Interview: Matthew Logan Vasquez

A collection of songwriters holed up on the outskirts of Santa Fe in a ramshackle house, fuelled by alcohol, camaraderie and hot tubs, Glorietta sounds like some kind of creative utopian dream.  Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, alongside buddies and contemporaries David Ramirez, Noah Gundersen, Adrian Quesada, Kelsey Wilson and Jason Robert Blum have recorded a truly wonderful album together that manages to combine beautifully all their collective talents without ever losing that overriding sense of fun.  Americana-UK speaks to Delta Spirit’s Mathew Logan Vasquez about ego management,  the art of collective songwriting, and basic logistics of making a project like this actually happen. 

The whole idea, the recording process, the ‘hang out’ vibe, just seems idyllic to me. Yet, given you are all songwriters in your own right, how difficult is co-writing on projects like this? It can’t be as easy as it seems on this record, surely? We all came with a handful of complete songs and one or two song ideas. It was surprisingly easy to get the songs finished. Kelsey Wilson is especially good at finding the missing pieces to a song. I think she has the most co-write credits on the album due to this talent of hers.

Was there a defined band-leader, a road captain if you will, or did that chop and change as the songs evolved? 
I was the guy to get everyone together, but it’s a band of leaders. We’re all good at stepping up where needed. It definitely takes a certain type of ego/empathy to make that work.   We all understood every level as we are all artists and you have to have the courage to step up in front of your peers.  I was the Executive Producer in official terms.

Was there a theme, some kind of universal direction you envisaged the album taking? Or did it just route its own course? 
In terms of songs, it was a free for all. The environment certainly helped in making the cohesion of the music.   Not everything landed on the album as we went far .. but the ones that came together in the atmosphere of the place made the final cut

There are so many different ‘vibes’ on the album yet it seems to hold together really great as a complete album. Was there a painstaking sequencing process or did it just hang together naturally? 
Living in a house in the mountains of New Mexico Santa Fe area will do that to a record!  It was high in the mountains with snow when we were in the jacuzzi.  I sequenced the record while I was mixing it. As a flow, I wanted it to have a  dynamic ark of the experience that we felt up there (making food, eating, partying,  making music late and then getting up the next morning still all together in different states, making breakfast ) but still keep things moving. It’s a lot easier when there are so many voices on the album.

I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of David Ramirez albums. What’s he like to work with and what did he bring to the party?
Ramirez brings a good hang wherever he goes. His laidback demeanor is a joy to be around. David and the rest of Glorietta are so effortless when it comes to being and songwriting.

What is it about this type of collaboration that you enjoy and what took you back to it after Middle Brother? Is it just super fun or do you feel your own songwriting benefits from it also? 
As an artist,  I think it’s important to develop character development. Collaboration is maybe the best way to help that along with fans. You take a lot more risks and show yourself in a new light. It’s both fun and inspiring. My songwriting is the sum of my life experience so, yes, it’s had an impact for sure.

Honestly, I’m really jealous. It sounds like one great man-cave experience! How did Kelsey Wilson cope!? 
There was certainly a lot of bonding on the trip, but we’re very much the inclusive type so I know Kelsey felt right at home. Having women in the mix is great thing but it is no different to the guys.   She happened to be a good musical friend already and the gathering was based on that.

Tell me a little more about How the days panned out? Was it really as drink-fuelled as it seems? It’s not a new concept but it appears you have really embraced fully the whole thing. The record is really joyous to my ears and you can really feel the bond between all the musicians. I may be overplaying it but I sense it in the sound and the songs. 
David, Kelsey, Jason, and I drove from Texas, Noah flew in, and Nathaniel and the Nightsweats guys drove in from Denver. Once we got there, Adrian and I set up the gear, while the others set up the food and drink. We started recording that night. The mornings were started with quieter tunes. You can hear people waking up during Lincoln Creek and Friends. As the day went on the songs would get louder until it was a full blown party, then we’d just hang out and listen to what we got done that day. We recorded about 18 ideas.

What next? A year in a French chateau al la The Stones?? Or back to a new Delta Spirit record? 
I have a finished Matthew Logan Vasquez record that will come out on February, 22nd via Dine Alone. I recorded it in my home in Wimberley, Texas last January before I moved to Oslo. There’s a lot in there about family joy,  pain, and fear of the unknown. We moved because my Norwegian father in law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s been a crazy year but you do what you have to do for the ones you love. I guess that’s the moral of the next LP.  As far as Delta Spirit goes, it’s tough to say what’s gonna happen. We’re all good friends and we’re talking and hoping to regroup at some point.

What are your plans touring wise? 
This Glorietta project is running its course from  October to December. It’s going to be a ‘one and done’ type of thing.  The shows have been so much fun but when you have six or more artists involved it’s a miracle that we’re doing a tour at all. I’ve got plans to tour the US/EU next year, and I’m sure the others do as well and if our paths cross maybe a few Glorietta tunes will emerge. I play  ‘Friends’  with or without the crew.

Glorietta‘ is out now on Bread And Butter Music

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