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Matt Gresham grew up in a house where music was at the crux of everything, just there, so omnipresent you couldn’t imagine life without it. Raised on a diet of Ben Harper, Bob Marley and Paul Simon, the Rockingham singer-songwriter’s first memories of music were of his brother singing in their childhood house and passing on his knowledge about artists.
Even now years on, through an expansive career, his fondest memories remain the ones of his early teens: his mother and brother singing and playing guitar, kicking it during a backyard jam session. “My mother is an amazing poet and has always surrounded me and my brother with inspiring culture and music,’” he recalls, “she brought us up to value art in its true form and have respect for it.”
Matt Gresham has explored just about everything music has to offer, from pop to world music to working with London Grammar and rock ‘n’ roll legends. And he doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Gresham’s innate thirst to play music has meant he’s been in a permanent state of flux: touring for nearly eight years, plus that elephant in the room: a dabble in The X Factor, which he inevitably quit in a flurry of ‘shock departure’ headlines in order to preserve control of his music. Pretty understandable, really, given the length of his career has seen him span a number of genres, visiting elements of blues, jazz, reggae and roots with the assistance of a plethora of different instruments, including the didgeridoo, djembe and harmonica.
From this long stretch on the road – getting lost in strange cities, staying in foreign hotels, playing familiar gig venues – he says he’s learned to have patience, both with rehearsing and with people. “Every venue is different and so is every place,’” he explains, “you must be very flexible and, most importantly, enjoy the journey.” Next on the agenda will be the US, which will act as temporary home as he plays a string of shows, including performing and soaking up the energy of Texas’ legendary SXSW conference, plus time in Los Angeles to write with new collaborators.
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There’s also an EP due out early this year to add to Gresham’s already impressive portfolio, from which he tells us we can expect a ton of interesting subject themes. To tide us over till then, he’s presented us with latest single, Small Voices, taken from this upcoming EP, penned alongside London Grammar’s Jaymes Young, whom Gresham calls ‘a genius’, and produced by Scott Horscroft, who’s shaped the likes of Birds Of Tokyo and Silverchair. The track offers laid back world music and R&B elements, gently smoked with pop and electro vibes and overlaid with Gresham’s silky tenor vocals.
In its original conception, Small Voices is the tale of an incarcerated man missing his daughter. “The emotion of missing someone or something is huge, and I feel being in a jail in the mind or in a literal prison cell would be the worst,’ he says, “ That’s what inspired it! Rather dark, but hey: I love hectic subjects.”
He’s said though that on revisiting, the vocals could be about someone trapped in the humdrum of urban life wanting to pack it all in and live in a forest. As long us someone loads us up with music before sending us into the sticks, we’re totally there too.