Matt Andersen: “I like to let the music come to life organically.”

Matt Andersen's face staring towards the sky.
Honest man: Matt Andersen.

The Canadian singer started out in 2002 in local band, Flat Top, before going solo with 2007’s Second Time Around. He’s recorded a clutch of albums since then, some live, some with blues harp player Mike Stevens. His latest, Honest Man, was recorded in New York with the producer Commissioner Gordon.

How did you write Honest Man?

My approach was the same as it has been for my other albums. I work on getting the best songs I can together and try not to put too much thought into the album leading up to recording. I like to go in with an open mind to suggestions from the people I’m working with. Also, I like to let the music come to life as organically as possible. Too much planning can spoil that.

Are the Andersen family musical?

Yes, I remember my grandfather playing fiddle, my mother playing piano and all kinds of family and friends singing and playing along. There was always music when the family got together. Sitting next to my mother in church while she led the hymns was something. It was never to a very big congregation, but the music always filled the hall.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

Growing up in a musical family, it wasn’t really a decision to sing or play music. It was just something we did. I don’t remember a moment, I just fell into it.

You’ve shared the stage with some true blues greats – Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Tedeschi Trucks Band…

The best thing is being able to stand side-stage and see and hear musicians that are at the top of their game, still up on stage giving it their all. Watching Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy was like being a part of a living history.

You’ve won a whole cupboard of awards and trophies, but what have been the highs for you?

None of what I consider my highlights would have anything to do with awards. Every once in a while, when I get a moment to let it sink in what I’m doing, those are my favourite moments on the road. Taking the time to enjoy the fact that I’m travelling the world playing music, sharing the stage with people I’ve been listening to my whole life. One thing that does stand out is that a few years ago I was invited to play a show in a prison. That was a very unique experience. Many of the guys in there had never even heard live music. That was a pretty special moment.

Honest Man is out now on True North Records.