If you want to hear some elegant, classy music from a man with a bowtie who yearns for the old days of courtship, I suggest you head to Union Square, Somerville this Saturday to see Matthew Connor. Previously, Matthew Connor has been an opera singer, a DJ, and a member of an electronic dance pop band called Provocateur. For the past couple years, he’s been composing and playing his own blend between folk and chamber music. His new album, titled “Farewell Motel” is set to release next spring.

I had the chance to talk with Matthew about his background, his influences, places in Boston, and of course, his music.

You can stream the song, “Ellis Island,” discussed in the interview, here:

Nitesh: Without using any genre names, how would you describe your music?

Matthew: I always like to think of myself as an old-fashioned crooner with a little bit of an update.


Nitesh: I really like your song “Ellis Island.” What inspired you to write the song? Are you referencing a particular story?

Matthew: Yeah, I actually—it’s not about anybody I know. I work sometimes as a transcriptioner so I do a lot of oral history interviews and stuff like that. I was kind of inspired by a couple of different people that I interviewed a couple years ago. It’s funny, I don’t generally have one specific person or event that I write a song about. It’s just one idea that leads to another one.

Nitesh: What would you say was the idea that lead to the song?

Matthew: I guess it was kind of the feeling of being in these weird relationships where you’re texting people at 3 in the morning and all of that. And then contrasting that with this idealized epic romance that used to happen with people meeting on the train and fast courtships. Like my grandparents. They were dating for something like a couple of weeks or a month before they were married. And they stayed married for 65 years, which is just kind of insane to think about. And now it’s just kind of meeting people on OkCupid and it’s so different. But then again, at the same time, I’m probably looking at it through some weird lens. Who’s to say that their experience is any more magical than mine is? I guess that’s what the song is about—just exploring what it is to be some sort of romantic feeling nowadays and how it feels kind of inadequate.

Nitesh: That’s really cool. Speaking of courtship, I notice you prefer to dress classy. Where do you buy your suits and bowties?

Matthew: There’s a place in Central Square called Keezers which I highly recommend. It’s a Tux shop and you can rent there and you can buy. It doesn’t look like much when you first walk in. It’s just boxes, piled everywhere. There’s a man that works there, last time I went in, he immediately had a tape measure out and was throwing jackets at me and having me try stuff. The prices are really good too.

Nitesh: What are some of your favorite venues to play at in Boston?

Matthew: Well, I really like playing at the Lily Pad in Inman Square because they’ve got this gorgeous grand piano there. And it’s really quiet. There’s not a bar, TV screens, or anything. It’s a nice little listening room. But there are a bunch of really good places to play around here. Playing at the Paradise is a lot of fun. Middle East is really nice. I’ve actually never played at the Precinct where I am on Saturday so that’s going to be really exciting. There’s also a lot of good new venues opening. There’s a new one in Harvard Square called the Beat Hotel. Seems like a decent time to be playing at smaller to mid-sized clubs around here.

Nitesh: What do you have planned next for your music?

Matthew: I’m releasing an album in the spring and there’s a music video to along with a single that I’ve just finished filming in New York. So that’s the big focus right now. I’ve got a couple more videos that I’m shooting in the mean time. Hopefully when the album comes out, I’ll be able to launch into going a little more national. I’ve got a good thing going on in Boston and New York but I’m itching to do a little more traveling.

Nitesh: Are you signed on to any record label or are you independent?

Matthew: I’m independent. I’ve got some people helping me but nobody is actually releasing the album. At the moment, I’m really enjoying being my own boss. I wouldn’t necessarily turn something down because of that but it’s also a good time. You can set your own prices, determine what it is you want to sell and how you want to sell it, and when you want to sell it. There’s a lot of freedom associated with that.

Nitesh: What are three things most people don’t know about you?

Matthew: I cry at TV shows all the time. It’s somewhat embarrassing. My personal favorite is Supernatural on the CW which is a show that’s pretty much aimed at teenage girls. [laughs] But that never stops me. Right now I’m really into Sleepy Hollow. I haven’t cried at that one yet though. I’m also surprisingly handy, I fix things, and I can lift a lot despite being pretty skinny. For the third thing, I listen to a lot of pop music, which might be surprising to some people. I’m really into Britney, and I really like Kylie Minogue a lot. I also tend to listen to more dance and electronic music.

Nitesh: What are some of your favorites?

Matthew: Well my favorite band ever is Portishead. I remember being ten years old listening to [their album] Dummy with a candle in my room. [laughs] When [my] album comes out next year, you’ll hear it’s got a bit of Portishead to it. I still have the same sound but I added a lot of beats. I’ve also been doing a lot of field recording where I just record random trains passing by or the sound of my radiator and making beats out of it.

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