A singer/songwriter originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Matt Epp has collaborated with the likes of Eliza Gilkyson, Rose Cousins, Serena Ryder and Amelia Curran. Epp co-wrote “When You Know,” a Juno Award-nominated song recorded by Ryder, and was nominated for “Singer-Songwriter Discovery Of The Year” on SiriusXM Radio’s popular program The Coffee House. Epp also made a lot of people take notice when he won the International Songwriting Competition.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Epp himself about the role that winning the aforementioned International Songwriting Competition has had for him, in addition to what is coming up for him in his career. Shadowlands is his latest full-length and can be purchased at Bandcamp here. More on Matt Epp can be found online at www.mattepp.com.
How did you first wind up submitting music to the International Songwriting Competition? Matt Epp: I had submitted songs to the ISC probably as early as 2009. I remember learning about ISC from artists like me that had been finalists in the competition. I thought maybe I should try to get my songs heard, too. I had my song “This Old House” make it as a finalist back then. This last time, my wife entered my song without me knowing about it, at first.
Check out the recently released video for “Runaway” by Matt Epp.
What was the competition process like for you? Was there a lot of waiting? Epp: The ISC makes entering simple and easy, really organized, and it’s a great chance to get your songs heard. Not a lot of waiting at all - the timelines in which to expect news on how the competition is advancing are all pretty clear. When your song is still in the running, they certainly keep you updated on what’s happening along the way.
Has being part of the International Songwriting Competition changed your life? Was there a great prize involved with winning the competition? Epp: The ISC Grand Prize is incredible. Even shared, it’s an enormous boost. I personally used the nine days of recording time near Nashville to work with a specific set of people there and make a record I needed to make. Another of my favourite parts of the prize was mastering of that new album Shadowlands by my favourite mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen, the best in the business.
In Canada, the news got picked up by most of the big networks and publications resulting in major publicity and exposure. Not just my listenership, but my industry audience also grew notably. Being an independent artist with a small team, it’s not easy to get through to the industry. The mere honour of having this prestigious title has added great value to our promotional efforts in expanding into different territories. Both directly and indirectly, the ISC win is still opening doors for me.
Here is a live performance of “Unnatural.”
Is there something you wish more people knew about the International Songwriting Competition? Epp: I’d like more people to enter their songs that they believe in. They’ll get listened to, they’ll have an equal chance, and this isn’t a lottery, no matter how many songs get entered, a great song can bust through and get noticed. Also, I know songwriting isn’t a competition. I’d say that the ISC doesn’t think so, either. They’re not pitting songs or songwriters against each other. It’s more of an International Songwriting Celebration.
Was that the first songwriting competition you had been part of? Epp: Yes, this was the first songwriting competition I’ve been a part of. They’re the biggest, and most respected and that’s the arena I want my songs to be heard in.
What is coming up for you career-wise? Epp: Career-wise, I recently released my new record Shadowlands in Europe, and now I’ll attempt to get past the red tape at the American border so that I can finally start touring the United States. The album reviews have been stellar, and we’re just trying to harness that and see where the songs continue to take it.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time? Epp: I hang with my little girl, my wife, and a small circle of friends in my town. I write a lot, and I ride my motorcycle at night when I’m home.
What was the last concert you attended for fun? Epp: The last concert I attended for fun was my friend Morgan Barrie’s release party for his new record Fall. It’s beautiful, and he supported my Europe tour in October.
Finally, Matt, any last words for the kids? Epp: Sure. Don’t judge your writing till it’s done, and take it easy on judging yourself. Be a good person and help others around you. It’ll come back to you later, yes, but in the meantime, it’ll make you a better songwriter... and a better person. And that’s all you take with you into tomorrow.