Interview: Matt Hill

Feb 02 2015

With the release of his highly anticipated first solo record 'Masterpiece', Matt Hill has well and truly arrived on the scene. Featuring the velvet tones of blues guitar and the pocket grooves of 90s funk, the quality of musicianship shines through. LTTM chatted to Matt to find out more about the man behind the sound.

Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Masterpiece' and what the inspiration behind it was?

It was birthed from a desire to do something different. I've been involved with writing worship songs for the Church for many years, and I wanted to explore a slightly different route - an album that on its own was a work of art, that you could really immerse yourself in, discover new depths in the songs every time you listen, as well as detail in the musicianship. We recorded it in a big room as a three piece band, and you can hear the interplay between the musicians. A few of the songs are literally that, just the three instruments and my vocal. Others we have added some extra textures. There's a real groove, a vibe that I am really proud of.

Which is your favourite track on the album and why?

Overall 'Breathe Into Colour' is probably my favourite, I like the sentiment that God breathes our dreams into life, and our world into living colour. 'Guiding Light' is a great riff to play live with the band, and 'Safe Surrender' is a powerful sing-along chorus. So that's three favourites!!!

What do you hope for this album?

I would hope it would expand the landscape a bit for Christian Music. Especially in the UK. You recently asked the question 'Does all Christian music sound the same...?' And unfortunately, I do think there is a general sound, tempo, even chord structure that seems to work in the Christian world. Especially the praise and worship world. I love the way Delirious? used to walk the line between worship and the mainstream, and they pushed the boundaries. But I am asking myself who is doing that now? It seems the current trend is 'U2-with-synth' but surely with the creativity of the creator Himself we should be ahead of the curve, not years behind the pop industry!!!

My album doesn't have any synth...sorry if that disappoints everyone. I'm a guitarist.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

Sting. He has a way with lyrics - he can tell an entire story with very few words, and at the same time marry the story with the most incredible musical arrangement. He's done songs in 9/8 that still flow really smoothly and simply to the ear. He is an incredible talent.

How do you go about being different creatively?

I'm very privileged to know some amazing musicians, and they always push me to be creative. On the album I am joined by Jimmi Clarke (Bass, Il Divo) and Jonathan 'Ginger' Hamilton (Drums, Jessie J). I gave myself the boundary of a three piece band because it challenges you to think differently. Rather than add layers of guitars and keys and loops, we had to figure out ways of sounding big with less instruments. I try to remember the tracks that got my attention when I first wanted to play music - what made them stand out so much? I start with a melody or a guitar riff or motif. My phone voice recorder is full of 20 second song ideas!! When I'm writing, I don't listen to much Christian music at all - that way, hopefully I will come up with something fresh.

What is your favourite album of all time? Why?

'Reckless' by Bryan Adams. As a whole its just a great album. There are a few albums that could have got my vote here. AC/DC's 'Back in Black', or Sting's 'Ten Summoner's Tales'. But Bryan Adams' voice, songs like 'Run to You' and Bob Clearmountain's production, just a brilliant combination.

How would you define success in your career as a singer/songwriter?

I would love people to like my guitar playing, my voice, and to connect with the songs...but at the end of the day I believe success is, simply, obedience. I believe God gave me these songs, I recorded them as best as I can with the best musicians and engineers I know. Therefore it is already a success. Even if no-one else likes it ha!!

What advice would you give to any aspiring worship leaders or songwriters out there?

Keep going!! keep working hard on your craft, and get a mentor. Noel Robinson has been that person for me, stretching me both as a guitarist and a worship leader, since I was 10. I always know he's got my back. Also there is no substitute for keeping your heart soft before Jesus - and get plugged in to serving your local church!

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

'Vultures' by John Mayer, from the album 'Continuum.'

What does the next year hold for Matt Hill?

World domination...haha!! I don't know - its a blank canvas. Just excited to get on the road and play these songs live!

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