Interview with Matthew Mayfield – Part 1
The absolute power of music never ceases to amaze me. What else can make you feel nostalgic, sad, grateful, confident, warm and fuzzy, chills down your spine, relaxed, joyful, lost, and found? And sometimes all at once!
So with all this infinite power, it should be easy for music to mend a broken heart, right? Wrong. I was going through a bad break up and nothing was working. I just couldn’t shake it. And then, I got what I needed. An unknown artist sang a song called “Dead to You” and I knew that I wasn’t alone. This singer had empathy for my own pain and I could hear it loud and clear.
And this brings me to my next featured artist, Matthew Mayfield.
Matthew had been touring in support of Needtobreathe. I looked at my stack of future concert tickets and there it was: October 1, 2009 at the Loft in Atlanta with Matthew Mayfield, Serena Ryder, and Needtobreathe headlining. Lucky for me, Matthew agreed to be interviewed before his show. YAHOO!
When I met Matthew, he looked much younger than I expected. At the ripe old age of 26, he mainlines his music directly from his own open wounds. He claims to be very introverted in nature and yet, I found him very open and accessible – but definitively grappling through his own questions. Trying to calm my annoyingly positive Type A personality to match his more low-key demeanor, I discovered he is very intense and very passionate.
Matthew Mayfield was the lead singer of a 5-piece band called Moses Mayfield. Epic Records had tapped this band as being the next big thing and signed them, only to be dropped six weeks after release due to a change in executive management. They disbanded shortly after in 2008.
After some soul-searching, Matthew decided to pursue the music industry completely independently. At the time, he had been recovering from a very long and tumultuous relationship. In a fit of passion, he wrote and recorded The Fire EP and self-released it. Discovered by a local radio DJ that started playing “Dead to You,” his fan base started growing organically and rapidly from there. New EP Five Chances Remain Hers has just been released. His first single “Open Road” has been well-received and also controversial as his first video.
Break a leg
Matthew grew up listening to his father play the guitar and began his own musical journey at the age of nine. But it was several years later, after breaking his leg playing football, when he fully focused on music. A painful smile appears on his face as he recalls, “I was in a big cast and couldn’t move very much. I learned how to play the guitar and wrote a ton of songs. My first guitar was from a Sears catalog. It was $80 and white. I hated the white! I tried to paint it black with wall paint or something… ended up totally destroying it.”
So maybe his first guitar didn’t die a Viking-esque death like Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster. But Mayfield does have a special guitar that he wouldn’t dare paint–his father’s old ’76 Martin D10. “It has all kinds of scars and nicks on it and a lot of love,” he says. “Me and my brother knocked it around when we were kids. I have it in my possession now and have written most of my songs on it.”
Wearing your Heart on your Art
As soon as I met Matthew, I noticed he had several tattoos on his arms. Personally, I am completely scared of the pain of tattoos, so naturally, I was curious to know what their significance was. Matthew drew most of his own tattoos. “The one on my upper left arm was my first which signifies being divided. I’ve always felt divided. I am capable of love and I am capable of hate. It’s kind of the balancing of the emotions that I always feel.”
As a kid, Matthew confided in me that he was always a nervous and worried soul. Over the years, he has taken careful steps to help manage the anxiety. “I’ve always dealt with things more silently but always with passion…and at times, a little hellraising was called for, too. Writing music and performing music has always been a release for me.”
Silly Love Songs
Someone asked Matthew if he wrote all those “love songs” to get girls (see my previous blog on this). He laughed and said “when I write, it’s straight from my pain and straight from my experiences – what I put in my songs are almost verbatim.” He continues “I don’t think of them as love songs at all. They’re more of an asking. Please be by my side. Please stay with me.” He almost always finds the melody first and the lyrics just naturally come. “It’s a pretty vulnerable feeling when you’re honest.”
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview with Matthew Mayfield. Thanks for reading! Your comments and support of Matthew are much appreciated-
Download his music on iTunes