It was a year chock-full of being inventive for Kirk Matthews.
The New Mexico-based musician, like many others, had his livelihood interrupted in March when the pandemic nixed live shows.
Yet he continued on.
“This year has been good one day and bad the next,” Matthews says. “I’m trying to keep busy, just like everyone else has.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Matthews was in the interim stages of preproduction on his new record, “The Color of Rust.”
The album will be available Friday, Jan. 1, on digital platforms.
Matthews says working on the album was a way to focus his energy.
He ran into problems as the pandemic continued.
“Financially, the record became an undertaking,” he says. “Being an unemployed musician and trying to pay for a high-quality record became a bigger challenge. It wasn’t a cakewalk in any sense, but it’s been satisfying seeing the album come together and ready for the world.”
Matthews has been a staple in the local music scene. He grew up in Taos, moved away and traveled the world.
He moved back to New Mexico a few years ago and has found his sound in a genre he calls Southwestern Americana.
Working on the album for most of 2020, Matthews says, he was able to put together a plan and execute it.
This meant putting together a group of local musicians for his record.
Matthews was able to get Dee Brown, Emily Anslover, Dave and Laura Devlin, Sarah Rowe, Joshua Lee, Los Perez and Jeshua Booth on the album. It was produced by Kenny Riley at Rio Grande Studios.
“I was happy to get the group of talented musicians,” he says. “It took time and patience, but it all worked out.”
Matthews knows that there’s always a risk when releasing a new record – more so when it’s done independently.
He says that the music industry has changed and that the pandemic has seriously altered the process for a release.
“The whole way that you unveil a record in standard terms was always difficult,” he says. “Literally, I’m 100% independent and I have no contractual obligations. Not being able to tour with this new music is my biggest obstacle.”
Matthews has to rely on streaming services and music downloads for his income.
He’s toying with the idea of working through the performance platform Patreon, where subscribers get access to exclusive musical content.
“Everything is up in the air,” he says. “My goal is to get the record off the ground. I’ve been releasing a single a month for the past few months. It’s been a different journey that I’m so proud of.”
One silver lining from the past year for Matthews is that his music was being listened to more around the world.
“More people were listening to music than ever before,” he says. “The streaming numbers went up significantly because people were at home more. It’s been a way for people to pass time. The pandemic opened up a huge platform for artists like myself to get noticed more.”