Interview + Concert Report: Matisyahu in Munich, Germany 3/5/2013
03/06/2013 by Munchy
Matisyahu is currently on tour in Europe. Before his sold out show in Munich, Germany he took the time to talk to Reggaeville:
► CONCERT PHOTOS HERE - VIDEOS HERE
You just released your album Spark Seeker in a special 2CD Europe Edition. It has officially been described as 'reggae, pop, hip hop, beat boxing culture with rock elements'. That can basically mean anything and everything. How would you describe it in your own words?
I don't really like to describe it, because it's too hard to describe. I call it evolved reggae music. That's the word that just came to my head, just now, I never said that before. It is reggae based to some extend and it's a mixture of different genres like you mentioned, of different elements. This record is less rock, more pop of a urban feel, a more digital feel, but it also has a big world music vibe to it, a lot of Middle Eastern instrumentation mixed with an organic feel.
Do you have a personal favorite song on the album, or one you want to recommend to your fans in particular?
I don't have a favorite song. Just put on the record and press random. Whatever comes out it will be good, because I'm really proud of every song.
A lot of things have changed for you: obviously the look, but also you decided to move your
religion to your private life. What was the motivation for that, what has made the difference? And what is actually different now?
Everything is different. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what changed. It's a long story. I have a hard time trying to put it in words. Basically at one point I believed in the Torah of Moses and the commandments the way the Rabbis interpret it and the way that Orthodox Judaism has evolved to today. I submitted myself to live my life according to that system of rules and that lifestyle. I felt an attraction to the Chassidic way of life being spiritual, the things that it stood for. So I said, okay, I'll give it a try and the only way to try that out is to go in full force. At least that's what I felt, that it couldn't be done half way. It required a complete submersion into that lifestyle and into that ideology to accept that way of life and all the rules. Over time I began to find some certain rules that I didn't agree with, but I still felt okay, I'm still going to commit myself and my ideas to these rules because I'm not hurting anybody else by following them. So it's just me and I can take it. And then eventually I said no, it's time for me to move and to figure out things for myself a little bit. If there are things that I don't agree with, it is my life and I have to make decisions now for myself. So that's basically what has changed. It is a little bit more freedom. I guess I felt it inside first. I felt like this freedom starting to happen inside of me, and then the outside followed like the shaving. Just every day becomes decision.
So it's a development that may have started before the album. Would you say the album is a bit of a documentary of that change? In Live Like A Warrior you sing 'Today, today, live like you wanna let yesterday burn and throw it in a fire'. Is that also expressing the change you've been through?
To some extend maybe, to live like a warrior means to not worry what people are going to think, to do things in your life that are hard. It could mean a lot of things. But the record is called Spark Seeker and that's what it's about: seeking spark, looking for life, to wake up and find your spark in your life. Sometimes it gets buried away, it gets constricted, things become heavy, tight, and closed in. The record's music and the record is about trying to find the spark, to shake everything off, just be yourself, and not worry if you're different than other people. It's just to find that broadness and the depth, and to dig deep for things and fly high, and to find yourself and be yourself.
With Spark Seeker also came the Acoustic Sessions that were recorded live. How did it feel to be in that special live one-take situation with audience? Where did you record it? How was the experience like?
It was recorded in a few places in America, a few different shows. Acoustic is nice, we just finished an acoustic tour with cello and guitars. It's a lot of fun of making acoustic music. It brings me back to the songs and what they mean: the words and the emotional feel. Sometimes with music there are so many things going on with a band and this was just on a stool, very stripped back, raw, naked. I'm just there with the people.
I heard you saying once that it was a dream of yours to do an acoustic album. So did it feel like a dream come true in that moment knowing, okay, I'm going to perform now and put this on record?
Life is a dream. I try to dream awake.
Now you're on a tour again with the album. You're touring Europe playing in some awesome places like even Moscow and St. Petersburg. Are you excited about the tour and about presenting the album live?
Yeah, I'm happy that the record is released now. That's the ultimate, to make music that is important to you and share it with the world and the people like in Europe or Russia, everywhere. It's been a while and the reaction was pretty great, the shows have been sold out. The crowd has been awesome and a lot of them know the songs. It's special to come back here to Europe.
What can the fans expect from the shows yet to come?
I play with a band called the Dub Trio. They are awesome. They're not just a reggae band, but they are amazing reggae musicians. Really they are the ones that kind of re-sparked my love for reggae music. You know, you go through phases of music and the reignited this flame that I have, that love for reggae music because their feel for it is so good. So the live show incorporates a lot more reggae than the record has, and heavy dub, kinda sludgy. Also there is the new songs, but also some old songs, some improvisation like dub out and exploring music, the crowd, and the people. It's not just about me just coming out and hammering down the songs. It's about reading the audience and having a real spiritual experience with everybody. To do that we can't be to tied to the material, we have to be able to let go a little bit and explore. To me making music in concerts is an exploration.
We spoke about the spark already and seeking it. So have you found the spark as yet and if so, where can I find it?
[laughs] Every day is a war, that's what I mean when I say Live Like A Warrior. Some people are just alive all the time, but not me. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes you have to find it. So I can't tell you where you can find the spark in Munich. There's a park around the corner and you can find your spark there maybe. If you don't find it there you may be able to find it in the concert. I was taking a walk in the park and I was praying. That's what I sometimes do. And then there was this statue there.
Who is that?
She's like the patron, the guardian for Bavaria. Her name is Bavaria. Bavaria is the region that we're in now. Munich is the capital of Bavaria, which is the South Eastern part of Germany, and she's our guardian.
She seems like a powerful woman, she's not messing around. She lifts her chest, there with her sword and a lion next to her. Who is the lion?
I don't know about the lion, but it is in our coat of arms so it symbolizes the region as well.
Nice, so maybe she helped me find my spark today, the angel of Bavaria.
Coincidentally, I was just at the supermarket, and I found spark as well (taking out some chocolate). It seriously says 'Götterfunken', which means divine spark and I thought what a coincident is that, so I brought one for you. Enjoy the spark later on and the show!
► WATCH 3 LIVE VIDEOS FROM THE SHOW IN MUNICH: