*guest contributor - tony scianna*
reppin: ridgewood, nj // domino records // 2006 - present
sounds like: the haze near the end of a long road trip as you look out the car window at the state of nothingness.
last album drop: “St. Catherine” (2015) – “Jersey Devil” expected to drop Oct 2017
It was quickly approaching midnight when a tall, hipster-esque, dark haired man with glasses took the stage at The Empty Bottle – a small, yet intimate, indie music venue/bar. His attire was as casual as his demeanor: a plain white t shirt and plain jeans, with a natural saunter. He looked like he could have just been part of the crowd – which he was during the two opening acts, local bands “Dogs at Large” and “Varsity”. It was hard to miss Matt walking around and being social before he took the stage. His presence was undeniable, but it was also natural. He fit in with us as much as we fit in with him. Seeing your favorite musicians casually hanging out like any other person is one of the coolest experiences that comes with seeing indie music live. By time he took the stage it didn’t feel like some bigger than life person was in front of us; it felt like watching your friend, who happens to be incredibly talented, have fun and play music. That is the vibe Matt likes to create at his live shows – something he accomplishes through his presentation as well as his music.
After spending time as the founding guitarist of indie pop powerhouse “Real Estate”, Matt decided to take his dreamy, hypnotic, Jersey jangle pop guitar riffs and venture off on his own. Ducktails is a solo project, something Matt takes to heart with his live performances. Unlike the two opening acts, Matt didn’t have a band playing with him. It was just him and his guitar. But it wasn’t a stripped down, acoustic performance. Matt used a pedal to control pre-recorded bass, drum, and synthesizer tracks while he played electric guitar and sang over the prerecorded tracks. Almost in the same way a DJ will use pre-recorded tracks and scratch or improvise over them. He even comments during the show, saying, “I used to play with a band, now I’m trying this. DJ’s do it, why can’t I?”
Ducktails’ music is breezy and hypnotic – it allows you to let go and get lost in your own head. Before you know it, you’re relaxed and not thinking about the trials and tribulations of daily life. It highlights music’s wonderful ability to make you feel like nothing else really matters except for enjoying what is in front of you. Matt wants to keep the good vibes going. He blatantly says that in his biggest hit, “Killin’ the Vibe” when he urges others around him to “don’t go killin’, killin’ the vibe”. Matt wants his shows to be fun and inviting. He invites us to join him on a metaphorical cruise through the jersey shore – soaking in the sun with good friends.
During the show, he had a slideshow of photos playing on a screen in the background. The photos seemed random and obscure – almost as if it was an inside joke. But he explained that they are photos he took as he’s journeyed around the country. The way the photos masked his face and projected over his plain white t shirt presented a beautiful image of unity between his music and his life. He’s showing us who and what he is, all on his own. A mirage of photos, music, and his own vulnerability. And he’s inviting all of us along for the ride.
suggested listening experience: laying in your bed at the end of a long day // after a hike with your best friends // lazy Sundays at the beach