Matt Teed is a singer-songwriter-recording artist hailing from Toronto, ON. Teed’s musical journey started in high school, where he stepped in as a last-minute replacement vocalist for a Battle of the Bands competition he was MC’ing at the time. It was then that his musical talents took centre stage. Teed also “grew up an affable “theatre kid” in the performing arts which was followed by an unorthodox progression into university-level track & field while he studied history (a “storyteller’s degree” as he puts it). Despite his background in theatre and athletic potential, his heart was always set on writing and recording his own music” (Teed). In 2020, Teed released three singles, “Stronger than Before (Acoustic)”, “Whatcha Thinkin'” (As well as an acoustic version) and “Let it Break (Acoustic)”. In January 2021, Teed kicked off the new year with his latest single, “Read Between the Signs”– an upbeat, punchy song about witnessing a loved one miss the red flags in a relationship because they’re blinded by their feelings for the other person.
Recently, I spoke with Teed about his new single, songwriting and his goals moving forward in the new year.
Kyla Pearson: Your new single. “Read Between the Signs” is set to be released on Jan 29th. What was the inspiration behind the song? Is it based on a true story?
Matt Teed: There’s absolutely a story behind this one. My co-writer/producer Shawn Moore & I had a writing session booked a while back and while we were bouncing a few ideas around we kept honing in on the same situation – we both had close friends that were in terrible relationships at the time and it was something we were both itching to get off our chest. So we dove in with that idea and basically started rhyming off all the “red flags” that seem really obvious from the outside looking in but that sometimes get overlooked when you’re so head over heels for someone. Not a fun topic but it was a very therapeutic song to write and the whole goal was to avoid being “preachy” and just keep it to our observations…like the song says, “let’s just take a drive and talk about it”. It’s really all about helping that person realize what’s happening on their own terms – you ask the questions, let them figure it out and hopefully, everyone is better off for it. A favourite line that really hammers home the theme is in the bridge; “I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but I know you know this doesn’t feel right” – really captures where we were trying to land with it.
KP: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting/recording process that went into making the song?
Teed: Kind of rambled through the songwriting process already (haha) but the recording/production was an amazing part of bringing this together. We knew the song had potential right off the bat and there was room to really get some emotion behind it so that’s exactly where we started. We were looking at some contemporaries like Mitchell Tenpenny and Brett Young as reference points but we really just leaned into the idea that we wanted to strip everything down to an emotional level and then build it up through the track to really push the emotions forward. You’ll notice through the song there’s a ton of different elements and harmonies that come in as it all builds together – shoutout to our phenomenal session team, by the way, they were incredible. But it starts way more stripped back and builds so that by the bridge you’ve got this amazing crescendo heading into the final chorus – that was my favourite piece of bringing this to life and honestly, it gave me so much freedom from a vocal perspective to let loose and leave it all on the mic, it was a ton of fun. Little emotionally exhausting in the studio putting everything into it but an amazing experience and I love what we came up with.
KP: You’ve previously released 5 singles. How does this song differ from your previous releases? What are you hoping to achieve with this new single?
Teed: I think this track brings a different level of emotion than what I’ve released to this point from a studio perspective. I’ve done some acoustic tracks that explore this side of my writing but we hadn’t really gone all-in on an emotion-fueled studio track. I do think the end goal – as it generally is with my songs – was really to try and put something out there that people can relate to…sometimes without even realizing it at first…and that maybe there’s an element to it that will help someone get through something or that will spark a conversation that’s been tough to have. I think that’s always the goal is to inspire those sorts of feelings. Having said that I do think it’s a departure from what people have gotten used to from my studio tracks, I think it shows off a bit more range in terms of what I’m capable of and I’m hoping that that opens the door for me to keep pushing myself and trying new things within the genre.
KP: Your musical sound leans more towards pop-country. What made you want to pursue this stylistic direction? Who/which artists would you say, have influenced your sound?
Teed: We’re definitely in the pop-country realm and that’s a great question because I’ve found my style constantly evolving as I get deeper into that side of the genre. I love country music – I love the storytelling, I love the anthem tracks that you’re jamming to on the lawn at Bud Stage, I love that it brings people together with the way that it does and that it’s so genuine. The very cool thing that’s happening right now though, is there’s a ton of artists pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable to do within the country spectrum and I LOVE that. I grew up idolizing Justin Timberlake – that was my guy. Throw in some P!nk, James Morrison, Aerosmith, Dallas Smith (back when he was in Default) and you start to get my pop spectrum. There’s a lot there (haha). In the countryside, there are guys like Thomas Rhett, Mitchell Tenpenny & Sam Hunt that frame what we do but I love love love Chris Stapleton. That’s my guy in the countryside. So imagine how much I loved his duet with JT at the CMA’s back in 2015. That to me was the epitome of the music I wanted to create. There’s soul and there’s storytelling and there’s amazing musicianship and there’s this pop element to it that makes it so accessible to people outside the usual country realm and I think that’s the beauty of the genre right now is we’re able to do those sorts of things and push those boundaries. So, yes, pop-country is where we’ve landed but don’t be surprised if I throw some curveballs at you down the line (haha).
KP: You’ve also mentioned that you co-write often. What is that process like compared to solo writes? What would you say is a challenge and benefit of co-writing? Who are some of your favourite artists to collaborate with?
Teed: I do and I love how it challenges me. Solo writing is always great, you get to craft something from start to finish and really put your own style into it BUT the benefits of co-writing are that you get some incredibly different perspectives that can lead to some amazing imagery and storytelling. Even just having someone else’s take on a melody can make a huge difference in how a song comes together. It might also just be someone nudging you in the right direction to get over a block in the song. The disadvantage is that sometimes you’re trying to pull something in too many different directions or maybe the process doesn’t mesh well (melody first vs lyrics first etc. haha) so there are challenges for sure, but that’s half the fun is navigating that and making sure there lots of communication and that there’s an environment that’s conducive to creativity. You never want people to feel like they can’t throw ideas out there but you also don’t want to be a wallflower – because then what’s the point (haha)?
Favourite artists, oh man, there are a few! One of the bright spots of lockdowns has been the uptick in Skype writes so I’ve had the chance to write with a bunch of new people. Off the top of my head – Shawn Moore (my producer) is fantastic as a co-writer, Jessica Sole is incredible, Elias James rocks, David Madras and I have some great stuff together, Emily Clair & I just started writing together and she’s great, Jason Maxwell, Jonny Lee & Jon Collins are all on my Glacier Bay team and they are just a blast to collab with, there’s too many to list (haha) everybody brings a different element to the process.
KP: When it comes to writing songs, do you find it easier to come up with the melody or the lyrics? What do you think makes a “hit” country song?
Teed: Oh man, hitting me with this right after the last question, great call. I don’t think either one is easier than the other, I think it totally depends on the song and the story you’re telling. Having said that I generally start with a little hook/idea, build a melody that I think fits that vibe I’m going for and then fill in the story. The lyrics are definitely the tougher piece to finalize because I’m a big stickler for storytelling and there’s gotta be a certain flow to it. What makes a “hit”? That’s the million-dollar question haha. I don’t think there’s a magic formula but in my mind, it’s a song that people can have on repeat without realizing it. Whether it’s a story that resonates, a single line that hooks you or a melody that you can’t get out of your head – there’s that element of catchiness that will stick with you. But there’s gotta be a story. There has to be imagery and some sort of sing-along moment that lets people put their heart in it.
KP: Looking back, 2020 was a challenging time for many and it especially hit the entertainment/music industry harder than most. What was one lesson you learnt in light of the pandemic that has helped you grow as both an artist and individual? What is one opportunity you had that you may not have had under normal conditions?
Teed: You can always be doing something to improve. I think that was a big thing for me. The pandemic really gave me some introspective time, as it did with a lot of people, and there was a point where I honestly did not have the same creative energy as I normally do so my default setting was to just take a breath and wait for inspiration to strike – but that’s not really how life or music works, you have to put the work in. The gift of time allowed me to pursue a few different avenues that I hadn’t really taken time to develop yet – one was co-writing with a new artist outside my usual circle, which has led to some incredible songs and new friendships. The other was beginning to work with an elite level vocal coach. I had my vocal routine, sure, and I knew warm-ups and all that stuff, what’s good/bad for my voice etc. but the pandemic really pushed me to try and take things to another level. I figured if I have this time, I’m going to make good use of it and it’s honestly been a game-changer for me.
KP: Moving forward in 2021, what is one goal you hope to achieve with your music by the end of the year? Do you plan on releasing new music other than “Read Between The Signs”?
Teed: The biggest goal is recording new material! Haha! As soon as studios open back up I’m ready to roll with a bunch of new tracks that I could not be more excited about – some really awesome stuff. Thankfully we do have another track already recorded and ready to go following “Read Between The Signs” called “Spin You Around” which is very cool and will be released in the Spring but for now, I’m just really excited to get this track out there and keep the momentum going!
Stream “Read Between the Signs” Now:
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Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2MxFPLM
Teed, Matt. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jan. 13 2021.
Unknown. “Featured: Singer-songwriter-recording artist Matt Teed”. Photo courtesy of Matt Teed. Accessed Jan. 29 2021.
Unknown. “Official single art for Matt Teed’s latest single, “Read Between the Signs”.” Photo courtesy of Matt Teed. Accessed Jan. 29 2021.