Interview: Matt Andersen

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Canadian singer-songwriter Matt Andersen has swapped the frozen north for the humid south this summer, and recently I asked him a via questions via email ahead of his Australian tour – dates are at the bottom of the interview. And you can read my review of his album Weightless here.

If you were to name one artist as your most influential musical ancestor, who would it be?
John Fogerty is at the top for me.  I love his writing, playing and singing.  He’s one of the best combinations of artist and performer.

You sing songs about community, and stories which come from your community – so who was your most influential non-musical ancestor?
My grandfather had a big influence on me.  He was a musician but never took a dime for playing.  He always said, “as long as there is somebody wanting to listen there should be someone playing”.  He was always the last one to stop playing when the family and friends got together.  Aside from that, just how he put his family first was a lesson for me.  He always worked hard to take care of his family.  Working at whatever he had to so he could provide. He always had time for his family.  Us grandkids could do no wrong with him.

Your voice is a really mature instrument – and you sing in such a way that it sounds like you’re giving everything you have. Yet you play guitar at the same time – does that ever get tricky? Does your voice ever demand complete attention? 
I rarely get to just sing.  I’m usually performing solo and have to hold down the guitar and vocals.  I wouldn’t say that it gets tricky but it is nice to be able to just let go of the guitar at times and focus on my voice.  If I’m playing as well it just means I need to focus a little harder.

How old were you when that voice emerged, and was it a surprise? 
I always sang as a kid.  I can’t really say when my voice came out.  It wasn’t something I was even aware of, it was just something I always did.

At what age did you start performing, and was it solo or in a band? 
I would sing with the family as a child, at church and home.  I was also in school bands, starting in grade 5 and going all the way to the end of high school. I started playing in public when I was 20.  Playing in an acoustic duo at the local pubs.

Are you coming to Australia with a band? 
I’ll be solo on this run.  I would say I perform 95% of my shows solo.  I’ve started taking the band out every once in a while, but still quite rare that I do.

You’re heading to Australia during our summertime, leaving the cold Maritimes behind – was this a conscious decision to escape winter? 
Nope, just a beneficial coincidence.   Wintertime is a slow time for outdoor events for obvious reasons.  It’s great to be able to travel to where there is lots of opportunity to play to some larger crowds this time of year.  The warm weather is just a bonus.

Matt Andersen is touring Australia:

Jan 04 – Brisbane, Australia – The Milk Factory

Jan 08 – Newtown, Australia – Vanguard
Jan 09 – Cronulla, Australia – Brass Monkey
Jan 10 – Melbourne, Australia – Flying Saucer Club
Jan 11 – Thornbury, Australia – Thornbury Theatre
Jan 18 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise
All tickets and information available at: http://stubbyfingers.ca/tour

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