My good friend, Aaron, over at Nashville Noise interviewed new artist Matthew Huff and asked me to post it to get the word out about this great new voice. If any of you ever interview an artist and would like it posted here with a link to your site, just let me know, I'd be happy to post.
He may not be a household name yet, but rising singer/songwriter Matthew Huff is a name you will soon be familiar with. Born in Helena, Ark. (home of the blues in Arkansas), and raised in Mammoth Spring, Ark., music has always been a part of Matthew’s life. Matthew explains his style of music as “very true and emotional”, which really allows him to connect with his fans on a deep level.
For the past ten months, he has been working hard to get his name and his music out there for everyone to hear. With his first single, “Back Again” currently playing on many radio stations across Ark., Mo., as well as many internet radio stations, Matthew is hard at work completing his first album.
I sat down with Matthew Huff and asked him a few questions about himself, his music, and how it all began. The following is an edited selection from the Question and Answer session Matthew Huff recently granted Nashville Noise:
Q: You grew up in a small town in rural Arkansas. Could you tell us a little bit about how that influenced you and your music and how you try to incorporate it into your songwriting?
Huff:I grew up like most kids do in Arkansas; on a farm, long gravel roads, fishing on the weekends, “living” to hunt during season and one country song ‘till the next. Country music has always been dialed in on my radio station. Honestly I didn't even listen to Pop/Rock music much until I got in to college. In the 80's and 90's, I was inspired by groups like Blackhawk, Alabama, Little Texas and Lonestar. The harmonies these guys produced were simply art through music. I've always paid attention to lyrics, instrumentation and how it sounds together. I seemed to have had an ear for knowing when something was "just right" musically, even at a young age. Today my inspirations have changed some, but the strong ballads are still my favorites. Keith Urban is by far the artist that I pay most attention to. Besides his gift and artistry of how he plays the guitar, he portrays the feeling in to his music, from the instruments to the vocals. This is what I try to create when I write.
Q: How old were you when you first started playing music? What got you turned on to it?
Huff: Well, I can remember back as early as about 3 to 4 years old, sitting at my grandparents home in Helena, Ark. banging on their old upright with some "blue star" rimmed glasses (laughs). I grew up singing in a small Baptist church in Mammoth Spring, Ark. this was probably where it really got going for me. I knew I had something special singing with the other kids in church. We had a group we put together that traveled in Missouri and Arkansas and sang at different small town churches. The "Praise Posse" was a great group of kids from a small town church that sang praise songs to churches that would normally be singing from the hymnbook. I sang at a lot of competitions from 15-18, winning most of them, but just got burned out by the time I went to college. I joined the University Choir at the University of Central Arkansas for a year, but other than that I really didn't decide to do much with music until about 9 years later.
Q: What about the Song writing aspect of it? How did you start that?
Huff: I could write a book on how I wrote "Back Again"...my first song to ever write...well, first to ever write and perform and notably the first that I will drop to Country radio. The inspiration behind that came last April, when a long relationship came to an end for me finally. So, it ALL started ten months ago and I guess I have her to thank (laughs)!
Q: They say without the songwriters, there would be no music. This is especially true in Country Music. You do it all, but out of performing, recording or songwriting what is your favorite part of the process and why?
Huff:Oh man.... Tough one. (Pause) I think for me, man, it is the crowd, the fans, the places I've traveled to and scheduled to travel to. I have heard other artist say this same thing, but you don't truly feel the effect until you've done it. But to see people you've never met singing your songs is truly AWESOME… In my first ten months I have a song that hasn't been promoted yet that is getting great attention nationally just from word of mouth, I've booked a showcase during CMA Fest in Nashville and have traveled to Florida already to play. I'm truly thankful for the small amount of attention that I've received in such a short amount of time.
Q: You list many artists and groups on your website as influences, but if you had to pick one as your main influence, who would it be and why?
Huff: Keith Urban, definitely! Urban's style, flare, songwriting and performances are very intriguing to me. As I mentioned earlier, he has a way of taking lyrics and making you feel them. I am an emotional songwriter, meaning I write on emotion a whole lot. If I were to compare my style with any artist, it would most resemble Keith Urban's style. The guy is a truly phenomenal musician and artist.
Q: Your single “Back Again” has been picking up spins on radio stations throughout Arkansas and Missouri as well as on a few Internet Country stations… How did you react the first time you heard your song on the radio, and what does it take to make that happen?
Huff:I remember the first time I heard it, it was last summer around July or August. I was sitting in my truck and Tiffany from Y107 (Conway, Ark.) had texted me telling me it was about to air. Man, I just cranked it up as loud as it would go! Honestly, it's a surreal moment. It feels the same when you know that it's playing on a different station. I don't know if there is another feeling in the world that feels the way that makes you feel, to hear yourself, your song, on the radio for the first time.... well, maybe an ACM award or something! (Laughs)
Q: There is a new trend in the music industry, where record labels don’t seem to be putting people together to form bands, and they aren’t investing as much in potential talent to try to make them a success. Now there is more of a search for unsigned artists or bands that have built up fan bases on the internet through MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, etc… Do you feel like this is a better way for the industry to do things?
Huff:Well, whether it’s better or not, I think the labels will foresee that in the future. I do believe that the labels are smart in that way for a couple of reasons. They are recognizing people that have already done a ton of PR for themselves, have built a good quantity of fan bases, and show that they can be a serious profit to a label. I think this is smart for not only the label, but for an artist in the 21st century to do. It's just the way that things have changed over the last ten years even. Before Facebook, MySpace, Ning, Ping, Twitter, and Ustream, how did artists get their name and product out? They DROVE and shook hands! The Internet has opened so many doors for an average person with very few connections and very little money to spotlight themselves and get their talent seen. I think this benefits the labels as well as the artists. It definitely makes the abundance of people trying to "make it" increase, which makes it a littler harder for the artist to get the attention of the labels, but in the same sense it makes it easier for you to be recognized by a label that otherwise would have never known who you were.
Q: How do you feel this is working for yourself so far?
Huff:I'll just put it this way: It’s safe to say without the use of Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, which are my 3 sources of social networking,
I wouldn't be playing at half the places I play outside of Conway, Ark. I consider myself an average person and my connections are limited within the state. My music, image, and talent would not really be heard outside of the state without the Internet.
Q: On your web site you list your tracks along with a description about the song, why you wrote it, and the story behind it. Why is this important to you?
Huff: It’s important for me to give my fans and people interested something to grasp. My career is in elementary education where I have studied, followed, taught, and tutored kids over the past 6 years. You not only learn what works for kids, but you learn what works for adults. Adults are big kids that love to have content to new things. This may be something that I do for every song. I have received a good response from the “song biographies” and it gives color to the music and lyrics.
Q: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Huff: My short term goals right now are to get “Back Again” dropped to music row reporting stations and promoted, finish this first 6 pack album, continue broadening my fan base and continue playing as many shows, venues, charities as I can. In 5 years I would love to have been with and established a solid career with a label, had some #1 songs, a hand full of top ten’s and touring on my own headlining tour. Yes, big goals, but I've never in my life dreamed small. If God is willing and the chances don't pass me by, I feel that I have a great chance to making a great career from music and I'm excited to be off and running with it!
Q: What is country music to you?
Huff:Country Music is tradition! It is Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Sr./Jr., Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Mini Pearl and “Heehaw!”. Country Music is the facet of American music. It’s a little Bluegrass, a little Jazz and a little Soul all mixed together. In today's modern country you even find more rock mixed in with our country...Country is honest and friendly. You won't find another genre of music where the artist are so fan based. I feel that more country artists are truly humbled by their successes and truly appreciate their fans for their support more than any other genre of music. To me, Country Music is family. Barbeques, camp fires and parties at the bayou, now that’s pure country! It's safe to say that Country music is what has sustained in almost every Southern home in America. Country roots run deep in Arkansas and Country Music is the family I want to be a part of for the entirety of my career.
Q: Thanks for your time Matthew!
Huff: No problem! I enjoyed it.
Look for Matthew’s debut album to be available on iTunes and other digital music carriers in May. For more information on Matthew Huff, his tour schedule or his music, visit his website at www.matthewhuffmusic.com.