Interview – Matt Gresham
Perth-born singer songwriter Matt Gresham is quickly becoming a household name back Down Under, and he’s getting ready to bring his thoughtful, catchy melodies to the UK. After releasing his new single Survive On Love he’s on top form and ready to get back on the live gig circuit. He’ll be playing alongside James Arthur on the Back From The Edge tour and playing to sold out venues across the country.
You are now based in Berlin after signing with Warner Germany. Do you enjoy working in the city and when/how did the signing with Warner come about?
Berlin has been the most incredible experience so far. I was unsure of what to expect but the German people are so friendly and the music and arts scene is amazing and inspiring. Germans are also pretty direct so things get done! It all came about after I played SXSW which is a big festival in Austin Texas. A bunch of German labels as well as others came to my shows and Warner GE felt like the best fit to me. I really love their team and we all work well together. I also speak German so it made sense for a number of reasons.
You say you’re pumped to be joining James Arthur on his UK tour. How were you introduced to James Arthur, do you have a good working relationship and what is he like to tour with?
I knew about James when he first came off X Factor and have followed him since. When he released Say You Wont Let Go he obviously went to another level and when I heard he was touring I just approached him through his agent and was lucky enough to get the gig. The one thing that I’ve realised from this tour is what a real artist he is. His voice is amazing, his songs are amazing and he’s a great performer. Every song on his new album sounds like a hit to me so he’s just going to get bigger and bigger. He is so humble too and that I think is what is going to make him great.
What can audiences expect from the tour?
I’m playing solo on this tour and am playing a bunch of songs off my up coming album. I’m really excited to be able to play them to UK audiences for the first time. James’s show is great and I’m pretty sure everyone will be blown away by it.
You’ve experienced an Australian tour with ‘Survive on Love’ and are embarking on a UK tour. How do audiences differ and how does it feel to be finding new places across the world to perform?
Obviously I love Australia but I have to say the UK audiences have been amazing. The response has been really great and I’ve had the chance to mix a lot with the crowd after the shows. I can’t get enough of the different accents everyone has. I’m also a bit of a minimalist nomad so travelling around the world and meeting new people fits well with what I’m all about.
What do you think of the UK itself? Are you looking forward to performing up and down it?
Incredible. I love all the different accents and the girls are beautiful! There are so many different nationalities and everyone is so friendly. I’ve brought my surfboard with me too so am catching some waves while I’m here. It’s pretty cold but I just bought a new wetsuit that is doing the job. We are also touring in a little caravan RV thing so are seeing plenty of the countryside.
Have you ever been to Sheffield before – if so, what do you think of the place and if not, are you excited to visit the Steel City?
Not yet but I can’t wait to get there. In each city I’ve been checking out the sites and each place has been very different. Last night I got to experience Newcastle in all its glory! Giddyup! Can’t wait to see what the Steel City has to offer!
How did you start out as a singer/songwriter and why did you quit the Australian X-Factor?
I started singing around the house with my mum. She’s amazing and we always had a house full of music. As I got better I just started performing to friends and then doing gigs. X Factor is a great show and an amazing platform for people but as I got to a certain stage in the show I just realised it wasn’t for me. They wanted me to sign some contracts without seeing them and things just didn’t feel right for me so took myself off the show.
You’ve been compared to Ed Sheeran and Jarryd James. What do you think about this?
I love that and I’m a massive fan of both artists. Ed is the biggest thing on the planet so if I could one day achieve a tenth of what he has done I would be very happy. Ed, if you are reading this, come to one of my shows!! Beers on me!
As a songwriter, what’s your process for writing music and what themes do you like to include in your work?
Lyrics are very important to me so I always start there. I write a lot of love songs but I also write about my experiences and places I visit and also issues I think are important in the world. I’ll then work on the song structures and melody. I write a song a day when I’m not touring or recording so there is never any creative lag.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Ben Harper is my biggest influence but I’ve also drawn a massive amount from artists like Paul Simon, James Taylor, James Bay and rappers like Talib Kweli. I’m now also a massive fan of James (Arthur) so I’m sure that will start to filter into my music.
When was the moment you realised music was your passion?
I don’t think there was one moment, it just kind of happened. Music has always been a part of my life and my mum and brother are also singers and artists and we always just had it in and around us.
The video for ‘Survive On Love’ was powerful and very visual. What was the inspiration behind it?
The song is important to me because I think it has a strong message at a time when there is a lot of pain in the world. Terror, war, corporate greed and global warming are all big issues that consume us but really all we need to do is love each other a little more and care for the earth and we can make things right. I wanted a video that supported the song and pushed out that message as well and hopefully it achieved that.
What are your plans after the tour? Is there anything big on the horizon that we can look forward to?
Straight after the tour I’m heading back to Australia for a couple of weeks to do some shows then to Berlin for a few months to start the roll out of my next single and album. I’m hoping to have a release here in the UK soon and get back here for some more shows.
Matt Gresham plays Sheffield 02 Academy on May 29th.