Born in Memphis, Tennessee and growing up on gospel and country music in Mississippi, Nashville’s Matt Hectorne sounds like he is well aware of the musical roots of his home states, although he doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. His unique take on classic influences gives the listener just enough nostalgia to be drawn in and the way each song develops holds your interest plus will keep you humming these catchy melodies for days on end. My first experience with Matt’s music was back in 2013 when he handed me a copy of his album, Matt Hectorne and The Family Tree. He’s since released two more with a fourth album coming this year. I wanted to make you aware of this talented writer and musician as he gears up for this new release while revisiting some of the songs I’ve been spinning on The Local Brew Hour the past few months.
AnaLee: Happy new year, Matt. Congratulations on becoming a dad last year and releasing several incredible songs. You had your hands full in 2020! Your next release is one that I am really looking forward to this year and I wanted to ask you about a couple of the tracks you’ve given us so far. Hearts on Fire has a jangly sort of Jayhawks/Tom Petty feel and I find the melody swimming around in my head often, which I welcome! I have felt that way about all of your recent releases. You have a way of combining that familiar sound with a more sort of 90s, early 2000s indie rock feel and it really works. Have you worked on developing your sound over the years or have these songs and sounds sort of emerged organically as you’ve evolved personally?
Matt: I’d say it’s a bit of both. If you’ve committed yourself to a craft of any kind, you’re always looking to get better and improve upon past work. The end goal may change over time, but I’m always looking to get an idea out exactly how I hear it in my head. It’s an intangible thing, but it’s something that I know is hanging out there that I just have to grab and wrestle into a concise thought. I know there isn’t, but at times it feels like there’s just this one perfect song or note or lyric that I’m chasing that will sum up everything I want to express artistically.
AnaLee: You released a video for the song, “Stronger” last year. It has a pretty straight forward message of rising up and, as the title suggests, getting stronger. Tell us a little about the video and if there was something in particular that inspired this song.
Matt: The video came from a student short film from the early 90’s that I came across online. I think it was a spoof on a kung fu movie. I liked how homespun and cheap it looked and thought it would fit the song nicely. So, I just edited it down to go with the song. I’m always looking for old, forgotten footage to play as a backdrop for songs, and this one just had something funny and direct about it.
The song itself is pretty direct as well- As uplifting as it may sound, I wrote it in the depths of a very dark depression I was in a couple of years ago. It was an exercise in positive thinking. I was trying to pull myself out of a hole, just like the lyrics say. And as deep down as I was, there was a part of me that knew there was hope if I could just remove myself from the situation and look at it objectively.
AnaLee: “Your Mountain” has a bit of a nod to George Harrison in the intro. It then takes a totally different turn, but still has a sort of 70s feel. Tell us about this song.
Matt: That’s funny you say that because I never heard George Harrison in this one even though Harrison/Petty/Lynne/Wilburys was a big sonic inspiration for these songs. Your Mountain was one of the first of these new songs where I really wanted to explore different sounds and textures. Just step out of my comfort zone and try something new. At least new to me. It kickstarted this very freeing, explorative time where I wanted to push myself into new territories I might have been too afraid to try in the past. I took advantage of that a couple summers ago, woke up every day and wrote 7 songs in like 5 days, most of which are going to or have had a proper release.
Regarding the lyrics, it’s not a political song per se, but it is addressing privilege, particularly white privilege. It’s been very easy for people to judge what’s happening in our country the past few years from the safety of their homes and communities where they often live in a bubble of homogeny and confirmation bias. I have been just as complicit as I was raised in the very same society as most other white people that doesn’t address our massive privilege that has been designed for us by our country’s institutions. The bridge kind of sums up a lot of the song for me “Is there peace in turning away, you know what is happening here... will you just choose to stay on your mountain?”
AnaLee: I think it’s six tracks you released in 2020? I’m hoping there is more to come, but even if it’s just these six tracks, they are all equally wonderful songs and because I’m old school, I’m really looking forward to having them in one collection. Can you tell us if you have more songs coming and when we might see the release?
Matt: Thank you, it’s been so great to be able to keep a steady stream of music out this last year since we were all stuck at home. Definitely kept my mind busy at least. But yeah, I have a full length which includes some of the singles from last year coming out March 19th called A Great Wave. Another song from it will be out this Thursday 1/14 so keep an ear out for that!
Matt Hectorne, “Stronger” -
Matt Hectorne, “Hearts on Fire” -