Though the Columbia community may know him better for his role in a cappella group Nonsequitur, Matt White, CC ’15, is striking out on his own with a debut show in Brooklyn on Jan. 29 and an upcoming EP.
White has been writing music since high school, but it was only once he reached Columbia that he found a creative community in which he could pursue music. Demonstrating a talent for vocal harmonies and a cappella music, it was only a matter of time before fellow Nonsequitur members were asking why he wasn’t producing his own material.
White began using production software Logic Pro at the end of his first year, but it wasn’t until early 2013—when vocal health issues left him unable to sing—that he started to produce his own music. Going by Matthew Alexander, White released two singles last year: “To The Lighthouse” and “New York,” a collaboration with Sam Stevens, CC ’15, known professionally as Slam Skillet.
Along with Stevens, White has collaborated with photographer Esther Jung, BC ’15, and photographer and videographer Shriya Samavai, CC ’15. The two provided album art for White’s two singles, and Samavai filmed an atmospheric video for “To The Lighthouse.”
“If you ever need anything from anyone, someone here is probably really good at it,” White said. “The thing about Columbia kids is that we’re not just academically able—we have our own things that we’re good at.”
White currently goes by the stage name Mattheu. Like his role model, the U.K. soul singer Sam Smith, White’s first stage name was so common he rarely showed up near the top of Internet search results, and he wanted something unique and quickly identifiable.
“I’ve also always been obsessed with the one-word artist name, like Kimbra and Lorde,” he said.
But when it comes to one name superstars, White’s music style is similar to Sade’s—his smooth, soulful voice transmits a sense of loss and longing similar to the British jazz performer. Unlike her, White’s songs are backed with spare, beat-heavy electronic soundscapes typical of the wave of post-dubstep electronica that’s been spreading from the U.K. over the past few years.
“It [U.K. music] is almost all I listen to right now,” White said. “Popular music in the U.K. is very R&B and very electro-jazz based rather than the bumping pop music we do here. I feel like I’ve kind of exclusively been drawn to them.”
White will be performing at The Paper Box in Brooklyn on Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. and plans to release his long-awaited “Virgin” EP sometime in March or April.