Deciding to make a country record in his father’s honor, and being introduced by a mutual friend, to world-class musician/songwriter/producer Bryan Cole, the stage was set for Matt Westin. Bryan took on the project as producer, believing in his talent and vision, and guiding Matt in making a first-class country record. Bryan recruited long-time friend and mix engineer, Doug Kasper to record and mix the record at nearby Tonic Recording Studios. With radio-ready songs, legendary musicians Mike Brignardello (Big & Rich, Blake Shelton, bass) and Steve Hinson (Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, steel guitar), and an amazing up- and-coming musician, Adam Ernst, Matt dedicated an entire year to making the record he and his father would be proud of.
In this interview spotlight, we speak with Matt about his motivations, challenges, the new release and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I was born and raised in blue collar family in a middle class suburb of Pittsburgh, PA called West Mifflin. My parents actually met at the same high school I attended, and my dad’s grandfather was one of the first people to settle in the area over a century ago. So, I’m very proud of my hometown roots. I’ve always enjoyed classic and outlaw country, more so than a lot of the modern country that’s so popular today, which borders on pop music. I have some of those influences in my music, the grit, the feel, but it’s still modern enough to fit in with contemporary country. It’s country music that I would want to listen to, and I think it has something for everyone, whether they are into modern or classic country, or even rock.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
This path was hard to find. I’ve been down a lot of other paths over the years, but I think that’s what has made me who I am as a man and an artist today. So I wouldn’t change that. But I pursued multiple musical instruments in grade school, and that’s where I originally fell in love with music. It wasn’t until college that I found a true passion for singing. Over the years, singing has helped me get through some difficult times. It was a release and it affected me emotionally and spiritually unlike almost anything else. Through a winding path that included engineering, acting, and various other part time jobs and lots of dead ends, I decided to follow my heart and go for it. Honestly, the final catalyst was when I watched my father die from cancer. He had always encouraged my music, and he believed in me so strongly. I needed to rebuild myself after such a devastating loss, and creating music just made sense in every way. God, family, and music are what kept me going, and I wanted to honor my father with my passion. I want to affect people on the deep level that music has affected me in my life. I remember times of my life by the music that I listened to at the time, and I think that’s the same for a lot of people. Everyone has a sountrack to their life. Creating music that affects people on such a level where they feel a certain way when they hear it, that is incredibly fulfilling and it’s a beautiful thing.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
“Legacy” is my debut album, and it accomplishes exactly what I set out to do. I wanted to create music that I love and that people will enjoy and relate to. Music that reflects deeply on who I am and would make my father proud. I am so proud of this album and it’s one of the greatest accomplishments in my life thus far. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
I’m a new face, a new voice, in a sea of faces and voices that have more content out there and a wider reach, simply because they’ve been in the hustle longer than I have. There is so much content out there. But by being true to myself, my history, and my vision, I’m not a cookie cutter country artist. I hope I can stand out because of that. It’s possible to make a splash in that sea of digital content, and with the help of MTS Records, I am beginning to and will continue to do that.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
Anything else before we sign off?
I just wanted to say thank you for the interview and I hope all the readers have a wonderful holiday season. Keep an eye out for Matt Westin in 2018!