Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines on local musician Matt Ellis.
How many years in Venice? 13 years. I first discovered Venice through skating as a teenager. We were living in pre-internet Hong Kong at the time, surviving off hand-me-down Thrasher magazines and bad VHS dubs of Animal Chin and Wheels Of Fire. Venice featured heavily in everything I was getting into. I was lucky enough to skate here in ’89 when it was closer to its original post apocalyptic state. When my music career brought us over to L.A. permanently in 2005, it was the natural choice. We met so many great, supportive and welcoming people in the first few months of landing here too, and my wife and I still call them all close friends today. It’s a really easy transition for Aussie’s to slide into the Venice culture. There’s a lot of us here. Both sides of the Pacific have a lot in common.
Tell us about your music/band. I’m a solo singer/songwriter but normally perform with my 5 piece backing band.
Check out Matt Ellis’ video above by clicking on the play video.
Genre: I call it “Folk/Rock”, but I also fall under “Americana,” “Alt Country” and just good old “Rock”.
Your job in the band: It’s my gig, so I write the songs and normally do everything from produce the sessions to design the album covers, book the gigs and drink the rider, of course with a great deal of help from amazing musicians and friends!
What projects are your currently working on? I’ve just wrapped my 6th album, “Rambler Pacifico.” I’m looking at getting the first single out in November, with the full album release coming early 2019.
Past bands/ Albums recorded: I started writing and singing in a high school band that played originals and covers of everyone from Elvis to The Clash to The Stones. Once I graduated High School and College, I formed another band in Sydney, Australia, called “Sedgwick Pie”. We were a stoner rock outfit, kind of like a cross between Kyuss and Free. We released two EPs and toured the East Coast of Australia several times, before I went solo in 2000.
Influences: I’m influenced by a wide range of bands and musicians that span multiple genres. It isn’t so much a sound I’m attracted too as much as honesty, authenticity and grit. That can be found in Nina Simone and Neil Young, but also in Iggy Pop, Neko Case or Sinatra.
How did you get into it? I formed my first band in high school when I was about 14. It was around the same time I was skating and discovering Venice. After a while the music from those skate videos started making a real impact on me and more time was spent reading the album reviews in the back of Thrasher than the skate coverage. That’s really what planted the seed. Early punk rock that was simple enough for us to learn and play, and mimic when it came to early songwriting.
Upcoming Shows: I’m lucky enough to Produce the “Locals” Stage at The Abbot Kinney Festival each year, which happens to be our next show! The stage is hosting 8 local music acts and the annual “Spirit Of Venice Award.” Music runs from 10am to 6pm on the corner of Andalusia and Abbot Kinney on Sun Sept 30th. View list of artists and times below. I go live at 3:00 p.m.
Best memory/show: The shows at The Abbot Kinney Festival over the years have definitely been highlights. It’s always such a great vibe, playing to an audience of familiar faces, all just a bike ride from home. Another great memory was playing a KCRW Summer Show on the Santa Monica Pier in front of about 15,000 folks.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your field? Do it for yourself. Write, play, record, repeat. Leave the Instagram account out of it. Just focus on the music and don’t stop.
What causes do you support? The Resistance. We need to get this country back on track, starting with health and education. Hopefully gun reform and equal pay will make a little more sense once we’re all fed and read.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote: “Just Do It” comes to mind.
What’s one thing we can do to make the world a better place? Turn off the television, phone (insert device) and start a conversation.
List 1-2 things on your bucket list, and 1-2 on your VENICE bucket list
- Personal bucket list is to travel more with my wife and show our daughter this incredible planet.
- Venice bucket list. Let me know how I can help fix this homeless crisis, in a way that benefits all parties, please!
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts. I don’t understand this whole IPA thing.
Describe Venice: Venice is an incredibly unique community. My friend, Paul Chesne, describes Venice as the wild west. A place where anything goes and everyone is welcome to try shit out. That’s pretty much what encouraged my wife and I to stay. That spark is still in the air, although I fear you need 7 figures to get in the game these days. Still, it’s one of the best places to live in LA and inspiration and artistic expression is in abundance. And that shit is still free.
View video of Matt and Paul Chesne!
Describe your perfect day in Venice: The perfect Summer afternoon is a burger and beer at Hinano, bike ride down the beach to The Townie for cocktails, then retreat to the fire pit at home with a few friends.
List any of your favorite Venice activities:
- Coffee at Menotti’s
- Gigs at Townhouse
- Beers at Hinano
Who has the best Venice nightlife? Favorite places to watch live music? The Del Monte at The Townhouse.
Your favorite Venice bands? Too many to list! Lets start with the crew on the Andalusia stage at The Abbot Kinney Fest.
What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience? We’ve seen some amazing things in Venice over the past 13 years. The transformation alone has been crazy to see first hand. I think my favorite story is a personal one and started the day my wife, then finance, flew out to join me. We booked a room at the Best Western on the beach, now the Hotel Erin, and took a walk around the neighborhood. It was Sunday, late Summer, but the streets were buzzing. We stumbled across the annual Abbot Kinney Street Festival and the whole experienced sealed the deal for us. It was a unique community gathering, full of a Village atmosphere, hidden away from the rest of Los Angeles. I’ve had the pleasure of performing at the Festival over the years and jumped at a recent opportunity to champion and book a “locals stage.“ Venice is still a hive of creative talent; that part hasn’t changed, and I wanted to make sure the incredible local talent always gets a platform. The stage is located on the corners of Abbot Kinney and Andalusia and the festival is held on the last Sunday of September every year. The official anniversary of our move to this great place!
Any shoutouts or thank you’s? You guys and anyone reading this! Venice is one in a million. If you ain’t here, come and visit.
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say? Venice is truly unique. Just remember what made it so different before you go changing it too much.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next? This incredible, Venice based food delivery service! gourmetprime.com
HOW CAN ONE FIND YOU?
- Website: mattellis.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/mattellisband
- Twitter: twitter.com/MattEllisBand
- Facebook: facebook.com/OfficialMattEllisBand/