MattViolinist, better known as Mathew Silvera, found a way to fuse his passion for the violin with Caribbean music. Matt utilized music as an escape from all the negativity that was prevalent in his community. As a result of his hard work, Matt went on to play at the Apollo, Broadway and Madison Square Garden. In doing so, he has been able to elevate Caribbean music and culture to a new level. If you haven’t seen his videos online, please check out this one below.
Q: How did you get into music, and more specifically, playing the violin?
A: I honestly can’t remember when I got into music because I was exposed to it at such a young age. My father is a music fanatic. Collecting, creating and enjoying music were normal activities in his everyday life. My musical journey with an instrument began in the sixth grade. I was randomly assigned to play the violin. Within our middle school orchestra, I strived to be the best, although the violin was not my instrument of choice.
Q: How did you begin playing soca and dancehall in your set?
A: Playing dancehall and soca on the violin all began when I was competing in my high school talent show. I didn’t want to just showcase the fact that I can play the violin. I wanted my act to be undeniable, authentic and original. The task at the time was simple. All I had to do was to separate myself from your typical dancer, rapper or singer. Not only were dancehall and soca not performed but they were never done on a violin. After fusing these three elements together, my act started to become a local phenomenon. I was noticing rapid success and decided to stick with the concept.
Q: What do you enjoy most about playing?
A: The one thing I enjoy most about playing is traveling. In past few years, I was given the opportunity to play in different parts of the world and share my talent. Within the last two years, I have toured the U.S., Russia, and made a few stops in the Caribbean.
Q: Tell me more about some of the places you have performed.
A: Besides the U.S., I have toured Russia and parts of the Caribbean — Jamaica and the Bahamas. I made an appearance at Madison Square Garden during The New York Knicks halftime. In terms of smaller venues, I have played college tours, weddings and West Indian carnivals.
Q: In past interviews, you mentioned that you used the violin as an escape for the negativity going on in your neighborhood? What was some of that negativity at the time?
A: While attending Bronx public schools, there were a bunch of negative obstacles to overcome. The toughest of them all was being teased for my Caribbean culture identity. I used to get teased for the way I dressed, songs I sang, even for my sense of humor. Being different made me an easy target. Nothing I did aligned with what was considered normal.
Q: What would your advice be to those that want to learn how to play an instrument?
A: Never be afraid to try. You never know what you’re good at until you give it some effort. Like anything else, to be good you have to put some time and effort into it.
Q: Where do you see Matt Violinist in five years?
A: In the next five years, I see myself traveling the world and doing my own tour. I want to showcase all of my interpretations of what music can be and not limit it to just one genre.
Q: How do you prepare for a show?
A: I make sure to do all major rehearsals before the show date. Coming into a new venue to perform can bring unnecessary stress. In order to counteract that, I do my best to keep a calm energy at all times. My pre-show ritual includes a moment of silence. Silence allows me to focus and have a positive mind before hitting the stage.
Q: What are your top three soca songs for T&T carnival?
A: My top three songs for T&T are Full Extreme By Ultimate Rejects , Single By Orlando Octave, and Fast Wine By Machel Montano.
Q: Who are some of the soca artists that you would like to collaborate with?
A: I want to collaborate with Alison Hinds, GBM Nutron and Machel Montano. After performing with Alison Hinds, I had to opportunity to experience how her music moves people physically and spiritually. I personally feel like we’ll make magic on a track together; two passionate, mind-blowing, bone chilling artists turning the industry upside down. GBM Nutron is humbly taking over. His melodies are sweet, simple and memorable. All of my career has been based off of those properties.