Friday, December 10, 2021

DJ Interviews: Matt Derda


Here's my interview with singer Matt Derda.

How'd you get started in music?
I have been playing guitar since I was a Freshman in High School. I didn't really take it too seriously though. My main focus for a long time was improv comedy and acting. I moved to Chicago in 2009 to study at Second City. While I was there I started picking up the guitar more and more and started to write actual songs. While I was on an improv tour in Tennessee, my friend, Joey Greene, played me Uncle Tupelo on the trip. It blew my mind. I have southern roots, but I was a big alt rock fan. The combination of the 2 sparked something in me. I started writing songs that had both a twang and an edge. The lyrical content took shape from the stories I had from my family in the south. I formed a band and quit doing improv. Since then, music has been my main focus. I still write folk songs with an edge.

Who are your inspirations or influences?
I'll have to start with Uncle Tupelo haha. That also includes their post Uncle Tupelo bands, Wilco and Son Volt. I like a lot of stuff that falls into the Folk Rock/Alt Country category: Brandi Carlile, Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell, Old 97s, Slobberbone, Margo Price, the list goes on and on. I'm also a huge Pearl Jam fan. I had a VHS tape in the early 90s of NBA clips set to music and their song Go was put to highlights of Shawn Kemp dunking. I've been a fan ever since. My all time favorite band, though, is The Replacements. I don't know that any other songwriter's lyrics have a profound effect on me the way that Paul Westerberg's does. I learned from that band that you can have extremely meaningful lyrics and songs that sound authentic, not overly produced and polished.

What advice would you offer aspiring performers?
Don't settle. And I mean that in regards to everything from songwriting to musicianship to production. Don't just put music out all of the time because the Spotify guy told you too. Put out music that you actually believe and you think is good. Follow your gut and instincts because that will be the most authentic. Invest in yourself and don't just check off the boxes of the music "experts" tell you to do for a release. Use those as a guide, but find what works best for you. Finally, don't get discouraged. Remember that nobody is looking for your music and doesn't know it exists. Focus on finding the people that would like your music. What other artists are they into? Where do they discover music? When you get discovered by someone who likes your music and they aren't a friend or family member, well, there's nothing better than that.

How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?
I just try to make songs that I would want to hear. That's pretty much it. I get inspiration from my personal experiences or stories from my family. That makes the stories unique to me.

Any new gigs or albums in the future?
Yes, we are playing a show at The Outta Space in Berwyn, IL (Chicago area) on 1/22. We're also filming a live performance for Sessions at Studio A for WNIJ, which we are really looking forward to. Our next single 'Life You Didn't Know' is going to be out early next year and we also have a few other songs that will get released in early 2022. We'll be going into the studio soon to record a new batch of songs as well.

Special thanks to him for this interview & I wish him llots of lck in his music. So until then I'll catch you on The Flipside! Stay awesome & rock n roll!

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