Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Matt Johnson. Back in 2002, Matt auditioned for a TV programme called Popstars: The Rivals, which led on to two bands being created: Girls Aloud and One True Voice. Matt won a place in One True Voice, and they got to number two in the UK charts with their debut single, a cover of the Bee Gees song Sacred Trust. Sadly, One True Voice split up in 2003 but Matt has been performing ever since then.
Hi Matt, it’s great to hear that you are still recording. What you have been up to since Popstars: The Rivals?
Well 13 years is a lot of time so I will try to keep it as short as possible lol. The important thing is I have remained in music and continued to make music. Live gigs have kept me very busy and I create a lot of content for the internet right now. It’s really hard to sustain a living from just making music so I’m lucky I have managed to do that since the band split.
You’re currently recording your first solo album Chaplin Road. Can you tell us more about it and when it will be available?
The album is a collection of stories about real events I have seen or experienced in my life, some are personal and other songs are about people I know. There is no set date for the album release as I want to keep releasing single after single to build up a real buzz for the full LP. It will be at some point in 2017 though. I think this is the first time I have made a recording and felt that it was really ‘me’. The studio in London is on Chaplin Road so it felt right to call it that; this is a place I felt all my stories turned into pieces of music.
We love your song Get Over You. At the time of writing, you’ve had nearly 60,000 views for the video on YouTube, you must be so proud. What has the reaction been like to the song?
I think putting out anything original is scary and I’m sure every artist would say the same. The reaction has been good so far. It’s early days in the single campaign so it will be interesting to see how far I can take it. It’s a big world now and my music reaches the other side of the planet so I cannot wait to see what other nations think, promoting the music is a longer process because there are so many countries to get around!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
If I am honest I have never had a major influence, I’ve always liked odd songs by certain bands. I always like Coldplay’s music, they are one of my favourite bands. I really like what Rod Stewart does as well. I was a massive fan of Robbie Williams growing up and I still am now, this was one of the reasons I wanted to work with producer Steve Power on my album. I tend to like older music like Elvis lol but I also enjoy listening to modern chart. I was the same when I was growing up. I am also really into cinematic instrumental music.
How would you describe your sound?
I think it’s commercial pop with an edge of soul. A radio guy said to me that it sounded very ‘real and warm’, a lot of music at the moment is on the computer using midi instruments but this track is very real using live musicians and I think it makes a real difference.
We read that you’ve performed at over 2,000 live gigs, that’s amazing! Where can people see you performing?
When it comes to gigs I have done everything from festivals to the Bar Fly to singing at someone’s wedding! It really has been a mixed bag and I get something different every time in regards to stage experience. So many people ask me to sing their first dance at weddings it really is crazy! I will be doing a full tour of my album in 2017 ‘Chaplin On The Road’, the dates will be announced on my Facebook page and website www.mjofficial.com, the tour will be a full live band.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Robbie Williams……but I don’t think that will ever happen lol
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Not really I take my live stuff quite serious lol, I forget a lyric here and there but nothing major! Actually once I got booked to play in Spain for a week. It was not with a live band it was me on my own and I was going to be using backing tracks. I flew all the way to Spain and forgot the one thing I needed most…my backing tracks, that was a nightmare! I was such an idiot!
What is the one thing that you want our readers to know about you?
I think it’s important to just to never give up on something you want to do, I hope people see that in me, music is not even my job it’s who I am. Everything I own and have purchased has been from making a living in music so I hope people can respect that regardless of what they may think of the music. Doing something you love for 60+ years is a long time, there are going to be ups and downs. The main thing is KEEP GOING……
What advice would you give to artists starting out?
My advice is you need some cash…… the market is saturated now and you need to fund yourself a little to stand out. Newsfeeds on Facebook are clogged up! Concentrate on the music, tell stories that are real and be prepared to share your secrets with the world. Don’t try to write a hit, write what is natural as that will connect better. Use social media to promote yourself and give your music away for a while and always be nice to people as you never know where they will end up!