Posted On 08 Aug 2017
A passionate and thoughtful singer/songwriter, Matt Koelsch [‘kel-sh’] has built his musical career around stirring lyrics, percolating rhythms, and soaring vocals. His songs strike a chord with listeners as he draws inspiration from the gains, losses and adventures throughout his life growing up in New England.
During the height of the recession Koelsch took a leap of faith from his anchored position in the world of finance into the unknown, turbulent music industry and has been pursuing his passion as a full-time recording and performing artist in Los Angeles, California. Koelsch reflects on a particular moment during this transforming period, “I walked out of the doors of the financial building in Post Office square, I had this feeling of an enormous sense of relief, freedom and uncertainty”.
Koelsch’s latest EP, entitled ‘Thinking of You’ was co-produced with Eugene Toale (Kanye West, Las Cafeteras). The EP was influenced by time and place, the result of being 3,000 miles away from home and the rollercoaster lifestyle of being submersed within the vibrant and diverse city of Los Angeles.
“Being in this setting during my late 20’s early 30’s has affected my writing because it has made me more vulnerable” reveals Koelsch. “There is more time and space to explore and discover when you are in a completely new and foreign setting, removed from the comforts of your close network of relationships”.
With a wide-ranging catalog of subject matter including but not limited to the current state of ‘Wall Street’ to a relaxing day in the ‘Waves’ at the beach, ‘Running With The Bulls’ in Pamplona and heartbreak, Koelsch delivers passionate performances filled with falsetto, guitar and whistle solos as he brings his own flavor to the indie/folk/pop genre.
Leading single Perfectly Aligned showcases Koelsch’s catchy vocals and upbeat, dance-worthy melodies, it creates the perfect summer anthem. Thinking of You is a heart-achingly romantic ballad, with yearning lyrics, simple guitar melodies and soothing rhythms, Koelsch delivers a sweet tune that is relatable for all the romantics.
Koelsch’s achievements to date include selling thousands of physical records/CD’s, performing over 170 shows per year, winning a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, as well as sharing the stage with members of legendary bands such as REM, Pink Floyd and Toto.
Connect With Matt Here:
Learn more about Matt Koelsch in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How has 2017 been treating you?
Very well! Thank you I appreciate the interview!
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year?
I’m collaborating with new musicians who use synthesizers, keys and plays sax too. I am working towards incorporating electronic textures throughout my live set and developing male-female harmonies as well. It has been fun to experiment with all of these new sounds.
Where does this interview find you today?
I am flying over the Rockies right now heading east!
Is there music playing in the background?
I am listening to Who’s Lovin’ You by Jackson 5.
What kind of music do you listen to when you are working?
All genres, but if I am trying to concentrate mostly classical, jazz or anything instrumental such as electro/house.
What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood?
Motown or anything with a big brass section.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be a musician?
I’ve always really enjoyed being close with music and getting lost in instruments, recording software and gear.
Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I remember playing a toy keyboard in the living room when I was really young. A few moments later I recall trying to bite the corner of a wooden chair, cutting the roof of my mouth and being rushed to the hospital to get stitches shortly after. Oops.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
Maybe be a pilot or a teacher.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think growing up in New England has shaped who you are as a musician and the art that you create?
I grew up in a town on the South Shore of Boston. The music program in place in the 80’s and early 90’s was substantial enough to give us a basic understanding of music and instruments at a young age. Introductory piano lessons and hanging out with other friends that had a higher music education and experience really shaped my musical journey at a young age. I think the hours of experimenting, collaborating and talking with friends from middle school and high school had the biggest influence on me, they were my true music teachers.
Let’s talk about your recently released single “Incomplete.” What was the inspiration for this track?
Incomplete is about falling just outside someone’s radar. You really enjoying being around them but they are off limits.
How do you think it is similar or different to anything else that you have released from your latest EP “Thinking Of You”?
Incomplete has a natural acoustic and full sound. The instrumentation is all acoustic instruments and vocals with little reverb or effects, the other tracks have synthesizers and beat production, live drums etc.
What was it like working with your producer Eugene Toale (Kanye West & Las Cafeteras) on your EP? How did this relationship come to be?
Eugene Toale is sincere, enthusiastic, encouraging and upbeat. He is savvy with synthesizers, beat producing and sequencing. I met him through another producer I previously worked with in Echo Park. He was a big influence on how I worked on this record and influenced my production in a positive way. He’s had a lot of experience producing for both major and indie labels and has worked with Kanye West, WuTang, Mya, Brandy, Raekwon and more recently, Las Cafeteras and Sincolor.
How did being in LA for the creation of this EP influence this collection and the process of putting it together?
Thinking of You is inspired by leaving the comforts of New England and building a new network 3,000 miles away in Southern California. There is more time and space to explore and discover when you are in a completely new and foreign setting, removed from the comforts of your close network of relationships. The relationships that formed and/or dissolved were woven into the writing of the record.
I am curious what it was like leaving the world of finance behind and entering the music industry?
My friends in finance were all great people and it was hard to leave a cohesive group where there was a weekly camaraderie. I found myself reading articles on my lunch breaks, memorizing lyrics and day dreaming about recording & performing. I knew I was in the wrong room, I just had a really hard time letting go of the lifestyle that came with it.
What do you think really helped motivate you to make the big change?
We were at at a bar in Boston with our whole office for a company party. There was a band playing and my managers dared me to get on stage and sing a song. I asked the bands sound man/manager and they let me sing a few Sublime songs. The band hired me a week later and my boss called me into his office in the morning joking around that he heard a rumor about me giving my two-weeks notice. Later that spring I submitted my resignation.
Do you think that anything in your finance experience prepared you for the music world at all?
Yes, it made me a stronger negotiator, improved my interpersonal relationship skills and just raised my overall sense of business.
Who are some of your very favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music?
Growing up I listened to a lot of Jack Johnson, Ben Howard, John Mayer, David Gray and Dave Matthews Band. Lately I’ve been listening to more electro-inspired music; such as SOHN, Odesza, Bob Moses, Poolside, Porter Robinson.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
The theme of my music is based around discovery, being adventurous at any age and falling in or out of love. I hope people can listen to my music and relax a little bit or escape somewhere even if it’s just for a few moments.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
Keep exploring ways to learn new styles whether it is through other musicians, 1 on1 teaching, classroom style, videos, articles online or books. Don’t limit yourself to the method through which the information is being transmitted to you, one way may work better than others when studying and/or writing music. Stay involved and collaborate, try not to isolate yourself for too long.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I love to write, record, collaborate, perform and share music. I am so grateful people have listened to my music and it has impacted them in one way or another. Thank you for your support!