I'm fortunate to be the first one to interview my talented friend Matt Robinson, a gifted singer-songwriter and guitar player hailing from Florida. We had some good times together in Nashville doing all sorts of crazy stuff.
What got you involved in making music?
When I was very young my dad exposed me to some really amazing music. We would always listen to classic rock and jam with the windows down in the car. Steely Dan is his favorite band, and was one of my earliest musical influences. I think this early exposure to such amazing music created a love for music that is deep within my soul. My dad would also mess around with the guitar and singing some. I would always love listening to him play. When I was about 12 years old, I picked up his guitar and I couldn’t put it down. Before I knew how to play anything, I was writing. It was a natural gift that was given to me. For this I am deeply grateful. My first song was called “Love is a thing without breaks.” I wrote it using my nonexistent guitar skills. Still, the melody is haunting, and was the beginning of a very fulfilling passion.
When did you realize that you were gifted with an incredible vocal talent? Did it just come naturally or require practice?
Singing along with songs has always been the way I have enjoyed music. I was singing along with songs from the time I was three years old. So I guess you can call this practice, but I would not say that the practice was intentional. Just a natural love for it I guess. I did have to work on some techniques in order to restore my voice, because the way I was singing caused me to have nodes on my vocal chords (singers worst nightmare). I have since adapted my singing style and the nodes have gone away.
How did all your videos become so popular?
I started making YouTube videos singing cover songs in order to gain exposure. It is tough to get people to listen to your original music when they have never heard it before. So it is a really useful technique to attract listeners by singing cover songs. These videos began to gain traction. My first cover video was “Wiseman” by Slightly Stoopid, freshman year of highschool. This video went viral at my school and got me up to about 1,000 views on YouTube. From here I started to build a base. After that, I started releasing different cover songs as they were relevant and marketing them using low budget google ad words campaigns. This allowed me to target specific demographics and begin to build a fan base. As I released videos they began to get anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 views. This was the platform I needed to launch an original music video.
Any musical projects coming up soon? Or a place to listen to more of your work!
I have a completed album that I am waiting to record. I plan on releasing it within the next couple years. I released three new songs on Soundcloud.
What was it like shooting the video for Feel the Beat?
Shooting the music video was an amazing experience. I flew into LA and met up with the director and producer for casting day. We interviewed about 20 different models for the job (definitely had a good time doing that). Eventually, I got to pick the girl I felt the most chemistry with. I picked Bailee Beachey, a gorgeous young girl from Pidgeon, Michigan.
The day of the video I drove out to the dessert. It was the most beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. There were about 15 crew members working on the set of the video. The video was really awesome and unique because we were shooting on actual 14mm film. This is a rare thing today since most videos are digital. Shooting on film gives the video a grainy, warm quality that cannot be replicated perfectly with digital.
We shot the whole video in one long day. We got there around 8 AM and wrapped up around 1 o’clock AM.
What advice you tell someone who is making music and wants a video to become popular like this?
One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have a platform of people ready to listen and to share. I did this to an extent, but I would recommend getting people with large social media followings to agree to share the video for you on the day of the release. In this day and age, the release is the most important aspect of making a successful video.
What is your inspiration when you make music?
I believe that great music is not the creation of man, but a channeling of a small piece of the divine melody. When I am making music that is soul level, it is coming through me, not from within me. This is how great music is created. Not through the mind but through the heart and soul. Every song writer longs for those moments of divine inspiration, sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn’t. It is definitely an art and not a science. If you could truly break apart songwriting and conquer it logically then great songwriters wouldn’t run into long dry spells. Even the best writers on earth typically write some throw away music.
As far as the process is concerned, typically, I will sit down with a guitar or at the piano and try to find a melody, chord sequence or lyrical idea and just see where it goes.
I remember one time you came back from performing in Broadway and your fingers were bleeding from jamming so hard. What was this experience like?
Yes! It was about 8 degrees in Nashville that night. Anyone who has lived in Nashville knows how rare that is. I decided I wanted to go play out regardless of how cold it was. I put my guitar case out on the street, strapped up my guitar and got to jamming. The cold made it so that every time I strummed the guitar my fingers would cut open and bleed. I started bleeding profusely into and on my guitar. I was way too caught up on giving my best performance and giving everything I had to the few people who had gathered around to listen to do anything about it. I made more money this night than any other night performing. People really admired the dedication and saw how much I was giving the performance and as a result they gave back. One woman bought 5 albums and had me sign each one of them with my bloody hands.
I know you have gotten really big on wakeboarding recently. Why is this so enjoyable?
Wakeboarding is freedom. When I am on the water I am completely free. This feeling of freedom and joy is similar to the one I get from music when I am in the middle of performing. This year I will be taking up kite boarding, which I believe will offer me even more freedom to explore and enjoy.
Tell me about your new business venture?
I am currently selling my own Herb Grinder. Apex Grinders is the name of my business. The idea was to create a stylish and effective herb grinder at a reasonable price. I think that Apex accomplishes all of these goals. I use the product and believe in it.
What’s your biggest accomplishment?
Graduating from Vanderbilt!
How do you face challenges and overcome them?
Challenges and failure build character. I like to see each of them as a gift. I believe that everything in life is happening for me, not to me. With this mindset, there is no such thing as failure.
Tell me about the time you played for the people at LAX after the shooting?
I was on my way back home after shooting my music video when the LAX airport shooting happened. I was actually driving up the airport as all the emergency response was going on. Everyone was sitting outside of the airport on the side of the road, waiting for the airport to re-open. I figured it was a good time to get out the guitar and try to bring some positivity to the whole situation. Some news networks came around and interviewed me and my photo and story was picked up by the associated press.