A&E » Music

New Zealand bluesman finds a home in Canadian scene

Matt Hoyles performs at the Crystal Lounge



Matt Hoyles is a New Zealand bluesman whose musical roots stretch far to the Mississippi Delta mud.

He came to love the music thanks to classical guitar and now slide guitar is a major love.

"I'm a bit of a weirdo. I came to blues via flamenco," Hoyles laughs.

"My guitar teacher was an incredible guy and my aunt and uncle were blues and jazz fanatics."

Once the blues bug bit he eventually realized he had to move on to make it work.

"I get asked why I left such a beautiful country (he has been based in Vancouver for over two years). The music scene is restrictive there because of geography," Hoyles says.

"A lot of rock bands will come over to New Zealand but not so much blues. The closed big event that has a lot of energy is the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia — often Kiwis will hop over there to make their mark."

Hoyles has just returned from recording a new album in Toronto. A performance at the Canadian Music Week conference brought him to the attention of L.A. producer Earl Powell who wanted to work with him.

"I didn't expect to hear from him again, but then actually got a call about six weeks ago and said they wanted to get together and make a project happen. They offered their services and studio time for free. We did a bit of a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the flights and that was it," Hoyles says.

What followed was one of the most intense music experiences of his life.

"For seven days, we worked every day from 10 a.m. to about 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. On the last day in the studio we went through until 6 a.m.," Hoyles says.

"It was something completely beyond what I'd ever experienced. It was the best musical experience of my life. We got so much done and it was a matter of being with the right people and it was just magical."

At the end of it all was a seven-track album, including two tracks that were originally written with Powell over Skype. The creativity of an experienced producer who had worked with Tito Jackson, among others, was what impressed him most, Hoyles says.

"He'd send me a little idea and I would write some lyrics to it and flesh it out. And when we got into the studio we figured out how it would go, stand in front of the mic, play the song and see what would happen," Hoyles says.

The as yet unnamed album is "more on the soul side" for him, more like Leon Bridges.

"It's breaking out of the blues mould a little bit but I'm at home with it. I've been more and more over the last few years trying to make the genre more me," he says.

Hoyles performs at the Crystal Lounge on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.matthoyles.com.