Thanks to Matt Tarka, Singer-Songwriter from Montgomery County, for coming by the studio this week!
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FROM TODAY'S SHOW
- Battle Scars, by Laura Farrell (Indie, Folk)
- Very Little, by Matt Tarka (Rock)
- You and I, by The Sidleys (Rock/Soul)
- Afraid of the Rain, by Yellowtieguy (Rock)
- Woman in Black, by Tomato Dodgers (Funk/Interstellar Funk)
- Bruises, by Bells and Hunters (Rock/ Blues Rock)
Thank you so much for your love and support of the DC Music Rocks Festival, which happened on Saturday 9/2. To see 100+ pictures and videos everyone took at the event, go on instagram and check out the hashtag #dcmusicrocks930. Thank you so much to everyone for supporting and coming out to this event. A BIG thank you to the bands, Christian Hunt of the Capital City Showcase for MCing the evening, Tara G of Logan Circle Events, Rachel Levitin, Taylor Thomas and her husband JD, the 9:30 Club team, and so many more, there’s just so many people that we’re grateful for which helped in the creation of this event!
DC Music Rocks was featured in the DCist’s Article “DC’s 9 Best Local Music Podcasts. Also featured friends of ours such as Sean Russell who was last week’s featured guest and his podcast “The Circus Life”, another one of our favorites, “Hometown Sounds”, the guys from “chunky glasses” that we’re dying to meet, and so many others. Hope you’ll check it out, and thank you so much to Julie Strupp and the DCist for the spotlight! We’re grateful and honored!
THIS WEEK'S LOCAL DC SHOWS TO SEE
Fri Sep 8
Black Masala @ Songbyrd Music House in Adams Morgan in NW DC
Lauren Calve @ Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown in NW DC
Taylor Carson @ Jammin Java in Vienna, VA
Sat Sep 9
Nappy Riddem & Rare Essence @ 202 Arts & Music Festival on M St in SW DC
Sun Sep 10
Leo & Cygnus, Hayley Fahey Music @ Takoma Park Folk Festival near Silver Spring, MD
Den-Mate @ DC9 Nightclub by U St in NW DC
Mon Sep 11
FuzzQueen @ Black Cat near 14th & U in NW DC
Wed Sep 13
Lionize, Tomato Dodgers @ Black Cat near 14th & U in NW DC
Veronneau CD/Album Release Party @ Blues Alley in NW DC
VIDEO - BIO - LINKS - TRANSCRIPT
Have you ever had a moment where you’ve realized that you were late to the party, that you’ve spent too much energy on trying to please the wrong people or you’ve been deceived by those closest to you? If the answer is yes then the rock-inflected folk music of DC-based artist Matt Tarka will speak directly to you. Weaving isolated moments of heartbreak and rejection into his songs he continues the traditions of artists such as Tom Petty, Wilco and Carole King.
These themes flow from his new EP, Vision Hazy - recorded at Low Watt Recording in Savannah, GA with Ted Comerford (Jukebox The Ghost, Jonas Sees in Color) at the production helm, and subsequently mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.) at The Fidelitorium in North Carolina. Taking his folk origins and unleashing them, with the help of the occasional guitar flourish or fluttering drumbeat, the record sees Tarka bolster his sound with a rockier element. Sonically it’s his most advanced creation to date.
The considered nature of the tracks belies the slightly chaotic nature of his creative process. Ideas are roughly written down on index cards, notebooks, on scraps of paper left under the bed in case of night-time inspiration, or recorded into a dictation machine. Out of these assorted thoughts come the lyrics, which then shape the sound of his music. Demos are recorded onto an old cassette recorder, giving them a timeless feel from the very outset, and order is finally formed from his disorderly ruminations.
It’s a process that has evolved since his debut in 2008, as Tarka continues to follow his muse. As he says himself, ‘don’t let anyone tell you what kind of music you should be making, or how you should be making it. There are enough outside distractions in the world. Be true to yourself.’ You can hear this mantra ringing out in his honest lyrics and heartfelt delivery.
In an intimate live setting Tarka’s music takes on a different lease of life, careening and questing further from his tight recordings. Having already played in Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC and DC (anywhere with a barbeque joint nearby), with new shows coming up there’ll be plenty of chances to hear the songs of Vision Hazy performed live. You needn’t worry if you’re late in discovering the sounds of Matt Tarka …. Now’s the perfect chance to catch up!
Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight the great songs, and incredible people behind the DC region's local music scene. So Matt Tarka is an artist from Montgomery County. He describes his style as rock inflected folk, which we definitely heard in that track right there, for sure. He continues the tradition of artists such as Tom Petty, Wilco, and Carol King, by weaving isolated moments of heartbreak and rejection into his songs. And yet, he's a smiley, positive dude. He's sitting here with me. I first came across this guy because my Show coordinator, Daniel Hill, the yellow tie guy helps me put this together, and he and Matt know each other. He introduced me to Matt's music, and I've been a huge fan. So Matt, thanks for being here man.
Matt: Yeah, thanks for talking to me.
Brian: You're welcome. I'm glad we got that out of the way. So now tell us about you. When did music enter your life? How did that happen?
Matt: Probably fourth grade. I started off playing alto sax in elementary school, and middle school band. Continued that track for about four or five years, just playing in elementary school and middle school band, and then later on I think ... What eventually happened was it was baseball season, and I was in early high school. A friend of mine to convince my mom and dad that I should join a band that he's starting right now, that it kind of looked like I could play bass. So without really any knowledge of what was going on, my friend Jeff decided to con my parents into buying four string Peavey Fury bass guitar. So I think that was really ... I always really enjoyed rock and roll music and stuff before that, but I think that really kind of solidified the deal.
Brian: The four string bass sucked you in, huh?
Matt: Sucked me in-
Brian: That's amazing-
Matt: [crosstalk 00:02:02] Peavey Basic 60 solid-state amp, that I just tormented my parents with for years [crosstalk 00:02:09]-
Brian: It sounds like such fond memories that you and them both have, absolutely. Now Montgomery County, were you born and raised there? Or was that-
Matt: No, I'm not originally from Montgomery County. I'm originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Brian: No way, Hershey Park, Pennsylvania?
Matt: Hershey Park, yeah-
Brian: That's what you're talking about, okay.
Matt: So I had an amusement park and a chocolate factory in my backyard. It was a charmed life.
Brian: Every kid's dream.
Brian: Right there-
Matt: Yeah, charmed life I led.
Brian: And when did you get to DC?
Matt: Late 2001.
Brian: Got it.
Matt: I came down here for work.
Brian: Awesome, have you been here ever since?
Brian: That's awesome, and now what about, so obviously music is a big part of your life, outside of music, what do you do? Hobbies, interests, what do you got?
Matt: I'm an avid swimmer.
Brian: What does that mean?
Matt: Well, I-
Brian: Twice a week, three times a week? How far?
Matt: About three times a week. I usually swim consistently for about an hour or so, just continuously swimming laps. Focus on freestyle, and breaststroke, and all that good stuff. I think it's a good cardiovascular activity, and [crosstalk 00:03:22]-
Brian: Were you on the swim team as a kid or something?
Matt: Meditative as well.
Matt: Yeah, I was on a swim team growing up. I think beginning of first or second grade.
Brian: Oh wow-
Matt: And continued on through middle school. So about the time that the saxophone lessons ended was when I decided to end my time on the swim team.
Brian: Wow, alright-
Matt: And really focused on music.
Brian: I gotcha, so lots of swimming. What else?
Matt: Let's see, I'm a huge college basketball fan.
Brian: Really? Which team?
Matt: Go Tar Heels. UNC-
Brian: There it is-
Matt: I'm a diehard Tar Heels basketball fan. It originates back to ... In the late '80s I was a fan of a player named Jeff Lebo, who kind of grew up around my hometown in Carlisle. So I sort of followed his career when I was younger and-
Matt: Yeah, went to he and his dad's basketball camp that he had, growing up around my house. So getting that sort of encouragement from somebody that I idolized I thought, this seems like a good school, a good college basketball school to follow. So that was my indoctrination into the world of the Carolina Tar Heels basketball-
Brian: There it is. Go Tar Heels-
Brian: I love it. Alright, now what do you have in your music collection that might surprise us?
Matt: Well, I'm a huge fan of Dinosaur Jr., even though a lot of the music that tends to fall out of my head is more folk rock. A band like Dinosaur is just extremely aggressive from a decibel point of view.
Brian: For those folks who don't know Dinosaur, what kind of music is it? Are we talking hardcore heavy metal?
Matt: I think it originated in hardcore, but it just gradually worked its way out of hardcore somehow, and it's just really loud, melodic metal, with a little bit of a classic rock, Black Sabbath bend towards it.
Brian: Wow, alright-
Matt: But the main vocalist has I think a lot of influences with Neil Young.
Brian: Got it, and that name one more time, if people want to check that out.
Matt: Dinosaur Jr.
Brian: Dinosaur Jr.
Matt: They're a band based in Amherst, Massachusetts-
Brian: Oh, look at that-
Matt: They've been around for I think a little over 30 years.
Brian: Wow, okay-
Matt: Yeah, so they've got some history.
Brian: And what about ... So funniest moment that comes to mind when you think on your music career so far?
Matt: The funniest moment that comes to mind? Well, I was playing an open mic at now a defunct music venue in Bethesda. I was playing an original song called Indigo Bunting. That's off my first EP called Motorcycle Breakfast. One of the owners of this particular establishment told me, "Hey, I really like that song, but it sounds like you are doing a really terrible job of impersonating Elvis Costello." I was just kind of like, "What the heck are you even saying right now?"
Brian: I see-
Matt: It sounds nothing like Elvis Costello, but if I was a sucky version of Elvis Costello at that point in time, there are worse compliments, or lack thereof, that could be shared with you after you performed.
Brian: I was gonna say, that'd be a funny moment, but I think I'd try to find a way to look at that one positively, just because I got compared to Elvis Costello. So I guess if that's what he thinks of when he hears you, then there's a lot worse ways that could go. That's for sure.
Matt: Yeah, I took it a little bit harsh at first, but afterwards I just thought, whatever.
Brian: It's kind of funny.
Brian: Wow, that's wild. Now tell us a story about a time you tried and failed.
Matt: Tried and failed? There were plenty to count, but to really just pinpoint one in particular, I was at an IOTA Open Mic trying out some new material. And for some reason, my body temperature was going all over the place. Some of it might've had to do with the fact that it was over 100 degrees outside. My instrument was all out of whack. I hadn't humidified, probably the way that I should have, leading up to this Wednesday night open mic. My pick hand just was really clamming up. I just couldn't get my act together. There were at least two or three instances where I just dropped my pick halfway through certain songs. It felt very, deeply pathetic at the time. You get people saying, "Yeah, keep going, keep going." But at that point, the songs are just kind of ... It's sort of a done deal. I wasn't going to make the impression with this material that I was really proud to share for the first time.
Brian: Yeah, man-
Matt: So that was a sincere failure.
Brian: So how'd you pick yourself up off the ground from that one? Because I mean, you gotta move past these things. You're still here doing this, so that didn't kill it for you.
Matt: Honestly, I just picked up the pick and said, "Well, let's give it another shot. Let's keep going."
Matt: Let's just keep going.
Brian: You know, sometimes you have to do that. So then, my favorite question to ask on this one is, if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Matt: Play shows. Honestly, play shows. Don't be afraid to try new material. Connect with your local artist. Go out and support them. Utilize any open mics that are happening in your hometown to meet other musicians. It's a great opportunity to not just hear new music, but potentially show swap, or set up shows with one another. I think the more opportunities you give yourself to bounce your own ideas off of your fellow artists, you create that sort of support, and reciprocity. I think you grow as a person, you grow as an artist. People, they will be more inclined to come out to one of your shows, and follow what you're up to on a regular basis.
Matt: For me, it's all about giving back to a scene that you're a part of in whatever way you feel is true to you.
Brian: Yep, I mean, I created a radio show about it. So I feel you on that, pay it forward, absolutely. So if folks want to find out more about you, and follow what you got going on, where do they go?
Matt: Well, they can go to MattTarkaMusic.com. The easiest way to remember my last name is that it rhymes with parka.
Brian: You clever man you, look at you go, parka-
Matt: With a T-
Brian: Parka with a T, okay-
Matt: [crosstalk 00:10:42] music, MattTarkaMusic.com. You can follow me on all kinds of different social media-
Brian: Yep, which one is your favorite?
Matt: [crosstalk 00:10:49]. My favorite right now is probably Instagram.
Brian: Lot of Instagram?
Matt: I haven't used it as much as I've wanted to, but I really enjoy the sort of instant gratification of it. I also like Twitter. Facebook is okay. I also put out a newsletter through ReverbNation that you can sign up for as well.
Brian: Cool, and so all of these places, obviously if they tune into those, they'll also find out about that upcoming EP you've got coming out?
Matt: Absolutely, yes.
Brian: Fantastic, and what was that date again? September-
Matt: It's September 29.
Brian: Nice, and it's called?
Matt: It's called Vision Hazy.