Matt Epp: Learning To Lose Control

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Songwriter Matt Epp loves Atlantic Canada.

The folk-pop inspired singer-songwriter, who was born in Winnipeg and grew up ‘all over Manitoba,’ currently calls Toronto home, along with his wife. But he will be the first to admit that if he had nothing to do with the music business, they would most likely settle in Halifax.

‘Playing music, it makes the most sense to be located out of Toronto,’ Matt begins. ‘We have a big airport here and can easily get to Europe, where I spend a lot of time touring. My wife and I are big fans of the East Coast though. We would love to revel in the relaxed pace of Atlantic Canada on a full-time basis.’ While relocating to the Maritimes on a permanent basis might not be in the cards, Matt will at least be able to partially indulge in the relaxed pace of life this week. Performing at the Tide & Boar Gastropub on Saturday night, Matt’s Moncton show is one of five that he will be performing in Atlantic Canada.

The musician is currently on the road promoting his newest album, Learning To Lose Control , released earlier this month. The making of the record began in Spain but was ultimately moved to North American shores when he was not hearing the results that he was hoping for.

‘Antonio Lomas, a member of my band, the Amorian Assembly, is from Spain and so the band and I all moved there to write songs. We had a great time and were recording in a studio that was located in one of the most gorgeous places on earth but in the end, the engineering or the sounds that we had captured left something to be desired. We were working with Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, R.E.M.) who was in Los Angeles at the time and as we were going through the songs with him, we all agreed that the songs needed to be better.’

Although the making of Learning To Lose Control stretched out far longer than he would have preferred, Matt says that ultimately being happy with the record makes the end result all worthwhile.

‘Making the album definitely dragged out long enough but in hindsight, I am glad we gave the album the attention that we did. It made a huge difference in the amount of confidence I have in promoting the album,’ he says.

While Matt is certainly no stranger to audiences in Canada, he has spent a significant amount of time touring Europe. In fact, he has built a dedicated following overseas and is beginning to make waves in Turkey thanks to his association with Turkish pop star Sezen Aksu. Her name might not ring many bells in North America but Matt says that her popularity in Turkey is akin to Madonna. Her songs are revered there in much the same way that Bob Dylan’s are revered in America.

In preparation for an early March concert by Aksu in Toronto, Matt took it upon himself to release a cover of her song ‘Unuttun Mu Beni’ (Have You Forgotten Me?) to YouTube. He shared the video with his fans and in a move that delighted him to no end, Aksu’s manager promoted Matt’s video via their social media networks. Nothing could have prepared him for what happened next. He was called up to the stage during Aksu’s performance at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

‘I had covered her song as an act of solidarity and to help promote her music to Canadians. She has a very poetic timbre to her voice and is considered by so many to be completely untouchable. And here she was talking about my video during the concert and then she called me up on stage and we performed the song ‘Unuttun Mu Beni’ as a duet. Because of her status in Turkey, it is like she has a magic touch if she works with you, and now I am getting invites from Turkish artists to collaborate with them which is very exciting.’

Being an independent musician might not always be the easiest job in the world but Matt says that pursuing music for a living is arguably one of the best ways to spend his days. Rather than devoting too much time concerning himself with what is going to happen down the road, he stays very much in the present to ensure that the little things don’t slip past him.

‘In my mind, I live a day at a time. As an independent artist, you ultimately have to make your own plans and really, you can’t help but think past the here and now and what is going to happen in the long term,’ he says.

‘I simply want to keep doing the same things that are important to me: collaboration and the exploration of music. Some people think that happiness destroys creativity but I feel that good music comes from a good connection with its creator. Music is so important to my heart, it can’t help but follow what is happening in my life. And right now, things are rather good for me.’

Article published June 18, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript