When Matisyahu entered the scene back in 2005 with single “King Without a Crown,” the idea of a Hasidic reggae beat-boxer seemed liked the opening line of a joke. However, the New York native quickly made a reputation for himself, taking on titles such as Esquire Magazine‘s “most intriguing reggae artist in the world.” However, “Matis” does not make music for the fame; he believes that with each album he creates, he is sharing a story, and with each story, it’s own theme. We chatted with the holy man before his show at Center Stage this Monday.
How has the tour been so far?
This has been the best tour of my life. I believe that with my music, I continue to grow every single day, so with each day of the tour, it just continues to get better.
You grew up as a self-declared “Phish-head,” how did you go from that into a hip-hop, reggae, beat-boxer?
Well I actually grew up listening to a whole lot of music. I was very into Phish, Trey Anastasio was my hero, but all of my friends were into hip-hop. We used to go to parties and just start messing around with beats, and I remember thinking, ” Yeah, I can do this.” One of my first concerts was The Roots; I just loved the way they combined different sounds. I believe the truth of music can be found through many different meanings.
How do you think you have progressed with since you started making your own records?
I think there has been a subtle development that progresses through my records. When Shake Off the Dust first came out, I wrote mainly about finding God, so I combined a lot of roots/reggae with stories I was reading in the Old Testament. I think people were interested because this sound was coming out of a Jew and not a Jamaican. Each of the albums that followed were based upon a theme from a story I would be studying or thinking about. My music is very much a reflection of where I am spiritually. For example, my next album I have been focusing on “The Akada,” so a lot of my music will reflect that.
Do you think your fans are influenced by your music?
Everyday I read about or speak to someone who says that my music has helped them get out of some sort of dark spot. It’s always very gratifying when we play at the smaller venues, where I can see the faces of the audience… but that being said, playing Bonnaroo with Trey Anastasio was pretty sick.
Matisyahu is playing Center Stage on August 22.