Photo via nafees Flickr
Portland, Oregon resident M. Ward (or "Matt", as his friends call him) is an enigmatic good 'ol fashioned singer/songwriter. Appearing detached and independent from the world he connects to through music, he seems to come to us from another time and place. Without pretense he delivers songs with a voice that hangs in the air, enchanting an audience of listeners who are always left wanting more. An old soul with a guitar and the ability to tell a story through song, his live show is not one to be missed. Tomorrow night he plays Town Hall for the first time.
Listen: Hi-Fi.mp3 (from his 2005 album, Transistor Radio)
Are you on tour right now?
I just got back from a tour in New Zealand and Australia. I'm in San Francisco right now, on my way to Sundance. I'm gonna be playing a couple shows there in support of this movie I did a score to.
What was it like scoring a movie?
It was great, it was my first time accepting an offer to do one. So, I had to learn a lot, you know, it's a different thing playing music to prescribed images. But it was a blast, I like the idea of doing more.
What's the process behind that?
Watch specific scenes, and then just collaborate with the director and just using your imagination to try to fill out the spaces. It was really fun.
What do you usually do to keep yourself busy on the road?
Usually, well there's a lot of different things. Most of the time there is so little time to go out and see the city, so I end up spending quite a lot of time in the hotels catching up on sleep. But when I do have a day off I like to go to museums and just do normal tourist stuff. I try to get out of doors as much as possible when I have days off.
What do you like to do when you're in New York?
Visit friends, go to Central Park, try to get myself lost in the East Village.
Is there a favorite place you have here?
Central Park, I like the disco roller skaters in summertime.
Do you have any favorite New York memories?
My most favorite memories involve just getting lost in New York and taking a taxi home, you know. It's pretty easy for me to get lost in New York just because I'm not from around there, even though I have been there quite a few times, I always seem to manage to get lost somewhere. That, and I guess my best memories are wandering around Central Park, it's a little paradise in there.
Are there any guitar shops you frequent when in town?
Yeah there's a shop called Chelsea Guitars that I've bought a couple guitars at. There's always something interesting happening in there even though the whole shop is about the size of a one bedroom New York City apartment or something. Yeah, I recommend that place to everyone. Right next to Chelsea Hotel. I'm pretty sure that's the only place I've ever bought a guitar in New York. It's a great little shop. It's getting harder and harder to come by Mom and Pop guitar shops that are actually interesting. So I go there quite a bit.
Do you collect vinyl? (ed. note: I've developed a bit of a vinyl addiction as of late)
I used to but I don't so much anymore because whenever you pack vinyl it usually breaks. I prefer the sound of vinyl, it's pretty hard to collect it when you're travelling a bit. I would still consider myself a vinyl junkie.
Are your albums all out on vinyl?
Most of them are out in vinyl now, if they're not out now they will be released on vinyl this year.
Is there anything current that you're listening to a lot now?
I really like that last record by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That's probably the record that I listened to the most that was put our recently. I mostly listen to older music, but I think the guitars on that record are probably the most interesting guitar sounds that I've heard. I think he gets some really unusual sounds.
Were you listening to anything in particular while making Post-War
Yeah, I mainly get most of my inspiration from listening to old records, and it's been that way for a long time. For this past record I sort of focused on post war production styles, I got a lot of inspiration from recordings made in sound studios. It's the first time I've ever had proper strings on a record. So I listened to Billy Holiday and Roy Orbinson's string arrangements. I was afraid of using strings for a while because the temptation to add strings can sometimes come from a place of schmultz. I wanted the approach to be, um...
Yes, and less...obvious.
Are there any instruments that you'd like to use that you haven't yet - on an album or live?
I think it would be fun to mess around with more strings. I have a fascination right now with a record by Billy Holiday called Lady in Satin. And I think the arrangements on that record are my favorite right now. And yeah...there's a lot to be taken from that record.
I actually have no idea if this is true, or just something I heard a long time ago and became true - to me, but some people say that Town Hall in New York has the best acoustics in the northeast. You're playing there next week, have you played there before, or seen any shows there?
Yeah, you know, I've never played there. I've never been there before. I'm excited, my friend Portastatic are going to play too. It should fun. Are you going?
Well maybe we'll see you out there...