ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Glimpses into the thoughts of a romantic
By Brian Wong
Gazette file photo
WHY DO YOU LOOK SO SAD, MATT? Maybe
he'd prefer to work at The Gazette rather than be a rock
star... on second thought, maybe he's happy just the way
Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Matthew Barber has a master’s
degree in philosophy, a critically-acclaimed debut and ladies
swooning over him. Barber spoke to The Gazette about music,
suburbia and being a romantic loner.
When did you first take an interest in making music?
I took piano lessons briefly when I was a kid and it’s
sort of the classic story of not appreciating it at the time.
But then at 14 or so, I started discovering classic rock and
stopped listening to whatever was on Top 40 radio. I really
wanted to make my own music so I got a guitar for my 15th birthday
and never looked back — taught myself to play it and
started writing songs.
Your bio says your album, Means and Ends [out on Paper
Bag Records], “gives us ten glimpses into the thoughts of
a romantic loner.” Do you feel like one?
[Hesitates]. Yeah. I guess what I meant was that when I wrote
most of those songs, I was living by myself in Hamilton and
I didn’t know a lot of people there, so a lot of the
songs just came out of me spending time on my own. As for the “romantic” part,
I mean it in a broad sense — not just girls and boys,
or boys and boys, or whatever — but I do feel like there’s
a romantic element to my music for sure. They’re not
really straight-up drinking tunes. I think there’s definitely
a contemplative, sentimental element to it. That just comes
naturally to me I guess — just a part of who I am.
You’re from Mississauga?
That is true.
How would you describe your experience living there?
[It’s] not a bad place to grow up I guess — I didn’t
really know anything better at the time. But ever since I’ve
left, I’m sort of glad that I left and I don’t
think I’d consider going back there to live. It just
seems a little bit too cozy, not too adventurous and there’s
not really a whole lot going on.
Do you think living in the suburbs stifles creativity?
I was only there until the end of high school. I think I was
creative in high school, but the school I went to is kind of
conservative and there wasn’t a whole lot of cultural
variation to be exposed to, so I think it helped to get out
and live somewhere else. [After], I lived in Kingston, which
isn’t really diverse but it has a lot of history and
traditions to it. And now living in Toronto, there’s
all sorts of crazy stuff going on.
Matthew Barber opens for Danny Michel tonight at The Embassy.