Matthew Genovese is a talented singer-songwriter currently from Los Angeles and is a Berklee College of Music graduate. We were delighted when Matthew agreed to complete a full feature interview for Song Revelation so that we could share his impressive music portfolio with you. Read on to find out about, amongst other things, how he creates his memorable songs, who his musical inspirations are and what Matthew does to relax when not working.
Q: What is your musical background?
I’ve always been into music. When I was about 5 my parents put me in The Toronto Children’s Choir, so I’ve always been singing. When I was 9 years old I got my first guitar… that was when everything just clicked and I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I was obsessed with Stevie Ray Vaughan and the blues. In elementary school I would hide in the empty hallways so that I could play guitar instead of going outside with everyone else.
When I got a little older I started writing songs and I started listening to Sting, Paul Simon, and a lot of John Mayer. That’s who really lead me to Berklee College of Music. I remember ordering the course catalogue for Berklee in grade 6 and looking over it. There was an article on a student that was entitled “A Day In The Life Of A Berklee Student”, or something like that…. I would read it at recess and pick out what courses I wanted to take and then research the professors who taught them. I knew immediately that that was where I needed to go, and after I graduated from high school that’s exactly where I went.
The guitar was my principle instrument at Berklee, but I was a songwriting major. Guitar always came pretty easily for me. The way I look at learning any instrument is that once someone teaches you the technique, it’s pretty much up to you to get better… it’s not the hour long guitar lesson that will make you a better player, its the 8 hours you practice what you were taught in that lesson once you get home. Songwriting on the other hand was a lot different to me. That was something I knew I really needed to study. There’s so much you can learn about songwriting, specifically about writing lyrics. Some things you can pick up on your own just from experience, but there’s a lot of tools that are important for a writer to learn. Things like Rhyme Schemes, Phrasing, Line lengths, Form and Structure, Prosody, and of course the music side of it- Melody, Harmony, etc. That’s why I didn’t want to study performance. To me performance and guitar playing were things I could work on at home or just by playing live. Songwriting was something I wanted to study. The way I write songs is very structured and organized. I think about every note and every syllable in all of my songs, and there’s a reason for all of it.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was great for me because I spent most of it writing and recording my new album, East To West. I’m always writing everyday, but you don’t always get to write a song and then go into the studio a few days later and start recording. I love recording songs when they’re new because you’re still going through whatever you were writing about. The song “All Of Me” was recorded a few days after I wrote it and I think you can hear in my voice that I was still feeling what I wrote the song about.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
I could go on forever listing all the music that inspires me, but I think it just comes down to one thing- good songs. That’s really what it’s all about. If I had to pick though I would say my biggest influences for guitar playing would be Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, and for songwriting it would be Sting, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Chris Martin and John Mayer.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I think the music industry is changing so much that its going to start filtering out a lot of modern artists out there that just try and be trendy. The artists I look up to are the ones who just sit down in a room and try and write good songs and not “hit songs”. I have a lot of respect for John Mayer and everything that he has done. I think he’s one of the few artists out there who really get it, and I think because of that he will be around for a very long time.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
I really love collaborating with other artists. I think you not only learn a lot from one another, but you also create something that is bigger than both of you as solo artists. I think it would be really cool to collaborate with someone a little older and unexpected like Leon Russell.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
I have a larger than normal itunes library… I just carry my laptop and an external drive everywhere I go. I used to try and choose a few songs to put on my ipod, but whenever I get on the plane the one song I want to listen to is never one of the ones I uploaded to my ipod. My bag tends to get pretty heavy walking through airports with everything…
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
I’m a firm believer that the song has to be written before the track. With all the technology these days it’s very easy to go into the studio and create a drum groove and put it on a loop and write to that. But you never end up coming up with anything good and all you end up doing is wasting time and money. I think the best thing you can do is lock yourself in a room with a guitar or a piano for a few hours and write the song first. Once you have a good song you can work on creating a track that serves the song instead of a song that serves a track. The best songs are always the ones that can just be played on an acoustic guitar.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
You can’t have a great song without a great melody AND great lyrics. I think that they’re both just as important as each other because a very important tool in songwriting is Prosody- the relationship between melody and lyrics. Lyrics have to say what the melody makes you feel, and the melody should make you feel what the lyrics are saying. They have to support each other at all times.
Q: Where are you based?
Los Angeles, CA
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. It was a great place to grow up and a great place to live, but it wasn’t the right place for me to pursue my career. I think professional musicians tend to flock to Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, or London and if you’re like me and need to be working all the time, those are the places you need to be because that’s where everyone in the industry is.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I write everyday. It’s part of my process. I think it’s important to keep a habit of writing all the time because you never know when a great idea for a song will come, and I like to be there waiting when it does. Once I have written a few songs and I start to see a correlation between some of them, that’s when I start thinking in terms of a new album.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I just play guitar. Mostly old blues stuff. I’m always writing and I’m always thinking of my career and my songs, so it’s nice to just sit down and play guitar without thinking about anything.
Editor’s Note: Matthew Genovese’s music oozes style, substance and class. Definitely one of Song Revelation’s ones to watch!
If you’d like to contact or listen to more of Matthew Genovese’s work just follow the links below:
twitter link: www.twitter.com/matthewgenovese
facebook link: www.facebook.com/mgeasttowest
myspace link: www.myspace.com/matthewgenovese
reverbnation link: www.reverbnation/matthewgenovese