I met Matt Stern in Palm Springs in June as we were enjoying a wonderful evening under the stars in a hot tub with our friend Scott Fullerton of the LeftOfStr8 show and the other guest of the Inndulge Resort as well as a few other talented guys who were there to do Scott’s show for that week. Before we even started talking about his music, Matt struck me as a very thoughtful, interesting guy. I had a feeling from the start that he was an artist of some sort. When we started talking about his music, he reminded me of some of the other immensely talented and passionate musicians I’ve met and become friends with over the years. There’s just something so inspiring about people who are passionate about what they do, especially when their eyes light up when they speak of it all.
He and his boyfriend, Brandon, also spoke to me about their other passion, travel (which is something we share). The more we spoke, the more I knew I wanted a chance to feature him here. Plus, after our initial meeting, I looked him up to hear some of the music and totally loved the sound. I hope to get him back to the states in NYC and LA again and I look forward to hanging out some more, perhaps on one of my travels to Canada. In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you all to Matt Stern!!
Q: Were you always interested in music or did you see yourself doing something else when you were growing up? Tell us a little about how you got started.
Matt Stern: I was definitely always interested in music but also so driven by curiosity about everything. I would spend hours in the library getting into languages and literature and exploring everything about the world, and in school I was channeled into a pretty left-brain dominant path of math and science. What I’ve always found is that music drives me back to it with a sense of urgency, so even though I’ve gone through periods where I focus on other things – for instance, I’m also passionate about alternative education and have made forays into that world – there’s a deep compulsion to keep creating music and sharing it. Sometimes it really feels as though the pull to make music is beyond me, try as I may to find a more sensible way to fit into the world. 😂
Q: Music has changed so much, what does being an Indie Artist mean to you now?
Matt Stern: I’m still figuring it out day by day! We have so many newfangled tools at our disposal for creating, collaborating and sharing all forms of art, but we also collectively have the attention span of a goldfish. In a world where we all experience such a barrage of input, it can be a particular challenge to hold on to the sense of meaning and connection that I think is why we create art in the first place. I feel like my particular mission is to remain as human and personal as possible, even, or I guess especially, within the attention economy. To somehow create art that reminds people to care and connect.
Q: What inspires you to write songs? Is everything and everyone fair game?
Matt Stern: Totally! It often starts with a kernel of experience that I don’t feel like I can express sufficiently with just words, like there is a deeper well of feeling that needs to burst out. I have definitely written my share of songs about people who consume my imagination, but I also really like to try on different types of songs – some that are more abstract storytelling, or are dedicated to someone who has had a very different experience of life from my own. I am really interested in experimenting with songwriting and trying things that are wildly different from what is familiar to me. There is always so much further to go.
Q: How do you incorporate Social Media to help you promote your work and build your fan base?
Matt Stern: I have one of those love-hate relationships with social media. I feel so much more satisfied and fulfilled with in-person interactions, but there is no denying that amazing opportunities come about thanks to these networks. A lot of people throughout the world have discovered my music thanks to sharing music videos on the socials. Recently I was asked to do a 30-day cover challenge, so I took requests and learned a new song every day for a month. That was probably the most actively engaged with social media I’d ever been, and people really loved it. I think that when I am able to frame it as an extension of creative expression and have fun with it, I don’t resist it so much and I begin to see how valuable it is for building a sense of community and reaching new people.
Q: We met in Palm Springs, CA and I know you love to travel as much as I do. Tell us a little about your favorite trips.
Matt Stern: Traveling is still one of the best ways I can think of to shake yourself out of complacency and recapture a sense of awe. Being in Palm Springs was my first time being in the middle of the desert and it was so amazingly beautiful. I have a longstanding connection with Japan and am going there on tour this fall. I think the level of difference in world view between North America and a place like Japan is what excites me, because it continually challenges all of my inherited assumptions about what’s normal. I also recently moved from my hometown of Montreal to Vancouver Island, on the west coast of Canada, and the natural beauty in this part of the world is just mind-blowing. One of my favourite trips has been to Jasper because of some of the ridiculous animals I encountered there. I have also loved getting to visit Nicaragua, Cuba, Germany, France, China and Spain. (Follow Matt and Brandon at @The2TravelBears on Instagram)
Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Matt Stern: In the past few years I have developed a crutch, and it is noise-cancelling headphones. I have been so sensitive to noise ever since I was a baby and have often had trouble sleeping because of it, so they have been a godsend. Now whenever I’m traveling and sleeping in a new place or my ears are completely saturated being in the middle of a big city, I can put them on and calm myself the fuck down. 🙂 One thing I sincerely wish we could all live without is violence and hatred of one another. I guess that’s two things.
Q: Where can people find you and your music online?
Q: What’s up next for Matt Stern?
Matt Stern: Funny you should ask! I just yesterday left the studio where we were mixing and mastering my new album, and we are are planning its release for early 2020. I’m looking forward to this period of dreaming up our plan for it. In the meantime, I have concerts here in Victoria next week followed by shows in Quebec and Japan.
Here are a few of Matt’s videos for you to enjoy:
**Photos: Jerod Thompson