The worldwide Matt Jennings
Music is something that is heard all over the world. But the question is, does the culture have some influence on the way the people receive the songs?
And just a musician like Matt Jennings can clarify that doubt. Native of Pittsburgh, he played music also in Mexico and China, two different places than home. However, he overcame the distance and enjoyed the music culture and the country culture itself.
He loves the worldwide music and incorporates elements of many different regional and cultural styles into his own music.
Jennings spoke to The Outsider Argentina about his music’s definition, the experience in other countries and the idea of recording a new album.
How did you start with music?
I started playing music as a kid. I used to make my own fake guitars out of cardboard and pretend I was on stage. My parents got me classical guitar lessons when I was 9, which helped me learn a lot about technique and theory, but I just wanted to play electric rock guitar. So I quit the lessons and began writing hard rock songs with my brother.
How was the experience to play in a hard rock band in China? Why did you go there?
We went to China to teach English in Guangdong province on the mainland. Right by Hong Kong. But of course as a musician you always meet other musicians, and we had a band there that would play on Saturday nights at the school’s cafe. I also played drums in a Chinese band. They would essentially take the music and melodies of British songs and just write some lyrics in Cantonese or Mandarin and call them their original songs. Haha. I learned to appreciate the art of karaoke in China as well. They take it very seriously there.
You played music in USA, Mexico, China, so do you think that the same music can be heard everywhere? Or the culture has its influences?
That’s an interesting question. You can hear a lot of the same music in many parts of the world, but culture plays a huge part too. There are so many subtle cultural aesthetics that come into play. Look at Bollywood music for example. It’s insanely famous in many parts of the world, but not so much in other places. Also, a lot of regional styles of music are very particular to one certain demographic, and barely anyone outside of that demographic would listen to that type of music. But you can hear mega pop songs hits like Hotel California almost anywhere. Haha.
That being said, when we would play our Spanish songs in China people loved it and would sing along. Who knew?
What do you like the most about the mariachi?
I love the sound of mariachi. The singing is almost like wailing, just really letting the emotions pour out. And the combination of instruments is great too. All the different sizes of the guitars, and the trumpets.
Have you introduced any of its sound in your music?
I guess the two main elements that I have taken from mariachi and incorporated into my music are the Spanish language and some of the guitar techniques and rhythms.
What is the “international flamenco rock” about?
That is one of my attempts to define the sound of my music. Haha. Because I really love music from all over the world, and incorporate elements of so many different regional and cultural styles into my music, I think the term “international” is a good way to define my approach. I also think internationally in terms of who I want to hear my music. I don’t just want to export American music. I want people to hear a part of their musical culture in my music no matter where in the world I play.
The “flamenco” part I think is more what people would describe my guitar playing as. I have never learned any proper flamenco techniques, and I definitely wouldn’t claim to be a flamenco guitarist. But I think that term can give people a hint of how I play guitar before they actually hear it.
And “rock” is because my musical roots are in rock, and I still love that aesthetic. My favorite guitarists are still people like Slash and Eddie Van Halen.
What is the audience’s repercussion?
It seems like people are starting to catch on and understand what I’m doing more and more. A gringo singing in Spanish is kinda confusing for many people at first. Haha.
What is your source of inspiration when you write your music?
It depends. You can write a song about anything. Life is always inspiring. I like love songs. I like spiritual songs. I like story songs. I like party jams. A good song is a good song.
What do you enjoy most about being on stage?
Getting to play music for people!
Are you thinking about recording a new album? How would it be like?
Yes. A new album is in the works. I hope you’ll crank it in your car down in Argentina!