Making Heart thumping, Soul searching music – Matisyahu, a Reggae Phenomenon to reckon with

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Transformation is the constant reminder that change comes at the cost of letting go of all the things you thought you needed to be happy. Matisyahu, is a popular Jewish American reggae vocalist, beatboxer, and alternative rock musician who is constantly altering the language of ever-flowing music. His unorthodox way of mixing different themes and music styles, what he calls ‘Improvisation Jams’, is a new form of unleashing creativity.

I have used music as my therapy or way of expressing my feelings, to overcome the darker aspects of my being that I’ve had to struggle with.”

Matisyahu’s 2005 single, ‘King Without a Crown’ was a Top 40 hit in the United States; since then he has released four studio albums, two live albums, two remix CDs and two DVDs with his live concerts. In addition Matisyahu has also tried his hand at acting including the movie ‘The Possession’ in 2012, where he played the role of Tdazok. This November, he plans to release a new single called Unraveling, featuring Salt Cathedral, along with another called Love Born. All this, while also writing songs for a new record set to be released early next year.

It’s taken care of me but only because I’ve put every ounce of love and energy I have into it and treated it as holy.”

An odd concoction of hyper-imagination and calm reserve, Matisyahu felt like a fish out of water during his younger years. But, he quietly harboured in his soul a burning desire to become a musician. A religious Jew, Matisyahu a.k.a Mathew Paul Miller known otherwise, prayed long and hard during his college years for his dream to become a musician to come true. He even went to the extent of not listening to music under the premise that if he could let go perhaps God would make this dream come true. And God did.

Matisyahu’s parents were passionate social workers who ingrained in him the culture of living for peace and helping those less fortunate, as a result of which he served as youth counsellor during his early years. But then came the dark time. Matisyahu struggled with depression and substance addiction during his tumultuous teen years and some part of his adult life. A brave survivor, he is not ashamed of it, and instead says that it contributed to his growth in life and as a musician. “I have used music as my therapy or way of expressing my feelings, to overcome the darker aspects of my being that I’ve had to struggle with.” Matisyahu got back to his former self, by joining religious groups and rehab to get past these personal battles and create beautiful music that touches the soul.

I feel that playing the scripted songs does something to shut down the creative mind. When performing I try to abandon the song and step into the unknown as much as possible because I feel that is where the magic is.”

For Matisyahu the constant search for self-knowledge is what inspires his evolving style of music. “The unending search for self-knowledge is the inspiration for transformation and evolution, always trying to get closer to what’s real and true inside which is being projected outwards.” Music truly is his livelihood, not in the obvious sense of being a source of income, but as the actual source of life in his soul. He says, “It’s taken care of me but only because I’ve put every ounce of love and energy I have into it and treated it as holy.”

Many of my fans come to the shows because they are all unique and special. They love the improvisations and support me in my creative explorations to find depth and meaning in my music.”

As a lover of music, Matisyahu is not picky about the genre he follows. He blends with any type of music that moves him; and believes that no one genre can do justice, for each has its layers of flavours and styles. Hence, in recent years, Matisyahu has adopted the style of ‘Improvisational Music’ where he doesn’t stick to the script of the song and starts to improvise with the flow. To explain he says, “I feel that playing the scripted songs does something to shut down the creative mind. When performing I try to abandon the song and step into the unknown as much as possible because I feel that is where the magic is.”

Matisyahu is aware that many of the fans that attend his concerts wish he wouldn’t improvise his own classics, and instead stick to the recorded songs. But he enjoys performing for those who live with a free mind and appreciate the unrestricted flow of creativity. He says, “Many of my fans come to the shows because they are all unique and special. They love the improvisations and support me in my creative explorations to find depth and meaning in my music.”

Live life and experience yourself and seek your truth. Don’t worry too much about what happens or how it will happen, but rather take time to digest and live your life from the inside out.”

Despite being a public figure today, Matisyahu has always been honest and outspoken about his private life. For he believes it is the challenges that bring growth and one must be immensely proud and not ashamed of the lows in life. He says, “Live life and experience yourself and seek your truth. Don’t worry too much about what happens or how it will happen, but rather take time to digest and live your life from the inside out.”

He rose from his lowest moments to deliver fiery music that is addictive. The spell binding lyrics hold pieces of him in them, for if you listen carefully, you can hear the soft sound of his soul. The journey of Matisyahu has been legendary, and his music is fast matching up to that, all because he believed in his dream and pursues his passion with his whole being. Be inspired by Matisyahu, an avid learner who fought and transformed his personal demons into a beautiful phenomenon.

2 Comments

  1. Well written, acutely insightful article describing exactly why I enjoy Matisyahu’s creative expressions in music so much…and cannot seem to get enough. . …’He rose from his lowest moments to deliver fiery music that is addictive. The spell binding lyrics hold pieces of him in them, for if you listen carefully, you can hear the soft sound of his soul.’ You most certainly captured the Magic that is Matisyahu and excellent article, as Miki Markusen stated.

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