Interview: Matt Freedman
[gallery type="slideshow" link="none" size="full" ids="148837"] What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today? I've always had a knack for music, I started playing the trumpet in the jazz band when I was in 7th grade, drums at 12 and guitar at 13 when my mom got me an old Epiphone acoustic for my birthday. I remember forming bands with other classmates who had no training, just wanted to make noise and try to impress the girls :) Now, I can't imagine not having music as a primary focus in my life. Writing songs is therapy, and playing gigs whether solo acoustic or large festivals is the ultimate release. The connection I feel with people when I'm writing, playing and with the fans while playing is a huge part of who I am. If I had not been doing music, I'd have continued down the path of building startups. What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity? Other than playing with my kids who are a constant source of inspiration, and hanging with my wife who is my best friend (since we were 18!).. I love to cook. At one point during the pandemic I started a food Instagram account for fun, because I couldn't get enough of it. Having the ability to create something from nothing to me is the key to happiness in my creative life. I love to learn from people, reading cook books and being inspired by chefs of all types keeps me sharp creatively. How long has music been your career? I have been a musician for almost 15 years writing songs, being in bands, playing gigs, and recording with/for others. Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music? Bucks County, PA is my home, outside of Philadelphia. It was the perfect place to build a songwriter, going to a massive high school playing sports and playing music as a young kid. I grew up in a suburban / pushing rural environment where some kids lived on large farms with huge open spaces, dirt roads and usually hosted the best parties. Some kids moved up from the city, so we had great perspectives from people of all walks of life. I draw on nostalgic imagery a lot in the songs I write, and think it is an incredibly important element of who I am. I was an athlete growing up, and went to college on a football scholarship as a quarterback, so drawing on the camaraderie of a locker room, the brotherhood of hard work and all of the experiences I had playing sports definitely has shaped who I am. I am a competitive, driven and ambitious person, but always put team first. Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played. This may surprise you, but some of the best shows I've played were in tiny little dive bars in front of not many people, but the people in the room knew every word to every song. I remember being about 22 and playing in a room called the Tin Angel in Philadelphia to a crowd of about 25-30 of our friends and family. We played a stripped down acoustic show, and it was magic. The band was super tight, and we were so inspired that everyone in the room knew every word of the songs.. I've also played a lot of not so great shows, mostly in my younger days when there was more Jagermeister involved :) Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already? I had a blast opening up for Miranda Lambert, Brett Young, Maddie & Tae and others this summer but my favorite recently was playing at the Citadel Country Spirit USA festival near our hometown in PA. We had a large bus of friends and family come out to the venue to support us, and nothing beats being surrounded by those that you love. Venues that I'd love to play are mostly in and around Nashville just for the history - I'd love to play Whiskey Jam's outdoor Monday nights, the Carolina Country Music Festival, and Mullet-Fest down at the Flora-Bama. Kenny Chesney is one of my heroes and he played an absolutely epic show on the beach outside of the venue there years back, it looked like music heaven. If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket? Dream concert for me would be any outdoor festival on the beach, and It would likely be a blend of Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion and the Marcus King Band. If I'm not wearing boots, I'm probably in flip flops or going barefoot. I'm a total beach bum at heart. What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music? Be true to yourself. Write things that make you happy, or call upon some kind of emotion for you personally. It's difficult enough to play songs multiple nights per week, especially if you don't love the songs yourself. The music business is incredibly difficult, and can be very costly both on a financial, emotional and physical level if you let it. Don't let others influence what your music becomes. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? Don't stop. I'm my own worst critic in the worst way, and get in my own head when I write, and ESPECIALLY when I perform. I cringe sometimes when I watch old videos of performances thinking I was terrible, missed a note, etc. In the end, it's the body of work that counts. Your first song will not be your last, and your music journey is an evolution. The writer / performer you are today does not have to be the writer / performer you are in a week. Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? I've written a lot of deeply personal songs, for myself and other artists but I think the one I'm most proud of is a song called "Freefall" which will be released on my upcoming EP. I have two daughters, Harper (5) and Hannah (3). My oldest daughter Harper I can tell already struggles with anxiety, just like her dad. Things need to be perfect, and if they are out of line in the least bit, she has a very hard time dealing with those emotions, just like her dad. This causes anxiety and stress, just like it does with her dad. We're both deeply emotional people, and the solution for both of us most of the time, is to just find someone that we love to fall into. I wrote the song Freefall as a reminder for the rest of my daughter's life that no matter what is going on in her life, when things look grey, and that dark cloud seems to be following you around, that I will ALWAYS be there to give her a hug, and tell her it's going to be ok. It's one of those songs that poured out of me on February 5th of 2021, and wrote it with Harper on my lap. I recorded it in Nashville the next month at OmniSound Studios and will be on the upcoming release. Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? I think the more upbeat songs I've written like "American Sun", "HeyMan", "Good Love" "One of These Days" and "Rum Summer" get requested because they are the big, anthem style party songs. However, at writer's rounds, and in more intimate settings I get asked to play songs like "FreeFall", "That's What He Said", "Ghost Town" and "Salesman", some more of the deeply personal songs I've written about my life's experience.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
For me, Inspiration comes from anywhere. I'm at my best when I'm coastal, there is no doubt. When I'm in the salt air, there is something magical that everything seems to make sense to me. When I collaborate with others, I tend to be the "concept and melody" guy. It's amazing the talent that is in and around Nashville to co-write with, so the talent of others that I work with is a constant source of inspiration. When I'm working on things for my own releases, I tend to draw upon themes like nostalgia, Americana, and the story telling of people like Springsteen, Eric Church, Stapleton and even newcomers like Tyler Childers.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I write about things that are real to me. After doing this for 15 years, I've decided that I only have time for things that I have an emotional connection to, and all the rest is just noise. While not all the songs I write sound the same, or are even in the same genre, I always try to bring personal experience, perspective and emotion to the songs that I write. I gravitate towards songwriters that do the same, in any genre. Any good song should take you on a ride, and put you viscerally into that person's scene. The smells, the sounds, the temperature, their age, who they were with, what they were wearing, etc. I'm a huge believer in imagery, and in trying to be as specific as you can be to take the listener to that exact place in time that you're at. Music for me is therapy, and is an escape. You can also take someone on a journey without saying anything at all.. Some of my heroes like Marcus King, Jason Isbell, John Mayer and others do this brilliantly, where a guitar riff and open space say everything you need to hear. I'm working on that :)
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Of course. It's all a part of collaboration. However, in the spirit of that, I've had very few if any experiences where people get contentious during a co-write to the point of walking out of the room (or hanging up the Zoom call). I've found it best to stay in my lane, and contribute what I can to the writing, and learn from the genius of others. It comes with experience, but the best writers I've been on, I find you have a few people who trust each other, and know their own strengths and weaknesses, you can apply your magic piece to the work. It's like forming the perfect sports team, it'd be great to have a team of all-stars, but if they all play the same position, there's only one ball to go around on the field. It's best to pick folks who have a strength in 1-2 areas, and pair them with complementary writers.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Yes, I'm releasing my debut Album at the end of 2021, something I've been working on for over 10 years. I'm doing an acoustic / stripped down video documentary of the songs, and will be releasing a documentary style film of my career as a writer and artist over the years, and what my hometown venue - Villa Capri - a tiny little Italian restaurant and bar have meant to me along the way. Other than that, I will continue to write for myself and others while building relationships with as many songwriters, publishers, and artists as possible.. while always looking for places on the beach to play :)
Social Media Links: Website: www.mattfreedmanmusic.com Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/matt-freedmanInstagram: @mattfreedmanmuisicFacebook: www.facebook.com/musicbymattfreedmanTikTok: @mattfreedmanmusic