Introducing Matt Steady

I’d like to introduce you all to a musician who goes by the name Matt Steady. I have known this musician for a while now (via Twitter) but his music has only officially become part of my collection recently. Hailing from Leicester, England, Matt brings his own unique musical style which I find difficult to put into genre specific boxes. If I had to try and describe his sound I’d say it has a folk heart which has hints of blues, jazz, rock and a little Celtic influence too.

I want to talk about Matt’s musical beginnings and more, but I thought it would be better to let the man himself share his musical world with you all. I always love chatting with Matt about his music as you can tell how much joy he gets from not just his own music, but the music of others too. I decided to ask him some questions about his world of music and about his debut album ‘Blood is thicker than Gold’, this is what he had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which musicians have influenced your sound?

I am so lucky to have very supportive parents who “encouraged” me to take up violin and piano when I was young, along with the necessary theory. I played classical music both solo and in orchestras and choirs right up till when I went to university. In fact I solely listened to classical music until I was twelve or so, when one day I heard the Beatles and everything changed… wow! This led to a long infatuation with Dire Straits, who I still love. And then one day I heard BB King on the radio (the first time I’d heard the blues) and everything changed again! A long love of the blues began from that chance radio encounter, with Clapton becoming the next Big Thing that I listened to. At this point I managed to save up for a second-hand electric guitar and I spent a good deal of my spare time trying to copy their licks, with mixed success! Other big influences on my guitar playing were Pink Floyd and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Being brought up in church was a massive boon from a musical point of view. Apart from getting me to sing every week, I also started playing in church bands when I only had very rudimentary skills. Quite how they put up with me I have no idea, but I’m thankful! There’s nothing quite like playing live, with songs you only vaguely know, often with missing music, or keys changing at the drop of a hat. This sink or swim approach built up my improvisation skills extremely quickly.

In terms of folk/acoustic/singer-songwriter music, which is a large part of my music now, the main influences were Martyn Joseph and later Damien Rice – both amazing song-writers and performers. These guys were the inspiration for me to start singing and playing in front of other people – which is a big scary step to take. But in terms of writing my own music, this came almost entirely from listening to Jeff Black. I tried writing songs on and off for years, but it took till I was 39 till it clicked and I finally wrote one that didn’t deserve to go straight in the bin!

Other notables that have influenced my sound would be Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, the Black Crowes, Chris Rea. The Celtic sounds you hear are down to Iona – don’t ask how many of their gigs I’ve been to! Too many amazing musicians to even mention, but I’ve already rambled on far too long!

You have a great song writing talent, do you have a set process when writing songs?

I have two main approaches. Often it is music first – perhaps just noodling about with a guitar, finding a cool chord sequence or riff and then thinking about what emotions or thoughts it evokes and trying to write a song that fits and evolves with it. Or perhaps I trawl through drum libraries, different instruments and tempos, messing about creating sounds – putting things together till something clicks, again the sounds and music inspiring the song.

The second approach is where I have something I want to get off my chest, or I’ve read a news article that blows me away – in which case I’ll start writing down anything to do with the facts and the emotions, collecting phrases as I go along. At some point I’ll then pick up my acoustic and see what fits the lyrics – so the content drives the style of the music this time.

Talking about writing songs, which is your favourite from your album and why?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say Funny Old World. When I wrote that song I was really pleased with it, and plucked up the courage to play it to a friend at work (Morocco Dave – writes very good electronic music). As I watched him listen to it, it suddenly occurred to me that not only was recording stuff a great deal of fun, but perhaps other people might like to listen to it! At that point I decided I’d make an album and see what happened. The other thing I love about FOW is that I can’t even work out what genre it is! I haven’t heard much like it – in anyone can enlighten me that would be great!

If the world was going to end and you had enough time to listen to one album, which would it be and why?

I’m sure I’d change the answer to this every once in a while – but this year it would have to be “Blackbirds” by Gretchen Peters. It contains such wonderful song-writing and beautiful musicianship. Our family had a really tough time last year losing someone very special to us. I played this album over and over and it helped a great deal. It talks a lot about loss and healing, death and life. The words and melodies seeped in and I’ll never forget them. It may be melancholic in places, but inspirational and up-lifting at the same time. “The cure for the pain, is the pain”.

What are you future plans and goals for your music?

If only I knew! At the moment I’m loving writing songs and recording them, and I’m about half-way writing material for a new album. I play a few acoustic gigs and house concerts every now and again, and I’d like to increase the frequency of them this year. I’m sometimes joined by my daughter Indigo, whose vocals really add something to the experience. At some point I would love to be able to put together a band to actually play the full material that I’ve written, but at the moment with work commitments, family and training, I just haven’t got the amount of time available that I’d want to pour into this for it to be as good as it should be.

At the end of the day I have the luxury of being able to enjoy my music and do what I want with it without worrying about having to put food on the table with it. I think the best music comes not from trying to please someone else or to satisfy a commercial need, but when it comes from enjoyment and inspiration. I’m lucky enough to have a good full-time job so I can do whatever I want to do with my music without worrying about it paying the bills. The down side to that of course is that I don’t have as much time to do it in! So I have to work smart as well as hard – I’m hoping to become much more efficient with my writing, recording and production without compromising on the quality. And I’ve got so much to learn in all those areas – that’s half the fun!

‘Blood is thicker is Gold’ is a musical gem which I didn’t appreciate until I really listened to it. I have listened to this album many times but it’s always been in the background while doing other things. When I actually sat down and listened to the album without any distractions I noticed that this album has so much to offer. In a world of music which is created to fit genre boxes or trends, here is an album that does neither as it goes against the flow to do it’s own thing. Matt creation is a result of his passion for music which is moulded in the way he wants and this is why I love independent music.

‘Blood is Thicker than Gold’ is 11 tracks which will take you on a journey thanks to the way he has arranged his music. Matt Steady definitely has a gift in the way he uses various instruments within his music that includes electric/acoustic guitars as well as piano, fiddle, banjo, flugelhorn and drunken trumpets. These are used to deliver various tones to each song that will take you an a different journey to the previous song. For example the instrumental track ‘Romulus and Remus’ will take you across the Celtic plains and then you have the song ‘The Roamer’ which has you hitting route 66 with it’s Americana vibe. He throws so many different sounds to you that on your first listen of the album you are excited as you don’t know what he will deliver next. The only problem with how good his music is that sometimes it distracts me away from the lyrical content. Maybe this is just me. Taking about the lyrics, it took me a few listens to appreciate that Matt has a great way with words to tell some great stories. The raspy vocals give the lyrics a warm charm that when it is wrapped up in the music gives you a captivating song.

With so many great songs on offer choosing my highlights was difficult but I would say one of them has to be ‘Passions for Pinecones’. This song features the vocal talents from Matt’s daughter Indigo who has a great control and range to her vocal tone. Matt is in support on guitar which has a gentle sound to let his daughter steal the show. As for my favourite, I think I’m going to go with the song ‘Funny Old World’. This is a mostly instrumental track that has the guitar and piano dancing together to deliver a wonderful sound. When Matt does sing it has a genuine emotional jazz tone to it and I like it. A song which is a little different to my usual sounds but this is a credit to Matt’s songwriting ability.

Overall, this is a wonderful album that is a hidden gem from Matt Steady. The diversity and depth that this album has to offer is impressive and anyone who is a genuine fan of music will have a lot of love for it. I recommend that you head over to his Bandcamp page (click HERE) and give his album a listen. If you are impressed with what you hear then you can either download or purchase the album on CD while you are there. Go on, open your ears to something new and give ‘Blood is Thicker than Gold’ a listen today.

I know from speaking to Matt Steady that he is currently in the process of working on a new album, and personally I am intrigued to hear what he has created and because he goes where the music takes him I can not predict how it will sound, but the makes me more excited for this release. To find out when this will happen or future gigs from Matt then head over to his website at MattSteady.com. You can also find him on his social media sites at Facebook and Twitter which he is very sociable, so go and say hello.

As always I want to end my review with a reminder to support independent and unsigned music as it needs our help. The guys and girls love creating music but to help it grow they need us to help purchase their music and spread the word though social media. So, if this now includes the music by Matt Steady then go and tell the world all about his music today!