Festival season is upon us and Crys Matthews, festival veteran, and folk circuit celesbian, is lighting it up. With upcoming shows at Ohio Lesbian Festival, Michigan Framily Reunion, and SisterSpace, she’s carrying the colors of an Army of Lovers in the spirit of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
Matthews is still fresh off of two releases in 2017, full length album The Imagineers and EP Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers and is playing big stages like Kate Wolf Music Festival where Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls also graced the stage.
I spoke with the artist, who, like Tracy Chapman, writes love songs and social commentary with the same heart-fluttering poetry.
Crys Matthews: Most music festivals are often out in the woods far away from the things that tend to keep us disconnected from one another — there’s barely cell reception, sometimes there are communal meals, communal work efforts, communal showers, etc. — so it’s almost impossible not to be more open, more receptive to strangers in a setting like that. It’s really beautiful to watch. When people are that open, the way they receive music is very different. They are so much less guarded and so they tend to listen more and feel more. As a singer-songwriter who sings about love, life, and social justice some of the most powerful experiences I’ve had have been at music festivals.
AE: What, in a nutshell, was so special about MichFest (my favorite of your songs is Holding Space, I literally can barely even think of it without tearing up)?
CM: Well first off, thank you for the kind words. Holding Space is such a special song for me. Mich Fest was life changing in a lot of ways for me: my wife and I met some of our dearest friends there; I got a lot of affirmation that music was definitely what I should be doing there; and so much more. Perhaps the most important thing I took from the five years I got to be on that land was this: when women gather unburdened by the shackles of societal norms and expectations, we are powerful beyond measure.
AE: What’s currently inspiring you, musically or otherwise?
CM: I’m certainly finding a great deal of inspiration our current political climate. I’ve lost count of how many songs I’ve written about everything from the family separation and immigration issues to Black Lives Matter and voting rights. I’m also listening to a lot of my friends and contemporaries and finding inspiration in the beautiful ways they craft songs and tell stories. Joy Ike, Natalia Zukerman, Heather Mae, Liz Longley and Chris Pureka are some of my favorites.
AE: What artists/tracks are in heavy rotation in your headphones?
CM: Right now, Ever Stay and Go by Joy Ike are in pretty heavy rotation.