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June 9, 2011 / punkcakes

Matt Bauer, an Interview

Matt Bauer is not only a beautiful musician, but a storyteller. His songs are full of chilling chords and emotional lyrics; it’s hard not to be there with him as he sings softly through your speakers. His fourth album, The Jessamine County Book of the Living, proves this skill all too well. It’s both haunting and serene, and rather than sitting on my bed in New Jersey I am instantly in his native Kentucky underneath a blanket of stars. This album is a magnificent piece of folk art, that breaks my heart in the most beautiful of ways every time I listen to it.
Watch the video to “Blacklight Horses” here, and check out the exclusive interview below.
Q. How did you begin your musical journey? What made you decide this is what you wanted to do with your life?
Well I wrote songs and played in a band in high school, but i mostly put music aside to study painting in college, and then came back to concentrate on music again after school.  I don’t know if there was one thing made me decide I wanted to do this with my life, I think I just slowly realized music is by far the thing that makes me the happiest and that means the most to me.
Q. Who are your own musical heroes?
Bill Monroe and David Bowie are two of the biggest. Both of them ( ok well Bowie up till about the mid 70’s) do so many things so well – amazing arrangements, great songs, great live performers, both innovators. I keep coming back to them over the years and they continue to be amazing to me.
Q. Your music is hauntingly beautiful, and as a listener it takes me away to a dark, beautiful, place of emotional serenity. When writing, where/what is it that influences your music? 
Oh thanks! I think when I’m writing it’s mostly places from where I grew up in Kentucky that i think of. that and some sort of imagined places, or hybrids of real and imagined places.
Q. On June 7th, we will be graced with your fourth album, The Jessamine County Book of the Living, what should listeners expect?
Hot summer jams? Probably not! Well, this record has bigger arrangements than my previous records – lots of strings, brass, woodwinds. so more orchestral, and i think more hopeful, at times, than my other records.
Q. What are you most looking forward to with its release?
I’m kind of curious to hear what friends think of it. I arranged and recorded it without sharing it with many people at all and kind went into my own little world. So i’m not really sure what it is I made. 
Q. How is this album different from your first three albums: Wasps and White Roses, Nandina and The Island Moved in the Storm? Do you feel as though you’ve grown as a musician and songwriter?
I think I learned a lot about arranging while I made this record, and I wrote for a lot of instruments I haven’t written for before (like baritone sax, bass clarinet, french horn). I think I learned some things about different tones and colors I could work with going forward.
Q. What is The Jessamine County Book of the Living about? Why these 10 songs now?
It’s a set of songs about places in central and eastern Kentucky where I grew up. It’s hard for me to sum up what it’s about – I think lyrically and in mood it comes close to magic realism or even fantasy, even though I don’t really go for either of those things usually.  
Q. June 2 you began the US tour promoting this album, what is your favorite part about playing your music live?
I really enjoy listening to the musicians I get to play with. The songs can become new to me all over again listening to the different improvisations that come a out night after night.
Q. If you could give any piece of advice to young musicians trying to get their own sound heard, what would it be?
Oh man! I am the wrong person to ask, but  I’d say don’t let that take priority over making something that’s satisfying and meaningful to you or you will drive yourself bonkers.
Q. The obligatory punkcakes question – what is your favorite dessert?
My mom makes a lemon sponge that is incredible, and I can’t even think of anyone else that makes it. That would probably be it, or a really killing pecan pie.
The Jessamine County Book of the Living
Make it out to a show:
07.21.11 – Kingston, NY @ Market Market 07.22.11 – Kittery, ME @ Buoy
07.24.11 – Manhattan, NY @ Ace Hotel
07.25.11 – New York, NY @ Live on WFMU with Irene Trudel
07.28.11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Zebulon

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