go with the pop route? I understand that you tried your hand at rock bands and garage bands.
M.K. - I started singing when I was eight, and I had intense classical for about five years where I did a lot of touring. At the end of that journey, at a very young tender age of fourteen. I was still a singer at a young age but not a songwriter yet. I learned like any other musician... baby bands as a teenager, but I studied music in college. I started doing studio work in New York and New Jersey for studio time. I grew from there as a songwriter. I was always around guys that were about ten years older than I. Guys who worked in Celestial in New York, back in the heyday... session players. I wanted to be a rock guy and pop guy back then, but I always had these classical chops because I studied pretty intensely for a long time. The idea of this record was more of a ballad record with a little bit of pop classical style mixed in... like a Michael Buble and Josh Groban. With Jimmy and I being songwriters, that also became a part of it. This record morphed from a pop classical record to a little bit more of a singer/songwriter record.. Once we started putting slide guitars or mandolins on certain songs like "I Love These Days", it took on a world music kind of sound. So we tried to stay true to that and just be as honest as possible.
R.V.B. - I heard that touch of world music in there. One particular song that caught my ear was the song "Half Life."
M.K. - That song is a Duncan Sheik song. We did a few covers on this record because we really wanted to get it right. We really wanted to communicate me as a singer, because that's how this whole thing started. It was really about my voice.
R.V.B. - That was a powerful delivery on that song.
M.K. - Sometimes you just connect with certain material. That one definitely resonated with me, to the point where a lot of people who know me, wanted to know what that song was about after I recorded it. It really resonated with them because they knew me. They thought it was very personal to me, and it was. The song related to things I had experienced in my life up until that point.
R.V.B. - Another one that I marked was I felt was very radio worthy was "Where Does Our Love Go." That has a lot of appeal to it. Is there any story behind that one?
M.K. - That one was written by a producer named John Elefonte... again that was another example of trying to showcase my vocal range. We connected to the lyrics of the producer. I knew the producers from another band. It was actually a Christian contemporary band called "The Brave". I really felt it was a great record. This was a while ago when I was a little bit younger, when I was a session vocalist. At that point we were just looking for material that was going to communicate who I was as a singer.
R.V.B. - They were nicely placed in the order of the album.They made it flow very nicely. You finished it up with some alternate language songs and I might add, I liked your version of "Ave Maria." Was that intended to bring on a wider audience?
M.K. - Definitely, "The Story of Love" was born out of Jimmy and I. We had an idea to do that song in Spanish as well. We went looking for someone who could help us translate it correctly from what we had written. We did the same thing with "I Love These Days" and it just didn't translate as well. That Spanish vocal is very natural to me because as a kid I sang in a lot of different languages pretty fluently. That is an international type of pop song... our hit if you will. My ability to emote in Spanish is pretty easy and in Italian as well. It lends itself to the natural parts of my voice that I was trained to be able to control. Those vowels are very natural for me to sing and to emote within those languages. Those are pure languages for singing. Those songs really lend itself to how I was trained and the sound that I developed.
R.V.B. - I see that in your growing career that you have played in some very, very exclusive halls such as: Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. First of all that had to be a great experience in itself. Where do you intend on showcasing the new album?
M.K. - Right now we've been doing residencies in Philadelphia. We had a residency at Chaplin's in Spring City, which was an old Vaudeville venue where Charlie Chaplin would have his actor before he was a silent screen actor. So we had carte blanche. We were able to work out our whole set there, whenever we wanted. We were doing a five piece band on a monthly basis. I've been opening up for nationals at the Tin Angle, which is probably the best sound room in Philadelphia for adult contemporary music. I just opened up for Sophie B. Hawkins. As you know she was a Grammy nominated artist from the last twenty years. Were gonna be at a real nice venue in Philadelphia that's associated with a radio station. We're working on a residency there with them today.
M.K. - Yeah, we're working on that now. I would like to see that coincide with the residency with the venue that we're hoping to secure in Philadelphia. If we can't work it out we'll do it at the Tin Angle. Every national adult contemporary act that comes through Philadelphia go through that venue. Dunkan Sheik has played there... Jeffrey Gaines. A lot of artists have got their start at the Tin Angel as well.
R.V.B. - Well congratulations on the album... as I said it's a nice collection of songs. Is your cd going to be distributed world wide?
M.K. - The goal is going to be international. Over the course of this process, we've worked with some promoters over in Europe that have handled some of their better known European artists. Nena over in Germany is still a well known artist. She's well known for 99 Luftballoons. She became an adult contemporary and even a children's music artist after that, for the last twenty five years. Those promoters still handle a lot of US artists like Michael Buble and Josh Groban. We've been in contact with them over the last couple of year as the record was in process of getting ready for release. We definitely have interest in that kind of distribution. We work with Serling, Rooks, Ferrara, McKoy and Worob and they represent me in New York and their pretty much one of the prominent law firms in the music business. They handle Lady Gaga and John Meyer. They're an important piece to this whole process in the distribution. We're trying to build the right kind of traction right now with getting the word out about the record. Everyone has responded really well from internet radio, to other producers who we've worked with or been in contact with. We've had others who almost took us under their wings and have really championed this record. One of those people was Chris Potter, who actually did a number of songs on this record... some production for us. He did it because he liked my voice. He really dug what we were doing. Chris is over in England and he has worked with everyone from U2 to The Rolling Stones. He broke the Verve and Richard Ashcroft and the Bittersweet Symphony... so it's been really exciting. At every turn we've had people who really care about this record and I've been real appreciative of it. Even the studio musicians who have worked on this record, from our session guitar player to the guys writing the arrangements. Everybody is taking really great care. It's a nice thing to experience as an artist.
M.K. - (Hahaha) I've got some friends in LA and we've talked about that. We have some friends in LA and we've made all our plans. (Hahaha) All the pipe dreams and reaching for the golden carrot and all the conversation.
R.V.B. - (Hahaha)
M.K. - Yeah, well see how many I need.
R.V.B. - Congratulations and good luck to you.
M.K. - Thank you so much
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz 4/17/15
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For more information on MatthewK visit his website http://matthewk.co/
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