It has been described as the way you feel when you have no worries. To be irie means to be at total peace with you current state of being. For singer Matt Irie (www.myspace.com/mattirie), the name possesses a sort of double entendre. It is not just a state that he strives to maintain at all times, but also one to impress upon those who hear his music. His cheerful and exuberant nature shines through in every note he sings. It’s described as a mix of acoustic, reggae, dub and blues, though Irie will be the first to say that the way it sounds isn’t nearly as important as the way it makes his listeners feel. “We just try to go with whatever the vibe is at the time and whatever comes out comes out,” Irie said. “We’re just trying to bring light into people’s darkness and put smiles on faces.”
Irie joined up with Mightier Than the Sword records, an Asheboro-based label featuring Ed E. Ruger, Ty Bru and Blaze Belushi, in 2007. He says that being on an indie label affords him creative control to achieve his own vision for his music while at the same time, surrounding him with fellow artists who have become positive influences on his own creativity.
“It’s a really lovely feeling,” said Irie. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with.” He has since worked with producer Double J the Jenius at Iconoclast Studios to create a five-track demo EP of fairly rough cuts, all of which ended up selling out at shows and resulted in quite a buzz along the West Coast and the coastal Atlantic areas. While Irie still hasn’t made it out west for any performances as of yet, he has had offers to play club dates in Arizona. He turned them down, however, saying that he wants to reach the right level of preparedness before venturing too far outside of his home base. Irie will be getting back in the studio in early 2009 with a producer from Greenville, NC who is doing most of the drum, bass and guitar work. He’s shooting for the album, as of yet untitled, to have a spring release. It will be a full LP of as many as 15 tracks.
The heavy dose of reverb in much of his music undoubtedly adds a distinct roots-reggae feel, though he’s strictly limiting that effect on much of his acoustic work that will appear. He can’t wait to get back into that since he draws a lot of influence from people like Tom Waits. He wants to do a cover of Waits’ “Hope I don’t Fall in Love” as a B-side on an album.
Rappers Ty Bru, Blaze Belushi and Tenacious are all expected to have guest spots on the album. Additionally, Irie’s currently working on a collaboration with Skunk Records (the label started by Bradley Nowell of Sublime) artist Toko Tasi. Irie is especially excited about the appearance of Tenacious, who he feels shares the same island vibe that his own music exudes.
Though he’s only made a handful of appearances in the past few months, Irie is hoping to play some shows with his full four-piece band by March and has named Club Triangle, which he describes as being friendly to local reggae acts, as the most likely venue.
With his sound lending itself more to warmer weather, he ideally wants to stay booked from June to August, while spending the rest of the time working on new music. Though unmistakably groovy and danceable, Irie much prefers more intimate crowds where he can seek out audience participation and feedback.
“People in the area are more used to cover bands and indie rock,’ Irie said. “But when they hear this sound, they kind of have to sit back and think about it for a minute.”