Matthew De Zoete no longer solo

Young Hamilton singer-songwriter working on a new album with a new backup band

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Matthew DeZoete

Though he just completed a cross-country tour last week, singer-songwriter Matthew de Zoete is already back on the road.

Since releasing his debut album, Across the Sea, in 2006, the 25-year-old de Zoete has established a backup band, been nominated for Best Male Performer at the Toronto Independent Music Awards and been featured on CBC Radio 3.

As Zoete grew up in a small town outside Hamilton, Ontario, music was a big part of his childhood; by age 15, he was already writing and performing songs.

“My parents forced me to do piano when I was a child, but I’m very glad they did,” de Zoete says.

“I think everybody has an artistic side to them, [especially people who] have been exposed to that or encouraged since they were children. It gives children a very positive outlet.”

De Zoete, who plays guitar, piano and sings, performed solo until last year, when he decided to include more instruments in his songs. His new band includes bassist Paul VanDyk, pianist Paul Taylor and drummer Ian Venema.

De Zoete feels adding a backup band has changed his music’s dynamic.

“I’m shifting away from just being a solo artist,” he says. “I still enjoy doing that, but I’m more interested in singing, performing, and writing in a group setting. It seems to bring a lot more energy to the music.”

De Zoete is working on a new album with his new band. He says playing with others has improved his performance skills.

“It is making me a better player to really respond to other people playing,” he says. “When you have other people playing and interacting, it creates a different energy that offers a little more to people watching.”

De Zoete’s music is inspired by personal experiences and relationships, particularly the struggles of constant travel and separation.

Across The Sea’s concept is derived from his grandparents’ stories about immigrating to Canada from the Netherlands. In particular, songs like “Waving from the Rail” and “Something Left Behind” focus on his grandparents’ stories.

Although de Zoete finds writing music satisfying, he prefers performing.

“When you’re performing, people respond,” he says. “In a good show, the audience becomes a part of the show, reflecting their energy onto the band. The interaction with the audience is total enjoyment and approval.”

Matthew de Zoete performs at the London Music Club at 9 p.m. tonight and at the Alex P. Keaton Saturday night.

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