Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Recording star, UW alum returns to Madison

A former Badger returns to Madison tonight as he continues to climb the charts. University of Wisconsin graduate Matt White makes his stop at the Majestic Theatre this evening to perform for his fellow Badgers.

But White took the time beforehand to speak with The Badger Herald in a telephone interview about his love for music, how he pursued his dream and how new media has driven record sales, while never forgetting to note his deep love for the city of Madison.

But the UW isn?t the only entity still held in the rising star recording artist?s heart; White also has music flowing in his veins. This singer/songwriter has taken the knowledge he has gained from classical piano training and created his own style that has captured the hearts of fans ranging from within the U.S. and far beyond ? even all the way to Japan.


I personally remember sitting in my sophomore apartment, listening to some of his first tracks, like his first single ?Best Days,? and quickly understanding why Rolling Stone named him a Top 10 artist to watch in 2006. His combination of soulful lyrics and attractive melodies immediately captivate the senses, and the ear does not lie. It?s no wonder so many people have fallen head-over-heels for this extremely talented musician. ?Best Days? showcases White?s soulful vocals that encompass his uplifting, intimate alternative pop.

While attending school in Madison, White said, ?I couldn?t fit a piano in my dorm, so I bought a guitar.?

From there, White taught himself how to play, while exploring new sounds that would later develop into many of the tracks you hear on his EP, Bleeker Street Stories, and then into his debut album, Best Days. Often compared to British sensation James Blunt as well as John Mayer, his work is getting noticed.

Although Best Days is only his first album, the potential range White exhibits in terms of lyrics and melody ensure him a fruitful future. Citing musical inspirations such as ?Springsteen, Dylan, Sheryl Crow, The Beatles, U2 and all the big ones ? Zeppelin,? White?s energetic beats can be seen as a reflection of his understanding of modern music and its history.

Starting his fan base on, White currently has more than 61,000 friends. The Internet has provided artists like him an extraordinary opportunity to showcase their talent. Additionally, he has a Facebook group and a website, all of which help create an international fan base. Even MTV has picked up White as a part of their MTV 52/52 campaign, which focuses on one new artist per week. By taking advantage of this campaign and other media, White has recognized the importance of diversifying his publicity efforts ? and it is paying off.

?I think the MTV 52 thing was just massive: we?ve seen a direct response from it, we sold out the House of Blues, my sales went up almost 3,000 percent,? White said.

The impact of MTV?s support is still influential in his success.

?They play my video three or four times a day now. MTV has been instrumental in breaking me. I think they respond to people who write their own music and play their own stuff, and I think they get behind artists like that which is great.?

His single ?Best Days? is currently No. 1 in Japan.

?I just got back ? it was amazing; I got to perform every night.?

According to White, performing live is his favorite aspect of being a performer.

?For me, the touring is the most important; that?s where you make your career.?

Something about Madison captures the hearts of all students and keeps memories alive in alumni like White. It is no surprise that White is ?very excited to come back to Madison.?

?[Madison] is one of my favorite places in the country ? this is the highlight of the tour.? When reminiscing about UW traditions, White spoke about getting into the spirit of football, painting his face red, even though it was sometimes too early in the morning. Just like the rest of us, as a student White enjoyed the numerous festivities that illuminate our campus, filtrating beyond the traditional academic atmosphere of the classroom and into the weekend.

There is something about this university that fosters personal growth and chutzpah. Maybe it is the frigid weather that keeps us hibernating in our dorm rooms, houses or apartments, but apparently, nothing will stop us. White has taken to this Badger spirit ? the je ne sais quoi ? which instills a certain, almost clairvoyant, way of thinking. This can only explain the premeditated decision White made when he decided to dress up as Shrek for Halloween in 2002. How convenient then that his single ?Best Days? would beat out talents like Macy Grey in the lineup for the ?Shrek 3? soundtrack.

White explained, ?I have pictures of myself on State Street, so I sent it to all the people at DreamWorks. They were so moved and thought it was so funny that they put my song above Macy Grey and all of these huge artists because I, as Shrek, they loved the fact that I supported the Shrek franchise, me being a senior at Wisconsin, not knowing that would help me get a movie ? so good for Halloween in Madison.?

And it seems White continues to embrace the carefree, fun-loving spirit which lives in every UW student. When asked which Sesame Street character the musician most identifies with, White responded, ?Oscar the Grouch.?

?Ya know, being the underdog, being in the garbage can, being from NJ, ya know, there?s a lot of garbage, and he is green, which is my favorite color.?

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