Matt has always been surrounded by music, both of his parents and his older brother Andy shaped his tastes. His mum played guitar and introduced him to songwriter music like Simon and Garfunkle, his Dad always had a live album like Dire Straits Alchemy playing in the car while Andy helped him appreciate music like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden while mixing in lots of acoustic guitar based acts like Dave Matthews Band or Counting Crows. Matt would claim his strongest musical influences have been Simon and Garfunkel, Pearl Jam, Dire Straits, Peter Mulvey, Dave Matthews Band, Ryan Adams, Iron and Wine and Barenaked Ladies.
Matts journey started as he began to play the guitar when he was around 14, playing in church and covers in a few bands. When he was in his late teens he got together with a load of friends in Church and formed a band called Perfect Score playing at Outreach events and Coffee shops. They soon graduated into being a wedding band and at this time one of the guys in the band, David MacDermott got him interested in sound, always happy to give tips.
Matts first 'real' audio job came along in December 2000 when he started working with the Belfast Giants leading the game night production team and he continues to work there, 18 years later, playing music and looking after the audio setup as part of the production team. Getting the opportunity to work in the SSE arena has opened up so many opportunities for him over the years, not least of all leading him to met his wife Joanne who was a season ticket holder. Matts favourite experience was playing at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Odyssey Pavillion with former Giant Sean Berens he became the first person he ever attempted to record with an old PC and an app called Cool Edit, of which a fair few CD's were sold.
Friends of Matts started a local music listening room session called the Lagan Sessions which he had gone along to a few times, loved the music but was a bit bothered by the quality of sound so volunteered his services. He ended up mixing Sunday night gigs there for years and it was here that he really learned how to mix live music and started to record the live sessions and put them up on soundcloud. Lagan Sessions introduced him to so many lovely people on the local music scene and they all encouraged him to get back into writing music himself. A special thanks her to Steve Amos, David McCann, Edelle McMahon, Stephen Arthur and Mandy & Graham Bingham for being so nurturing. After about 10 years of doing nothing from a songwriting point of view he began to relax and tried to add a bit of humour in his work again. Joanne and Matt started to write and play. music together as Paper Windmills and had some really fun gigs, especially with the Lagan Sessions crew. They've been on a little bit of a hiatus though, as they gained another little band member who requires a lot of attention - their son Toby!
After Lagan Sessions ended Matt began to get offers of live sound gigs, a real career highlight from that time for him was the chance to run sound for Duke Special at the Strand Arts Centre. It was here that he met the wonderful Anthony Toner who was running the EastSide Arts Festival that year. Anthony gave Matt the opportunity to do loads of gigs for the festival that year and this has continued. Matt cant state how strongly he loves the folks at EastSide Arts. Around the same time he got introduced to AER/Love Amy founder, Mark Reid and his family. They wanted to put on fundraising gigs to support cancer research after the loss of their daughter these gigs were very special having all sorts of artists such as Sam Wickens, Amanda Agnew, Emerald Armada and one of Matts own favourites, Farriers. From there Matt got the opportunity to work with Sam Wickens whos debut single 'Send Me' featured a track called 'Trees' that he recorded. Matts first proper production credit and something hes still really proud of.
Things really started to snowball then. Matt got the opportunity to work for Belfast Nashville Festival doing live sound alongside the legendary Les Hume who encouraged him towards his real dream situation of being the lead engineer for the main the main acts in 2017.
At the same time Matt said he met another legend and champion of local music, Lee Cutler, who through the wonderful programmes run by Forestside in the community, created an opportunity for him to open The Gatehouse Studio. He had been making 'home recordings' for people for years but this was the first time he had had the opportunity to have an isolated space, located in the underground section of the Forestside complex. He's forever in Lee's debt for helping him realise this lifetime ambition.
Matt feels very fortunate to get to work with amazing young songwriters such as Lucy Bell, Michael James Warke, Aoife Mallon, Ben Cutler, Shannon Weatherup and Conor Marcus to name a few.
Looking forward, Matt has recently began working with Owen Lamont on a series of live music videos from his recent release 'Just Smile'. In the next year they are both hoping to start a new series accompanied by a podcast to showcase our favourite local artists.
Listing those of note that Matt has worked with:
Duke Special Anthony Toner
Farriers Sam Wickens
Matt McGinn Jarrod Dickenson
Gareth Dunlop Tom Russell
Lucy Bell Emerald Armada
Mandy Bingham Sandrunners
Lazy Flies Brigid O'Neil