Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview


Video: “I Will Do the Breathing” from the album Accidental Thief

Matt the Electrician


Matt the Electrician will be the featured artist this Thursday (July 16) at Blue Rock aLIVE!—a unique virtual summer concert series—featuring iconic Austin-based artists every Thursday this summer. Blue Rock is a good example of innovation, quality and creativity. Each event is produced in broadcast quality audio-video from Blue Rock’s renowned Texas room—streamed straight to you. When you buy a Season Pass for $105 (, you send in your headshot—and they place it on a seat, so you will literally be sitting in the room.

Matt the Electrician is a working-class folk musician whose career has spanned two decades, a dozen records and thousands of shows. His music is rooted in his blue collar beginnings, with lyricism that embraces the beauty of the ordinary. In the mid-1990s, Matt Sever moved to Austin in search of new horizons and better opportunities. While he played music at night, he needed a steady day job wiring houses in the Texas heat. His “electrician” name stuck, even after his growing fan base at home, as well as abroad, allowed him to hang up his pliers for good. His most recent release, a double CD, The Doubles, is the culmination of a two-year vinyl 45 collaborative project.

We talked with Matt the Electrician about his passion for songwriting, his fascination with the mundane and the beauty of the ordinary and what continues to inspire his creative process and keep him hopeful in these unique times.

Matt the Electrician

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Tell us about one of the songs you plan to play at Blue Rock this summer.
Billy and Dodee are great supporters of music and the arts. I never really write a set list, but I will in all likelihood play a song called “I Will Do the Breathing.” I originally wrote it for my wife after her father passed away. He had been sick for a long time, and the whole thing was very complex—the grieving process for her reflected that. In these current times, I think this song can be taken both figuratively as well as literally. I’ve been playing it a lot, and it helps some people, which is all I can hope that any of my songs might do.

What is one thing you learned about yourself after you completed The Doubles?
It came out at the end of a two-year project where I recorded and released six different vinyl 45 records—each one with two songs, and each 45 recorded with a different backup band, mostly from Austin. The Doubles is a CD with all the songs from the 45s project, and another disc of the same songs recorded with my band at that time—a vocal trio with two backup singers. The whole process, the 45 project and The Doubles album, re-enforced something I already knew about myself—that I tend to go all in on the creative side of projects, often to the detriment of the financial viability of an idea. Which I’m ok with!

How did your family influence your music?
I grew up in a musical family. Dad played guitar in a cover band. Mom played piano. Neither of them played professionally, but musical instruments were always around. Even when we didn’t have any money, we had instruments. I started off with a garage trumpet for $5—played it until my sophomore year in high school.

Matt the Electrician

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Just write. You can get lost in finding the preciousness of the process. But the simplicity is in the notion of writing. There are complexities, but instead of thinking about it or trying to write—just write. Instead of trying to figure out what you want to write about—just write. It might be chaos—but eventually you find the pieces. Write from your personal experience and the listener will feel the honesty.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
Paul Simon. I loved the way he approached music and explored various genres.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
Paul Simon, Rickie Lee Jones, Taj Mahal, John Denver, Michael Penn.

At this moment in time, what are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Flying Cowboys (1989) – Rickie Lee Jones
Astral Weeks (1968) – Van Morrison
Catch a Fire (1973) – Bob Marley
Sarah Vaughan (1954) – Sarah Vaughan
Around the World in a Day (1985) – Prince

What is the best advice someone has given you?
If you wanna be a writer, you have to write—every day. I would give the same advice, and do, to anyone who asks.

Matt the Electrician

Tell us a “pinch me” moment where you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!”
I played a folk festival in Denmark (2010-11) and I ended up in an in-the-round song swap with Arlo Guthrie and some other Irish songwriters. I couldn’t believe I was in that room.

Is there a new album?
I recorded an album last October with producer Tucker Martine [The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse]. We hope to have it out as soon as I can tour with it.

In this strange and unique time, how do you remain hopeful?
One day at a time. That’s the only way I know to get through anything. If I worry too far into the future, I get disconnected from all the tools I might have to deal with right now.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

Matt the Electrician

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