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Five Questions with…Matisyahu

December 9th, 2009
(Photo: Sean O’Kane)

(Photo: Sean O’Kane)

Matisyahu is known for combining his religious devotion with a unique blend of reggae, rock and hip-hop. His third studio album, Light, came out in August. And beginning tomorrow, he’s back in NYC for eight shows as part of his fourth annual Festival of Light: four shows at Webster Hall—with the Glitch Mob on 12/10, with John Brown’s Body and Dynasty on 12/12, with Dub Trio on 12/13 and with Brothers Past on 12/14—and four shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg—with Rana on 12/16, with Kid Koala on 12/17, with Travis McCoy on 12/19 and with Kevin Devine on 12/20. In advance of this epic run, Matis took the time to answer five questions for The House List.

Which band (or bands) that you listened to growing up do you still listen to?
Grateful Dead.

What’s the toughest part of playing New York City?
My cousins giving me shit after the show for not calling them up on stage.

What’s your biggest nonmusical talent?
Rollerblading. When I was about 13, I’d ride backward down the steps in Central Park and hold on to taxis and buses and stuff.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
Yes, there is no substitute for authenticity.

It’s 4 a.m. and last call has come and gone. What’s your next move?
Go to Rabbi Korn’s house, crack open a bottle of Russian vodka and talk about how God could let the Holocaust happen. Then walk to the mikvah on the Lower East Side and wait for the old Russian guy to let me in. Then I’d sit in the mikvah ’til shacrit (morning prayers), then pray at the closest shul. Then barf. —R. Zizmor