Exclusive Interview: Matt Zarley

TheAussieWord catches up with hunky recording artist Matt Zarley for this very special one on one interview!

What can you tell us Aussies about you? How and where did it all begin?
Well, I was born in a smaller town called Peoria, Illinois. We moved around a lot when I was growing up, due to my dad’s job promotions. I started dancing when I was 12 years old after we settled in LA. I was immediately devoted to it. By the time I was 17, I was in the hit Broadway musical, CATS. I went on to do several other shows on Broadway. But my real true love was always music.
What first got you interested in music?
My very first musical influence was (don’t laugh) The Captain & Tennille. We’re talking like 6 years old or so when my obsession began. As I got older, I got into Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and on and on…finally settling on my most significant influence, Whitney Houston. I would sit for hours and study her riffs and dissect her musicality. When she was in her prime,  she was and likely will always be untouchable. She was the biggest singing influence on me, without a doubt.
Who inspires or influences your quest to make great music?
Heartbreak is definitely the easiest inspiration to draw from. Many times it serves as therapy in the healing process. That’s been my experience anyway. I tend to get my best stuff during that phase. This newer album was definitely a diary of sorts, chronically my recent painful break-up. It really helped me sort things out emotionally by writing this album. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Are there any tours or gigs planned for the future?
We’re in the middle of booking my summer tour schedule now. It’ll likely have me criss-crossing the states throughout the summer. I’m hoping we can get over to Australia and the UK. 
What are some of the biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I’d love to have a #1 record. Like every artist, I’d love a Grammy. I really wanna write a musical. I’d love to apply my pop sensibility to the theatre. You know I came from doing so much theatre for so many years. I have such a love and passion for it and the whole creative process. I really wanna achieve that goal for sure.
What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
I’m planning on doing one more video from this album. It’ll be much more intimate than the TRUST ME video was. It’ll be for the title track, CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME. That’s the plan anyway.
Success, what is the secret to success and what has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Playing the role of Tommy in TOMMY on Broadway was hands down the most thrilling highlight for me. Honestly, the creative process of this entire album project along with the few videos (especially TRUST ME) was a hugely gratifying experience for me. It’s by the far the most personal project I’ve done and I got to really flex my executive producer chops on the whole thing; which was my most ambitious undertaking thus far.
Which current stars in the industry do you highly rate?
Musically, I love India.Arie, Pink, and Carrie Underwood. They’re prob my faves at the moment, for different reasons. I have immense respect for Beyonce and Justin Timberlake for crossing over into other facets of the biz and really succeeding. In terms of actors, my fave actors of this generation have to be Kate Winslet and Ryan Gosling. LOVE them.
How would people best describe you and your music?
Sensitive and easy to relate to…..that’s what I’ve been told. Trying to be as subjective as I can, I think I have a pretty emotional sound at times and I think that’s what most people respond to. If I can affect someone, that’s what it’s about for me. It’s all about telling your story and the listener connecting and relating to it. My goal is for the listener to actually feel something. Hopefully.
Tell us a bit about your first EP or album?
Well, my first album was called DEBUT and was released thru Universal distribution in 2002. I wrote 10 of the tunes and Diane Warren gave me a song and Allan Rich/Jud Friedman gave me one as well. That album sounded very of that era…the boy band era. When I did my EP, HERE I AM, I went for a more organic, adult sound. With this newer album, CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME, it’s kinda all over the place. I think it takes you on a journey. A little bit dance, some mid-tempos and a couple power ballads. I think it represents me very honestly, both personally and musically.

Do you have any exciting projects in the works?
I’m continuing to promote the new single, TRUST ME, along with the music video. (it debuts on the US Billboard chart this week). We’re hoping to shoot the next video next month. I also have a couple different recording projects brewing right now. I’m also developing a tv series that I’m extremely passionate about. I’m hoping to be able to discuss that soon!
The industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I would love to see myself branching off into different areas….developing and hopefully green lighting this show we’re working on. I would love to actually make my original musical dream a reality. I wanna keep writing, singing and recording but would also like to invest more of my time in developing other artists. Pay it forward so to speak. There’s a part of me that would love to sneak back to Broadway for 6-9 months and do another show. I’d love to go back now with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years. A real full circle moment.  In addition, I plan to be more involved w/ my family’s foundation. Giving back and changing someone’s life is the ultimate reward and that feeling is like none I’ve ever experienced before.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
Well, of course the queen bee herself, Olivia Newton-John, who I’ve had the honor of spending a little bit of time with. She’s just as lovely and warm as you would imagine. I have to admit, I love Guy Sebastian. I’ve been a fan since he won the Australia Idol competition. That boy can SANG!!
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what it means to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
Over all I think social media has in a way, saved the industry. Having the internet at your disposal at all times has really levelled the playing field for artists. An indie artist can get their music out there really easily and without the dependence of a record label. But the downside are all the expenses that you ecru, owning your own biz. Marketing, publicity services, not to mention all of the recording expenses add up to quite an investment. My mantra is speak your truth thru your music. If that honesty resonates in a genuine fashion, I think that’s when the recordings turn out their best and ultimately connects w/ the listeners in a more personal way.
Thanks for the interview! What can you leave fans with here on TheAussieWord blog today.

Please support all artists by actually purchasing their music. Illegal downloads have really crippled artists who rely on royalties; which they’re not getting due to the overwhelming amount of piracies. I always say it’s not okay to sneak into a movie without paying…why should it be okay to steal music?

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