"Matthew Genovese is an artist worthy of attention, spotlight & praise"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Not much can stop 21-year-old
Matthew Genovese. He’s been focused and goal-oriented since he made
his first album at age 15. The Toronto singer/songwriter guitarist
has moved on from Boston’s world renowned Berklee College of Music
to pursue a full-time music career. In 2009 he released his EP
‘Change’ , which was produced in LA by Justin Gray (Joss Stone,
Alex Parks, ADELE, Emma Bunton). Songs like “Tonight”, “Key to My
Kingdom”, “The Girl I Knew Before”, and “Don’t Change Yourself for
Me” show a young man who knows how to work within a pop framework
without sounding trite. Matthew is back in the studio completing his
new album, ‘East to West’ which is due for release in early 2011.
As a well-respected singer/songwriter of only 21, you have already
made your mark in the music industry. How long have you been
involved in professional music and how did you get started?
IMD You were selected as a finalist for your performance in the 2009/2010 Toronto Independent Music Awards in the Best Live Category. Have you received any international awards for your songwriting?
MGI’ve been recognized in a number of songwriting competitions such as the Song of the Year Contest, the International Songwriting Competition, The Independent Singer Songwriter Awards, and the Songwars Songwriting Competition.
IMD You have recently joined ranks with fellow Berklee College of Music alum such as John Mayer, Steve Vai, Quincy Jones, John Schofield, Bruce Cockburn, and Diana Krall. How did Berklee influence you and the direction
of your music?
MG Learning music theory and formal songwriting techniques was like learning a whole new language that allowed me to express my creative ideas in new ways. The Berklee faculty is incredible but I was probably most influenced by one professor in particular - Pat Pattison - who taught me a great deal about lyric writing. It was also very inspiring to be in an environment where your artistic expression was constantly nurtured and to be surrounded by such a talented group of peers.
IMD Do you continue to network with fellow Berklee alum?MG All the time. It’s amazing what a tight network the Berklee community is. We are always out there supporting each other, which is easy to do because Berklee alum have a proven track record for talent. Vinnie Colaiuta is playing drums on my new album. Since his early days at Berklee, Vinnie has worked and toured with Sting, Gino Vanelli, Joni Mitchell, Barbra Streisand, The Beach Boys, Leonard Cohen and Jeff Beck. He’s also worked with jazz greats like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.
IMD You mentioned that you are working on a new album. So this will be your 3rd studio album to date. Tell me about this new project.
MGI'm really excited about my new album, East To West. I’ve spent a lot of time working on these new songs and I’m really happy with the way that they turned out. I don’t think I could name a favorite song on the album because they all mean so much to me. Justin Gray is producing the album. We’ve worked together for a couple of years now and have developed an amazingly creative and collaborative relationship in terms of writing and arranging. Most of the writing and recording was done in his studio in LA but some of the tracks were recorded at the Nightbird Recording Studios at the Sunset Marquis Hotel where over the past 20 years a lot of the music greats have recorded - Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, Joe Cocker, Justin Timberlake, Phil Collins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Roger Waters to name a few.
IMD Your lyrics have been said to reflect maturity 'well beyond your years'. Are your songs based on personal experience?
MG Not everything I write is true, but it is all based on personal experience. Lyric writing has to be believable, and in order for it to be believable, it has to come from somewhere real. The catch is that it also has to be universal, and specific events that happen to me may not be very universal. So as the writer it is my job to make the lyrics as universally accessible to the listener as possible, which in the end can alter the truth a little. That being said, some lyrics are fictional, and when they are, I use personal experience to color the story and make it believable.
IMD Do you think that your gift for songwriting is innate or is it based on your training and your experience working with other great writers?
MG Part of this ability is innate – I was born with a certain level of ability, perfect pitch for example. But also a lot of my success has been based on training, hard work, dedication, analyzing songs written by great songwriters from Sting to Cole Porter, working with experienced musicians and songwriters over the years. I am always working. I spend hours practicing guitar and writing every day.
IMD You are not only a singer/songwriter, but have been described as a young 'Eric Clapton' on guitar. How has your guitar playing influenced your songwriting?MG When I first started getting into music professionally, I was more into songwriting than guitar playing, but once I discovered the blues, my guitar playing started to take priority. It was guys like John Lee Hooker, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the emerging new sounds from John Mayer that really inspired me at a young age, and because of that I think I became more guitar influenced. I’m really glad it worked out that way. I don’t think my writing would be where it is now if I didn’t spend all those nights in my room playing guitar as a kid.
IMD Who are some of the top writers who have influenced you over the years? MG As both a musician and a writer I was mostly influenced by some of the older cats like Stephen Sondheim, The Gershwins, Cole Porter, Sting, and Paul Simon, But I listen to a lot of current pop music and there are a lot of younger guys I admire who are following in the footstep’s of the older guys I look up to- like John Mayer for example.
IMD What are the biggest things you want fans to take from your music?MG I think people should take whatever they want from my music. Music is its own reward, so being able to create it is already more than I could ask for.
IMD What is the best concert you each have been to over the years?
MG Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl this past summer…. Hands down.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
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