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Take Five With Matt Stevens

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Matt Stevens:
Matt Stevens is a musician and composer from North London. An instrumental artist, he uses an acoustic guitar and a sampler to create multi-layered tracks live. This is often called Live Looping. His music is compared with artists as diverse as John McLaughlin and Sigur Ros. He plays live all over the UK. Last year saw the release of Echo, his well received debut album.

He composed for short films, (including the award winning Daddy's Little Helper), and his live work is often compared to watching a one man guitar orchestra or wall of sound.

He performs for people from all over the world using www.Ustream.TV

Instrument(s):
Guitars and loops.

Teachers and/or influences?
Richard Beaumont—genius guitarist very much in the Allan Holdsworth/McLaughlin mould. Brilliant.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I heard Guns N Roses!!!

Your sound and approach to music:
I use a looper pedal to build semi-improvised compositions using an acoustic guitar. I focus on composition over technique. I'm looking for instant composition based on improvisation. It's somewhere between post rock/jazz/folk and soundtracks.

Your teaching approach:
To give them the confidence to develop an original voice through knowledge of theory and technique.

Your dream band:
I want to play with people who I am friends with and I have a relationship with so that you can look at somebody and change the nature of the improvisation. People who listen to each other!

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Playing Thrash metal in a restaurant to evening diners. Oh dear.

Favorite venue:
Cargo in London is great—excellent open minded music policy.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
I like Moondial which is on my forthcoming second album. It's got glockenspiel and live drums and I like the chord inversions and the way it builds.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds Of Fire.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
That's not for me to say but I am very proud of the community I have built around my music. It's been a real word of mouth thing and the podcasters, bloggers and listeners who have supported me have been amazing.

Did you know...
I used to be in a thrash metal band.

CDs you are listening to now:
Portico Quartet, Knee Deep In The North Sea;
Radiohead, In Rainbows.

Desert Island picks:
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds Of Fire;
Carcass, Nercrotisim;
King Crimson, Red;
John Coltrane, Giant Steps;
The Beatles, Abbey Road.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
The retro people are trying to keep it the same, which goes against everything Miles Davis and McLaughlin, etc., stood for. There are some interesting artists but it's few and far between.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Progression—look at Polar Bear and Portico Quartet, that's the future not the regressive '50s nonsense.

What is in the near future?
Playing festivals this summer in the UK and releasing a new album. I'm also posting a new song every week from my archive at www.mattstevensguitar.com—52 songs!!!

By Day:
Music based stuff.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
some other kind of musician. Possibly Metal!

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