Matthew Huff appreciates the "Simple Things" (Part 1/exclusive interview)

Matthew Huff is a dynamic country artist who with sheer motivation is making waves in the industry. His background is as an elementary school teacher for six years then making a huge life changing decision in 2010 to chase another dream as a singer/songwriter. With determination he has been able to release his first full length album “Reflection” (2013) with the lead track “Simple Things.” Along with his first album entitled “Strong” which featured two hit tracks “Back Again” & “As Times Goes By” both high top charters on noteworthy Music Row & Power Source.


2013, also has been a banner year for Matthew where it has him touring in support of his album throughout the United States with the UK coming soon. The solid touring and loyal global fan base (thanks impart to his huge presence via social media such as on StageIt) is making his dreams a reality with opening up for artists such as Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt, David Allan Coe, Pat Green, David Nail, Kris Allen, and Eden’s Edge (just to name a few).  Matthew is also establishing himself as the headliner for touring dates where it is only the matter of time that it will be a set-up that Tim McGraw would be jealous of.


This humble gentleman who grew-up and still calls Arkansas home does not like to talk about but is also a recipient of two awards; the “2011 Nashville Country Star” along with “2011 George D. Hay Music Hall of Fame & Foundation Hoe-down Award.” Matthew has also two other passions that he pours his heart and soul into which are: 1) Annual BackHome Festival (held in Mammoth Spring, AR) and 2) Team Keegan charity foundation. He is the founder of the annual festival which is going on its third year. Each year growing larger in the attendance and interest it has been a great success for music lovers to hear regional and national top of the line performance artists. The other passion is Matthew’s involvement for the “Team Keegan Foundation” where he performs at their annual charity event held in Michigan. This is one singer and entertainer that can take a Justin Timberlake track and truly make it his own and after a live performance leave people as lifelong fans and wanting more, now that is a true mark of a musician!

Matthew Huff Official Website:

 Matthew, I would like to start our interview with a huge “thank you” for taking time out of your busy touring schedule to do this interview with “Let The Beat Hit You!” You got me hooked onto your music by the sleek website along with the first track of yours playing on it which was; “Game of Mystery” which is a wonderful song and made me into a fan.


·         I guess the perfect question to start with is the evolution from chasing one of your dreams in becoming a teacher to then being a recording artist. When did you realize that musically that was the niche for you?


My final decision to resign from teaching was completely based on the fact that my first song to write, record, and release to radio was vastly climbing the Music Row Breakout Chart.  I was currently in to the my sixth year of teaching September 2009 and by the time the end of the school year turned around, April 2010, “Back Again” had peaked in at #39 and I knew that I had to finish out the sixth year and give music a 100% effort.

·         After getting into the recording industry, what was the first “Aha moment” that truly provided the moment you knew you were doing the right path for yourself? Was it perhaps a recording session, writing a particular song or live performance?


Again, I base all of my musical path on one particular song, Back Again.  That song is the start of the journey for me and the staple to my music career.  I remember cutting this song as a single, before the rest of the 6 track album was even recorded and my producer telling me that this song would never make it on radio, it was “just under produced”, he said.  Not only did it make it, but it has proven to have staying power, as some of the stations still play Back Again, three years later, on a regular basis and it out sales all of my other songs by atleast 200%. 


On a side note: the studio is my safe haven, my peace of mind, and this simple moment of perfection in to this crazy dream I’m chasing.  Writing my own music and performing my own music is a testament to myself and my life, but actually watching these songs transform from thoughts, to pen, to paper, and then to an album is pure satisfaction.

·         Tell me about the process of releasing your first full length album “Reflection” and how you decided on the name. It must have been an amazing journey from penning the songs to seeing the album cover and it being shipped out to the masses.


Reflection took me 2 ½ years to write.  Since my career had just began as an indie in 2010 I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was getting myself in to, zero money behind me and no label support,  I barely knew what direction to turn.  So after the quick success with Back Again and my follow up As Time Goes By, I had a lot to do.  Booking, relationships, managing schedules, managing money, managing band members, finding band members and keeping them happy….and trying to find time in all that to write songs.  There is a lot to do under one hat when you are the only one doing it.  Sure, I’ve met people and built a network that have thrown me a few shows, very generous people that have helped me fund some small money projects, including Reflection.  I think we all have been handed things to help us further our career by someone(s) who believe in us enough to pursue our dream.


As for the name Reflection this is very interesting because as you know there is no track on the album named Reflection.  I wasn’t sure what to call this album I just knew that it all tied in to “my life” in small portions and each song represented how I felt or how I grew up at different times in my life. 

I was actually on my photo shoot back home with one of my closest friends, who stays behind the scenes of my career, and we were discussing the album in small talk.  She actually used the word Reflection to describe the album and the rest is history.  It was perfect to describe the album as a whole in one word as the album reflects my life.

·         All recordings except for one track on your current album “Reflection” is either written by you or co-written with Terry Smith. All songs flow very well together, how the collaboration came about and tell us the writing process that the both of you go into. Do you both have session’s together or put things together afterwards to see how things flow?


Terry Smith, or T-Smith as I call him, and I have a very unique co-writing skill.  I do not write well together with people as I tend to be way more creative and in my element on my own and I think my songs reflect that.  However, Terry and I have slowly marinated in each other’s song writing habits and know what works best for us to gel.  We normally don’t schedule a set time to meet and write, yet bounce ideas off of one another sporadically.  I could be a 1000 miles away somewhere and he can send me a few lyrics to an idea he has and generally we run with it.  He is a very creative and a very strong lyricist who does not need the melody of a guitar.   He fascinates me with his writing skills.

·         There has to be a “Special” song that is dear to you. Tell us what song that would be and why?


All of my songs are dear to me, so it’s hard to pick just one.  I have special moments in time why each one has a special meaning to me and different reasons why.  That’s a good question and one I’m not sure I could properly answer in text, but rather by telling the story behind it before I sang it.

·         Walk us through the evolution of your music career and the path you took since embarking on it in 2010?


I went to the University of Central Arkansas, earned my Bachelors of Science in Education and taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade for six years in Arkansas, until 2010.  I wrote my first song in April of 2008 "Back Again", which inevitably led to me resigning from teaching and pursuing music.  Back Again is the staple and mark of my career to date.  My first song to write, record, release to radio and my first and only Top 40 hit on Music Row.  I released it in April of 2010 and by September it peaked at #39.  The significance for this is that I was/am completely an independent, no big money backers and no label support.  I got two small money backers to cover my two indie Music Row promoters and I funded a five state radio tour on my own.  Playing with the big boys on Music Row was pretty cool and to see my song have a little stay power was the final factor in me leaving my career in teaching.  I released a follow up, "As Time Goes By" but money was tighter, and the budget wasn't there to support it with a radio tour, but it still managed to hit #51 with me not even traveling with it to promote.

I spent the next 3 years working on my craft of writing.  I learned very quickly the business, the booking, the managing, and the ways of the emotional ride this business can make you.  I have booked every show on my own over the last 3 years, minus about 8, with either connections I've made or picking up the phone and cold calling.  I still run every aspect of "Matthew Huff" the music. 

Took 2 1/2 years to finish writing for my next album and first full length project "Reflection" (Released - Feb. 2013.)  Reflection is my life, put in 12 songs and poured out for the world to hear.(includes 1 cover)  The most satisfying aspect for me is to be a songwriter and have people actually live in the moment of what I feel, at a certain time in my life, as they've lived it too.  Reflection features a song "Simple Things" that I wrote right before I moved to Nashville in 2011.  I had given up my house, a retriever training business I had built from ground up, my career as a teacher and all of my stuff.  It occurred to me that it's just the Simple Things in this life that are all we really need.  The song makes more sense to me now than the day I wrote it.  It also helped me win 2011 Nashville's New Country Star competition put on by a radio station, held in Nashville at the Fiddle and Steele.

The last song I wrote for the album Reflection is a song entitled "You Love Me Anyway".  This is one of those where I wondered if putting this on the album was something I wanted to do because it's so open and honest about my life over the last 3 years, yet has this beautiful message intertwined with it.  No matter what you've done or how hard you've lived, to find someone that is willing to put it all behind them to love you relentlessly, now that's something we all seek and wish to find.  It's the honesty of my music that my fans enjoy.  I leave it all out there as an open book to my life and the fans I've made are faithful to me because of it.

That's a quick up to speed for ya.  I am currently waiting to hit the studio again for my 3rd album.  It's been fascinating to watch my writing evolve.  It has grown from a semi standard form to this more defined "me".  We never really get to where we are going in life, as we are always waking up to a new day of learning, and for me that is the fascinating part of living.

·         On your current album you have one cover that you recorded “What Goes Around” from Justin Timberlake, what made you choose this track to cover? Honestly, instead of doing an all-around carbon copy of the original very successful recording you go ahead and make it a fresh country feel making it all your own.


You pose a good question by asking why not just keep the album completely 100% self-written and to answer this is because I think that it was a creativeness for me to cover the JT song.  Timberlake is as successful as or more so than any artist out there right now.  Obviously I could have kept the album 100% original, but I like to entertain the ideas of taking a song that is cross genre for me and making it in to my own.  I had played this cover out many, many times before the studio and it was always a crowd catcher, so I thought if it does that well at my live shows, why not give my fans what they want to hear. 


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