Juno-nominated Canadian singer/songwriter and arranger Matt Dusk has been likened to Sinatra by reviewers. His 2007 debut album, Two Shots, achieved gold status. Though his suit-and-tie-clad public persona and self-described role as a “jazz-popp musicologist” might suggest someone who takes himself über-seriously, Matt is surprisingly laid-back and isn’t afraid to mix it up with his music: throwing a techno beat behind a crooning-style song or mixing Motown and ballroom on his most recent album, Good News. Born in Toronto, where currently lives, Matt has seen most of Canada while touring, with the exception of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland. (Attention NL concert promoters: Matt wants to hear from you!) Recently, Matt carved some time out of his busy schedule to talk travel with Where.ca.
While on tour you spend maybe one or two nights in a city. Are you able to get out and see the places where you’re performing?
To be honest, there NEVER is enough time. Canada is HUGE and it usually takes 8 hours to go between major urban centres. So when you do a show on Monday, you’re on the bus overnight and in the next place on Tuesday. I’ve been coast to coast (almost) numerous times, and I have to say that Canada is one of the most beautiful countries, period.
What place or experience has stood out for you while travelling in Canada? Anything that has surprised you about your own country?
Recently while travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, we were making our way through the mountains, and became engulfed in a traffic jam…in the middle of nowhere. There were a bunch of goats that decided it would be a GREAT idea to camp out in the middle of the road and have a goat party or whatever they do. I thought this only happened in the movies…and in Europe!
What do you miss most about Toronto when you’re on the road, apart from friends and family?
I truly miss Toronto’s multiculturalism—specifically the restaurants. Toronto has so many dining choices, its difficult to get that kind of selection when you’re on the road, and literally on the run. Although they do seem to have Tim Hortons everywhere.
Where do you stay while you’re on tour? Do you stay in hotels? Have there been any hotels that left a big impression on you?
Hotels… hmmm…. Okay I don’t understand this: How do you pay big bucks for a 5-star hotel then have to pay for Internet, gym access, parking and toilet paper, and then you stay in a 3-star hotel and everything is free including smiles at the front desk? Totally confusing! We like to stay in Holiday Inns as they provide us with exactly what we need: 8 hours of comfortable sleep and warm cinnamon buns in the morning! Plus with all that extra money we save, can you imagine how many extra bottles of whiskey we can buy?
Are there any albums or songs that really bring you back to a specific place in Canada?
Every time I hear an album by Great Big Sea I’m constantly reminded of the east coast and all the beautiful memories we’ve had out there. Wish we could go back more often.
When I travel, I always return with a notebook filled with big ideas. Are there any places you’ve been to that have really inspired you creatively? Where and why?
I was recently hiking through the Yorkshire Dales in the UK. It’s quite amazing to walk through the park having limited access to everyday technologies and to be surrounded by nature. All at once you feel completely humbled by the world. Its in these moments I want my notebook to jot down ideas—oh, and a pint of local ale, too.
What three things do you always have in your carry-on?
iPad, for endless hours of distraction
neck pillow (how do most people not have these?)
back pillow (OK, OK, I like pillows, but when you live on a plane, you gotta be comfortable)