Interview by Seneer Asif ...
Matt Henshaw is a twenty six year old soul singer, songwriter, and composer. As well as loads of musical history and stories under his belt, Matt has been featured on a few Midland Hip Hop artists’ albums too as well as being a support act in various concerts for bands such as Snow Patrol. He believes that as long as you have the passion for something, you’ll find a way to make a living out of it no matter how difficult the odds.
Walking into a deserted bar in the cold of day, my eyes search around for Matt Henshaw. After some wandering around, I finally find Matt, sitting comfortably in a sofa, sipping a cup of tea, his attention swirls towards me as I say “Hi Matt’. After doing the usual greetings, we sit down and I produce my recording device out of my pocket as we begin with the interview.
“Matt! How are you sir? Could you begin with telling me a bit about yourself, what do you do and basically who is Matt Henshaw?” I begin the questions with a visible enthusiasm in my tone, as a smile appears on Matt’s bearded face.
Matt begins as he informs me that even though he’s based in Leicester but he grew up in Nottingham. For about six to eight months he has been making a living out of songwriting, and being a musician. Before all that he used to work at TotalFilm in London but then moved to Leicester and worked in the Leicester University. He quit his job there to pursue a career in music. Matt believes that, “if you’re passionate about something you can find a way of doing it for living. It’s obviously a risky and hard way of living but you have to take risks in order to do what you love”.
As I enquire him about his songwriting, he tells me that “songwriting is so much fun, producing is fun too”. This year he has signed a music deal where his songs are going to be played in supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and pubs around the world. He explains that it’s not a label, but a “new thing these days”. Matt informs me that the way the music industry has changed it’s almost like getting a record deal.
“Getting alongside a label is not that important anymore” Matt highlights. He believes that getting yourself out there is much more important. Matt explained that these days you can approach these companies personally rather than having to go through labels or management.
As I ask him why he loves soul music, Matt’s reply was nothing short of inspirational, ““Soul music is important to me because you can feel it. I see soul music as honest and sang with passion, and this is what I do. Soul music is from the heart”.
Matt likes to use personal pronouns, such as “we”, “you”, “they” “it”. He’s a private person so he doesn't try to personalise his songs but tries to write it in a way that it will gives the listener an opportunity to relate to it personally.
Upon me asking whether he had any massive, stupendous offers from anywhere Matt explained that recently he had a phone call from one of the producers of The Voice, before they were doing the new season. They said that they had listened to him and would like him to come, he wouldn't even need to go through the audition process, they would put him straight to the main shows. Matt’s answer was a plain “No”. “I said no I don’t want to do it, not something I would want to do”.
In his College days, Matt formed a band with his friends and they called it ‘Censored’. It was about not believing in censorship.
They were even signed up to same label as the one that Kelly Clarkson was signed up to when she first started in the music business. They even performed shows with bands such as Snow Patrol.
Matt gave an interesting example of the power of music “Someone played Snow Patrol’s ‘chasing cars’ at a party recently I was in, and everyone laid on the floor as the song was being sung, that’s the power of the music”.
Matt has made couple of albums and beats with rappers from the Midlands. “Different producers always bring different things to the table. Collaborations are a good way of reaching a wider audience” Matt believes.
Upon me asking where what his advice would be to someone who’s starting out with music and they don't have resources, Matt explained, “I don't think equipment matters. It’s the passion that does it. I had a £35 guitar from Argos as my first guitar. Be confident. Someone said to me once, if you learn an instrument you'll never be lonely again in your life, it will be your best friend”.
I had a job at Leicester University and I left that to make music. People thought I was crazy. We are in recession, people have lost jobs, lost mortgages, stuck in jobs they hate just for the sake of having a job, but I feel lucky and blessed.
As I asked him that what does music means to him, Matt Henshaw replies, “I wanted to make music to express myself. Music shouldn't be about making money or getting famous, that’s not it”. With that note, we finish the interview as we shake hands and I leave the bar.