New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Matt Siffert is set to release his new, self-produced EP, Gallatin, on July 21, 2017. Named after the street that runs through much of East Nashville, the EP features music that is challenging but accessible, with traces of alternative rock, folk, hip-hop, jazz, and experimental music, all filtered through Siffert's unique, approachable songwriting lens. Gallatin was recorded at Nashville's Brown Owl studio with local musicians, and John Helfrich, a Nashville-based engineer, was responsible for recording, mixing, and mastering the album.
"Story and melody are at the heart of what I do," says Siffert. "I love sharing my experiences and responses to living in the modern world, and doing so in a way that both is relatable and musically stimulating."
On "January 25," Siffert boasts about being "better matched" for someone's girlfriend. "That's my angry Leonard Cohen
song," he says with a smile. But the musical backdrop is different from Cohen's -- the drums have a complex cymbal pattern and a pedal steel guitar wails in the background of the ethereal soundscape. "A lot of this EP was trying to build off my songwriter influences and push my music into new, undiscovered sonic landscapes," he says.
"Evening in the Midwest," one of his favorite songs he's ever written, is reminiscent of the dreamier parts of Radiohead's output and deals with a narrator who tries to get to know someone but doesn't receive interest in return. "My psychology background helped me connect the minutiae of everyday life to songwriting," Siffert says. "In the overly-distracted, technologically-driven world I inhabit, I am constantly trying to understand what it means to be human. In 'Midwest,' I addressed my frustrations with modern interpersonal communication."
While some songs on the EP come from a place of conflict, others come from a place of happiness. "Morning
" is a gentle folk ballad that recalls James
Taylor and Townes Van Zandt and is delivered in a smooth, gentle way. "Nashville's current music scene is heavily influenced by folk and rock music from the late '60s to late '70s," says Siffert. "In many ways, it's the opposite of what is cool now in New York. Coming from a period of writing and consuming more experimental music, I had to recalibrate and reconnect with my love for this era of music. 'Morning' very much feels like an embrace of this musical lineage," he says.
Siffert was born in New York City to a psychologist mother. "I grew up around a fascination with people," Siffert says. After taking up bass as a kid, Siffert studied psychology and music at Carnegie Mellon. He worked in neuropsychology labs and wrote research reports on mental illness. While studying abroad in Havana, he bought a Cuban guitar and started playing and writing songs. "Cuban music changed my life," he admits. "It's the perfect combination of powerful songwriting and deep, sophisticated music. It was many of the influences of my childhood wrapped into one musical language." While there, Siffert realized that if singing and songwriting could "unite my diverse musical background and also talk about the psychological issues I was passionate about," he says."
He moved back to New York City, and while maintaining an active music career, he studied at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music. "I knew I wanted to be both singer-songwriter and producer-arranger," he says. "Formal music training allowed me to arrange for many kinds of instruments and deepen my musical vocabulary." He performed regularly throughout his studies, touring throughout the Northeast, and graced the stages of some of New York's most well-respected music venues, including Le Poisson Rouge, Highline Ballroom, and Rockwood Music
Needing a change of scenery and wanting a more focused community of singer-songwriters, Siffert moved to East Nashville in early 2016, and in his new hometown, his music began changing rapidly. Merging his experimental and accessible tendencies together was no small task, and the stellar musicians on his album made the challenge much more manageable. His collaborators on Gallatin include some of Nashville's fast-rising session players, featuring Zac Cambria (acoustic bass), Luke Enyeart (electric guitar), Will Honaker (keys), John McNally (pedal steel), and John Ogelby (drums). Kyle Breese (harmonica) and Zoe Nutt (background vocals) make guest appearances on "Morning."
"While there is definitely musical diversity on this EP, I'd like to think that my world perspective and unique musical journey thread the material together in a cohesive way," says Siffert. He is planning album release shows in New York City, Nashville, and Los Angeles; details will be forthcoming soon. He also plans to tour more widely in support of Gallatin once the EP is released.