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Matthew Griswold: An Interview

A hero- that might be the best way to describe Matthew Griswold. “I fought in the battle of Ramadi, which was the most violent campaign of the whole Iraq War, so it certainly paid a toll on me. But one of the things I was very fortunate to have was music.” After leaving the U.S. Army in January 2009, Griswold turned to music and initially became a voice for the troops during a period of time when veteran suicide rates were at a record high. He now dedicates time each month to speaking to veterans at the Minneapolis VA about his experiences with music and music therapy along with other therapy methods and support tools available to them.


Griswold is a native Minnesotan who specializes in alternative folk music and is largely influenced by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen’s acoustic material. “I don’t necessarily try to write to preserve folk music like other people do,” he shares. Instead, he claims to use it as a resource to engage listeners by utilizing some of its unusual song characteristics. He’s is an independent artist with a publishing deal through Universal Music Publishing and claims, “right now I am one of the independent artists that believes the new wave of the industry is designed for more independent artists, so I try not to focus my career on the tactics that a major label artist would use.” These tactics are designed to appeal to the masses, which Griswold feels results in music that is often impersonal and results in a less personal relationship between the audience and the artist and their music.


When asked what he considers to be his greatest musical accomplishment he expresses that it would have to be having his song “She Is The Rose” featured in the season 2 trailer of BBC’s show Copper, “When they made the trailer, they made it custom made to the lyrics. The only audio in it was my song and all the scenes were being acted out to my lyrics”. This is a feat many artists could only dream of accomplishing. Sure, to have a song featured in a trailer is already a major feat, but to have a trailer designed around your lyrics takes this accomplishment to a whole new level. It provided Griswold with the affirmation that the importance he placed on lyrical composition was well worth the time and helped his song chart. “She Is The Rose” ended up gaining notoriety in 13 different countries.


Surprisingly, this is not one of the reasons that “She Is The Rose” has become one of Griswold’s favorites. He claims it holds a special place in his heart because it was the song that got him his publishing deal, and was also his first set of lyrics where he walked away feeling as though he was a songwriter. “I’d written hundreds of songs before that, but there’s just something that happens when something really clicks and you know you wrote something special”, he shares.


The importance he places on his lyrics can also be credited with the reason he has no set date for new releases. As an independent artist, he’s never bogged down by deadlines and doesn’t have to deal with industry professionals constantly breathing down his neck. This allows him to create meaningful songs on his own time, while his publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing provides him with a steady stream of income to make up for these uncertain release dates. It seems to be a winning strategy as Griswold gets to stay completely true to himself, while still managing to create a living in an industry often seen as cutthroat.


As for getting started in the industry, Griswold credits the terrible economy the U.S. was experiencing as he exited the Army with helping him find his career path, “I wasn’t thinking to myself, ‘Wow I’m going to go find a job now.’ That wasn’t a possibility. My dad had been laid off. Everybody I knew who got out of college couldn’t find a job for the life of them, so in my mind, that wasn’t even an option. I had to figure out a way to make some money as I developed my songwriting capabilities, so I started gigging as much as I could because it was something I did a bit of when I was stationed in Europe.”


While Griswold does tour for the most part around the Midwest, he has plans to perform in New York City in March for any east coast fans looking to see him live!

Link to the Artist’s Website: http://www.matthewgriswoldmusic.net/