Good Vibes Tour 2013 Guest Blog: Matisyahu Embraces New Energy, Searches to Create ‘Fresh’ Music
Editor’s Note: TheDrop.fm asked performers on the Good Vibes tour to share their stories in a series of guest blog posts. Meet Matisyahu, a reggae star with roots in Pennsylvania. Since 2004, he’s released four albums: ‘Shake Off the Dust… Arise,’ ‘Youth,’ ‘Light’ and ‘Spark Seeker.’ His songs like the hopeful ‘King Without a Crown‘ and inspirational ode ‘One Day’ have made their way onto the Billboard charts.
As the tour continues into its last couple weeks before we head to Israel, I have been refreshed with new inspiration. Rosh Hashanah, the Lunar/Jewish new year is here and with it my energy is new.
At this very moment, the band and crew are standing in a circle chanting "Starbucks" as the runner has just pulled up and we are stuck in the back parking lot of a bar/music venue 30 miles outside Albany. These boys are my family and these parking lots are my backyard. The back lounge in the bus is my home and I feel blessed to have this life and to see this side of our country.
In terms of the music, it is an interesting thing that happens when you play six nights a week and close to 200 shows a year. It is so easy to go on auto-pilot -- to forget what the songs once meant to you, what the words are about, what the fans connect with. When music goes from being your dream, your inspiration, your true love to your day job, it is a sad thing.
I am always searching for ways to keep things fresh. Musically, the Dub Trio and I re-work songs and update them to our current musical taste. Change is so important when it comes to re-awakening the musical spark. How to do that and stay true to the essence of the original song is where my challenge is. Vocally, I continue to work on my craft and am just now learning how to really sing. Not force it, not repeat what I already know, but how to sing.
Creatively, I try every night to let go into my imagination and envision all types of things. When I am dancing, I am rarely just doing moves. I take from the Chassidic tradition and dance as a celebration of life, a way to break out of myself and unite with the creator. I continue to pray and talk with God while on stage with words and with melody.
Then there is the dance and song of life. In order to be real on stage with the music, one has to find the music in everyday life. That is the real spiritual work. To feel you are living in a story. God's story. To dance through his world one must first hear his music. Shma Yisrael, Hashem Elokanu, Hashem Echad. Hear, Oh Israel, all of this is God, He is one.
To hear the music when there is no music, that's what separates between a true artist and a song-and-dance man. There is another aspect as well. When one becomes fat or gets too comfortable in this world, they can no longer sing from their soul. For me, the voice that rises through the heavens and reaches the ONE has to come from a broken heart. Just like King David, or Jacob or any of the fathers and mothers that called out.
I am still the 17-year-old kid singing for the first time Rastaman Chant in a park in Burlington, Vt., or the back of a pick up in Tennessee hitchhiking across the country with 50 cents in my pocket.
That brings me to the fans. When I meet fans each and every day that have broken hearts, that have real struggle in there lives and the music has helped them to get through their day, my heart also breaks and I am able to sing with truth. Thank you for listening and allowing me to do the only thing I ever wanted to do. Speak to God amidst his children.