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INTERVIEWS MATTHEW JORDAN
EVENTUALLYThe odds are not exactly stacked against MATTHEW JORDAN. He's a good looking 23 year old, who has just released his first ever LP HORIZON (a follow up to 2004's EP BOOK OF DAYS). Sure HORIZON is an indie release, but one is left wondering why a music industry (if we can call it that anymore), that likes it's singer/songwriters, young, good-looking and introspective (i.e. NORAH JONES, JOHN MAYER) couldn't have come up with a package like this one. The answer is simple. It takes more than an industry to be as talented as this guy.
MATTHEW JORDAN TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT HIS NEW CD 'HORIZON'
GROWING AS A SONGWRITER
AND ALMOST GETTING RUN OVER BY TORI AMOS
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Then of course there is the issue of pedigree. JORDAN was raised in the Hollywood Hills by his songwriter father and a mother who is in real estate. All of the arrows pointed to music for JORDAN "For me, there is nothing like live performance and being able to share my songs with other people in the audience and having a rapport with them." Says Jordan " I love more intimate shows where there is a living room kind of vibe where it's like there are people just sitting on your couch and you're playing for them. More than anything, I want to share my music with people everywhere."
Thanks to things like MYSPACE (where he has 35,000 friends, not including TOM), and appearances on MTV and the FIVE FOR FIGHTING video for 100 YEARS ( "The majority of people would recognize me from that.") he may be playing slightly bigger venues in the very near future.
ROCKWIRED spoke with MATTHEW JORDAN over the phone. Here is how it went.
HORIZON is finally out there for people to listen to. How does it feel?
It such a relief to finally get it done. I'm sure any artist or band will tell you that. It's such an undertaking when you go in to do an album. I kind of waited for a while because of the way the music industry works for an independent artist. You're not sure what you're supposed to be doing because there are no real rules. You kind of want to wait and see who you're going to get interest from and try to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. I did an EP a couple of years ago called BOOK OF DAYS. It was done to kind of have something to sell and show but it seemed like now was the time to do a definitive album after having all of the material that we had amassed in the past couple of years. It was just time to get it going. There's a real sense of accomplishment to finally having this CD out for everyone to listen to.
Who all worked with you in putting it together?
Actually all of the tracks are co-written and produced by my Dad. My Dad used to be a staff writer fo WARNER BROTHERS so when I decided when I was a kid that music was what I wanted to do, I had no idea that he was in that line of work at the time, so it all came together from there. He and I worked really closely together. We also worked really closely with a guy named ROBERT HADLEY who did the mastering and helped us with mixing suggestions and stuff and he's a GRAMMY-winning mastering engineer over at the MASTERING LAB in Hollywood who I strongly recommend to any artist or band looking for a great mastering engineer. He has a great rate. For one hundred bucks a track you get a GRAMMY-winning engineer working on your stuff and he just does an awesome job.
Other than the fact that one is an EP and the new release is an LP, what are the differences. What's different now?
First of all just the material. I just turned 23 a couple of months ago. In the three years since the EP, I've changed a lot as a writer. I think that in a lot of ways the material has matured and I was lot more courageous going into the studio working on this album as opposed to 2004 when I was still a little more experimental. I've tried things on this album that I never would've tried before. The last song on the album is called PASSENGERS and it's a song with a lot of deep thoughts on why we're here. I did this whole symphonic arrangement where I had a viola, a violin, and a cello and a bowed bass. It's kind of night and day from the old album. I think that anyone who listens to both of the albums would definitely agree. This record definitely stands on its own a lot better than the old EP.
In your bio you credit BILLY JOEL for leading you into the path of music making. Why him? What spoke to you specifically?
He was the first artist that I ever really got into as a kid. When I was five I said I want to be like BILLY JOEL. The cheesy story I always tell is that when I was in kindergarten there was this kid who was a friend of mine and I was over at his house and he was just randomly singing WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE and I didn't know that song and it got stuck in my head. I went home and asked my dad who that was, because I didn't know and he told me it was BILLY JOEL and my dad opened up his record collection. After that, I'd come home from school and sing along to BILLY JOEL's greatest hits on the couch. I was a totally dorky kid, but I decided that that was what I wanted to do. That was what got me into taking piano lessons. I enjoyed it. It wasn't something that I was whipped into doing. BILLY JOEL was just the first. I've expanded my influences considerably over the years and became inspired by other artists.
I love STEELY DAN. I love BRIAN WILSON and THE BEACH BOYS. PET SOUNDS is one of my favorite albums ever. All of THE BEATLES stuff is great. There is so many people. I even love offbeat stuff like TOD RUNDGREN or JACKSON BROWNE. Of the modern day stuff, I like BEN FOLDS because he's almost the modern day equivalent of BILLY JOEL. There is so much out there. I just try to take in everything I can and just get influenced by whatever strikes me at the moment.
You've got an old soul for someone as young as you are.
You do. It's a compliment. It just puzzles me, though.
Once, when I was two or maybe a little younger, some friend of my parents looked at me and said 'He's an old soul.' I wasn't even talking much at the time. So who knows. Maybe that was always true.
You grew up living next door to TORI AMOS.
I was a kid growing up in the Hollywood Hills. TORI AMOS was renting room in my best friends house which was next door to me and I called her "TOE-EY". Actually at the time when I decided that I wanted to get into music, my dad was a professional photographer so he did some of her early glam headshots. The funny story is that one day my parents were outside doing a photo shoot for someone and I was in a stroller and TORI came speeding around the corner and pretty much almost ran me over. I think that was the first time we ever met her. She was very very sweet and very very apologetic. I haven't seen her in quite a long time but I'd like to think that she'd remember me if I called her "TOE-EY". But I'd love to meet her as a cognizant because she is immensely talented.
You attended USC THORNTON SCHOOL OF MUSIC. What was that experience like for you?
It was a great, great experience. Initially I went there because they offered a Music Industry Major. But it was so much more than that. It was just a great experience. I just finished there in January of last year, so it's been about a year now. So many great classes! I did a term paper comparing and contrasting three record contracts, which is really valuable if you're trying to get into this as an artist or a writer. There was a class on live music production and obviously I do shows so I knew something about that but with this class I'd go to the GREEK THEATER and see ALICE COOPER for free. I'm still in touch with a lot of the people I met at USC in different facets of the industry which helps just because you never know where someone is going to end up. For anybody, whether they are writing or in a band and wants to get inside oft the Industry, THORNTON is a great program.
Musically, getting behind the piano and playing for people was always the goal. Right?
Yeah. For me, there is nothing like live performance and being ableto share my songs with other people in the audience and having rapport with them. I love more intimate shows where there is a living room kind of vibe where it's like there are people just sitting on your couch and you're playing for them. More than anything, I want to share my music with people everywhere. That why I think that MYSPACE is so great because you can reach out to people that you never would have come into contact with before creating great new fans and great new friends.
Now explain,if it's explainable the creative process. What goes into writing a song?
I think it's always different. I could hear a song on the radio or hear a song that I hadn't heard in a long time but really liked and be inspired by something as simple as an interesting chord change in the song. A lot of the time, it's about how you're feeling and whats going on with you. Sometimes I've just got to sit at the keyboard and let my fingers come up with something whether it's more a pounding rocker like I'M ON MY WAY or something more introspective like INVISIBLE MAN. It all depends on the kind of space that you're in creatively. Influences come from all sorts of different places.
You've got quite a few credentials behind you. You were a finalist on MTV's DUETS with VANESSA CARLTON?
When did that happen?
You're laughing. Did I say something wrong?
Sometimes I downplay that because I'm afraid someone will see it and laugh at how dorky my hair was and my horrible fashion sense - not that that has changed too much. That was a few years back. I heard about this audition for this show and the premise of DUETS was to find a fan who could do a duet with their "idol'. They needed someone to sing A THOUSAND MILES with VANESSA CARLTON and I worked out the song and they liked it. I guess they were really looking for a girl and they liked me and I got a call saying that I was in the top 25 and they wanted to come to my house and film me. They came over and the production assistant got a phone call and said it was for me. As it turns out, I was in the top four. I had to give this over-the-top reaction because that was the reaction they wanted from me - you know about reality TV not being real. It was lot of fun and the coolest thing about it was that they played one of my songs on the show and credited it to me.
Your appearance in the FIVE FOR FIGHTING video sounds like it was special to you. You wanna talk about it?
Absolutely. The majority of people would recognize me from that. Undoubtedly that was the most awesome thing I had ever experienced in my whole life. I ended up finding out about this audition through my brother's manager. She said "there is this last minute call for a music video and they need a young pianist." As it turned out the video was for the song 100 YEARS and earlier that day, I had the song on the radio for the first time and really liked it. Because I have a good ear, I went home and worked out the song. So from there, I went in and played the song for the casting director and and he really liked it. In the video I was supposed to be the fifteen year old that the songs elludes to, even though I was like twenty at the time. JOHN ONDRASIK, who basically is FIVE FOR FIGHTING, listened to my music and sat down and talked with me and said "If you need advise about anything in the music business, just give me a call." So, he's become like a friend and even a mentor to me.
How about you? Are there any videos slated for this current CD of yours.
Funny you should say that. The song that we're thinking about making a video for is SOMEONES WAITING. Right now we're just trying to get the budget together 'cause when you're an indie artist you have to really dig through the couch cushion.
There is a summer tour on the way. Where will you be going?
I'm really excited about that. I've got close to 30,000 fans on MYSPACE so I've been wanting to get on the road for a while. I play in LA, and I play in Orange County, and I play in San Diego but I want to get out and do more. This is going to be an acoustic tour. I've got dates lined up so far in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, D.C., and New York. It'll only be about eight or nine dates max. I just want to get my feet wet with the whole touring thing.