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15 Questions to Matt Stevens

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Very good thanks - my back hurts thou! I'm in a very sunny London.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Writing and recording my second album and doing monthly ustream webstream gigs. I'm also thinking about getting a small band together to play some of these compositions live. It depends on funding at the moment and time.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
In the UK the mainstream is rubbish but there are some interesting things happening on the underground. I like Radiohead, Burial, Portico Quartet, Polar Bear, Squarepusher thou.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?

Not really. Maybe some elements of prog/fusion or post rock - artists like Mogwai, King Crimson or Portishead.

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What stimulates you to write music?
Um old metal/death albums, Prog stuff, 50's Jazz, Soundtrack stuff, US Hardcore and my friends.

How would you describe your method of composing?
Constantly ripping up ideas and putting them back together. First i come with some chords and then i spend ages agonising over the arrangements. Melody last usually but I love writing.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?

The town where i come from had an amazing music scene because there was nothing else to do, one boring town. Because it was such a small scene all the different bands mixed you'd have Psych bands, Hardcore bands and Metal all on the same bill. Wonderful scene.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Like Zappa said its a composition if you say it is, if its random noise, Napalm Death or Phillip Glass or Stravinsky.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?

Most of my compositions are improvisations i remembered good bits of. The best improvisation is spontaneous composition and not random noodles, that's why its exciting - sometimes its great and sometimes its rubbish noodles or re-fried noodles.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
New is what i aim for - even though i'm using a guitar which is one of the most over used instruments ever. I want to use interesting chords and rhythms in the same way as bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra did in the 70's.

Do you personally enjoy multimedia as an enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
One of the best gigs i ever did was in combination with a live video performance. I would really like to have that element at all the gigs i do. As long as the quality is good it can only add to it.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good live performance is where inspiration is there and that is something you can't predict. Its either there or its not. You get into a flow of playing where you forget about everything - you're actually spontaneously composing. My stuff is 50/50 arranged/improvised.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
Communication and story telling. Really the mainstream is dying now - everyone is in their own niche, as there is so much choice out there right now - its a great time for music.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Some great bands and some workshops. Death Metal next to live Jazz, Ambient next to Garage Rock or Dub so people can hear something new that excites them. I would love to see a live lesson by my tutor old guitar Richard Beaumont on odd timings and chords and harmony.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Um i'd like to do something with multiple vocalists and unlimited studio time. A string quartet would be nice - just need the funding, the ideas are there. And Tablas and lots of found vocal snippets.


Echo (KEA) 2009


Matt Stevens
Matt Stevens at MySpace

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