Daudi Matsiko Interview

After Daudi Matsiko‘s fantastic performance in the dimly lit Paganini Lounge as part of The Great Escape Festival, I caught up with him the next day in the baking sun outside of the one-in-one-out Spiegeltent to find out a little more about the man behind the music. After a couple of hours and a few cans on the beach, it was clear to see that there was a lot more to this man than an acoustic guitar, effects board and a raspy voice.

After assessing the Spiegeltent as being too busy and with Patterns’ beer garden not yet open, we headed to a local supermarket to pick up a few cans to sit on the beach with on the sunny Sunday afternoon. The city was buzzing with The Great Escape in its final day and the fountain by the Old Steine was surrounded by people enjoying the sun and the acoustic covers of a busker who was at the time playing Paolo Nutini’s ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’. In the supermarket I picked up some ciders and Daudi was over the moon to have found his favourite beer for sale, Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns IPA. “I’ve been looking everywhere for this since February” he told me. With his spirits already lifted before opening the can I knew that this would be a fruitful chat.

On the way to the beach he told me a little about himself. As a former BIMMer, he was happy to be back in his student town, noticing all of the little changes around the place since he was studying here. He remembered The Bees Mouth as being a great place for live music (it still is!) and talked about how he teaches guitar as well as playing shows and songwriting himself. He told me that he has “Musician” written on his passport and that means a lot to him after working a number of jobs before getting to where he is today.

Daudi Matsiko Interview -
Artwork by Stephen Teeuw.

The road to being a musician is always a tricky one. What is the worst job that you’ve ever had?

My worst job was working in a call centre for a telecoms company. It was clear that I was no good at sales so they put me on auditing, which basically meant that I had to listen back to other people’s sales calls and making sure that they were doing it properly. That was pretty grim. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that again. Some of the people were great though. I became good friends with one of the guys years later and together we pieced together this jokey book of stupid ‘your mum’ jokes. It probably doesn’t even make sense to anyone else but it’s great to work with others on projects like that.

Do you have any all-time favourite songs?

All of the music that I like is music that you can feel. That’s what I try to make. One of my favourite songs is an old Ugandan church hymn that has been passed down through the generations. It’s so ominous and reverent.

Another important track for me is ‘All That You Give‘ by Cinematic Orchestra.” (T.S. I’d not heard it before but after giving it a listen I can see why.)

We moved onto talk about Death Cab For Cutie and started discussing the finer points of Ben Gibbard’s lyrics. I told Daudi about an article that I’d read about them where they said that when they were recording ‘We Looked Like Giants’, one of my favourite of their tracks, it was one of the moments when everything just merged together musically between the band.

“It’s a beautiful song. It’s got that line ‘And we learned how our bodies worked‘ which taken out of context could be nothing special, even quite corny, but within the song it just works and really means something. The track is similar to ‘We Laughed Indoors‘. (He plays me the track on his phone) It’s just got this really flat sound in the drums that I love. ‘Brothers on a hotel bed‘ is my favourite Death Cab song hands down.”

What sort of venues do you like to play?

I like playing shows with friends and other musicians. I recently played a lovely gig at the  Bodega in Nottingham, but I couldn’t really see the crowd. I really like the Jamcafe in Nottingham. I generally like playing in well-lit rooms. It’s nice to be able to see your audience and develop a relationship with them that way.

Daudi Matsiko Interview - Live at Bodega
Image by Daniel Whiston Photography.

What is your usual line-up?

I often play shows on my own because it is easier that way. It’s great to play with a band, but with that comes a stress of getting everything together, the costs and other practicalities. I’m using a new rig at the moment with a lot of effects pedals. It’s a lot of fun to use live. I feel like I’m 16 again. I think that my songs are quite malleable which gives me scope to play around with them when I’m performing live. One of my favourite pedals is the Fuzz Factory, which Matthew Bellamy (Muse) has built into his guitar.

I’m playing at Sunsplash Festival in Turkey in June, which is a week long dance music festival so I’m going to work a bit more weird stuff into my set, like using my pedal board, doing stuff that I’ve wanted to do since I was 15. I don’t think that I’ll fit in if I just sit down with my acoustic and play some songs. It’s good to challenge yourself to change your music too.

What do you listen to when you’re in a bad mood?

I remember my worst week in Brighton. Everyone had left and I was feeling really out of it and depressed. I listened to ‘Manners‘ by Passion Pit over and over and somehow it got me through.

Do you ever go back and change old songs?

I don’t often really change my songs. Rarely I’ll revisit older material from incomplete songs or songs that I didn’t release and if there is something that I really like something then I’ll steal it from myself to make a new track. The only song this that I’ve done that with is the ending of ‘Home’ which was originally in a song about an ex, Dr Who and Back To The Future that I wish I didn’t write (the ex bit), but I loved the chord structure and it fit perfectly with where Home needed to go…and that was that really.

Daudi Matsiko Interview - Artwork EP
Artwork by Stephen Teeuw.

What do you write about in your songs?

I write about life. Everything. I try no to write songs about girls as my friends and I have a loose rule to not do that, which we’ve lived by since we were kids, so it rarely ends up being about just that. I wrote a song about a friend’s mum dying once. That was a hard one, trying to give a bit of comfort to them without ignoring the brutal pain of the situation. I kind of see my songs as a chronological tale of the last 4 years. Sometimes I set myself challenges for songs, like for years I’ve been trying to write a song with a toilet reference in it. Finally I did that with my song “Take Me Old”, which is a pretty serious song. I like to do that. Combine the stupid with the serious.

Any goals by the this time next year?

I’d love to be a full-time musician. Technically I already am, but being able to write and gig full-time would be beyond perfect. I just want to make music – and having the opportunity to do that is just great.

Finally, what music have you got out there for people to hear?

My last EP is called ‘A Brief Introduction To Failure’ which is on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I’m currently working on my new record which I think is going to be called ‘The Lingering Effects of Disconnection’.

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Earlier this year I was a featured vocalist on this dance track called ‘Just Escape‘ by the artist Escape. That’s done pretty well online and a remix of it was premiered on mixcloud’s page as has had over 200k plays.

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I’m also working on some collaborations with a London-based producer Adam Scrimpshire.

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About the author

I am a music and creative writing graduate who found his way into copywriting and digital marketing through my love of music. After writing for a number of local online and in print music publications, I set up my own blog in March 2014 called Whattomwrites. After moving from Blogger to Wordpress, I now manage the blog directly from my website on www.tomsayer.co.uk/blog.

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