Matt Stevens huh?
My little journal entry about my trip to see Porcupine Tree last week seems to have generated far more interest across the globe than I might have expected! Bizarre how the blogging world opens up microcosms of connections really... but that aside:
I had a rather strange email land in my inbox this morning - in the Junk Folder. I'm not inclined to trash junk just too willy nilly and probably just as well too or I'd never have had a listen to Matt's music.
Matt invited me to write "something" about his music here in my blog for him! hahahaha!! How CUTE is that I ask you? Blatant promotion aside, I confess to being just a little chuffed that he at least appeared to have read my blog! We hobby bloggists are so egomaniacal ain't we?
Okay... so I checked out Matt's site via the long trail method rather than accepting his blatant call for action - in my junk folder no less - as gospel variety truth.
Glad I did!
Sure! The guy apparently CAN play the guitar - and then some. His album is available to download at his site http://www.mattstevensguitar.com/. You can offer him anything you want for it it seems, which seems to be the way of new music now thanks to the innovation of "Radiohead" a few years ago.
Matt sounds like he's classically trained as there is lots of classical riffs and spanish influences on his "Echo" album. I gave it a good listen and quite enjoyed it but I still sorta think the man needs a full band to round out his compositions with more depth and layers than the acoustic guitar layers he's added. I yearned for driving bass fills and the tight patter of drums. As it stands some of this stuff begins to sound much like the other to the untrained ear - a bit like chewing on gum for too long, it gets all bit "meh" once the initial flavour is gone.
There is a lot to like here of course. He has this layered loop thing going on with other acoustic guitar work doing the part of what other band members might have done with other instruments. For purely acoustic instrumental sound - its definitely pretty cool. For the "right" context anyway. I imagine this is the sort of stuff you can play unobtrusively in the background over a dinner date with friends.
Some of it is clunky and uninteresting, other parts are warm and intimate; other parts again, are just plain weird like all good prog should be in places *wink*. I have listened to some tracks more than once already. There are catchy melodies here, repeated lines that capture the mood and encase it like sticky honey on a spoon. There are chords that grate on the teeth like metal against fillings and then - just to mix it all up a bit - there's lilting Spanish classical picking juxtaposed against rapper-like background staccato sounds. It might be too much of everything trying too hard to be all one thing but most of the time it kind of works, the occasional glitch aside. This isn't polished production - it is however, an ordinary blokes' music and just like I blog for fun - he writes music for fun. He no doubt does it as much for himself as for the world.
What does interest me is how he is marketing his stuff! Direct email to blogger's who write just for the fun of it is a new one on me! Does it smack of desperation? Yeah! Perhaps!
Does that matter?
Not in the least!
My own reaction was one of suspicion and distrust initially but there was also something inherently "natural" about his email in my junk folder as well, which piqued my need to go Google him up! I am duly impressed by this effort to market his sound to the world on a bootstrap. And this is effectively what this is.... bootstrapping! This is obviously, his real business - his music - aside from his day job if he has one! He is using what is already available and working at it, strategically, using just the tools at hand to generate public interest and in time more sales. It's risky, courageous and determined and not lacking in passion.
It is unlikely that any major music producer would conclude that Matt Stevens had "something" marketable to make lots of cash from. That's the point here though. More and more we are going to see talented, highly creative and determined young men and women taking charge of their own artistic destinies and risking a chance on fame and fortune through a niche of other ordinary creative people taking notice. The tools are within their grasp to do this now on a global scale. Matt may be the harbinger of a new kind of Minstrel plying his trade across the ether rather than on a road.
The way Matt approached me to write about his music is to me, marketing by the incremental, rather than grand splash flashy advertising with sink or swim outcomes. This is the slow crawl towards making the music heard by as many as necessary even though the Matt Stevens of the world who are making this stuff, may remain relatively incognito throughout!
So good on yer Matt for having a crack. Your music is perfectly okay and yeah...just because you're not famous doesn't mean you don't deserve to be promoted or listened to. I have been happy to oblige by writing this post even as I listen to your new album on your site. I still think it's weird you think my blog will make a difference to your journey to fame and infamy though! *snort*
Oh what the hell! I reckon I might download "Echo" after all *grin*