MATT JAFFE: I’m a singer/songwriter who fronts the band Matt Jaffe & The Distractions. We are based in San Francisco, although I currently live in Connecticut. I started out on violin, but now mainly play guitar and pretend to be a singer.
THE STAR SCOOP: You go to Yale – that’s pretty impressive. What are you studying there?
MATT JAFFE: I am hoping to focus on English, as I feel studying other forms of writing will complement my songwriting, but I’m just getting started and I’m not sure exactly what will happen academically.
THE STAR SCOOP: How did you go from college-student-normal-guy to an up-and-coming-singer-songwriter
MATT JAFFE: I’ve been a singer/songwriter much longer than I’ve been a college student, so it’s been more a process of figuring out how my studies can co-exist with my music than reconciling separate identities. I’ve made being a singer/songwriter the predominant part of my identity by devoting a lot of time to it, from writing and recording to performing and listening. A few years ago, I realized that I wanted music to be as central to my life as possible, so I allowed it to take over.
THE STAR SCOOP: What was it like working with Jerry Harrison?
MATT JAFFE: Having been a huge Talking Heads and Modern Lovers fan long before I knew Jerry, it was somewhat surreal to be in the studio with him. Even months into our collaboration, there were moments when I would glance at him in the studio and be stunned to see the same guy that I’d seen on stage in Stop Making Sense many years ago. Beyond the sheer shock of getting to work with him, he has been an excellent collaborator. He has transformed my understanding of how to write songs, how to work in the studio, and how to play with a band.
THE STAR SCOOP: What can you tell us about your music and sound?
MATT JAFFE: A lot of people think we have a vintage, retro sound, and while I think there’s truth to that, I think we get that simply because we still play real instruments. Right now, we pursue a fairly minimalist sound, with the instrumentation of a basic rock band. However, I think we are able to extend beyond that genre constraint, as we play plenty of other styles, like punk, reggae, and folk. In a way, rock is a lens through which we explore everything else.
THE STAR SCOOP: Who are your influences musically?
MATT JAFFE: There are a lot, but some big ones are The Clash, Elvis Costello, X, Talking Heads, The Flaming Lips, Dylan, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, the Velvet Underground, the Pogues, David Bowie, Tom Petty…I hope that I’ve had enough distinct influences that we don’t sound too much like any of them, but even so, I’m sure there are trace amounts of many of them.
THE STAR SCOOP: Tell us more about “Fear of Flying.”
MATT JAFFE: That song was a sort of sequel to an earlier song called ‘Irrational Fear,’ which itself was an ode to the Talking Heads album Fear of Music. ‘Irrational Fear’ dealt with the concept of fear fairly broadly and did not zero in on one, so I thought it’d be interesting to flesh out a particular fear. I’m not very afraid of flying anymore, but I used to get pretty nervous. I think it’s actually a somewhat rational fear, but it seemed like the right topic to go with the melody I had. The structure of the song was based on Elvis Costello’s ‘This Year’s Girl,’ with the main riff interspersed with the rest of the song.
THE STAR SCOOP: How do you plan to manage the opportunities that come your way with being a college student?
MATT JAFFE: In general, a musical opportunity will supersede an academic responsibility. Education is not something I want to abandon for no reason, but I know music is where I want to be, so I see no problem with acting in a way that will take me there.
THE STAR SCOOP: Do you have plans to release an EP or album?
MATT JAFFE: Currently, we are planning to continue releasing individual songs and videos until we can figure out the most effective way to release a larger collection of music. However, we hope to have a record or EP put together in the near future.
THE STAR SCOOP: Where can we learn more about you/your music?
MATT JAFFE: Please feel free to visit our Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud pages! There is more information, music, and video there than you are likely to want. But if you do want more, stay tuned, because it’s coming.