We are thrilled to chat today with Canadian singer/songwriter and pianist Matthew Presidente, who has just released his latest piano rock single, “Hundreds or Five,” the second single off his upcoming album to be released later this year. 

Congratulations on your latest release, I’m delighted to have you here with us at Rock Era Magazine, how are you today? Also I wanted to tell you how much I love “Hundreds or Fives,” I’ve been hearing it for a few days now and it keeps growing on me. It was my first introduction to your music and encouraged me to delve into your extensive discography, which I absolutely adore.

Read Here ‘Hundreds or Fives’ Music Review

  • Can we get a brief history of the man behind the mic, how it all started and what encouraged you to start your solo musical career?

Since I was young I always wanted to write my own songs and perform them in front of people. I played piano all my life and infused my love of rock music and theatrical flair into it. I started playing live and releasing music professionally in my early 20s and the piano made me stand out. It gave me an edge and people enjoyed coming to the shows to watch me play. I was initially encouraged by the energy of a live crowd. It’s this same love of performance of being in front of a crowd that has kept me going through all these years.

  • Who are your influences and who do you look up to as an artist?

I have a lot of musical influences from the 60s and 70s classics my parents would listen to (Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Meat Loaf), to the 90s music I grew up listening to (Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos) right through to modern pop and rock. I look up to artists who have had longevity, have persevered and have adapted to ever-changing trends and realities in the music industry (think Madonna!)

  • What inspires your music and what is your creative process like when writing and
    composing new songs?

My inspiration and processes have taken different shapes over the years depending on what is happening in my life. Currently, I’m writing about change because that is what is inspiring me at the moment. After a turbulent few years at a job I wasn’t passionate about, I decided to focus my energy on my own career as an artist. Navigating this change has been exciting, frightening and uplifting all at once. My songs are coming from a place of honest, personal experience. I try hard to craft the songs in a way that is intimate but can also be relatable.

Generally I will come up with a title first, a bit of a theme or word cloud and then start playing with some melodies and riffs. The full lyrics always come last for me because I want to first tell the story with the piano. If the song calls for it, I then bring it to the band – talented guys who really understand my style and always add layers of drums guitar and bass that bring the arrangements to the next level.

  • It’s been 20 years since your debut album, and with such a long and vast musical career,
    you must have faced a few challenges. Can you share some of them and how you
    overcame them?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is wanting to stop. Or at least wanting to give in to a more
financially stable path. I feel like this is a universal feeling for artists when they work so hard and don’t necessarily see the results they are hoping for, especially at the beginning. I have had ups and downs as a musician through the years but I focus on the songs, let them grow with me and as the catalogue builds it gives me the motivation to keep releasing music and keep performing.
This has allowed me to build up resilience and confidence as a performer.
I do my very best to stay true to my style and my musical themes. As a queer artist I have an innate responsibility to use my songs and stories to amplify the voices in my community. This responsibility is one that I take on proudly and it motivates me to continue doing what I’m doing and overcome any ‘second thoughts’.

  • In addition to your solo work, you’ve also written and performed in two original musicals. Can you tell us more about the experience, and how different it was from writing your own original material?

Last year for the Kelowna Fringe Festival I was lucky enough to work with comedian and drag performer Toddy to write music for our original show ‘Pretty Package Piano Bar’. It was a very fun collaboration that came naturally. Working with others on a project like this that was light, funny and didn’t take itself too seriously allowed for us to have some fun with it. When I write my own music I labour over the details and take a long time before I’m ready to share it. With this project we didn’t have to strive for perfection, just for a fun show that provided some laughs and a great audience reaction!

  • Are there any particular venues or stages that you’ve always dreamed of playing at

Vancouver is my hometown and I play here very often. I’ve played so many great bars, theatres and festivals in this city but there is one that I have not yet had the honour of The Commodore Ballroom. Dream venue!

  • Out of excitement and as a personal question, when can we expect the release of the
    upcoming album?

Oooooh! Well you won’t have to wait long, at least for some of it. I’m releasing new album a little differently – by trickling the songs out one by one as singles. So far I’ve released ‘A-List’ and ‘Hundreds or Fives’ and there are 8 more to go! Once they are out, the full album will drop as a package (likely early 2024) and I’m so excited to share it. I’ve been working hard on these songs in great recording studios with great technicians, producers and musicians. The next song to be shared is called ‘Sungold’ and I’m particularly excited about this one. It’s probably my favourite of the new songs.