This week, Editor-in-Chief Halley Posner ’18 had the opportunity to interview Matthew Szlachetka ’02, known as the musical artist Szlachetka (pronounced SLA-HET-KA), about his upcoming album and journey in the music industry. Szlachetka also spoke with The Bates Student about his future plans and outlook on music in today’s society. Here is an abridged transcript of that conversation that has been edited for clarity:
The Bates Student (BS): What have you been up to for the past few years?
Szlachetka (S): I’ve pretty much been on the road nonstop, lots and lots of tour dates. I also relocated to Nashville last March from LA. I was going to Nashville for a lot of meetings, shows, and writing sessions, and I found Nashville was a much better fit. Plus, between the friends and colleagues I was making and meeting there, I felt a really welcoming and warm reception. I’m really happy with the decision and was able to form this really great team around me for the album coming out February 16. So it’s been a really good life and career decision.
BS: Speaking of your new album, what has been your inspiration for it and what has helped you create it?
S: That album to me is really getting back to that whole “road” thing- those were songs that were written from experiences and stories from the road, and between things I observed, friendships that were made, relationships that were had, other observations that I’ve taken note of, both from a self-reflective standpoint and a social observation standpoint. I summed it all up into 11 songs. At the end of the day you try to make them cohesive so that it tells a story, and so that it’s not a situation where every song is out of left field, but instead where every song is able to take you on a journey.
BS: So you’ve had a lot successes and rise to popularity the past few years. How do you stay grounded?
S: At the end of the day, I was fortunate enough to figure out a way to make a living out of playing music full-time, and if for some reason, something horrible were to happen and I couldn’t play anymore, I would still listen every day. I love it, and it consumes my life. At the end of the day, I’m still a geek with music. I love the whole musicology of digging deep to find out where a source initially came from, and that’s everything for me. I guess if you get into music for the right reasons, as cliché as that sounds, it’s easy to stay grounded. I feel super fortunate that people in Rolling Stone Magazine are taking note of what I’m doing now, and it’s incredibly rewarding, and I feel honored to be in that mix… I’m still not 100% satisfied with where I’m at in my career, and I’m still shooting to get to a place where I can take a band with me every time I go on the road; when I can be way more selective with how I go on the road- when, where I go. For me, when I’m playing really nice theaters, I will be more content. But I’m always trying to write the best song I can, whenever I sit down with another writer or artist. That will never change- I will always try to beat what I’ve done. Never being complacent with where I’m at: that will help to keep me grounded.
BS: As you know and see every day, music is incredibly powerful. What do you think is the role of music, and, specifically, your music, in contemporary American society?
S: For me, music is about consciousness and keeping an open heart, an open mind, an open perspective, especially these days. Getting back to one of the main themes of the album, one thing that I really took away from all of it was that playing in all these little towns across the US, all different states, red and blue, they’re all the same. I feel like yes, these days, there is division out there, but there is a lot less division than the media is making this country out to have right now. I think the problem is that people aren’t leaving their towns and aren’t going to see what other states or cities are like, so they’re formulating ideas in their head based on what they’re told, not personal experience. I have friends in all states in all different political parties, and at the end of the day, we all want the same thing, and I think that’s what music does for me. It just keeps an open perspective.
BS: Wow! Thank you for speaking with me; it was great hearing from you.
S: Thank you!
For more information on Szlachetka, please follow his website at www.szlachetkamusic.com and his social media accounts on YouTube: www.youtube.com/szlachetkaofficial; Facebook: www.facebook.com/szlachetkamus