October 3, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 21  

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Glimpses into the thoughts of a romantic loner

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

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 he is.

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.



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