Matt Westin Artist Interview
Written by Matt Zin on September 25, 2020
WELCOME TO THE STUDIO MATT! WE HAVE MUCH TO TALK ABOUT, BUT FIRST COULD YOU TELL US WHERE YOU ARE FROM?
I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN A MIDDLE CLASS SUBURB OF PITTSBURGH. PA.
I HAD A CHANCE TO READ YOUR BIO, IT STATES YOU WERE INTERESTED IN MUSIC AT A YOUNG AGE. WHAT PARTS OF THE MUSIC WORLD STARTED TO REEL YOU IN? I ALSO READ YOU STARTED TO GET INTO SINGING AND ACTING, WHAT WAS YOUR MOST FAVORITE?
Yeah, I have always been in some way interested or involved in music going as far back as my memory allows. I still remember when I was about 3 or 4 years old, my father gave me a cassette of some of Elvis’ greatest hits. I’d sit on my bedroom floor and listen to it in awe.
Reading my bio, you’d guess correctly that this memory is very dear to me, since my dad was a huge part of my love of music. I played a few different instruments in grade school, and it was around that time that I started expanding my taste in music. My older brother listened to rock and metal, so being the annoying younger brother that I’m sure I was, I wanted to be like him and listen to his stuff. I honestly have enjoyed just about every genre of music throughout my life. A love for singing didn’t really develop until college, and it’s grown exponentially since then. As for acting, I actually have a “time capsule” from 1st grade that I opened when I graduated high school that said in 1st grade I wanted to be an actor. I still have a love for acting, and I plan to continue acting into the future, but singing has definitely become a deeper passion, especially considering that my album “Legacy” is dedicated to my father, who passed away much too early in 2016.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC IN TEN WORDS OR LESS? WAS THAT DIFFICULT? OK, LET ME GIVE YOU ANOTHER CHALLENGE, DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC TO ONE OF YOUR INFLUENCES, GARTH BROOKS. PRETEND HE IS SITTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
OK, NOW I FEEL LIKE I’M ON A GAME SHOW AND I CAN ALMOST HEAR THAT JEOPARDY THEME SONG PLAYING IN MY HEAD! MY MUSIC IS: MODERN COUNTRY THAT RESPECTS CLASSIC/OUTLAW COUNTRY AND ROCK. TO GARTH BROOKS I’D SAY: HOLY CRAP, CAN I GET YOUR AUTOGRAPH AND HANG OUT WITH YOU?! BUT SERIOUSLY, I’D SAY THAT MY MUSIC DRAWS INFLUENCE FROM MODERN, CLASSIC AND OUTLAW COUNTRY, ROCK AND SOUTHERN ROCK. ON A DEEPER LEVEL, MY MUSIC IS A VEHICLE FOR ME TO INFLUENCE AND IMPACT PEOPLE ON A MEANINGFUL LEVEL AND SHARE MY HEART AND MY PASSION WITH THE WORLD.
BEFORE WE GET INTO TALKING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC, LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR DAD. FIRST, I AM SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT HIS PASSING. I AM SURE THAT WAS VERY DIFFICULT. I CAN REALLY RELATE, MY DAD PASSED AWAY AS WELL. IT’S ALREADY DIFFICULT MOVING THROUGH THIS WORLD BUT WITH A MISSING PARENT IT CAN MAKE IT WORSE. IF HE WERE HERE TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM?
I’M VERY SORRY TO HEAR THAT. BUT YEAH, I CAN’T REALLY PUT INTO WORDS HOW DEVASTATING IT HAS BEEN FOR ME. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, I’VE COME THROUGH SOME VERY DARK PLACES AND THOUGH IT’S STILL DIFFICULT, I WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE MY LIFE. I’M SURE MY DAD WOULD BE VERY PROUD OF WHAT I’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR AND HOW I’VE HONORED HIM WITH MY CAREER. BUT IF HE WERE HERE, I’D TELL HIM HOW MUCH I MISS HIM AND LOVE HIM AND THAT HE’S A HERO TO ME. HE’S STILL SUPERMAN TO ME, AND HE ALWAYS WILL BE.
I UNDERSTAND YOU RECORDED A COUNTRY ALBUM IN HIS MEMORY. THAT’S SO BEAUTIFUL! TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS ALBUM.
YES, AS I MENTIONED EARLY, I DEDICATED THIS ALBUM TO MY FATHER. HE HAD ENCOURAGED MY PURSUIT OF MUSIC FOR SO LONG, BUT I NEVER FOCUSED ON IT AS A CAREER UNTIL AFTER HE WAS GONE. I MOVED BACK TO PITTSBURGH FROM PURSUING ACTING IN LOS ANGELES AFTER HE PASSED AWAY, BECAUSE I JUST NEEDED TO BE HOME. I WASN’T SURE WHAT LIFE LOOKED LIKE ANYMORE WITHOUT HIM, AND I WAS UTTERLY DESTROYED WATCHING HIM SUFFER AND DIE. I WAS ANGRY, DEPRESSED, AND A HARD PERSON TO BE AROUND SOMETIMES. BUT GOD, FAMILY, AND MUSIC ARE WHAT PULLED ME OUT OF THAT PIT. SOMETHING JUST CLICKED INSIDE, ALMOST SPIRITUALLY, AND I JUST KNEW IN MY HEART THAT I HAD TO RECORD THIS ALBUM. IT WAS A HUGE PART OF MY HEALING PROCESS AND IT GAVE ME A PURPOSE ROOTED SO DEEP IN MY SOUL AND I KNEW MY DAD WOULD BE SO PROUD. MY ALBUM “LEGACY” WAS BORN IN A DARK PLACE AND HAS HELPED ME FIND THAT LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL ONCE AGAIN. I SET OUT TO CREATE AN ALBUM THAT I WOULD LOVE, THAT MY DAD WOULD LOVE, AND THAT WAS TRUE TO WHO I AM AS A MAN AND AN ARTIST. I TRULY FEEL THAT THE WHOLE PROCESS CREATING THIS ALBUM HAD A SPECIAL BLESSING ON IT, AND I’M FINALLY HEADING ON THE CORRECT PATH TO WHERE I BELONG. UNFORTUNATELY, I CAN’T SHARE IT WITH MY DAD, BUT HE PLAYED THE BIGGEST ROLL OF ALL. LIFE REALLY CAN BE TWISTED LIKE THAT, UNFORTUNATELY.
“DON’T FEEL THE RAIN” IS A VERY TOUCHING SONG, COULD YOU LET OUR LISTENERS KNOW WHAT THIS SONG IS ALL ABOUT?
LOVE. PURE AND REAL LOVE, AND ALL THE BEAUTY AND PAIN THAT COMES ALONG WITH IT. “UNLESS YOU’VE LIVED TO FEEL IT, WORDS JUST WON’T EXPLAIN”.
THIS SONG WAS HARD TO GET THROUGH WITHOUT GETTING CHOKED UP, CONSIDERING MY FATHER PASSED AWAY SO RECENTLY. BUT HE WAS AN EXAMPLE OF THAT KIND OF LOVE TO ME; SELFLESS, SELF-SACRIFICING, UNQUESTIONABLE LOVE.
WHICH SONG WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT TO PUT TOGETHER AND WHY?
THE ROAD THAT NEVER WAS SEEMED TO GIVE US A LITTLE TROUBLE. IT’S A DEEPLY EMOTIONAL SONG THAT REALLY NEEDED A DELICATE TOUCH TO GET THE RIGHT VOCAL PERFORMANCE, THE RIGHT MUSICAL ARRANGEMENT, THE RIGHT BACKGROUND VOCALS, ALL THE ELEMENTS TO MAKE IT WORK. WITH THE AMAZING BRYAN COLE, AND ALL THE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE WHO I WAS BLESSED TO WORK WITH, I THINK WE DID IT.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY MUSIC HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
IN A WAY, MUSIC WAS PART OF SAVING MY LIFE. INSTEAD OF SELF-DESTRUCTING IN DEPRESSION AND ANGER, I CREATED SOMETHING THAT WILL BE PART OF MY LEGACY FOREVER, WHILE HONORING MY FATHER’S LEGACY. HENCE, THE TITLE “LEGACY”. AND IT’S GIVEN ME A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TRUE TO ONESELF AND NEVER GIVING UP.
I AM LIKING THE SONG, “RIGHT AMOUNT OF WRONG”, WHO ARE YOU SINGING ABOUT IN THIS SONG, CAN YOU SAY? DID THAT PERSON GET TO HEAR THE SONG? SOMETIMES WHEN ARTISTS WRITE SONGS, THEY ARE NOT ABOUT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR, JUST THOUGHTS, HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY SONGS ABOUT SOMEONE YOU DID NOT KNOW?
THANK YOU! THIS SONG ISN’T ABOUT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY, BUT IT DOES A GOOD JOB OF DESCRIBING JUST ABOUT ANY RELATIONSHIP, INCLUDING MY CURRENT ONE. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD, AND SOMETIMES THE “BAD” IS A LOT MORE FUN THAN THE “GOOD”! THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF GOOD AND BAD KEEPS THINGS INTERESTING. SO THERE’S A BALANCE, AND THIS SONG CAPTURES THAT PRETTY WELL.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE COMPLETED A COUNTRY ALBUM, WHAT’S NEXT FOR MATT WESTIN?
BESIDES PROMOTING MY ALBUM AND DOING AS MANY INTERVIEWS AS I CAN, I’M WORKING ON GETTING MY BAND TOGETHER AND ON THE ROAD. I REALLY CAN’T WAIT TO PERFORM FOR THE FANS AND MAKE NEW ONES! I ALSO PLAN TO GET DOWN TO NASHVILLE AND WRITE WITH SOME PEOPLE THERE THIS YEAR AND CONTINUE TO MOVE TOWARDS MY GOAL OF MAKING A LIVING DOING WHAT I LOVE.
TAKE ME THROUGH A DAY IN THE STUDIO, WHAT WOULD WE DO? WHAT WOULD I SEE? HOW LONG WOULD THE DAY BE?
WE’D WALK IN, START CHATTING AND JOKING AROUND A BIT IN THE CONTROL ROOM OR THE BREAK ROOM, MAYBE DRINK SOME COFFEE, DISCUSS WHAT WE NEED TO ACCOMPLISH THAT DAY, THEN GET TO WORK. WE HAD A LOT OF FUN RECORDING MY ALBUM AT THE BEAUTIFUL TONIC RECORDING STUDIOS. MY PRODUCER BRYAN COLE, DOUG KASPER THE OWNER/ENGINEER, AND I WOULD HAVE A GREAT TIME WHILE WORKING OUR ASSES OFF. WE’D TYPICALLY WORK FOR 8 HOURS A DAY, WITH SOME BREAKS THROWN IN TO REST OUR EARS OR MY VOICE, AND JUST CREATED A LAID BACK CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT THAT WAS A PLEASURE TO WORK IN. AT SOME POINT, YOU’D PROBABLY SEE BRYAN HORSING AROUND AND IMPERSONATING SOMEONE WITH A GOOFY VOICE TO MAKE US ALL LAUGH. DOUG AND I KNEW HOW TO GET HIM GOING.
IT HAS BEEN GREAT TALKING WITH YOU MATT. GETTING TO KNOW THE ARTIST BEHIND THE MUSIC JUST SEEMS TO PIECE EVERYTHING TOGETHER. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL OUR LISTENERS BEFORE WE END? ALSO, PLEASE TELL OUR LISTENERS WHERE THEY CAN FIND YOUR MUSIC.
The pleasure has been all mine. To the listeners, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support and I hope you enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed creating it. You can find me at http://www.mattwestin.com, where there are links to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, YouTube, as well as iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify to purchase my album “Legacy”.