Matt Berry: The Voice – an interview

Matt Berry, star of shows such as The IT Crowd, Snuff Box and The Mighty Boosh, has possibly the most recognisable voice in Britain. He is the voice of Absolute Radio for example. But did you know he can sing? And play? Here Ross Keen discusses his amazing 2011 album ”ËœWitchazel”Ëœ with him.

Louder Than War: You’re probably more known for your acting, comedy and ‘voice’ than your music ”“ yet you’ve released three albums now. Was Music your first passion?
Matt Berry: I’ve only released 1 album commercially, Opium was released through my then agent where as Witchazel through a record label (Acid Jazz). I don’t think I have a first passion as I can get equally off on painting for instance, as I can with music. If its coming easy at that particular time and is working then I’d say I’m passionate regardless of the platform (pretentious I know but you did ask)

Louder Than War: You released ”ËœWitchazel’ as a Download in 2009. I’m not just saying this but it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in recent times ”“ it suits the start of Spring perfectly. It’s like a Pychadelic, almost funky, modern spin on folk. Who (or perhaps even what) influenced the album?
Matt Berry: Thank you. Any music or art that you make will include an unconscious interpretation of the work that you admire I reckon. I’m into too many different things but I can tell that I was most certainly listening to Mike Oldfield and a bit of Colosseum II at the time of recording that rekud.

Louder Than War: It then got a ”Ëœproper’ release on Acid Jazz in 2011. How did that come about? I mean you wouldn’t instantly associate your music with Eddie Piller (Acid Jazz’s Founder)?
Matt Berry: Exactly. Piller comes with a reputation but I liked him and his enthusiasm instantly. When i met him I was expecting to be maybe offered a 7″ limited vinyl release of one of the tracks from the album, but when he said he wanted the whole thing, I was thrilled as I had made the album for myself, for no money and for no reason.
Louder Than War:Will you be doing anything for Acid Jazz’s 25th Birthday
Matt Berry: Oh yes I hope so
Louder Than War: The critics loved Witchazel; It must have crossed your mind that you would probably be in for some stick ”“ even before anyone had heard the record ”“ given you’re seen primarily as an ”Ëœactor’ ?
Matt Berry: Of course, and I would be the same but I never considered what the reaction (if any) would be because I hadn’t really considered it likely that anyone would release it.

Louder Than War: The lyrics seem very natural. They’re quite unique and stylish but I don’t think they ever seem vain or try-hard. Does writing come easy to you?
Matt Berry:No one certain thing comes easy. If I’m hungover and am forced out of bed because of an idea then the whole of that session could come easy and before I know it the song or whatever is finished. It’s a bit like someone else taking over for a short spurt and then fucking off again.
Louder Than War: I have to ask about your voice. You’re the voice of Absolute Radio and in any show you’re in the voice is the most striking aspect ”“ and yet when you sing it’s almost hard to believe it’s you? You’re singing voice has a sort of innocence and vulnerability that’s endearing and hopeful.
Matt Berry: Like I said its probably someone else from a past life taking over just for that time. Spirits who were not heard during their life time or more likely daemons.
Louder Than War: And you play most of the Instruments too? Am I right in thinking the legendary Geno Washington chipped in with Production?
Matt Berry: I played all the instruments because i didn’t really want to bother anyone else with the project. I also produced the record myself, Geno is a singer and a friend, he wouldn’t be able to produce because he would be too busy laughing (and swearing) love him.
Louder Than War: So what’s next for Matt Berry? Will we be hearing another album soon? Any plans for some Live shows?
Matt Berry: ‘Music For Insomniacs’ is finished and will be released in October. It’s not the follow up to Witchazel I have to add, it’s more like a side project/collaboration with myself
Witchazel is available here at Acid Jazz Records and you can download Matt’s prog-tinged 197o’s glam effort ”ËœOpium’ on itunes now…

All words Ross Keen. More by Ross can be found here. Ross also writes for sendawaythetigers which can be found here And tweets as @rossmichaelkeen

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