Last Friday, XPN members and listeners were treated to a special opening set by local musician Matt Duke at the Free at Noon, which also featured a performance by Ani DiFranco and took place in Wilmington at World Cafe Live at The Queen. Duke released his latest full-length record Singer/Songwriter in March so I asked him a few questions about pulling together the new LP and who he looks to for musical inspiration. Following the Q&A, get a free download of Duke’s song “Susannah” and listen back to his Free at Noon performance.
Helen Leicht: Matt you just released a new album Singer/Songwriter. Your fans helped you with this music with your Kickstarter campaign, what was that like?
Matt Duke: The Kickstarter experience was both humbling and empowering and I’m really glad that I decided to give it a shot. For so long, I was at the mercy of record labels and the music industry when I wrote and recorded anything. Through that experience, there’s certainly a chunk of yourself that can get lost, while even the trivial aspects of your songwriting get scrutinized to the point where the song (or even the whole album) feels like it’s exhausted and a bit soulless.
Regardless, I found that it was always important to remind myself that the songs I wrote were really meant for myself and for the fans of my music (and, hopefully, future fans) – much like the way I hope St. Vincent gets as much pleasure out of writing and recording her music as I do listening to her new records when they’re released. I’m not St. Vincent, but you get the idea.
Kickstarter linked the two most important pieces to the artistic equation – the artist and the fans – and I was moved by the support I received during my campaign. With that said, the pressure was on to create something that I was not only proud of (by my own expectations), but something that was absolutely authentic and that would require a lot of hard work. I think Marshall Altman and I were able to do that and I’m proudest that this album derived from the love and support of people that have stood beside me for many, many years.
HL: You have a definite edge to your songs, a darker side. What music do you listen to? And what artists have influenced your songwriting?
MD: There’s a bit of a dark side to my songwriting, but I try my best to level it out with either some upbeat, pop hooks or an entire song where I call out my own morose lyricism (“Anything Will Do”). I suppose my writing could be described as introspective and that would give me the benefit of the doubt when I start using words like “self-immolation”, etc.
My songwriting and guitar playing blossomed near the end of the grunge-era, so I was steeped in Soundgarden and Nirvana and Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins and so on, as well as Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Sunny Day Real Estate, Nine Inch Nails. But the influences that stuck with me when I really started to dig into songwriting were artists like Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate), Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Conor Oberst, Tori Amos, Dave Matthews, and bands that my Dad had me listening to like The Band, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Supertramp, and Bruce Springsteen. Depending on my mood, I could be listening to Dillinger Escape Plan or Sigur Ros or Béla Fleck…who knows. Also, my daughter has a say, so these days it’s a lot of Fleetwood Mac.
HL: Last Friday you opened for Ani DiFranco at World Café live at the Queen, who you just said was an early songwriting influence. What was that experience like?
MD: The experience of opening for Ani DiFranco at the Free at Noon can best be summed up by imagining butterflies in someone’s stomach, but instead of butterflies, they’re miniature atom bombs and they don’t stop through your entire opening set and you simultaneously feel like you could faint from pure, unmitigated elation and vomit from nerves that make you shake worse than sub-zero temperatures. That was my experience in a nutshell. Once in a lifetime; a dream come true.
XPN welcomes Charles Bradley to Union Transfer tonight. The “Screaming Eagle of Soul” entertained the crowd during a recent Free at Noon performance with his exuberant showmanship and knock-out funk / R&B songs. Following up his 2011 full-length debut, the 64-year-old crooner released Victim of Love earlier this year. Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Paul & the Tall Trees can be found here. Watch the former James Brown impersonator perform “Why Is It So Hard?” live on the Public Radio Rocks stage at SXSW below.
The label will also be releasing a 10th Anniversary compilations of previously released and unreleased material from bands that have recorded for the label. The CD will be distributed at the show and will be made available for sale following the concert. Track listing below:
MDR 10th Anniversary Compilation
1. Hoots & Hellmouth- You & All of Us (from the Holy Open Secret)
2. Matt Duke- Tidal Waves (from Winter Child)
3. Andrew Lipke & The Prospects- Get It Over With (from Motherpearl & Dynamite)
4. Kuf Knotz- Fame Us (from Boombox Generation)
5. The Redwalls – Modern Diet (from The Redwalls)
6. Motion City Soundtrack- Severance (from Making Moves)
7. A Great Big Pile of Leaves- Writing Utensils (from Making Moves)
8. Goldrush- Settle Down (from Making Moves)
9. The Skies Revolt- For Your Health (from Making Moves)
10. The Company We Keep- Right/Wrong (from Making Moves)
11. The Swimmers – Hundred Hearts (from People Are Soft)
12. Toy Soldiers – Throw Me Down (from Whisper Down the Lane)
13. Trisha O’Keefe- Never Enough (from Star Burns Brightest)
14. Jules Shear- Used To It (from Dreams Don’t Count)
Bonus Tracks – New Tracks – Previously Unreleased by MAD Dragon Artists
15. Hoots & Hellmouth- Off to Sea (previously unreleased)
16. Kuf Knotz- Runnin’ (previously unreleased)
17. Matt Duke- Dead Meat (previously unreleased)
18. Andrew Lipke- The Old Man and the Sea (previously unreleased)
19. Andrew Gray- Take It Easy (previously unreleased)
20. Sean Hoots- Boy of Leaf (previously unreleased)
Folk / pop singer-songwriter Josh Rouse performs at World Cafe Live tonight. The Nebraska native, who now lives in Spain, is touring behind his recent The Happiness Waltz release. Throughout his career, Rouse has perfected an up-tempo-but-hushed sound that makes his recordings both inviting and intimate. Waltz returns Rouse to his English language roots after 2010′s bi-lingual El Turista effort. Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Eleni Mandell can be found here. Below, watch his new film noir inspired video for “Julie (Come Out of the Rain).”
Les Claypool brings his Duo de Twang to The TLA tonight. Fitting in a handful of dates before he heads out on tour with his main band Primus, Duo de Twang features Claypool and guitarist Marc Haggard in an intimate, unplugged set-up. According to a review of a Duo de Twang show in Los Angeles, the set-list for the evening includes a mix of Primus favorites, original material and some covers as well as a significant amount of banter and story telling. Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here. Below, watch the Duo (in this instance Claypool and Chris Robinson) perform “Battle of New Orleans.”
Experimental DJ Flying Lotus headlines Union Transfer tonight. The Los Angeles-based musician / producer (real name Steven Ellison) has an impressive musical pedigree – Alice Coltrane was a great-aunt and Ravi Coltrane counts Ellison as one of his cousins – but he’s forged his own path in the electronica / hip hop world over the course of four studio efforts. Most recently, Ellison released his 2012 Warp Records LP Until the Quiet Comes, on which he showed his ability to cross genres and blend concepts with transcendent results. Tickets and information for the show with Teebs and Thundercat can be found here. Watch Flying Lotus’ short film for “Until the Quiet Comes” below.
XPN welcomes Matt Duke to the Tin Angel. The New Jersey native continues to tour behind his recent Love On a Major Scale EP, which hit #6 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart last December. Duke has been hitting the stage hard up and down the east coast lately, and this June he’ll be heading down to the Outer Banks for Pat McGee’s Down the Hatch OBX event after getting back into the studio this spring. Tonight’s concert will feature opening sets by Matt Santry and Zach Hurd; tickets and information can be found here. Below, watch Duke perform “The Eyes” at World Cafe Live and download the song for free here.
Singer-songwriter Matt Duke begins a month long residency at The Tin Angel tonight. The New Jersey native and XPo’ Fest 2011 alum released his Love on a Major Scale EP in mid-December, quickly climbing the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart to #6. Tickets and information for his show with Jason Myles Goss can be found here. Below, watch Duke perfom his EP’s single “The Eyes” and download the track here.
New Jersey singer-songwriter Matt Duke, who released the impressive album One Day Die in 2011, is dropping a brand new EP, Love on a Major Scale, December 18th. Duke also released a collaborative EP, TFDI, with Tony Lucca and Jay Nash in 2011, which is available here. Duke has also announced a January residency at the Tin Angel on Wednesdays; find tickets and information at our concert calendar here. Download Duke’s first single from Love on a Major Scale, “The Eyes,” below, and watch a performance of the song from his concert at World Cafe Live November 5th.
The “First Lady of Country Music,” Loretta Lynn, will be gracing the stage at Keswick Theatre this evening. The Appalachian songstress’s last album, 2004′s Van Lear Rose, is one of more than sixty studio records Lynn has released since her first #1 hit in 1967, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).” Tickets for tonight’s all-ages performance can be found here. Below, check out Lynn’s performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Philly’s Seamus Browning went on hiatus in 2005 and have reformed with some new music and a show on Friday, August 24th at the The Grape Room in Manayunk with Stargazer Lily. The band includes Matt Duke on vocals and guitar, Seán Ferry on bass and Brendan Lafferty on drums and percussion. They recently recorded some new material recorded and engineered by Andrew Lipke at The Record Lounge. Stream the collection below, and download a new song “Tourist Trap” compliments of the band.