It’s a Tuesday, which means NEW MUSIC! It’s always a good day to discover new music, and today I would like to introduce to you a young man named Matthew Parker, a Christ-follower from Michigan who makes some mighty fine dance music in all sorts of flavors. Dubstep, trance, glitch-hop – he’s done all these and more. Today, Matthew dropped his fourth album Shadowlands as a digital download, and he successfully Kickstarted the production of physical copies which should be available in October.
I recently had a chat with Matthew about his recent musical endeavors, Christians in the music industry, and…penguins? Read on…
EJ: How and why did you start making music?
Matthew Parker: Well, as far as music goes, I wasn’t especially interested in music when I was a kid. But to make a very long, boring story short, my brothers and I started to spend a bit of time “jamming” on various instruments, and I learned to play most of the popular instruments out there. Then I began to write my own songs and started to record them at home. Soon I had my own studio and spent a lot of my time recording my songs and producing electronic music, and for the most part, that’s what has gotten me this far in music—Just a love for making good solid music that isn’t cliché and isn’t boring.
EJ: What led you to produce electronic dance music (EDM)?
MP: How I got into Christian EDM is a whole different story. It mostly happened just by uploading a few songs onto a website called Soundcloud.com. I uploaded the songs and just left them. Then some random guy came around and wrote on my facebook wall, saying he stumbled upon my songs on there and loved ’em, and I was like “Whaaat? Someone actually heard them?” So then I got interested in Soundcloud and in getting feedback from people on there who heard my music and commented. And there I found a whole little online community of people who were more interested in my music than the people I knew in real life (Don’t get me wrong, my family supports me and likes most of my music, but they’re not like raving #1 fans). To cut to the chase, I was exposed to a ton more EDM on Soundcloud than I’d ever heard before, and I really got involved in it quite naturally. I became part of the online “Christian EDM scene”. So I guess that’s how I got into “CEDM”. I like to think of me as more of a Christian making EDM than a guy making Christian EDM. But yep, I really love what I do!
EJ: From where have you drawn influence for your music? (Films, other music, books, etc.)
MP: Probably mostly from a few artists like TobyMac, Lecrae, Owl City, Skrillex, and Michael W. Smith……and I’m sure that is one of the WEIRDEST lists of influences that any music artist could have. Of course I love a lot more artists, but I’ve really resonated with these guys, especially Owl City and Michael W. Smith, although you can probably hear only the Owl City influence in some of my music. I would have to say that I’ve also obviously drawn a lot of influence for my lyrics from the Bible. It wouldn’t do to leave THAT out. As far as films, I think the only movie that I could cite would be the Lord of the Rings. I just like the Good vs. Evil and Darkness vs. Light idea in it, and I think I’ve tried to portray that concept many times in my music.
EJ: What is your favorite song on Shadowlands? Why?
MP: I generally have a policy of not picking favorites, because it’s always hard, if not impossible to decisively pick a favorite. But for the sake of discussion, I’ll just talk about ONE of my favorites. I’d have to say that “Bleeding Hearts” is one of the most solid tracks on the album. I like how it has a really mellow, yet rock-solid beginning, and just FEELS smooth. It just brings the feels, man, it really does. Haha, but all silliness aside, I made the track to intentionally have some flavors similar to Zedd and Avicii, and whether I achieved that or not, I don’t know, but I know I ended up with one of my overall best songs ever. The song is basically about how we as humans all need love and are all fragile–even that big, tough biker who’s all tatted up and wears black leather even in summer heat. He has a heart, and it’s fragile just like the rest of us who might not pretend so much. Some lyrics from the song: “To need love is human, but in the spotlight we act so tough. So don’t be fooled when we put on a show, because we’re bleeding inside, and we’re dying for love.”
Listen to “Bleeding Hearts” now.
EJ: Unlike your previous album, Meet Your Maker, you have collaborated with other artists on Shadowlands. What led to this, and who was your favorite to work with?
MP: I somehow became enthralled with the idea of collaborating with other artists and getting some radically different sounds on my songs than I could do on my own. Probably the one I enjoyed the most was my collaboration with St. Matthew, a Jamaican Reggae artist. I had wanted to do a dubstep/reggae fusion with a real Jamaican vocalist for a long time, and so I was excited to finally make it happen. It was quite the journey trying to communicate with someone who is very different and from a very different country. He seemed to completely understand what I was trying to do, and fit the part perfectly. I’m really happy with how it turned out and can’t wait for you to hear it!
EJ: So, a bit of discourse, but there’s a point. I don’t really care for pop music (EDM is considered separately from pop in my mind). I feel that most of it is uninspired and contrived in its lyrics and musicianship. But I have to confess, that certain pop singers have an incredible voices and an incredible ability to instill power into their singing. So, while I would never say that I “like” them, I do enjoy from time to time an innocent pop song. It is a guilty pleasure, since I mostly dislike pop. Do you have any songs/artists that are guilty pleasures?
MP: Well, honestly I think I’ve gotten over feeling guilty about listening to anything, unless I feel like it’s a bad song…meaning an inappropriate song. I think a lot of people control what they do and don’t like, and don’t like certain things because they don’t WANT to like them. That’s the vibe I get from you and your question (which is completely OK). But I think for the most part, I’ve gotten over that, and have learned to try to find out what it is that people like about certain music, and then I eventually start to like it. So, one of my now-not-guilty pleasure songs is “We Found Love” by Rihanna. I don’t know WHAT it is about that song, but I LOVE how it seems so emotional, yet so catchy and electronic and edgy and just awesome. It was my favorite song for a while, and I still like it a lot.
EJ: So a quick perusal of your Instagram reveals that you have a penguin themed studio. What’s with that?
MP: Good question. I don’t really know, haha, I’m just a guy who likes to be stupid for fun, and so I put my little stuffed plush penguins in my studio, and it just kinda happened. One Christmas later, my family found out I was into penguin-themed stuff, and got me a bunch of random penguin items, which now make my studio fully penguin-themed. One thing you should know is that my main little penguin guy is my mascot, and his name is Irwin, and he is super cute and super awesome. As I’ve revealed in a Facebook and Instagram post, Irwin is actually the one who makes all my music, and I just watch him do it and take all the credit.
EJ: Do you have any plans to tour in support of the album?
MP: I am hoping to do some more shows in the near future, although currently a tour around the country is not likely going to happen.
EJ: You were recently signed DRÖM Records. Tell us about your experience.
MP: It’s been good. Being independent is fun, and you learn a lot, and you can do whatever you flippin’ want, but you learn even more when you’re working with someone who has a vested interest in your music and has all the know-how and knowledge of the music industry behind his back and can tell you how things work and expose you to new aspects of the music industry. So it’s been very good to work with them and learn new things, as well as get quite a bit more exposure and even some radio airplay!!
EJ: What do you think about “Christian music”? What is it doing right? What is it doing wrong? How do you think can it get better?
MP: I could probably say some harsh things about Christian music and they would be true. But I’m going to go a more mellow route. I think Christian music is too worried about what people think…..in a bad way. Especially when it comes to things like musical styles. The secular world is out there making uberly creative art, and we Christians are over here saying “If I make too intense of music (for example, dubstep), people will think it’s weird and too untraditional and all kinds of bad things will happen!” We’re just too afraid to do anything except play an acoustic guitar and sing with it, and maybe add some drums and bass to it too. Our Christian music is its own genre………………that in itself………I have no words. It’s kinda silly. All I gotta say is CHRISTIANS, BE MORE CREATIVE! Everybody (besides the 30-40 year-olds) is so tired of your music. Make something that’s new and fresh and exciting. Honestly I’m beginning to see instances of this break out a lot more, like Christians doing Rap, Dusbtep, EDM. And I’m liking every bit of it. Keep at it, my bros. People are eating it up because they’ve been hungry for it so long.
A big thank you goes to Matthew Parker for taking the time to be interviewed. Definitely check him out on the social media, and pick up his new album Shadowlands on iTunes or Amazon. Matthew is an amazing person who is for sure going places with his music. I highly recommend you give him your attention and some of your money.