inMusic Chats With Matthew MorrisonWednesday, March 23, 2011
We picked Matthew Morrison as one of ‘Artists to Watch of 2011’. He is primarily known as the talented teacher on hit show Glee, but we feel he will break with new solo credibility with his new album due later this year.
In our interview with Matthew, Catherine chatted with him about the stigma attached to being an actor turned musician, his duet with Elton John and his ambition to sleep more?
inMusic: You are launching your first album., are you feeling nervous about it with all the build up?
Matthew Morrison: It’s my first time doing this so it’s been an interesting process learning about how everything works. But as an actor, first and foremost I’ve always been able to hide behind a character or a show or a cast or a crew, but there’s nothing to hide behind with this. It’s me, and it’s very exposing, so yeah, I’m nervous about it.
iM: I’ve heard the Summer Rain single. Is that a good summary of what people can expect on the album?
MM: No, it’s not. I thought it was a great, fun, kind of light song to start with. I think if you start in a deep, dark place, it’s hard to go back to a fun, light place, so I wanted to start there and then people can go get into the album. The whole album is a journey, and its kind of eclectic. It’s my first time doing an album, so a lot of it was kind of playing around and hearing out who I am as an artist. And as proud as I am of this album, I’m looking forward to doing the next one and the next one because I think, being a recording artist, it really is a process, finding out who you are.
iM: I read that Elton John is singing on your new album.
MM: He is, yeah. I wanted to pay homage to his music. He’s one of my favourite singer songwriters and we did this mash up of Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, and it goes into rocket man, and it’s like this epic, seven minute song, it’s so cool. And being in the studio with him was such a treat, I had the best time that day and it was so inspiring. Hearing him sing…I don’t know, I felt I sang so much better because I was so inspired that day.
iM: Did he give you any advice at all?
MM: No, he just let me do what I did, but he was very instrumental. I kind of came up with a version of how the song was going to go, and he kind of brought some feedback of what he thought, and it was a great collaboration.
iM: Do you have anyone else kind of like Elton on this album as well?
MM: I do, but I’m kind of keeping that close to the vest until a little later on.
iM: You are very busy with the Glee production, how did you have time to write this record?
MM: I wrote most of it in between the first and second season. We had like a two and a half month hiatus. So I recorded in London, in New York and in LA, and just worked with some great song writers, and then pretty much when Glee started back in, because we work thirteen to sixteen hour days, I did all my recording on the weekends.
iM: Do you think there is a negative stigma attached to actors who try to put out an album?
MM: You know, I’m not sure, because I’ve only had the single come out so far, so I don’t really know myself as an artist yet. And I don’t think people know me as an artist yet, so hopefully I’ll have some kind of separation. But yeah, it is hard, but I think the show that I’m on lends itself a little more to me being a singer, because I do sing on the show. Yeah, I’m interested to find that out though.
iM: Whose live show do you like going to see?
MM: I really love singer songwriters. I love music where it really just takes you on a journey, and you get to the end of the song and you’re almost mad in a way because you want the song to keep going and going because it really took you to a place and really set a mood. So I love Elton John, Billy Joel, Patty Griffin, Amos Lee, Mark Broussard. Mostly singer songwriters are the kind of shows I like to go to.
iM: I read that what you wanted to put out as an album and what you are putting out are quite different. Why did that happen?
MM: Well I kind of wanted to go and do like a cross between your fellow Canadian Michael Buble and Justin Timberlake. A kind of a mix between those two, kind of a crooner-y, but hip I guess. But when I went into the studio nothing like that came out. It was very me, and the different facets of me and my life and my experiences. I play the ukulele so there’s a couple ukulele songs, and actually the first single, Summer Rain, is very ukulele driven. But I think this first album is honestly a little eclectic. But I think, as a recording artist, I’m going to have a journey, and I’m really looking forward to the next album and the next album after that, because it’s a process, figuring out who I am as an artist.
iM: Which song are you most proud of on the new record?
MM: Probably this song called ‘My Name.’ I wrote it from what I’m going through, being a part of glee. I walk down the street and people are always “oh it’s the guy from Glee” or “its Mr. Schuster” , but people don’t really know my name. There’s this line, it’s like ‘all this love surrounds me but I’m still alone’, you know, because no one really knows who I am. I love this song because its just so personal and so exposing.
iM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
MM: Oh god…I would love to be sitting on a beach somewhere and not be working. Especially since, I’m working so hard right now, doing double duty with this album, doing Glee, plus everything else. So I’d love to be sleeping in five years, somewhere.
iM: Sleeping, that’s aspiration if I’ve ever heard it.
MM: (Laughs) Yeah so sad almost. But you know I really realize that this is a great time of my life and I’m trying to take advantage of the moment that I’m having. And hopefully I can get to a place where, in five years, I can be more selective of what I want to do, and be in a place where I can chill out a little bit more.
iM: You’re had a pretty quick rise to fame with Glee. What do you do to insure that you enjoy every minute of it?
MM: I’m pretty good at doing that. Moments really aren’t lost on me, I’m very appreciative of moments and I really …you know honestly I think running. I’m a big runner. I have to run at least every other day, but I try to do it every day. Those are my moments, just me by myself, working out, and I just really reflect upon my life and my journey and where I’m at, and it’s really a place to kind of zone out and just reflect.
iM: If they were to make a movie of your life, who would you want to play you, and what would be the theme song?
MM: I would want James Franco to play me, because he’s awesome, and for theme song, well I’m such a hopeless romantic, so there’s this Amos Lee song called ‘Arms of a Woman,’ and he sings ‘I am at ease in the arms of a woman.’ I always love hearing that song. I don’t have that in my life right now, and I think that’s something that I always want, and I know I want in my life to have that special someone to be with. And it’s almost sad because now I’m getting all deep on you, because I’m going through all this amazing stuff and I don’t really have someone to share it with. It sucks sometimes, but I know that I’m in a place where I know how hard a relationship is, and I don’t think I can give the best of me to someone right now.
iM: How do you feel when people compare you to, just based on the first single, the likes of Jason Mraz. What’s your gut feeling when you hear that?
MM: Oh my god - it’s such a compliment. I think he’s awesome, and what a compliment. I think I can only aspire to be as …it’s funny because I’m in a situation where I think, because of the show, I’m able to do my music on a bigger scale. And I always think about the people, I know there’s so many musicians out there who dedicate their life to this, and they’ll never get the opportunity to be thrust into the place where I think I’m going to be. And I people like Jason Mraz, I think he’s someone that’s really just a cool, simple guy, but he’s been able to have such great success. So I just find myself lucky, and it’s such an honour to be compared to him.
iM: Now I know you’ve played for the President, I know you’ve played for Oprah - what was your biggest accomplishment as far as meeting or playing or performing for?
MM: I think the President. I’ve performed for him, I think, five times now. The last time was Christmas time, I sang ‘Mele Kalikimaka’, the Hawaiian Christmas song. There was a reception line afterwards, and I met him all those times, six times, and this was the one time where I went to the reception line. And he was greeting everyone, ‘hello, hello, hello’, and he sees me and he goes “Matthew!” (laughs) It was the coolest feeling, the President of the United States knows my name, and it was a really awesome, awesome experience. And he gave me a big hug and stuff, it was awesome.
iM: When are you coming to Canada?
MM: I don’t know. I’m doing a world tour this summer, and we’re still trying to figure out dates and stuff, and I’m not sure if Canada is on the schedule. I don’t know if it is or not, I don’t know any dates, but I hope this summer maybe
iM: Thanks so much for chatting with inMusic.ca!
MM: Thank you very much.