Matisyahu wanted to do something different with his most recent album, 2012’s Spark Seeker. But when he began the process, he didn’t know “different” would involve starting work on one album, doing some other music for fun on the side and then realizing that the off-the-cuff stuff was what the album should actually sound like. He says that the lack of pressure he felt helped make these tracks flow more naturally.
“When I started making the record, there was a certain freedom to it,” says Matisyahu, the king of Jewish-inspired reggae, hip hop and pop. “It was a free and fun process, but at the same time we had this vision of making more of a pop record. So in terms of the songs, we would experiment with different melodies and verses and different ways of doing things.”
Matisyahu’s work has always been noteworthy because of its fusion of roots, rock, reggae and hip-hop stylings, and these genres are represented well on this record, but there are also undeniable doses of pop (“Sunshine”) and traditional music.
“[Producer Kool Kojak and I] went to Israel to record the album and got the idea to combine the different styles we were working on in L.A. with the more traditional, organic feel we were getting in Israel,” Matisyahu says.
As for the meaning of the album’s title? It lines up perfectly with his usual efforts to combine his art with his spiritual leanings. “The spark seeker is someone who is looking for meaning in life,” he says. “Trying to take reality and give it a new dimension.”
Matisyahu performs with Rebulation, Collie Budz and Zion 1 6 pm Friday, Aug. 16, at Cuthbert Amphitheater; $30 adv., $35 door. — Brian Palmer