In the past three years Matthew Mayfield has both redefined himself and redefined how a musician can record and release music. When Matthew’s previous band, Moses Mayfield, which signed with Epic when he was only 21, disbanded at the close of 2007, the Birmingham-based musician was forced to decide how to proceed with his life. A working musician since the age of 18, he only knew songwriting, recording, and touring. “All I ever wanted to be was a rock ‘n roll star,” Matthew says. “When the band broke up, I knew I had to keep pushing.”

Matthew’s career as a solo artist has evolved naturally over the past few years, his fanbase growing organically and his songwriting skills growing exponentially. But it has not just been the quality of Matthew’s songs that sets him apart. The prolific musician has self-released eight EPs since 2008, offering his fans a consistent stream of new music. In September of 2008, Matthew recorded his debut solo EP, The Fire EP, for $1000 in a Birmingham basement. This disc spawned “First In Line,” which appeared in the 100th episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Matthew’s second EP followed in July 2009. Five Chances Remain Hers, produced by Paul Moak, which landed another track, “Better,” on Grey’s Anatomy. The single skyrocketed to No. 1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart and in December of 2009 Matthew offered fans a third EP— Maybe Next Christmas. The reaction to these releases and to Matthew’s songwriting was so strong it just made sense for him to keep doing it.

“The response was pretty overwhelming and caught me a bit off guard,” Matthew explains. “It reset something inside me and got my wheels turning for the EP series. I wanted to try something that no one else was trying. I knew I had the songs, and I knew that if I worked hard, I could put out records that people wanted to hear month after month. I’ve had plenty of issues over the years as an artist, but there’s never been a shortage of songs.”

Since Maybe Next Christmas, Matthew has written, recorded, and released five more EPs—regularly putting them out every month from January 2010 through May 2010. Each disc has showcased a different facet of the musician, revealing his depth and versatility. Funded by his fans— who were also involved in selecting the tracklists and cover art via Pledge Music—each EP has also reached the top of the iTunes singer/songwriter charts. The whirlwind process has taught Matthew, who toured in the midst of this with Needtobreathe, Pete Yorn, Switchfoot, Blue October and The Civil Wars, an immense amount about both himself and about creating music.

“Each EP is a different chapter for me,” he says. “Essentially, it was an exercise in storytelling.Late ‘08 into early ‘09 was by far the hardest period of my life. There was a lot of grief to process, and it was tough to file it down into song form. The ideas spilled out night after night, morning after
morning. I learned to keep a voice recorder close by at all times for that reason. Most of the melodies came to me in the car, the airport, the shower— pretty much the most inconvenient places for making noise.”

Riding on the momentum of this succession of music, Matthew is currently preparing to release his debut album, Now You’re Free, a record that was completely funded by his fans via Pledge Music. Recorded over the course of three weeks with producer Paul Moak in Nashville in June, the disc pairs five songs pulled from Matthew’s past EPs and five brand new tracks. The ten songs walk a fine line between Matthew’s acoustic singer-songwriter tendencies and the group-driven rock ‘n roll he loves making, in the end creating a cohesive, narrative-driven collection of spirited rock songs.

“I want to write songs that people can sing back at me the way I sing back at my favorite artists,” he says. “I’m excited about attempting to change something with a song. It could be someone’s mood for four minutes, the temperature in their room or the way they watch the sun set driving down the interstate. Music has changed everything for me. I want to be a part of that for other people.”

Edited by amogay on 5 Jan 2011, 18:09

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