Folk Singer-Songwriter, Matthew Fowler Opens Up About His Debut EP, Touring Life and What Inspires Him The Most!
Posted On 08 Jan 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, Artist Interview, Austin Miller, Brett Newski, Bring A Friend, Eddie's Attic, Ethan Johns, Frank Sinatra, Glen Hansard, Honey, Jeff Buckley, John Davey, Laura Marling, Matthew Fowler, Newport Folk Festival, Nick Drake, Orlando, Rage Against the Machine, Reggie, Reggie Williams, Rooftops, Sean Rowe, The Arch, The Camp House, The Collection, The Rockwood Music Hall, The Ryman, The Saint, The Social, Washington Square Park, Wilco
Late last year, the Orlando-based folk singer-songwriter Matthew Fowler went on a two-month long “Bring a Friend” tour that took him to 25+ cities with fellow Orlandoan artist Reggie Williams.
The two also collaborated on a special EP together specifically recorded for this tour called the Bring a Friend EP. The six song record features two brand new tracks and one previously released track from each artist.
Can you remember the moment that you decided you wanted to be a musician?
I don’t really remember a time that playing and surrounding myself with music wasn’t what made me happiest. I only started playing when I was a teen, but even before that I was always finding new bands to listen to, and trying to play catch up with all the great music that came before my time. To this day, none of that has changed.
Did you grow up with music around your all the time?
Absolutely. My parents love music, all music, and I can’t remember a time when we weren’t all hanging around the house with the radio on or singing to old songs in the car. They definitely introduced me to some of my key influences and musical stepping stones.
I have read that you began writing songs at just 14 years old! What were you writing about at that age? What kinds of things were inspiring you then? How do you think your songwriting has grown through the years? Have the things that inspired you changed much?
I was, and still am, writing about things that were in my life. When I was younger, it was the more obvious things – friendships, relationships, hardships. I think now, I’ve tried to find a voice for the smaller emotions that might not be so clear. I still write about those bigger ones, but the ones that are a bit harder to describe; the in-between emotions, have been gnawing at me a bit more these days. But I’ve always been inspired by what’s around me, physically and emotionally. Taking what’s going on in my life out of my head, and into a song.
To someone who has never heard your music before, how would you describe your sound to them?
The infamous question! I tell people that I’m a singer/songwriter who dwells more on the folky side than the poppy side.
What are some of your favorite artists?
My favorite artists are a bit all over the board right now. Because I’ve been on the road, i’ve been at the mercy of what CD’s I have in the car. So namely: Glen Hansard, Sean Rowe, Rage Against The Machine, Wilco, and tons of bands what we’ve just been running into on the road, like my friends John Davey, The Collection, Austin Miller, and Brett Newski.
Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
Production-wise, I’ve always loved the stuff that Ethan Johns is involved with. He seems to get the most emotional responses out of the artists he works with, which is one of my favorite aspects of music. I would love to work with Laura Marling and Glen Hansard, and I would’ve loved to at least thank Frank Sinatra for being a constant in my household growing up, as well as Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake.
Can you talk about the Bring A Friend EP with Reggie? What led you guys to make that collection? Your chemistry with him must be pretty awesome.
Reggie and I are just really good friends! We met at a show in Orlando, and shared a lot of personal and music views, and really kicked it off. We approach music in different ways, which is great because we both a have a different perspective to draw upon.
Tell me about your song “Rooftops”? What was the inspiration for this song?
It’s a culmination of a couple different things, but the catalyst was a show I played in Brooklyn last year. We did a “Rooftop” performance as the sun was setting over the Manhattan skyline behind us, and it was just a magical night. We stayed up all night singing, and playing (and drinking) and it was one of those moments where I almost had to pinch myself at the life I was living; One of my fondest memories.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with your career (onstage, or elsewhere)?
Last year, I was busking in NYC in Washington Square Park in July; I was with a couple musician friends of mine, and we were playing right underneath the Arch, which is arguably the best place in NYC to busk. There was a crowd gathered around us, we felt like we were rock stars, and this random cello player was walking by – He unpacked his instrument and started playing with us, exactly on key, perfectly in place. it was one of the most amazing moments ever, something that only NYC could offer. We felt like we sold out Washington Square Park.
Where’s been your favorite place to perform and why? Any venues you are excited to perform at in the future?
It’s quite hard to nail down a single venue – each one has its own special thing. But I’m super partial to The Social in Orlando, I’ve played there quite a few times over the years, and it’s in my hometown. Some of my other favorites have been The Camp House in Chattanooga, The Saint in Asbury Park, The Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, and Honey in Minneapolis. As for future venues, I’ve never played Eddie’s Attic, and that’s definitely in my bucket list; as well as The Ryman in Nashville, Club Passim in Boston, and even though it’s not specifically a venue, I would love to play the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.
When are you coming to the west coast?
Hopefully sometime soon! I don’t have a booking agent (yet, at least) so I book all the shows myself. The West Coast is a bit of a different animal than the East Coast – I would love to come through that way, but it might take be a bit longer to figure it out; certainly in my radar though!
If there is a general message to your music, what would it be? What do you hope listeners feel when they hear your songs?
I’m not if there’s an overarching theme to my music, but what I’m hoping people get from it is a sense of honesty. I like to think that I write and play in the same way that I am as a person. I hope people get a sense that the songs are shaping me as much as I’m shaping the songs.