From Niagara to Kingston, Sajn on

Artist in profile

Matt Sajn playing a live show at The Grad Club in January.
Matt Sajn playing a live show at The Grad Club in January.

Who: Matt Sajn, ArtSci ’09

What: Folk-punk

Where you can find him: Tonight at the Grad Club with David Martel and Wooden Sky, strumming at CFRC or frolicking through the cheery fields of his hometown Niagara region.

What kind of music are you striving to make?
I’m just trying to create songs that resonate with people. Whether it’s a story, or just some sentiment or image I’m trying to pass on, I try not to overburden it with anything. All the music I’m into is stuff that hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s nothing new. It’s folk music. I want to create something that hits hard and leaves you feeling something other than confused or bummed out. I take the writing aspect of it seriously, but in terms of recording and performing, it’s just a matter of partying with friends, being loud and having fun.

How did you first get into music?
I wrote bad poetry when I was a kid and just sort of stopped; the whole idea of writing poetry just didn’t work for me. I felt much better picking up a guitar and writing something more tongue-in-cheek. Writing songs is something I really enjoyed doing, and that much hasn’t changed.

Do you have any projects on the go?
I’ve got another EP [after Cordially Yours, available now] written and ready to go, just waiting to get it recorded. It’s going to be called ‘Highway Trees’; a wicked artist out of Hamilton—Dave O’Connor—will be doing the layout. Beyond that I’ll be recording a full length over the summer, starting up a band and planning a tour for August. I also recently wrote a song for a cartoon that’s currently in production called Alfredo Tomato.

What inspires you?
I guess my main sources of inspiration would be, but are obviously not limited to: girls, alcohol, friends, family, Kingston and the Niagara region. I don’t really have trouble finding a muse, if something doesn’t hit me right away I just try to look at it differently. The simple fact that there are so many ways to look at things seems inspiring enough I guess. I never approach these things directly, so I guess coming up with some type of approach or perspective is inspiration enough. It keeps me interested.

How has the Niagara-area scene influenced you?
A lot of people complain about the ‘scene’ in Niagara, but I think it’s a great place to start playing. People have been really receptive, there’s a bunch of great local artists, and everyone seems to be in it for the same overarching reason of having a good time. I guess any scene is going to have its share of high-and-mighty elitism and that sort of thing, but you just ignore it there as much as anywhere. Growing up with bands like Fuzzbug and the Deli Boys, and now seeing artists like Rocket Reducers, The Coloured Plates, Attack In Black, Pete Tremblay and company makes me feel lucky to have grown up where I did.

What was the transition from home to Kingston like? How did you find your feet in K-town?
I’d never really lived in the city before. Fenwick is a small town, and Welland is a bit bigger but everybody seems to know everybody. It was kind of weird at first. It’s still kind of weird I guess. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully comfortable in an urban centre; I’m like the sasquatch or something. I like Kingston, I just don’t feel like it’s home. If I ever start thinking about it too much a couple shots of whisky will usually clear me up.

What’s it like being a burgeoning or ‘student’ musician?
Busy, I guess. I work best when I don’t have any room to breathe, so the whole music thing keeps me going and stops me from getting stagnant and lazy. School and music also work nicely together, as music is a nice escape from the heavier side of the academic work load. It’s tough in the sense that I can’t tour that extensively or put as much time into it as I’d like to, but playing music always balances me out I guess.

What do you think the campus music scene is in need of at the moment?
Now that Clark Pub is opened again newer artists can step up and play, which is great. I think there are a bunch of people working towards something that’s putting Kingston on the map in terms of arts and culture: Virginia and Flying V Productions at The Grad Club, Kingston Punk Productions and obviously the whole Apple Crisp series always hosting fun events. As of right now it’s really hard for artists just starting out to get noticed; obviously that won’t change until the starting artists get together and turn some heads. That’s pretty much it, just more people to turn heads and make people aware that something cool is happening around them. People need to stop being ironic, cultured cavemen and start supporting good music.

Where would you like to go with music?
Once I’m through with school I’ll start doing some touring around the continent. My short term goal is to put out a seven-inch split with a friend sometime in the near future and record two more albums before September. Long term, it doesn’t much matter. I’m going to be playing my guitar and writing music; I don’t have any expectations or pipe dreams or anything. This is pretty much all for kicks; I’m just trying to catch some cheap thrills and have fun. I have no doubts that I’ll still be putting out records in 10 years; I enjoy it that much. If people want to take notice, great.

—Adèle Barclay

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