Matthew Morgan indie artist BI live in Chicago and it’s a great town for music. There’s a pretty large support network of local bands that play live and for the most part everyone is very encouraging and works together to combine forces, create events, and cross promote with fans.” – @mmorganmusic

Episode #271 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax

by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

I live in Chicago…
and it’s a great town for music. There’s a pretty large support network of local bands that play live and for the most part everyone is very encouraging and works together to combine forces, create events, and cross promote with fans. Of course, we have all of the same “lack of” industry challenges as everyone else right now, but it definitely helps to be in such a positive environment.

Some of my favorite music clubs are Subterranean, Schuba’s Tavern, and the famous Double Door. The Metro has a reputation for being the ultimate goal for indie bands playing in Chicago. Sure, we would love to play the Metro, but the most important thing to us is playing great shows where we connect with the crowd wherever that might be.

Tell me about one fun thing you like to do that can be music or non-music related.
Hmmm, I enjoy painting. I’m an OK artist. I used to show my paintings regularly in a gallery in Chicago. However, I haven’t had time to make any artwork in a long time. I designed my logo and I do all the layouts for my own albums and website…so, I try to do art wherever I can. There are a lot of things I would like to do, but then I have to sleep. It’s so annoying!

The Music Business…
I, actually just read an article about the devaluation of music in our culture and it painted a pretty bleak picture. The music industry is reflecting a global trend in culture largely stemming from the evolution of digital media, but it’s not doing anything significant to counter balance this evolution and educate people about the importance of music in daily life. As a result, the options and quality of music are suffering and it’s being reduced to something basic and disposable. That said, I am trying my best to be an optimist and looking for ways to view myself and my band as our own corporation. I believe that it is possible to overcome the lack of focus on music in our culture, but as musicians we have to become educators and advocates ourselves. No, it’s definitely not fair and it totally sucks if you’re not the kind of person that wants to run a business, but no one else is going to do this for us. So, there really is no other option to embracing business ownership and creating your own brand other than quitting. Personally, I feel like I’m on this Earth for the primary function of creating music and sharing it with others, so quitting isn’t an option for me.

Social media..
I like that it enables people to communicate broadly in a way that would have been impossible for past generations. But, there are some disadvantages to social media as well. I think the worst thing is burn out. It’s just so overwhelming to follow a constant stream of information form every single person you know on a continuous basis, so now we are developing social conventions around what is “acceptable” to share. I can’t help, but notice the irony that lies in the fact that we (in the US) live in a country built upon the foundation of freedom of speech, but we are now censoring ourselves due to the overwhelming amount of freedom of speech that we have been granted. But, you know it’s cool to share anything about kittens (sarcasm).

Singles vs Albums…
I think it’s just another reflection of our culture of disposable entertainment that releasing albums is no longer the norm. Where this is sad for musicians is in the fact that we rarely get the chance to connect with our audience because we’re limited to the roughly three minutes in which we’re able to tell a story with our music. It’s a lot of pressure to do that, so there’s fierce competition to be noticed and in my opinion this is partly why there is so much shallowness in popular, mainstream music that you hear on commercial radio. It’s much easier to get people’s attention by being shocking rather than developing a more broad musical idea. That said, there are still a lot of us out there who want to slowly develop our musical statement over the course of an album, or at least an EP. I think The Decemberists are a good example of a band that does this.
I was born into a very musical family…
My mom is a well known vocal coach in Northeastern Ohio and my grandpa was a saxophonist during the big band era. So, I don’t have any memories of a time when music wasn’t the main focus in my household. I started singing in church when I was probably five, or six and began performing as a soloist when I was about seven.

Lost At Sea…
This song is about love that’s falling apart. Even though it has an upbeat feel, the lyrics are basically pleading to hang onto a relationship that’s faltering. There’s also a haunting sadness implied by the ghostly effect on the violin. Actually, a lot of people have said that the violin is their favorite part of the recording.

It was a pretty easy session and everything just kind of came together. A lot of times it feels like the best songs kind of write themselves and come together without a huge effort. I used to struggle with this because it feels like you should have to work really hard for something to be good. But, apparently that’s not how it always works.

Link to FREE download:

My music…
I was trying really hard not to make an album that was NOT tied to concrete events, or significant concepts. I guess lyrically it’s pretty obvious that the album is about relationship challenges, but that wasn’t really intentional. It’s not about anything specific in my life other than to say that anything your create is going to be a reflection of your own psyche and the experiences that have directed your life up to a particular point. I guess I want people to feel like they’re listening to something that’s sincere and heartfelt and simultaneously fragile and strong. It’s more important to me to capture emotions beneath the surface than to get an easy reaction from people listening to my music. All of my marketing plans are based around getting to know people and developing a relationship based on music, but also getting to know them and listening to their stories. Be careful what you tell me, or it might end up in a song.

matthew morgan indie music soryI would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
I would love to have had a chance to talk to Elliott Smith about his songwriting process and where he got his ideas and inspiration. I’ve just listened to his music a lot and I can’t grasp the sheer volume of references and creativity, chord progressions, rhythms, and melody lines he came up with…it’s like most everyone has a particular set of boundaries and they try to be as compelling as possible within their own framework. But, he was one of those genius kind of writers where it seems like he had a wider musical landscape than most at his disposal.


Music Trends…
I think there’s always been an emphasis on being current and trendy, but now we have evidence to show that a lot of artists who break out in a big way tend to disappear just as quickly as they blow up. For me, personally I would rather work on a long-term career based on good music and cultivating fans and friends with whom to connect on a more personal level. I’m also a little bit too old to be in the know about what’s current and trendy anyway, so I think it would be pretty obvious that I was just posturing if I tried anything like that.

I am most afraid of…
Living a life with no purpose, or meaning. I’m not religious, so I do struggle with the concept of why we exist at all. I think, for me, the answer to the “why” question has been to create that meaning and purpose for myself and to do small things to improve the lives of others and be helpful, even if it means just being kind.

My personal definition of success is..
Name one success story that you are particularly proud of. Explain why you considered this a great success and how you achieved it.

Having an amazing EP Release with all of our friends and inviting people that we know to come up on stage and guest on songs with us. Anytime you put together a special event and it all comes together and you see everyone having a good time that’s a success in my book. I don’t measure it in terms of dollars and cents, if I did I would have quit this a long time ago.

My over all goal for my life & career is…
to continue to grow as a song writer and connect with music in new ways, broadening my scope. I’m never satisfied for very long with anything I do and that’s what keeps me going.

3 Ways that I challenge myself…
1) acknowledge my successes, but never be satisfied
2) pay attention to those around me and be a better listener, but try hard to avoid comparing myself to anyone else
3) be open to learning new things to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

Social media:
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