- We’re thrilled to have you for an interview, Matt! How has 2021 been treating you so far, all things considered?
Thanks for having me! 2021 has been pretty good so far, and definitely better than last year. The release of my latest single “Thin Blue Line” in February has been successful and very positive. I’ve been building my band and looking forward to performing live as soon as venues open up, which they seem to be starting to. I was also in Boca Raton in March to perform a few songs for footage on a TV show called Club TV. That was a lot of fun. I’m excited for the rest of the year!
2. Your single “Thin Blue Line” is very personal to you. Please tell us about the song.
Yes, “Thin Blue Line” is special for a lot of reasons. This song was written in 2019, before things got really crazy regarding police and protests and riots, but released in such a timely manner that I think it was really meant to happen this way. The song was inspired by my law enforcement friends who have dedicated their lives to the sacred duty of protecting and serving their communities. I’ve heard their stories, seen the pain and pride in their eyes, and I’m amazed at their courage and selflessness. I couldn’t do their work, not knowing if I’d even come home at the end of the day, and I wanted to thank them in my own personal way. The positive message of love and sacrifice in “Thin Blue Line” is what needs to be heard, now more than ever, and I pray that it does some good in this crazy world we live in.
3. Do you feel like people “get” what you’re trying to do with your music?
I do, thankfully. The response to my debut album “Legacy”, and even more so to the singles I’ve released, has been more incredible than I imagined when I first got into this crazy business. I try to release songs that mean something to me, are relatable, and have some kind of message, while also staying true to my love for country music from different eras as well as rock. I just try to make music that I like, and if other people like it, then that’s wonderful.
4. Growing up, who did you listen to? Do you still listen to those artists, or have your tastes changed as you’ve gotten older?
My first memory of music is when my dad gave me a cassette of Elvis’ hits when I was about 3 years old, and I listened to it on my bedroom floor in awe. Elvis has been an influence ever since. But, I’ve listened to just about every genre of music since I was a kid. Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Toby Keith have always been favorites of mine. My first favorite rock band was Queen, then it was Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Metallica. My first favorite R&B group was Boyz II Men. I love old school hip hop and rap as well. Believe it or not, Frank Sinatra was a grade school favorite of mine, and his music later inspired me to learn how to sing. Frank’s still my absolute favorite today, and I still love all the bands and artists I grew up exploring.
5. You are also an actor. Tell us about the movie you have coming up, and how you got that gig?
Yes, I was cast as a young Johnny Cash in an upcoming film called “116 MacDougal”. That’s the address of the famous Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village New York in the late 50s and early 60s. The film is about the Gaslight Cafe, its owner John Mitchell, and how it was a huge part of the counter culture movement that began at that time. John had to protect his artists from the mob, the government, the police, and the FBI because their message was considered counter culture and a threat to society. Many famous folk musicians and beat writers performed there and spent time there. In fact, Bob Dylan got his start there as an 18 year old boy! The cast includes iconic characters such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Johnny Cash, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and many many more. The story is based on actual accounts from interviews with the surviving artists. It’s really an untold piece of American and music history! And the soundtrack is incredible too! I was suggested for the role by a friend of mine that’s involved in the film. When the producers learned that Johnny Cash would stop in the Gaslight Cafe to perform whenever he was in town, they just had to include such an iconic character. They called me, and I just happened to have a recording of myself singing Folsom Prison Blues, so I sent it over to them. Within a few hours, it was an unanimous decision to cast me in the role, and I was the only person they even auditioned. It’s quite an honor and very exciting.
6. What is one song that you never change when it comes on?
Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” reminds me of one time riding with my dad in his Jeep when I was a kid. It came on the radio back to back on two different stations, and I always liked the song, so we listened to it twice. My dad was probably slightly annoyed by this, but it’s a memory that I still cherish.
7. Are you involved in any charitable works? If so, what?
I donate to charitable causes from time to time, and every year I attend a “gun bash” that is run by and benefits the Fraternal Order of Police. I have quite a few friends in law enforcement, so this event is not only a great time, but also for a cause that is personal to me. I will likely be performing my latest single “Thin Blue Line” at the upcoming event in August.
8. Tell us one thing about you that most people would be surprised to know.
I taught myself how to sing, and I couldn’t sing at all when I was younger. In fact, I was rejected from a middle school play because I couldn’t sing! I never would have thought that I would become an international country recording artist.
9. Tell us what’s next for you, on the music front.
I’ll be promoting my song “Thin Blue Line” while working on a plan with my producer Bryan Cole. I’m writing a few more songs in the coming months to round out my 2nd album, and trying to get in front of some bigger record labels. I am really trying to make 2021 a year of progress for my career.
10. What do you hope that people will think of when they hear the name Matt Westin?
I hope they think of a good man, who was true to himself and what he believes in, and made good music that reflected that.