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INTERVIEW: Matt Epp: “Ryan Adams gave me a song in my dream”

Door: Maaike van der Linden

Fascinated by the world and it’s inhabitants, Canadian singer-songwriter Matt Epp wanders the planet with his music under his arm. His new album Ready In Time has been out in parts of Europe for a while. We spoke with Matt in Amsterdam about his new music, dreams about Ryan Adams en meeting people from all over the world.

Why did you choose to release your music in the Benelux only just now?

“Well, as an independent artist it’s very expensive to release your music in a new territory. I had to be very specific and have some kind of strategy with the little bit that I can move around, and this time I didn’t want to miss it. I’ve been touring a lot in Germany but I didn’t release there anything either… Well technically I did, a special record for a small company there. I’ve been in the Netherlands a few times for a couple of gigs, but this time I was like: nope, I have to actually release the album and that will give me the reason to talk to you for example.”

Where does your inspiration for Ready In Time come from?

“It comes from so many things, life experience basically. Since Ready In Time is my ninth album it’s like, I’ve been doing this for a while now and I worked really hard to become an artist and this is the time I’m ready. I’m ready to release it in the Benelux and try to get it out there. This might be the album to get out there.”

Which song on the album meant the most for you?

“I think the one that meant most for me is called Hard To Say and it’s about my grandfather immigrating to Canada. It came to me in a dream. Do you know the singer Ryan Adams? I love Ryan Adams. Well he was sitting in my dream like we are sitting. He had a guitar and he was playing these chords. I remember him saying: “It’s hard to say, it frightens me with every moment but here I am every day“. Immediately I was like: this is not actually a Ryan Adams song. This is my dream and he just gave me the song in my dream. I woke up and I grabbed a guitar, put my voice memo on and somehow I knew the chords already. Then I thought about it a few days and tried to write other lyrics but they just weren’t coming. When my father’s birthday came up I realized Hard To Say was about that I couldn’t speak with my grandfather because he only spoke German. It meant a lot to me and it still does.”

Who inspired you to start making music in the first place?

“When I was 23 I had a very profound spiritual experience and before that, I didn’t play music or sing. After I had the experience, the main thing that changed was that I had to sing somehow. I didn’t understand it so for a few months I struggled with it because I didn’t know what to do with it. Then I saw a songwriter playing his own songs and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I started playing, a lot of people in the industry were discouraging me. I wanted to learn about the business, so I played a few songs for them and they said: those are good songs, but you’re already 24 and you’re just starting… Forget it.”

Did you ever thought about giving up?

“No. I mean, I only thought of trying to slow down for a period, but only so I could get back to the music. It’s so busy on the road and so busy with paperwork or e-mails. So I thought of slowing down just to go back to being an artist.”

You’ve travelled a lot in the trough the years. Do you still have time for travelling?

“Sure, I always travel with my music. I have a fan in Japan and he is really trying to bring my music over there. So it would be him who brings me to Japan. In Germany it was an house concert what brought me there. There are a lot of places I don’t go for just travelling because it’s too expensive and I’m always half broke. So I always travel to a place where I can still make a little bit of money to pay for it. I would like to explore South America but it’s not very easy for me to go down there.”

What is the main reason for you to travel?

“The main reason would be the people you meet and their stories, because me and you, someone in Japan or Africa and someone in South America, we have so much in common. The whole human experience is something we have in common but there are so many other things. Everyone has his own story that is different from mine because the environment is different, your first language is probably different. So I see you as a little bit different and you see me as different and that makes us interested. So you’re like: what is this person’s life like? Because even if I’m writing my own songs from my own perspective, my perspective changes the whole time I meet another person. Every time I meet someone you hear something new. If you exchange things with people you see things in a different way because of this filter we all have. We can watch the same movie but both feel differently about it.”

Don’t you ever get tired of touring?

“With almost four weeks of touring, driving and playing twenty shows is a lot to handle for one person. So yes, I get tired but it’s so connected to the base of who I am that it feeds me more than it takes away from me.”

And don’t you get lonely when you’re on tour?

“Yes, I do but I think life is lonely in general. It’s because everybody is different and everybody is always busy. They all have things they care about of their own. For example, I brought my brother with me on tour. If he wasn’t here, with every positive moment there was nobody to share it with and each challenging, negative moment, there would be no one to have your back.”

Read our review of his latest record Ready In Time here.

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REVIEW: Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor

Per album leek de bezetting van Panic! At The Disco wel te veranderen, en de laatste paar platen namen de bandleden ook af. Nu, met het nieuwe album Death Of A Bachelor op zak, is de band gereduceerd tot slechts de zanger Brendon Urie. Het lijkt een hopeloos sprookje van een kapitein die met zijn schip ten onder gaat, maar de nummers wijzen heel anders uit. 

Bekijk hier de videoreview van Death Of A Bachelor:

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INTERVIEW: Derek DiScanio from State Champs: “I like the second album-pressure, it fuels my fire”

New York-based band State Champs have officially left the new kids-area in the rock scene and are stepping their game up. The second album Around The World And Back is released October 16, and has to make sure that the energetic five-piece will be here to stay. LLUID chatted with frontman Derek DiScanio in Amsterdam, about travelling the world, working with Ansley Newman and dealing with the second album-syndrome.

You’re on the road with Knuckle Puck an ROAM right now, how is that tour going so far?
“It’s our second time in Europe now. We did a few shows here a year and a half ago, when our first album The Finer Things came out. We were supporting The Wonder Years then. So this time it’s more like a headline tour. It’s exciting for us, a lot of shows are sold out including tonight.”

Your second album Around The World And Back is a couple of weeks away. Did you experience some ‘second album syndrome’ in the process?
“You gotta step your game up, there’s defenitely some pressure. People are expecting things and it’s gonna be anticipated. I like the pressure, it fuels my fire and gets me working harder. We learned a lot from the process of The Finer Things and we knew what we wanted to take from that. We were anxious to get back in there. It’s still the same sound, but there is just so much more and a lot of cool surprises. We got to experiment with more production this time. From the first track ‘till the end, it takes you on a journey. There is a dynamic level of energy throughout the album, it picks up and slows down and then it has it’s chill moments and punchy moments. We’re really excited about it.”

In what way did the world influence the record?
“It’s almost two years ago since The Finer Things came out, and until that point we had never even left the US. So once that hit, we got all these tour offers. We went into the world and saw all these places and made all these new friends. At the same time we were writing songs for this record, so we literally wrote this album around the world. I did a lot of writing on long drives in Australia, Japan and the UK. We would sit in the back of the van with an acoustic guitar, just riffing. We went to a lot of different places, so the title really fits. We recorded the titletrack in the studio as one of the last, but we still didn’t have an album title at that point. After that, we listened to the songs and tried to decide on a name, when that song came up. It opened with the line ‘been around the world an back this year’ which was kinda perfect, it made so much sense.”

What is the story behind that title track, Around The World And Back with Ansley Newman?
“We defenitely knew we wanted to do at least one acoustic track on the album. It started out with just me and an acoustic guitar in my room. Just, like, a very mellow song, that i thought had a very different sound. It’s the most low-key song, but I still think its very powerful. We added a lot production on there, like synths, keyboards and timpani drums. And when I was working on it, I thought that it would make a good duet song. We had never made a song with a female singer before. It was really cool to work with Ansley and I think her voice is amazing too. We couldn’t record it together, so I send her all these notes, like, she should sing this harmony here, and that one there. When we got it back, it sounded so perfect. It sounded like we were actually side by side recording it. Around The World And Back is one of my favourites on the record.”

Listen to Around The World And Back Ft. Ansley Newman here:

Playing acoustic is something you do often, you even released an acoustic version of your debut album The Finer Things.
“Yeah, people really dug the acoustic versions, it showed a whole other laid-back, unplugged side to us. I think a lot of people were expecting at least one acoustic track on this album, and we gave it to them. The reception has been really well. Maybe we’ll do an Around The Acoustic World And Back thing too, who knows, haha. But if we get bored and wanna do it, sure! There are even fans who ask if we could play acoustic versions of our songs live. Unfortunately, we didn’t brought an acoustic guitar on this tour, so some people are disappointed with that. Especially since the song Around The World And Back came out some days ago they really wanna hear us play that song. But then I don’t think I would sing that song without Ansley, because she needs to be there. Maybe we’ll be able to play it live together sometime, but that would be something exclusive.”

You guys did a cover of Zedd & Hayley Williams’ Stay The Night. Could State Champs ever create a pop song of their own?

“I won’t name ourselves a pop band, but I’m really into new music and are a big top40-listener. It was cool to do the song for Punk Goes Pop, it’s something I grew up listening to. We were really excited about it, but when we were asked to do that, we were in between tours, so we had one week to record the cover. But given how rushed it was, we still had a lot of fun with it. We tried to make it as State Champs as possible, without staying to close to the original. We really made the song ours, it went really well. It’s one of our top played songs on Spotify, haha.”

State Champs second album Around The World And Back comes out October 16 on Pure Noise Records

Photo: Bas Koppe