Matisyahu dropped his latest album, Undercurrent, in May of this year. Primarily known for his stylish blending of reggae, hip hop, rock and Orthodox Jewish leitmotifs, Matisyahu attained a cusp of transition on Undercurrent. The album embraces a fresh flow, while still remaining loyal to Matisyahu’s musical roots.
In a sense, Undercurrent is structured linearly, with each of the eight songs representing moments in time. The flow of the songs depicts the steady succession of these units, one after another, with the activity of the universe being expressed through the units.
Since the release of Undercurrent, Matisyahu has been on an extensive tour, but still found time to collaborate with Common Kings on a new single, “Broken Crowns,” a reggae-flavored hip hop tune that’s scrumptiously good.
HuffPost called Matisyahu while on tour to talk about Undercurrent, his current tour, “Broken Crowns,” and his behind the scene video depicting the genesis of the Undercurrent album.
“How’s the tour going?”
It’s going great. We’re hitting our last stride here. The music is starting to really settle in and feel really, really good.
“How did “Undercurrent” come about?”
At a certain point I made a decision so I could continue to enjoy making music I love. I wanted to go back to my improvisational roots, where I come from, and let the music grow out of a jazz place. For this record I wanted to make a record that was a pure artistic creation. It was born out of the improvisations on the road. We were improvising maybe fifty to sixty percent of our performances. Coming off tour, I went straight into the studio and started crafting songs based on those improvisations. And then recorded seven or eight long tracks and had a full instrumental album. I started writing hooks and choruses out of those tracks. It was a little bit of a backwards approach to songwriting.
How did you come to collaborate with Common Kings?
I hired a manager who worked closely with them. And when I was talking about going out on tour, I hadn’t been using support because I’d been doing two sets. I met the guys and I really loved their energy. So we decided to tour together. It’s always nice when you’re out on tour to collaborate on a track you can play together. That’s what we did. We got together and had a really great time in the studio, where it was really a special experience and I think that comes across in the song.
What was the impetus for the behind the scene video?
We started doing live feeds during sessions. And fans got to watch us develop the songs and see the finished product that grew out of a jam improvised in a unique moment. I thought it would be cool to do a background video to show how the songs were made.
What’s coming up next?
Right now, I’m just focused on getting through this tour. And then I’ll be doing some more touring in February. Then in the spring I’ll start thinking about writing more music, but at this moment I’m just so into this record it’s hard to think about the next one.