'Norah and I admire each other's singing'

'Norah and I admire each other's singing'

Evolving Artiste

'Norah and I admire each other's singing'

Matthew Stephen Ward, who goes by the stage name M Ward, is a musician like no other — there has been no stopping him since 1999, when he first emerged in the indie folk scene in the USA. He is currently in India, touring with Norah Jones for ‘A Summer’s Day’ festival.

Having collaborated in the past in songs like ‘Blue Bayou’ and ‘Sinkin’ Soon’, the two are no strangers to each other’s music. “Norah and I admire each other’s singing. While we have very different voices, I think they blend well together,” Ward tells Metrolife. “We aren’t making any new songs at the moment but I’m honoured to be performing with her in India,” he adds.

Though he’s hardly had time to explore the country, he seems quite settled here. “I love India — it has incredible cities, food and people. Everyone’s been really gracious here,” says the Oregon-based singer-songwriter, who will perform at Manpho Convention Centre this Friday along with Norah Jones.

All his songs tell a story — from the title to the lyrics to the melodies. Agreeing with this point, Ward says, “Every song and production is different. I love the storytelling aspect of writing songs because it’s no fun to tell the same story more than once. I like to keep it interesting for myself. And for me, the filter to differentiate the good from bad is time – time tells you what has value and what doesn’t.”

He confesses that his biggest inspiration is listening to older records. “I’m either listening to music or playing the guitar in my bedroom. Ideas come from the records I listen to and as I experiment with different guitar tunings, new ideas are created. From them, the melodies begin to form and those turn into lyrics which become songs and finally, full records,” shares Ward, who has been busy recording his third ‘She and Him’ album, titled ‘Volume 3’, with actress Zooey Deschanel, the other half of the duo. Has the music evolved over time? “Yeah, I think the sound’s a little more focussed and emotional now,” he replies.

In fact, many a musician in the industry can claim to have collaborated with Ward at some point or the other — from Norah Jones and Cat Power to Jim James and Conor Oberst, who play with him in super group ‘Monsters of Folk’.

Does the man who has eight solo albums to his credit prefers collaborations or working alone? “I love both — half my life has been spent writing and performing on my own, while the other half has involved working with some great musicians. I get to strike a balance between the two,” says Ward, adding, “collaborations are a little bit like having a conversation with a friend. When you go out for dinner, you don’t go with any pre-conceived ideas about what you’ll talk about it. That’s pretty much what it is in the studio as well.” 

Can the musician in him picture doing anything else? “I’d probably be spending more time outdoors, though I don’t know how. I could see myself working as a ranger or something,” he wraps up.