Matisyahu unafraid to dive into unexplored areas, arenas
September 26, 2012
“I don’t really feel bound to one style or one sound.” That’s something a lot of artists say, but when it comes from Matisyahu there is undeniable veracity.
When he became an international sensation in 2005, he was called a Hasidic reggae star, and he looked the part with a long beard and long locks. Three albums later – the 13-track “Spark Seeker” was released in July – and Matisyahu is clean shaven with closely cropped hair and a new sound.
“I feel that every album I put out has been somewhat of a departure from the previous one,” he said. “I would say it’s an evolution. Every time you create music, depending on who you create music with, it changes.
“I used every opportunity when I make a record to do something new. I am interested in different music and making different types of music. I want to make an acoustic record, I want to make a record with my band that’s got more of a sound making a pop sound. It’s a lot of fun.”
“Spark Seeker” touches on reggae, pop, rock, hip-hop and world music. It was recorded in the United States and Israel, where Matisyahu tours every year.
“It gave the whole record a much different sound,” he said. “It’s pretty much a pop record and when we went to Israel. I think it gave it a world music feel. It added an organic tone into the music.”
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Matisyahu has performed almost every day all summer. He gets a break after Thursday’s show at MontBleu – a one-week break, that is. Then it’s back on the road until December.
“As long as people want to hear me play, that’s what I do,” he said. “I like being out on the road and I like performing and I like bringing my music to people. Why stop? Why not keep going?”
After recording the song “Dance All Night” with Jared Watson and the Dirty Heads, the two bands decided to tour together. Usually, the process is the other way around.
“It was very organic,” Matisyahu said, “different from how it tends to happen in the business when an agent or a manager sets you up with an opening act. It came from the two of us, which is cool.”
Matisyahu’s band is Dub Trio, bassist Stu Brooks, drummer Joe Tamino (who tours with the Fugees) and guitarist DP Holmes (who has recorded with Mos Def and Common).
Matisyahu has played with the world’s best bass players, recording with reggae’s Robbie Shakespeare (“It’s like he was singing it.”) and funk’s George Porter Jr.
“Stu Brooks is not as well known as Robbie or George Porter but he’s the best bass player I’ve ever played with, far and away better than any of those players,” Matisyahu said.
The last time Matisyahu was in Tahoe was in January for the four-day Snowlive festival in Crystal Bay. Porter was on stage and this reporter was in the crowd when Matisyahu removed his yamaka and took a running start and dove into an alert audience, which made the catch.
Matisyahu was warned the stage at MontBleu is much higher than it is in the Crown Room and it would be too dangerous to dive into the crowd.
“We’ll see about that,” he laughed.