Matisyahu revisits his 14-year career through live explorations
March 18 concert will be at Park City Live
After nearly 14 years in the business of bringing his uplifting beats, reggae and hip-hop to audiences world wide, Matisyahu is rediscovering the power of music.
He promises to share that new aspect with the town when he plays Park City Live on Saturday.
“We’ll do a mixture of things, but it’s a very musical show, because I like to explore the music,” Matisyahu told The Park Record during a phone interview from Santa Cruz, California. “ I’m recreating some of the older songs live in an improvisational method where we’ll start with one song and then end up somewhere completely different. We’ll pull lyrics from different songs and mix them all together.”
The rapper said this kind of show would be difficult to do if he didn’t have his catalog of songs that include hits such as “Youth,” “King Without a Crown,” “One Day” and his new single, “Step Out Into the Light.”
“It’s great to have songs that people immediatly recognize and that are tied to certain events of their lives like a first kiss, first concert or a summer or college,” he said. “People like to have that nostalgic memory.”
For Matisyahu, the stage and Hebrew name for Matthew Paul Miller, the musical exploration is what keeps him going.
“If we were going out and playing three- to four-minute songs every night, it would be miserable,” he said. “So, this is a way to go out and do something and enjoy what we’re doing.”
Throughout his career, Matisyahu has solidified himself as an artist who spreads positivity and shares his career as a Jewish-American singer. Recently, however, he’s made some appropriate shifts, as heard in “Step Out Into the Light,” which was released at the beginning of the month.
“My natural state to continue moving in one direction or another,” he said. “Music is a huge part of our lives, artistry and creativity. So it follows suite of where we are and what we’re going through.
“When if first came out, I wanted to show the world who I was and what I could do. I was interested in impressing people and making people feel good, but I couldn’t keep up with that. So, I needed to allow myself to have more dynamics in the music and have a more holistic experience. I think that came with maturity.”
Each record he has released appeals to different people in different ways.
“I get different fans from different walks of life and that’s nice,” Matisyahu said. “On the other hand, I do know there are certain fans that don’t appreciate the changes, but everyone is free to make their choices of what they like and what they don’t. But that’s the way it is and I can’t fight that.”
During the past 14 years, Matisyahu’s concerts have become more of an experience.
“There are times when people come to my show who are not necessarily looking for any kind of spirituality or meaning,” he said. “They might just like the songs or connected with some of the lyrics. But when the come to my show, it’s like they are coming to my house, my domain. And what matters to me then is to create an authentic musical experience for people.”
His lyrics have also become more thought provoking, and that’s a responsibility he said is like educating people through music.
“It’s not just rainbows and lollipops,” he said. “The music goes into different areas and can get a little dark, but I always try to come out with an uplifting redemptive feeling. That’s what I want to leave people with.”
Although raised by parents who loved classic rock and soul, Matisyahu selected reggae, Afrobeat and beatbox styles to spread his music and message.
“The music that was being played on the radio and what was being played all around me during the 1990s in New York was hip-hop,” he said. “While I do have a place for classic rock, which I love, but hip-hop was what I got into.
“I realized that I could rap and beatbox pretty well, but I was also the hippie kid with sandals that was beatboxing,” he said laughing.
Then he discovered reggae icon Bob Marley.
“That changed my life,” Matisyahu said. “The music spoke to my soul. I found the lyrics interesting because of the Old Testament references. And that made me interested in my own culture and where it came from.”
While religion and culture are still important to Matisyahu, he has made another adjustment in his musical focus.
“When I started out, music was a place where I would call or cry out to God,” he said. “As I grew older, things shifted for me and I had to constantly figure out what was real in my life.
“I no longer could continue to do things because I was used to them. The focus right now is the members of my band, the relationships and conversations I have with them and the music we create together.”
The mission today is creating music that means something to his band members.
“All of us come from different places, so we have to find how to create music that crosses all our different realms, but still remain open and tapped into the unknown,” he said. “If there are spiritual undercurrents that pull towards God, I want those things to be real. I can’t chase that all the time.”
Matisyahu will play Saturday, March 18, at Park City Live, 427 Main St. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net.
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