The Kaje talks “Can’t Hold Back” to Matt Henshaw

Matt Henshaw spent for years with indie rock band Censored, building up a dedicated following and hosting a weekly night in Nottingham before the group decided to call it a day. However, it was not just Censored Matt left, but rather his dreams of music success. Then a year and half ago, when going back to his old school to collect the exam results he had never bothered with, he bumped into Midland MC/Producer Reggiimental, whose path he had crossed several times whilst with his former band. It was not long before he had been enticed back into the studio and enough material for three albums had been recorded! The return to music appears to have been a wise decision, with Matt exploring a new terrain to him…hip hop! “I always listened to it, but I never played it”, he tells us. “It seems crazy though, the material has only been out in the public for six months yet I have already achieved more than I did in four years with the old band!” Not a bad achievement by any means. With his debut EP “Can’t Hold Back” set for release next week, The Kaje decided to catch up with Matt and find out more….

How did you decide which songs to put on the EP?

The EP is a collection of the nicest sounding songs from the ones we did around Easter this year. We did some really deep ones but these are the ones that have had some love off the radio producer type people, so we thought we’d bung them out with “Can’t Hold Back” as the lead track and see if people start singing along at gigs!

Whose sounds do you think have influenced the EP most?

I don’t think there’s one influence that has influenced the songs on there, it’s got shimmering soulful pop, harder northern soul, reggae, dub and acoustic bits so it is a real mix.  But maybe the two artists we were listening to most when this particular group of songs was probably Smokey Robinson and Jimmy Cliff…

Hype is growing around you, do you feel more pressure to succeed?

It’s nice, it’s weird because it’s not something that was planned, but spontaneity is definitely the best thing for creativity and fresh sounding ideas.  I wasn’t bothered about making music again, and then Reggii persuaded me to record some vocals for him and we got carried away. Then someone else persuaded me to upload the tune “The Deepest Cellar” to the NME Breakthrough and it’s snowballed from there, something fresh in the inbox every day.  I don’t feel any pressure though to succeed, but now I’ve recorded this music I want to make sure as many people as possible listen to it.  I’ve never been one for being a bedroom musician, even when I was a kid I remember going to mates birthday party or something and entertaining the adults singing Elvis and Buddy Holly songs just because I though “I can sing, I want people to hear me sing, it seems to make them smile” …

What is your favourite track on EP?

My personal favourite is probably “The Deepest Cellar”, it sounds so different to anything anyone else in hip-hop is doing and it’s got an old school soul vibe, almost like you’re in the Wigan Casino but the Dap-Kings are a modern group.  It’s very cool, I reckon so anyway.

What were your sources of inspiration for the EP?

A lot of tea.  And old records.  Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, all of them.  Magic!

Can you tell me a little about the writing process..

The writing process is basically writing or “finding” a piece of music and tag-teaming it to death.  We sit and write and sing to each other, devise concepts and ideas and then record things really fast.  It’s a very productive atmosphere, and we’ve got a good few producers working with us on the mixing and mastering side, and plenty who now want to work with us, but I have to give a big shout out to 2nd Suzpect Joseph Joe Rizzle Kosminsky (the in-house producer at our record label Rusty Jukebox) for dealing with the most of our stuff … and also shouts to any producer who is or will ever work with us for having to sift through all my outtakes and ad-libbing … I don’t know what it is but there’s something about getting in the vocal booth and doing impressions and making funny noises !  It’s all because the writing and creative process is so much fun, I get excited …

Have you thought about what you’d like to achieve with the EP?

Just for as many people to hear it as possible, even if they don’t like it, I’d love people to be aware of it.  I’d love to be one of those artists at some point where people sit around and discuss whether the latest release is as good as the last one.  People sat around saying “well, it’s not as good as the band he used to be in” or “this isn’t as good as ReggiiMental’s earlier stuff”, at least it would mean they’re listening.  But I don’t think anyone will be doing that …

How do you balance your current studies with the music career?

It’s all part of life, breathing in and out is my career and I just try to do as much as possible in between breaths.  What a terrible thing to say but it’s pretty much true.

When did you first get into singing and writing?

I was really quite young and I wanted to make the same noise that I heard Deep Purple make on a TV advert for Strongbow, so basically cider switched me on to music.  I got a guitar and then found out the noise that I wanted to make was being made by an organ but they were too big and expensive so I stuck with the guitar and all the BritPop stuff was happening at the time and all those bands were into traditional song-writing, and they were writing classics, with good choruses and that led me back to the Smiths, the punk bands, Bowie and the 60s bands and then Motown and all the good stuff, it was an amazing journey.  I love finding good stuff that I’ve never heard before but it’s getting harder and harder, I wonder if anything will ever make me feel the same way I did the first time I heard Smoke on the Water, or Itchycoo Park, or 25 Miles who knows ?!

Can you tell me a little about the band you used to play with…

Censored.  We were a three-piece indie/blues band with guitar, bass and drums.  You can still find the music on the interweb.  I’m immensely proud of it and what we achieved as young men, boys even.  Some might say I’m still a boy, but we covered a lot of ground musically and geographically for three white kids born in Nottingham with barely a pot to piss in and a first drum kit made out of Roses and Quality Street tins!

Do you prefer being solo or in a band?

Being solo is just so much easier.  For one, there’s a lot less gear to carry!!  And you don’t have to worry about pleasing anybody else but yourself, and that may sound selfish but I like masturbating!  ha ha!  Seriously though I do feel a lot more freedom to do as I like.  But, don’t get me wrong I haven’t turned my back on bands and guitar music, the Spencer Davis Group is on my iPod right now and Chris Goring (the drummer in my old band) is my oldest and dearest friend, he’s done some percussion for these new projects but I can’t imagine a future where at some point we don’t get together again and bang out some raucous blues music … just far enough in the future to have a fairly decent sized crowd wanting to see it and someone else to carry the gear!!!!!

Words & Images: Jeremy Williams

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1 Comment

  1. Watch out world. Matts gonna be a household name.


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