Thursday, November 30

Center Stage - Matt Epp

Meet Matt Epp - A talented singer-songwriter and Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 International Songwriting Competition for his song "The Sound". 
Award-winning songwriter Matt Epp is the quintessential troubadour. Born in the Canadian Prairies, he has won the admiration and hearts of an audience that spans the globe. He sings with a tenderness that belies an honesty seldom seen, and a weighty pitch that travels right to the core. He is a rare performer with the ability to take you into his world and make you feel like, in an instant, a true friend. His knack for transforming theaters into living rooms is almost unparalleled and has turned him into one of the country’s best live acts and most valuable artistic exports.
With his upcoming record, Epp drives forward and headlong into a raw and dynamic Americana sound, exploring themes of reconciliation... of the heart and mind; of actions and beliefs; of a marriage on the rocks; of the relationships between human beings and the Earth, and between settlers and Indigenous people in Canada. Expect a deeply resonating and dynamic work of art that will hold everyone who needs be accountable—including Epp himself.
Get to know the newest Radio Airplay in our latest Center Stage feature! 

What was the inspiration behind writing and recording your song "The Sound"?
I was in Germany on tour, and away from my 6 month old daughter for the first long period since she was born. Each day we would video chat while she was sitting at the breakfast table; I would ask her "What sound does a cow make?" and then she'd get excited for my "Mooooo" answer. We would cycle through all the animals I could think of. Then one night my wife sent an email on little Luma's behalf that said, "Daddy, what sound does a longing heart make? I miss you." Immediately the chorus for the song came, with the tears. A few months later I met a young artist with a great voice, and we worked the song into the duet you hear now.

Is the song part of an upcoming release?
Yes, this is the first single for an upcoming album that I've been working at for a while. I've always loved collaboration and stripped-down songs, so this was a good way to lead into the next album.

Describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence
My music was described by Jesse DeNatale in an early album's liner notes this way; "See where Frank Sinatra meets Ryan Adams and walks with Sam Cooke to Woody Guthrie's house."

What's your earliest music-related memory growing up?
I remember being around the Grade 6 mark and listening to the local "Oldies" station. My brother and I would listen to my AM radio under the covers at night, because we weren't allowed to listen to 'secular' music. That's where got the taste for music - early Dylan, Beatles, Everly Brothers... - that's where music started to connect with me.

If you were to cover another band/artist's album, which would you pick and why?
'Oh Mercy', Bob Dylan's 1989 album, would easily be the record I would cover if I had to pick one. It's my favourite album. The production is definitely part of it, but they all feel like songs I could deliver with conviction. In fact, I have recorded a cover of "Ring Them Bells" that has yet to be released.

Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process
The majority of my songwriting has been experienced a few ways; I feel a tingle and know to sit down at the typewriter or pad, this way it comes out as stream of consciousness. Or a line comes paired with a melody, leaving me to be a song archeologist, uncovering a song that feels like it's always been there. It also happens when I sit down with someone else and volley ideas back and forth between us until a finished work is born and refined. It's always inspiration followed by the hard work of Craft. 

What has been the highlight for you in 2017? Either personally or for your music career?
Career-wise, 'The Sound' going to #1 in Canada was a highlight for sure, and the ISC grand prize win.

What have you been working on recently? Can you give us a hint for whats to come in your music career? 
I've been trying to sort out what it is that is the purest distillation of what Matt Epp does. I still don't know, and this will be my 10th album coming up. I'm going to start touring the U.S. with this album when it's out. I've always avoided that before, so I guess that's new.

What do you like more: Performing live or recording in the studio?
Performing live. And close second to that is recording live-off-the-floor in the studio. 

Any embarrassing on stage moments you'd like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy.

I tripped on my guitar cable once as I exited the stage. It was still attached to my Gibson acoustic in the guitar stand, and the guitar came flying out of the stand and skidded across the concrete festival stage I was performing on. I felt sick, for the guitar, but it was definitely embarrassing.

What's one thing people should know about you?
I don't feel anyone has any obligation to know about me. I would hope that people can see that I have a lot of Love in my heart, because motivators tell you everything you need to know about a person. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of music? Does your hobby rejuvenate your creativity?
I love fishing, motorcycles, reading, charcoal sketching, and used to skateboard and snowboard a lot more than I have recently. These things all rejuvenate my creativity and overall mental health. They're all introvert activities. Recharge in solo time, or small numbers of friends. 

What do you like the most about Radio Airplay?

I have had my songs on Radio Airplay for years, and I have always loved how there's a running list of the recent listeners on the artist's dashboard. So I can see a real person's profile and where they are, what playlist my song was in. It makes it more personal to me.