Matt Berry: The Voice

Matt Berry, star of shows such as The IT Crowd, Snuff Box and The Might Boosh, has possibly the most recognisable voice in Britain. He is the voice of Absolute Radio for example. But did you know he can sing? And play? Here we discuss his amazing 2011 album ‘Witchazel‘. Please do try to read it in his voice…

You’re probably more known for your acting, comedy and voice than your music – yet you’ve released three albums now. Was Music your first passion?

I’ve only released 1 album commercially, Opium was released through my then agent where as Witchazel through a record label (Acid Jazz). I don’t think I have a first passion as I can get equally off on painting for instance, as I can with music. If its coming easy at that particular time and is working then I’d say I’m passionate regardless of the platform (pretentious I know but you did ask)

You released ‘Witchazel’ as a Download in 2009. I’m not just saying this but it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in recent times – it suits the start of Spring perfectly. It’s like a Pychadelic, almost funky, modern spin on folk. Who (or perhaps even what) influenced the album?

Thank you. Any music or art that you make will include an unconscious interpretation of the work that you admire I reckon. I’m into too many different things but I can tell that I was most certainly listening to Mike Oldfield and a bit of Colosseum II at the time of recording that rekud.

It then got a ‘proper’ release on Acid Jazz in 2011. How did that come about? I mean you wouldn’t instantly associate your music with Eddie Piller (Acid Jazz’s Founder)?

Exactly. Piller comes with a reputation but I liked him and his enthusiasm instantly. When i met him I was expecting to be maybe offered a 7″ limited vinyl release of one of the tracks from the album, but when he said he wanted the whole thing, I was thrilled as I had made the album for myself, for no money and for no reason.

Will you be doing anything for Acid Jazz’s 25th Birthday?

Oh yes I hope so

The critics loved Witchazel; It must have crossed your mind that you would probably be in for some stick – even before anyone had heard the record – given you’re seen primarily as an ‘actor’ ?

Of course, and I would be the same but I never considered what the reaction (if any) would be because I hadn’t really considered it likely that anyone would release it.

The lyrics seem very natural. They’re quite unique and stylish but I don’t think they ever seem vain or try-hard. Does writing come easy to you?

No one certain thing comes easy. If I’m hungover and am forced out of bed because of an idea then the whole of that session could come easy and before I know it the song or whatever is finished. It’s a bit like someone else taking over for a short spurt and then fucking off again.

I have to ask about your voice. You’re the voice of Absolute Radio and in any show you’re in the voice is the most striking aspect – and yet when you sing it’s almost hard to believe it’s you? You’re singing voice has a sort of innocence and vulnerability that’s endearing and hopeful.

Like I said its probably someone else from a past life taking over just for that time. Spirits who were not heard during their life time or more likely daemons.

And you play most of the Instruments too? Am I right in thinking the legendary Geno Washington chipped in with Production?

I played all the instruments because i didn’t really want to bother anyone else with the project. I also produced the record myself, Geno is a singer and a friend, he wouldn’t be able to produce because he would be too busy laughing (and swearing) love him

So what’s next for Matt Berry? Will we be hearing another album soon? Any plans for some Live shows?

‘Music For Insomniacs’ is finished and will be released in October. It’s not the follow up to Witchazel I have to add, it’s more like a side project/collaboration with myself

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