Mat Kearney's Musical Journey: The Interview

Mat Kearney, a Columbia Records, Oregon-orginated, Nashville-based singer-songwriter is currently on tour with the marvelous Ingrid Michaelson & Angel Taylor. Not only did I get to bask in the glow of their magical music when they stopped at the Norva last Sunday, I also got to do a sweet little interview with Mat. Read the full story here: Mat Kearney's Musical Journey on Examiner.com.

Photo by: Cherylyn Ebertz

Cherylyn: What inspires you?

Mat Kearney: Lately? Authors... like Wendell Berry. He's a writer, part theologian. Books, essays, movies really inspire me. Family and friends inspire me to write and make music.

Cherylyn: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?

Mat Kearney: My sound is kind of difficult to pin down. There are so many textures that I use. At the heart of it, I'm definitely a song writer and a story teller. I think my hip-hop, spoken word sets me apart from other musicians, but I'm a singer-songwriter.

Cherylyn: How is your tour with Ingrid Michaelson going so far?

Mat Kearney: AWESOME! She's hilarious! We're all doing different things every night and having so much fun. I watch her from the side of the stage and just think, "She's so good!". I think it's a really diverse show for the fans.

Cherylyn: What defining element do you think makes you special and sets you apart from other musicians?

Mat Kearney: I've spent nights sleepless, debating this with myself. I think

my spoken word in my songs is a defining element. I just tell stories, about struggle an

d finding hope in difficult times.

Cherylyn: Define success. What is your ultimate life goal?

Mat Kearney: On a good day? Just being content with the journey I find myself on. Success is writing a song a I truly believe in. That is when I really feel at ease.

I can't compare myself to other musicians. There are probably others out there comparing themselves to me. I am just really grateful and thankful for this journey.

Cherylyn: How do you balance life on the road and life at home?

Mat Kearney: It's definitely a challenge. You miss the people you love, your community, the friends that give you life, except for my band members that are with me on the road. Being on the road is almost like living in a crystal snowball. You have to get used to it. It's the people behind the scenes, the band member's miss their wives.

Cherylyn: Do you enjoy the songwriting/recording process or traveling/playing live shows more than the other? Or do you love both equally?

Mat Kearney: Nothing is more satisfying than writing songs you love. I write for myself. I started out writing on the porch in college. There is nothing like walking off the stage after a show, knowing that you connected to the crowd. It's something bigger than a song, bigger than yourself.

Cherylyn: What has been the biggest adventure for you since you started pursuing your music career?

Mat Kearney: This whole thing is an exciting adventure. I moved across the country ten years ago. I was only supposed to be there for a month. It's exciting and I have no idea what the future holds.

Cherylyn: What do you like the best about traveling the world and sharing your music?

Mat Kearney: There is nothing I love more than exploring. I think I would have been an explorer if I was born 200 years ago. I'm the kind of guy that gets off the bus and scours the city for coffee shops, bookstores, and music stores. I love traveling. I think I should write a travel manual or something. If I wasn't pursuing my musical career, I think I would be doing something that has to do with writing. I just love putting things and feelings into words. I was

put on this earth for that.

Cherylyn: If you could collaborate or tour with anyone in the world who would it be?

Mat Kearney: ANYONE in the world? I think I would collaborate with Björk, because I think she's cute. And Springsteen. He's someone that I've always looked to for inspiration.

Cherylyn: Do you have interesting hobbies or passions besides music?

Mat Kearney: Furniture. I just love everything about it. I like mid-century, age-inspired furniture. I have subscriptions to a few furniture magazines. There is just something about design that I love. The historical aspect is part of it. Most of my pieces are older things.

Cherylyn: How old were you when you started singing and playing the guitar & (piano)? When did you realize it was your passion?

Mat Kearney: Well, I stole my roommate's guitar when I was a sophomore in college. I used to drive to the racquet ball courts and play music until 4 am. It didn't start out as wanting a

music career. It was about pouring my heart out into the songs.

I made some demos, but it was just fun.

Of course in the music business you need to learn how to balance things. You have to count how many people are showing up to the shows, how many people you can afford to bring on the bus, you have to be able to pay your bills, heating, lights, and be able to buy sneakers every once and awhile.

The business side came pretty easily to me. I come from a family of lawyers so I know how to crunch numbers when I need to, but at the end of the day, I'd still be doing this whether anyone was paying me to do it or not.

Mat Kearney & Tyler Burkum - Photo by: Cherylyn Ebertz

Cherylyn: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? If you had to change everything about yourself, but could keep one quality... what would it be?

Mat Kearney: I would try not to overthink everything... I think. Just kidding. If I could keep one quality, I would keep my eyebrows. They're pretty good. I don't even have to trim them. They're really sleek.

Cherylyn: I read somewhere that you were listening to U2 & Tom Petty while writing your latest cd. Who are your musical influences? Who else have you been listening to lately?

Mat Kearney: I've been listening to Spoon's latest record. I love them a lot. I've also been listening to the new Johnny Cash record. I think that's pretty cool. Recently I got to play songs for Rick Rubin. He's an amazing producer and has worked with people like Jay-Z and Tom Petty. He's been a big influence.

I've been listening to old 90s hip-hop and old time country lately too. Is that too diverse?

Cherylyn: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Mat Kearney: 1. Everything is about the song. Focus on writing with the best songwriters and writing the best songs that you could ever dream of writing.

2. Stay out of debt. It took me three years to get off the ground... I lived on $2,000 for a whole year.

Cherylyn: What's next for Mat Kearney? Any last words you want to share with the world?

Mat Kearney: I'm working on a new EP. There will be friends, guest appearances, and surprises. That's pretty exciting. I really appreciate everyone who comes out to the shows and listens to my music. I don't take it for granted. I really appreciate it.

Cherylyn: Thank you, Mat! See you on Sunday!

Mat Kearney: We had an extremely small crowd at the last Norva show... I guess we just keep coming at weird times, right before the summer. I really look forward to meeting you in a week... on Sunday! Thanks, Cherylyn, goodbye!


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