By Andrew Bardsley
CALGARY – Hoping to avoid the stereotype of the white guy writing folk music with a guitar, Ottawa based folk singer Kalle Mattson sets himself apart with an upbeat attitude and a musical charm not often found in the contemporary singer-songwriter genre.
BeatRoute spoke to Mattson via telephone from Ottawa. Mattson is searching for how to sound unique and to avoid falling into the trope of being another folk singer with a guitar and a harmonica. He has a new album slated for release in 2018, and hopes that the audience will appreciate the creative leap therein. “People who are somewhat familiar with my stuff – I think will be shocked, hopefully in a good way, but I am kind of going by this theory that if I’m not pissing off at least 20% of my audience, then I’m not doing anything at all.” With Mattsons new record complete and a name settled upon, the
waiting game begins for Mattson’s self-described attempt to “switch lanes.”
His sophomore LP Someday, the Moon will be Gold (2014) earned Mattson critical praise and a Polaris Music Prize nomination. His most recent outing was the six track EP Avalanche (2015), a release Mattson describes as having a “Grab baggy feel.”
The EP featured a more diverse array of songs than typical for Mattson, including the delicately picked ‘Baby Blue,’ a stark contrast to the massive title track. “I can’t help who I am being a white guy with an acoustic guitar,” Mattson admits, “[we are] a dime a dozen and a cliché but you can you still stand out and be relevant if you have something to say, and for me personally the era of sad folky songs is long gone.” Mattson is also somewhat well known in youtube cover circles for his stripped down cover of Drake’s meme-inspiring “Hotline Bling,” a testament to Mattson’s belief that you can’t take things too seriously, “It made me some money and it made Drake some money” he jokes.
Someday, the Moon Will Be Gold was partially inspired by the death of his mother and grandmother, a story that, while beautifully told on the record, is not entirely unique to the genre. Mattson is hoping that his self-reflexive attitude will help him navigate the waters of a well-travelled genre, while hopefully avoiding the Justin Timberlake “Woke Folk” pratfall, or, more critically, being just another white bearded folk singer. Luckily, Mattson cannot grow a beard.Avalanche, folk, Kalle Mattson, Moon will be Gold, Polaris Music Prize