SAT · FEBRUARY 2, 2019
DOORS: 7:00 PM / SHOW: 8:00 PM
$10 + FEES
You might liken it to the “Big Bang”…
Worlds collide, and we’re left with a sound. That sound preserves vestiges of the two respective halves, but it’s wholly new at the same time. Yellow Shoots encapsulates a similar phenomenon. Founder, vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Greg Matthews uncovers a catchy and cosmic crossroads between progressive rock instrumentation and soulful R&B crooning. As a result, the Philadelphia-born and Brooklyn-based alternative maestro realizes a focused, fresh, and fiery style on his 2018 independent full-length debut, everything.
“I wanted to develop music that took all of these quirky UK rock bands I grew up on and combined them with American R&B,” he explains. “Over the years, it slowly started to come together more naturally one song at a time, so I decided to make an album that fused both of my passions. That’s the genesis of it.”
The seeds for such a project were unassumingly planted long ago. By third grade, he picked up saxophone before eventually transitioning to guitar in high school spurned on by prog giants Yes. Devoting countless hours to the instrument as well as devouring the catalogs of Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Jill Scott, Bilal, Zapp and Roger, and Bill Withers, he attended University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Post-graduation, he cut his teeth performing with GoGo Morrow at high-profile gigs like Jay-Z’s Made In America Festival in addition to collaborating with City High’s Ryan Toby. Another Philadelphia scene stalwart Noel Terrell tapped his talents soon after. For nearly four years, he would accompany Terrell’s band at multiple church services per day.
Upon relocating to Brooklyn, Greg formally launched Yellow Shoots with the More Alive EP in 2015 and the 2017 follow-up Stormy Weather. Not only did the artist personally sing and perform guitar, drums, bass, saxophone, and keyboards, but he also wrote and produced. This holistic approach attracted the endorsement of early supporters such as Paste Magazine, Magnetic, and more as Spotify touted the tunes on playlists, including “Fresh Finds” and “New Indie Mix,” to name a few. After years of quietly tinkering, he honed this vision to perfection on the single “everything.” Fusing synth bass and a wavy beat into an ambient trip rounded out by funkified riffing and spacey vocal warbles, it quickly cracked 229K Spotify streams and heralded the forthcoming record.
“As soon as I finished ‘everything,’ I was like, ‘This is what I’ve been hearing in my damn head for that last couple of years’,” he smiles. “It came down to not giving a shit. I was literally recording instruments I loved. I stopped worrying about fitting in and just did what came naturally. That was the ‘a-ha’ moment, so to speak.”
The 2018 single “desert rose” showcases the expanse of the album. Propelled by handclaps, vintage Oberheim synths, and smooth falsetto, its sizzling strut scorches on impact.
“It’s essentially about being obsessed with someone and building a whole distorted world around that person,” he explains. “You realize it’s all make-believe when you come back down to reality. The object of your affection won’t give you the time of day, but you create a fictitious vision.”
Then, there’s the psychedelic groove of “magic on my pillow,” which dissects modern dating culture with a slick and sly sense of humor.
“Dating and meeting people happens at such a higher rate these days that everyone feels replaceable,” he goes on. “The perception of sex has also evolved in society. It’s accepted to have a purely sexual relationship without romance. Are you okay with that or not? I’m just posing the question.”
These are just a few shades of Yellow Shoots. The entire vision of everything speaks to Greg’s own experience with synesthesia—i.e. the ability to describe music in colors.
“At 16, I discovered that I was a synesthete,” he elaborates. “Different instruments and timbres give me different color schemes. This first album represents an entire spectrum of colors.”
In the end, all of those colors shine within Yellow Shoots.
“I just want to take people on a journey,” he leaves off. “I love change in music: when a song starts one place, takes a left turn, veers right, and brings you to another destination altogether. At the same time, I’m telling a story I hope everyone can relate to.”
MAX SWAN MUSIC
A saxophonist, vocalist, and producer from Philadelphia by way of Perkasie, PA, Max Swan channels influence from the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Blake, Donny Hathaway, Michael Brecker, and Lenny Pickett. He's gone from nothing-but-jazz, to everything-other-than-jazz, and all stops in between. Initially being the loud alto player that showed up for the jam session every week, Max slowly took on more opportunities in hip hop production, as both a bandleader and a studio producer, playing with a number of artists and groups during their growth in the Philly music scene; notable names include LP Stiles, Kuf Knotz, Mic Stew, and most recently, Aime. Over time, the saxophone he'd lay on tracks led to supplementing keyboards, and writing string and horn section arrangements, many of which can be heard on Aime's most recent release, «The Book of David», available on iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora. The work that was done with these artists led Max to start laying vocals on his newer music, starting with «So Much Chime» (also available on iTunes, Spotify, etc.). Swan received accolades during his new process with Councilman David Oh's PHLlive Center Stage Music Conference, Ernest Stuart's Center City Jazz Festival, all while continuing his rigorous study of saxophone, mainly by way of Lenny Pickett (SNL), in order to truly reach proficiency in the altissimo (higher) registers of the instrument. Swan's music combines his passions for jazz fusion, 21st century soul, and contemporary hip hop, featuring his vocals, saxophone, and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). «The Fisherman», his debut, was made possible via The Kimmel Center, and will be available soon.