Matt Alber is an incredible talent and yet such a modest guy. Openly gay, he possesses a beautiful voice and is a brilliant songwriter. It was my privilege to interview this great contemporary talent who was a most gracious interviewee. Thanks to Barbara Sobel and Sobel Promotions for arranging this Q&A! Please check out Matt's web: http://m46882.wix.com/mattalberofficial
Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Hi Matt, and thank you for doing this Q&A with me. We have a lot of LGBT club music fans around the globe reading Blab It, so I would like to begin by saying your song, "End of the World," has new dance remixes coming up. What do you think about its continued popularity and remixing revivals?
Matt Alber: Heya Charles! My pleasure. There were some very cool remixes of "End of the World" (Morgan Page & Saul Ruiz). My newest remixes are for a song called "Tightrope." I teamed up with a brilliant producer named Reddfield and it turned out so great, we decided to shoot a music video for one of his mixes. I play four characters in the video who all bust a move ~ complete with a surprise ending you won't want to miss.
DBB: Cool. I recall reading you wrote "End of the World" on a bus in San Francisco. Is that a true story?
MA: Yes indeed. I was working in North Beach as a performer in a Vaudeville-style show called Beach Blanket Babylon at the time, and I had to take the 30 Stockton through Chinatown to get there. Things were on thin ice with the fellow I was in love with at the time, and I scribbled down the first verse and chorus on the back of my bank statement. I still have it, actually. I should probably take it out of that drawer and frame it!
DBB: Could you fill us in on your childhood, what it was like? And who would you list as your musical influences growing up?
MA: Sure. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri in the suburbs working at fast-food chains after school, going to church like three times a week, and singing on the weekends with a city-wide choir. I loved going to choir practice, but the church we went to was really homophobic so it was very difficult to be there. I sort of bought their story hook, line and sinker and for a few years. I prayed to be changed into a straight person. But thankfully, my prayers were answered in a totally unexpected way ~ nothing changed. I ended up leaving the church and finding a better definition of God and what it means to be a man. I'm so happy I'm gay. The world would be so boring if everyone were the same, so I'm glad I get to experience life as a gay man (this time around, anyway.)
As for musical influences, when I was a kid, I pretty much listened to the 10 free CD's I got from BMG Music Club. To name a few… Elton John, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and INXS. I still owe them $15.99 I think. Weren't you supposed to buy one? I should get on that...
DBB: You were part of the Grammy-winning group, Chanticleer. What was involved in your becoming a member? And could you please tell us about the experience of performing/recording with them?
MA: I got to tour for five years with Chanticleer, which is an a cappella classical men's group based in San Francisco. It was a dream come true to move to California and singing with those 12 guys taught me a helluva lot about singing and about life on the road. Two of the albums I made with the guys won Grammy Awards, so that was pretty amazing. We gave 100 concerts a year all over the globe and worked with thousands of students along the way.
DBB: What was the first song you ever sang as a soloist? And what is the personal favorite song you've recorded to date?
MA: The first solo I ever sang was "Do You Hear What I Hear?" during a Christmas pageant. I think I was 8 years old. I just recently sang that song again in Austin, TX with my dear friend Craig Johnson. He directs a choir there called Conspirare, and in the middle of the big concert, I got to go and sit next to him on the piano bench and sing in harmony with him. Songs are pretty cool little things. As for a favorite song I've recorded, I really enjoyed making a song with my brother Bryce called "Brother Moon." It's on my most recent album called Constant Crows.
DBB: How do you see your evolution or progression as an artist at this point?
MA: You know, man, I just keep trying to make the most honest music I can make and collaborate with other people doing the same. I'm really lucky because I have a very loyal group of listeners who come to my shows and support the new projects I'm working on. There's been a bit of evolution towards singing with men's choruses which is really cool. I'm singing with three of them this December: Washington D.C.'s group, Twin Cities in Minneapolis, and my hometown chorus in San Francisco.
DBB: What would you call your biggest break or best opportunity, so far, in your career?
MA: The day my dear friend Robin Scovil said "Yes!" to making a music video with me in a barbershop. Everything changed from that moment on. I got to be involved in every step of the process from concept to costume to the editing room and I was amazed at the craft and attention to detail the team brought to the project. My dad and brother even came and spent the weekend on set with me. And now I get emails almost every day from someone who stumbles onto it and is moved enough to write to me.
DBB: Could you tell us how you'd describe your sound? Your voice? Your style of songwriting?
MA: Sure thing. I'm an acoustic singer/songwriter and I write the story of my life and heart into my songs. I do my best to capture moments and memories and wrestle through my emotions using melodies and chords. But you know, you can talk about style 'til the cows come home. It's a lot easier to answer that question with a pair of headphones. My music plays for free from my site: www.mattalber.com.
DBB: Thanks for the link, Matt! Please share news about what you have upcoming for us.
MA: The biggest news I have to share is the release of a new music video for my song TIGHTROPE. It goes live online at midnight on Halloween from my channel: www.youtube.com/mattalber. We're releasing a remix EP as well with several different remixes by some amazing producers including Reddfield, The Spekrfreks, Saul Ruiz, and Paul Goodyear. Folks can check it all out by visiting my site: www.mattalber.com
DBB: Your views on what's going on in Russia right now in terms of LGBT rights and the winter Olympics? What do you think about Elton John's decision to perform there?
MA: You know, I've sung in Russia on two separate trips ~ once in high school and once in college. I found the people to be some of the most warm and welcoming folks I'd ever met. Governments often get it wrong, and Russia is no exception here. I really feel for the queer community living in Russia and I hope they are banding together to weather this storm. I'm glad Sir Elton is going to perform and I hope it forces Russia's hand to make the right decision and reverse their destructive policies.
DBB: Finally, any last shout-outs to our readership, Matt?
MA: I thank you so much for your time; it was sincerely a privilege to conduct this Q&A with you.
It's been my pleasure, man. I'd love to give a last shout out to my younger brother, Bryce Alber. He's an incredible musician in Los Angeles and he goes by a different name as an artist ~ it's Lou Jane. It's just full of heart and passion and beautiful powerful melodies. But his lyrics are just epically gorgeous and will stay with you forever. Folks can listen to his music at www.loujanemusic.com
Below, a link to the video for the original version of "End of the World":