Canadian Sounds – the Maple Leaf and the Guitar

Marnie Recker, Tofino, Canada
On an ordinary Thursday last Fall,  I was reading the „Eppsteiner Zeitung“.   There was a small ad  announcing a band, „Matt Epp and the Amorian Assembly“ playing that same night in a pub down the road.   It said the band was Canadian (or at least two of the trio) and being one myself, I went to my computer and researched on them.  I immediately liked the music and so I „packed“ my family in the car and we went to the concert.  I can tell you, after the gig we were hooked!

Matt Epp is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Manitoba.  He plays the guitar and the harmonica.  But he is not just that.  He is a fine, generous and accomplished musician. The way he mesmerizes the crowd with his music and lyrics is very special.   Let your heart and soul be conquered by an honest, true music that does not need the artifices often used nowadays to mask over a lack of talent.  His talent is real and raw. His music touches, moves, amuses and also rocks.
Here is a small interview I did with Matt Epp.

Interview with Matt Epp – answered June 13, 2012

-When you decided to become a singer, you couldn’t sing nor play an instrument.  How did this come to you and how long did it take to record your first album?

It wasn’t really a decision to become a singer. Singing came to me as a deep desire – a need, even – that was grown or placed inside of me during a very deeply spiritual experience.  I was 22 years old when this happened, and before that I was not a musician at all.  It took just under 3 years before I recorded my first album in 2005.

-Who are your 3 favorite artists in music history?

My 3 favorite artists in music history are Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and George Harrison.  I feel very lucky to grow as a musician and writer in a time when all 3 of them were alive and making music.  Sad that George is gone, but I’m always excited by Young and Dylan making new art.

-You come from Manitoba but you live in Spain at the moment (or that is what Peter Finger said when he introduced you in Mainz). How long do you plan to stay there?

Yes, I was living in Spain for most of a year between tours, but now I have moved back to Canada for the present moment.

-You have travelled a lot, what are your 3 favorite places in the world?

Wow, this is a difficult question!  I think my favorite places might be Mexico, Atlantic Canada, Germany, Granada (Spain), and Turkey.  It would be impossible for me to narrow it down to less than 5.  I really truly enjoy every place I visit for it’s unique qualities.

-What place do you consider HOME?

I consider any place that I am with my wife as my home.  That’s how it feels.  But I still say that Manitoba is my home because I grew up there.

-What are the  most important Canadian things to you or the  things you miss the most from Canada when you are away (apart from your family and friends of course)?

The most important Canadian thing I miss is the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), it’s perhaps the only thing that really ties Canada together – makes us aware of each other.  Unfortunately Stephen Harper’s government is dismantling it and I’m not impressed.  

-You played in Germany already many times, what is the difference between a German and a Canadian  audience?

The primary difference between a Canadian and a German audience is that the Germans generally value art a lot more.  They really listen and pay attention carefully during a performance.  Every Canadian artist I know that has come to Germany has had this same wonderful experience.

-You seem to focus a lot on the European market, what led to that decision?

I came to Europe to learn more about the world and the people in it.  It’s very easy for Canadians to remain detached and feel somewhat unaffected by the rest of the world.  We generally have everything we could ever need or want.  I feel a responsibility as an artist and as a global citizen, to experience and learn about the lives and histories of other people all over the world, and have this educate my writing and my voice.
Of course, I also came to Europe because I thought my music would find a friendly and welcoming environment.  I decided to put more and more emphasis on Europe because of the doors that continue to open here.  And I love the mixture of cultures and languages and history that happens in such relatively small space.

-You are currently working on an album with Peter Finger, one of the world’s best guitar players.  What kind of musical direction?  Will it be instrumental or will there be singing, or both?  Will it differ from other projects you worked on before?

The record that Peter Finger and I are working on is a solo acoustic album of new and original Matt Epp songs.  There is nothing that is purely instrumental, though Peter does make a „cameo“ appearance on the album with a short and sweet guitar solo!  All of the songs are just me and my guitar, with only a few added guitar or vocal harmonies.  I’m very proud of the songs and how they all fit together.  It could be described in terms of my third album ‚Orphan Horse’ because it was also stripped down.  It’s a very intimate and vulnerable album, but also playful and optimistic.

-Is it correct that you will go on a tour this fall?  With Peter Finger?  In Germany only or also within the rest of Europe?

In November of this year I will be performing 9 or 10 concerts with Peter’s „International Guitar Night“ tour in Germany.  This tour is to promote the artists and albums released on his record label ‚Acoustic Music Records’.  I will likely add more solo concerts to this schedule, and people can easily keep up-to-date with my schedule online and on my website.

– Currently you are also working on your 7th album, which is a special cooperation with your family, friends and fans. http://www.kapipal.com/mattepp.  How did you get the idea of a pre-paid cd project and why do you choose this path rather than going through a record company?

I got the idea to use „Crowd funding“ to make these next recordings from several other artists that had successfully done this.  I had songs and a vision ready, but it’s very expensive to make quality albums.  Pre-selling the album is a wonderful way to both raise money and also to engage your audience and get them excited.  It was exciting for me to see this kind of support from my listeners.  There are many reasons that traditional record companies don’t work as well today, but an artist’s fans really are the new record company.  They put their money in the thing they really believe in.

-Your fifth album is the result of a cooperation with other musicians to form „the Amorian Assembly“.  Will this new 7th album be a „pure Matt Epp“ production or will it be a second „Matt Epp and the Amorian Assembly“ album?

This new album (to be released after the 6th one, the solo acoustic one I’m making with Peter Finger) is really another „Matt Epp and the Amorian Assembly“ album.  The Assembly is 3 of us at the core; Joel Couture, Antonio Lomas, and I – with the collaboration of many other artists and musicians.  And in this case again, our fans and friends.  All part of the Amorian Assembly.

-You are very close to your fans and very much accessible.  It is a reason also why people like you so much and not only your music.  They appreciate your kindness and authenticity.  Isn’t it hard sometimes though, to be so giving and do you think you could still keep the same approach once you are very famous?

Thank you for your kind words. Being approachable and kind is a pleasure for me, I like to meet people.  It’s very natural. Of course, I often get tired because my schedule is very demanding, and I need some space and time alone.  But I try to communicate this in a way that doesn’t come across as distant or aloof.  I don’t think this will change as my audience grows.  I’ve been the same in this way since I started.  I don’t care about being famous, but I do care about people… and the more of them I get to sing for, the better!

-Can you explain to us Amoria and the Amorian Assembly?

‚Amoria’ is hard to explain, though it’s very simple.  The name comes from the Latin root word for love – Amor.  Amoria is what I call „the Empire of Love“. It is a citizenship that anyone can choose to identify with.  Amorians believe that an act of love has an incredible value, no matter how small, and no matter how desolate the environment it’s born into.  We have a flag and a national anthem (‚Set Sail’ from our ‚At Dawn’ album) to remind ourselves and inspire others to try and live in this „state of intention“ to love an Other.

-What is your greatest „musical“ dream?

My greatest musical dream is to sustain a long and extensive touring career – like Bob Dylan.

Thank you very much for your time Matt Epp!

For more information on Matt Epp and his music:
www.mattepp.com   and  amorianassembly.com
Article in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

Upcoming concerts with Peter Finger’s International Guitar Night Tour
that Matt will be performing at:

November 2012
23 Karlsruhe
24 Colmar
25 Ludwigshafen
26 Mölsheim
27 Jena
28 Schorndorf
29 Rodenbach
30 Albstadt

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