Matty Ride, a soul/pop songwriter from Idaho, moved to Nashville, TN over five years ago to work with esteemed producer Tommy Sims on his debut record. Nashville is now where Matty resides. Of his initial experience in the Nashville music scene, Matty says: “I was blown away by the level of musicianship I was exposed to. I was all at once inspired, humbled, and motivated. I knew that if this was the music that was being created in Nashville, this was where I was meant to be.” Enjoy our interview with Matty Ride below.
What life experiences and events influenced the writing and recording of your self-titled EP?
“I grew up around music, and all different kinds. One theme in much of the music that I love is that it moves me, maybe emotionally, or maybe even more literally in that it gets me to move physically (dancing, which I suck at, but that doesn’t stop me). With this latest self-titled EP I was in the mindset to write and record music that made it hard for me to sit still listening to. I’ve always loved pop music, which is at the heart of the EP, but I wanted it to be funky and soulful. The last 5 years or so (was spent diving) into a lot late 70’s and early 80’s R&B (bands/artists like Shalamar, The Whispers, Evelyn King, Michael Jackson, and Prince). I loved that era because they were discovering all of these new analog synths but had yet to totally abandon the concept of a live band; that was a big influence on this record, as we utilized a lot of vintage analog synths combined with live instrumentation.”
What can you tell us about living in Nashville, Tennessee? What are some of your favorite venues to see acts or perform at?
“Nashville is such a great city! I kind of accidentally ended up here and never left (I originally came to Nashville to work with producer Tommy Sims). At the time my preconceived notion of Nashville was that it was just country music. When I got here my expectations were blown way out of the water! I was shocked at the variety and caliber of music (in every genre) happening every night at venues all around town. I immediately fell in love with it, and I never left. It’s a great time to be here because the local music scene is thriving and reinventing itself before our very eyes. It feels like Nashville is going through a renaissance moment, and that encapsulates everything: food, art, architecture, music, film, and even medical research. I’ve always said that you might find cities with more culture or more accolades, but at the end of the day a thriving culture is made up of great people, and Nashville has that in spades. The people here are it’s greatest asset. Southern hospitality is a real thing, and I witnessed that firsthand when I moved here from out west. I think the obvious answer for the second half of the question has to be the Ryman Auditorium. There is just so much history in that building, and you can feel it the moment you walk in. It’s a special place; that stage has hosted (among others) Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, United States presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, and Coldplay. If you ever get a chance to play the Ryman, it’s almost as if you’ve ‘made it’. There is a reverence for that building like no other in Nashville, and rightfully so. I personally love going out and watching my friends play. Right now I love going to the 5 Spot for “Sunday Night Soul” to see my buddy Jason Eskridge. He is flat-out one of the best singers I’ve heard. The dude sounds like Donny Hathaway.”
What has it been like working with legendary producer Tommy Sims?
“I have learned so much from hanging around Tommy. He is always the most talented musician in the room, no matter who is around, and yet so humble. His ear for arrangements and production is just insane. It’s almost like he operates and hears music on another level from the rest of us. Sometimes I like sitting in the back of the control room and watching him run a session. I try to pick up on some of his little production tricks here and there. He’s become such a mentor to me musically, and a big encourager for me when I’ve doubted my instincts and myself.”
What was it like putting together the introduction video for your press kit?
“It was a lot of fun because I got to work with one of my good childhood friends, Austin Bishop, who is a very talented videographer. He and I used to play in a ska/punk band back in the day called the Idahomies. Whenever he and I get together we just feed off of each other, and the next thing you know we’re having me fly through outer space in a Delorean!”
You’ve previously lived in Southern California and Idaho, correct? What were your experiences like in these two places?
“They were very different to say the least, like two different chapters of my life. They both feel like home, but for different reasons. I was born and spent the early parts of my childhood up until age 12 in Los Angeles, and then my parents just up and moved one day to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. You’re probably thinking “Idaho?! What is in Idaho?!” I know, I know, I get that all the time! If you’ve never heard of Coeur d’Alene just Google some images, and you’ll get a glimpse as to why my parents moved there. It’s such a beautiful place. I grew up as a little toe-head skateboarding in Southern California, and then moved to North Idaho and really got into activities like fly fishing, snowboarding, and even riding horses, yet there was always music. In California, it was my dad listening to the Beach Boys, and my radio permanently fixed to KROQ. When I moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is only 30 minutes from Washington, it was a lot of grunge: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. Through it all I was always discovering my own music across many genres.”
What was it like working with Jonny Lang on ‘Breakin’ In’ (a track for Lang’s newest record)? What about writing with Melinda Doolittle?
“Working with Jonny was always tons of fun. His talent speaks for itself. I still can’t figure out where that singing voice comes from inside of him, because he is very soft-spoken and unassuming when you talk to him. He is one of the nicest guys ever. In the process of writing he and I became like brothers, as he and I are very much alike. Sometimes he would do something or say something when we would be hanging out and I would laugh because it was like I was looking in a mirror. One time Jonny, myself, and a couple buddies went to Dave and Busters and he started playing this game called “Slam-A-Winner” where you hit a button and a big bouncy ball drops and you have to try and get it in different holes on this rotating platform. Each hole is worth a different point total. Somehow Jonny figured out the timing on this game to drop the ball in the “jackpot” hole every time. The game was going nuts spitting piles and piles of tickets on the ground! It was like watching a real life version of The Wizard. It got so crazy that he literally had a crowd around the machine watching him play the game, and not because it was Jonny Lang, but because it was pure gaming brilliance. We took all of his tickets and traded them in for a Beatles Monopoly board game in the prize shop. To this day we call him Jonny Slam-A-Winner. Now, I’m not so sure about Melinda’s game playing abilities, but her vocal abilities are off the charts! That girl can sing the phone book and make it sound beautiful. It was always so much fun writing with Melinda because at the end of the session I had the privilege of hearing her sing each song we wrote, and like Jonny, she is one of the nicest humans I know. She is such a sweet and genuine person. They both are incredibly humble for the amount of talent they have; Melinda is so funny, because she is such a big fan of Jonny’s as well. She’s gotten to know him a bit, but she still gets so excited every time she gets to sing with him.”
Who are your biggest musical influences? If you could write with any other writer/artist, who would you pick?
“When I tell you some of my biggest musical influences you may be surprised. I grew up on The Beatles and the Beach Boys, thanks to my dad. I love James Taylor, Harry Connick Jr., Chet Baker, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, and Steely Dan. I’m mostly a fan of music from before I was born, especially 60’s and 70’s music (those were my early influences). For this record I was very inspired by 70’s and early 80’s R&B. Lately I’ve been really digging Shalamar and The Whispers. I think if I could write with any other artist right now it would be Pharrell. I not only love his music, and feel like we come from the same headspace, but he just seems like a really good person, and that is the most important component to me.”
What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Matty Ride?
“I plan on taking a trip back to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in the next couple weeks. That is my favorite place to be during the summer months. I plan on spending some time with my family and doing a little fly-fishing while I’m there. It’s very peaceful and a good place to clear my head. Once I return to Nashville, it’s back to writing and working on the next project.”