A Conversation with Matt Dusk
H&K: First, let us say we are very glad you’ve decided to share your music with us in the states.
DUSK: Oh, are you kidding me… that’s where I started out. With the Great American Songbook. Those are the classics. The ones that so many great Americans wrote. Great, witty, fantastic tunes. People like Cole Porter, the Gershwins… the list goes on and on. So I’m just singing what they wrote.
H&K: Your new album, “Back In Town,” is terrific.
DUSK: Oh, thank you!
H&K: The fi rst track, the title song, really starts the album off with a bang and sets the mood from the start.
DUSK: It’s a fantastic song. I’m very, very lucky we found the writers that could put that together.
H&K: I guess we’re dating ourselves by saying album.
DUSK: (laughs) No, no. I still call it an album too.
H&K: You’ve said that song best describes you as an artist. Can you explain to our readers why?
DUSK: Absolutely! Basically it’s got the sound of the horns, which is very rarely done in songs these days. It’s mixed in a pop fashion. The gentleman that mixed that track specifi cally is a guy that mixes everybody, from Justin Timberlake to Pink to Green Day and I wanted him to bring his new age pop sense to mix that track. That’s what gives it such a punch and such a boom… my style.
H&K: How long did it take you to pick the songs for this album?
DUSK: Oh, my God! A long time. So much so that I’ve already started picking songs for my next album, which is going to be at least a year out. It probably took us about eight months of many sleepless nights going through material after material. And what’s so interesting is the songs that you’ve listened to really came into my mind about two years ago. So as a singer, I’ve already kind of moved past those songs.
H&K: That’s interesting.
DUSK: Well, because when you’re doing preproduction on an album you have to go out and promote that album for two years at a time. I love those songs, love the songs… but over the last two years I’ve discovered so many new ones that I wish I could have put them on “Back In Town.” But I’ve saved them all for the next album.
H&K: Well, there’s so many choices that you could probably record every year and never run out of songs.
DUSK: Yes! I’m very blessed to be in a genre that has 6,000 number one hits.
H&K: Yes, that’s true. Matt, your fi rst album, 2004's “Two Shots”, was partially recorded at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios with a 42 piece string section. That must have been quite a thrill for your fi rst album.
DUSK: It was amazing! You know, when you’re in the moment it’s amazing how you don’t really understand what’s going on, but when you listen and think back you’re like “Wow! What an opportunity!” I remember growing up as a kid, thinking one day I’ll get to play with a band. And then you get to play with a band, then you think… maybe one day I’ll get to play with a big band. Then you get to play with a big band, then you think… OK, maybe I’ll get to play with some strings. And it gets bigger and better. As a fi rst album coming out, I remember at the time I was going to record with the string section and when it was going to happen I was very, very excited, that’s for sure!
H&K: When you perform shows now, how many pieces do you have on stage?
DUSK: It depends on where we’re going, fi rst of all. Usually we’ll tour around with a six piece band or an 18 piece band. Just depends on the market.
H&K: And probably the venue as well, we would imagine. You played Fallsview Casino Resort last year didn’t you?
DUSK: Yes! We had, I think, 11 musicians on that gig. That was a lot of fun. We sold the place out. I think there were about 1,500 people and it was just a party from beginning to end. It was perfect!
H&K: Reading your diary on your Web site, it sounds like you have a great deal of fun with the your audience.
DUSK: Absolutely! That’s kind of why I got into this. Not only to record music, but to get into the entertaining part of it as well. I fi nd it’s a very rewarding experience to go out and to perform at a place where everyone is on the same page, everyone’s expecting kind of the same thing. They’re expecting these songs, and you deliver them and they’re happy. It’s like a birthday party you could say. Everybody’s there to celebrate with you.
H&K: That’s a great way to look at it.
DUSK: And it’s a great way to meet new people too.
H&K: Describe the moment when you knew “this is it.” This is what I’ve been working for, this is the feeling I wanted to feel.
DUSK: Wow… I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and you know things start getting blurry. As time goes on, the less you remember. I can remember the fi rst time I ever performed in front of a live audience. It was at an all girls school.
H&K: (laughs) That would have been interesting.
DUSK: (laughs) Yes! It was a variety night and I sang three numbers on karaoke, and the girls went crazy! I was just like… wow!
H&K: (laughs) And you thought… this is what I want to do, uh?
DUSK: (laughs) Exactly! Everyone was saying, “Wow, I didn’t know you could sing!”
H&K: You are goal oriented. Obviously, you have reached your goal for your career in recording your two albums. Do you have your next goal in mind?
DUSK: Absolutely! I want to get to a position where I can tour 250 dates a year if I choose to. Right now we’re doing about 100 to 150 dates a year and I’d like to double that. I believe a live show is everything. Are you ladies sports fans?
H&K: Are you kidding us? The Sabres…
DUSK: OK, OK. So you’ll get what I’m going to say here. Look at the difference between preseason and regular season and playoffs. Preseason is always different. You can practice as much as you want, but until you put your foot on the ice or on the stage and you practice and you work actually in the moment… you know everyone always says playoffs are a coin toss because of playoff experience.
H&K: Right. That experience plays a part in the whole playoff picture.
DUSK: That’s exactly it! You can not be a great musician unless you’ve toured and done 1,000 to 2,000 concerts. So I know I have a lot to learn. I know I can get better and the only way I can do that is by performing live. I was very humbled when I was at a party with Michael Buble’ recently and he got up and sang and I was floored! I remember thinking… “this guy’s really got it!” So I went home, sort of smiling, thinking… “Oh my God, where do I start to achieve that? Well ,the guy’s three years ahead of me and probably about 600 performances in front of me. So I’m on the right track. And it kind of gave me a goal as to what to aspire to. So ... to answer your question what is my next goal… it is to be performing as much as possible as often as possible.
H&K: Who would you like to do a duet with?
DUSK: Christina Aguilera!
H&K: She’s amazing!
DUSK: Oh, she’s just… please let me do a duet with her. Or, I would like to do a duet with Kelly Clarkson. Something different than what would be expected.
H&K: Do you think you would ever like to do an album of duets?
DUSK: Oh sure! But who would ever want to do a duet with me?
H&K: Oh come on… we’re sure lots of people would love to.
DUSK: Maybe in my glory years I’ll do that.
H&K: Do you have a Buffalo connection?
DUSK: Anytime I go to Buffalo I head right for the Anchor Bar. Or I go to a Buffalo Bills game.
H&K: Describe your perfect day Matt.
DUSK: Wow! My perfect day would be waking up around 7 or 8 a.m., making breakfast, sitting by the pool, reading a good book. Maybe go play some tennis in the afternoon or go golfi ng. Come home get the martinis out, have some friends and family over, break out the barbecue. Then party all night long, go swimming around midnight, then after that just chill out until we conquer the night and see the sunrise.
H&K: To some good music.
DUSK: Oh… always good music.