13 Apr

We’ve taken a weird path to arrive as admirers of the music made by Matt Valentine – whether that music is made with his partner Erika Elder in the long-running MV & EE, with friend Jeremy Earl of Woods (as we were fortunate enough to experience live this past winter) or of the purely solo variety, as is the case with Valentine’s recent solo album, “What I Became.”

That weird path could alternately be described as a path of ignorance (and both long-time readers of this site will know we’ve fit that description more than once in the past). Our original encounters with the different varietals of Matt Valentine’s music all happened independent of one another, and it wasn’t until relatively recently that we were able to see these things as part of Valentine’s larger whole … and ultimately, as something larger than that.

Yet if you’re going to arrive at admiration for a certain music via a weird path, you couldn’t do much better than that of Valentine. Despite – or maybe because of – the variety of his musical experiences, the overarching sentiment revealed to us on songs like “P.K. Dick” and “Ease My Eyes” is a sense of comfort with and acceptance of the weird path. What other path could there be?

In advance of Matt Valentine taking off on his own weird path of a tour (featuring dates with Apes-favs MMoss and Herbcraft), we were fortunate enough to ask a few questions of Valentine and his path. Enjoy.

Do you feel as though you hear acoustic music differently than electric music? Do the two create different reactions in yourself, or is it strictly dependent on song and artist? Do you find you have in yourself a hardwired preference for one or the other?

I’m into all music, sounds … it’s all the same to me.

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How is that preference – or the lack thereof – reflected in your listening habits? Not necessarily what you are listening to, but when you are listening to it – are we more likely to find you listening to music for pleasure in the morning or at night? What album are you likely to listen to on a rare, lazy Saturday afternoon?

It’s a moment to moment thing, always has been … much like ragas or a live performance, the time of day and all the factors that sail with it have something to do with what I choose to listen to and how I phrase what I play when performing. Primo lazy Sunday afternoon jam might be the first Dando Shaft LP, or a live “Clementine” from 1968.

There exists a phenomenon among stand-up comedians wherein the develop a tolerance for comedy, rarely able to offer much more than a flat, “That’s funny” to the work of their peers. Have you ever felt yourself feeling more calloused to music’s charms? If you woke tomorrow and found yourself without musical talent, what other creative pursuit do you feel you would pursue?

I’d do the Lew Welch thing.

We’ve little fear of you waking up in such a situation, not least because of the quality of songs contained on your latest solo release, “What I Became.” Where does the album’s title originate from? It’s interesting that the title can be read in a presentational sense (“Here I am – this is what I became”) or perhaps a cautionary sense (“Good thing I changed my life – I didn’t like what I became”). Were either of those thoughts on your mind when titling the album?

It’s just one of the lyrics … there’s a lot-a me in the album – seemed like the right fit.

What can you tell us about the song “PK Dick”? What was your first introduction to the writing of Dick, and how did your knowledge of his life and work impact the song?

I first discovered P.K. Dick in high school. I think the first one I read was either “Man in the High Castle” or “A Scanner Darkly” … at this point, I’ve read nearly everything he has written … in many ways when my scrambler suit is on, I feel the way he wrote books parallels my inspiration/need to make records.

While impossible to pick favorites, we’re pretty taken with the song “Hit the Trails” – the contrast in the guitars is magnificent and the refrain seems to be saying, “Hit the trails – get off of the road.” What do these words mean to you? Do you think of those words as being encouragement to the listener or to yourself? Perhaps neither? Do you believe you are naturally inclined to follow your own trail, so to speak, or is it a characteristic you’ve learned over the years that suits you?

That’s what I’m singin’. The refrain is a holler toward “green living” … my kinda protest song. It’s about me …

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that your next release will serve as a tribute to Scott Valentine, in the form of a limited release CD-R recreation of the soundtrack to the 1987 film, “My Demon Lover”?

Mebbe one of the other Valentine’s will handle that one. I just wrote somethin’ for Barbara Steele.

One of the most intriguing thing about your work, your releases under the MV & EE name, and other releases from your extended family of peers is that the sheer number and frequency of releases constitutes an inspiring example of creative work ethic, for lack of a better term. Do you ever feel that you have created a sort of alternate universe for your music, albeit an alternate universe with many, many entry points for others? Do you reflect on the volume of music you’ve released, and can that volume be seen as perhaps an unending attempt to bridge the gap between your inner vision and your ultimate expression?

I feel it is a space-time continuum of constant change … music is ephemeral, and it seems even more so now in a digital era. I don’t really look back anymore, or think about it … I just make things. It is all fully me, part of my “expression,” certainly part of what I see.

Ethan Allen – known as one of the founders of Vermont, along with being a huge fan of The Clash – famously said the following when confronted with a court order to be subordinate to New York: “The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it.” What do you think was meant by his assertion? Do you feel your surroundings in Vermont influence or even enhance the music your create?

Moving back to Vermont – I lived in Burlington in the late 80’s – sure, it has an effect. The surroundings always have an effect. I believe form and content ultimately become one. It all gets in there. Where I’m at works for me. I live out in the woods … it helps me hear the intervals better. I’ve tapped into the gores. All levels of consciousness exist simultaneously all over the planet. It goes way beyond Vermont. I try to keep that in perspective.

What’s next for Matt Valentine?

Got a new eight-disc deluxe handmade creation coming out on my and Erika’s Child Of Microtones imprint. C.O.M., as it is affectionately called, is a cottage label dedicated to releasing personal ephemera of the highest quality and form. We started in 1999 and have been publishing ever since. This new collection is called “Suub Duub” and it documents our summer 2011 concerts, lovingly remastered with a wild “You Are There” sound and is accompanied by a 16 page book. It is C.O.M. 37!

On May 15th, our new studio record, “Space Homestead,” comes out via Woodsist. It is a rural jammer with a chariot of kelvin. Peace ∞


4/27 Marlboro College / Marlboro, VT
4/28 Free Range Music Festival / Belfast, ME
4/29 Strange Maine / Portland, ME

5/12 The Whitehaus / Jamaica Plain, MA (w/Herbcraft & MMoss)
5/13 285 Kent / Brooklyn, NY (“Woodsist Nite” w/Herbcraft & Steve Gunn)
5/14 Level Room / Philadelphia, PA (w/P.G. Six)
5/15 Golden West Cafe / Baltimore, MD
5/16 DC9 / Washington, DC
5/17 Spotty Dog / Hudson, NY
5/18 The Bookmill / Montague, MA
5/19 The Oak and The Ax / Biddeford, ME (w/BR Garm)

6/03 Dreamaway Lodge / Becket, MA

7/14 Inner Mountain Festival @ The Grey Eagle (acoustic and electric sets) / Asheville, NC (w/Dredd Foole, Willie Lane, Samara Lubelski / Herbcraft)

September -> October 2012: UK/Euro tour


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