Matthew Hemerlein
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Matthew Hemerlein

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | SELF

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | SELF
Band Pop Avant-garde


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The first thing you notice about Matthew Hemerlein is the hair. It's majestic, an emo comb-over, grand and swooping, that makes him look like some sort of exotic bird.

While his six-instrument repertoire and digital-meets-classical-in-a-dark-alley musical style might appear to be as effortless as his 'do, it's not. Just witness his first album, "Hot Nickels," eight original songs with Hemerlein playing every instrument and working laptop magic as wel - The Washington Post Express

Matthew Hemerlein's new album, "Hot Nickels," is a little sexier and lonelier than his previous works. It incorporates layers of musical textures with stacked vocal harmonies, synthesizer pads and production choices that create a spacious, ethereal sound at once reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's haunting melodies and Prince's genre-mashing. But Hemerlein's goal for this album is still the same: goose bumps. - The Washington Post

The first time I saw Matthew Hemerlein perform, I thought he had some major nervous tics. As he chatted with the audience, his hands ranged over his violin, thumping on the fingerboard, plucking strings on the wrong side of the bridge. But as Hemerlein launched into his performance, I realized he was recording the entire time. He used a foot-pedal-powered loop station to mix those thumps and plucks into a polyrhythmic background track—all while I was settling into my seat.

This casual display of musical dexterity is typical of Hemerlein, a one-man indie-rock band thanks to his loop station, laconic voice, and virtuostic playing on an assortment of string instruments. While not always challenging, Hemerlein’s music is often gorgeous—melancholy arpeggios overlaid with plaintive melodies and witty lyrics.

He’s also not stingy with his talents—Hemerlein performs the third Friday of every month at SOVA wine bar the last Thursday of every month at the Gibson Guitar Artist Showroom in Chinatown and is a frequent presence at BYT events. Tonight, however, is special: At 9 p.m., at the U Street Music Hall, Hemerlein will be releasing his second album and playing all nine songs from it. (It’s also his birthday.)

“I chose to have nine songs because I’m releasing the album on my 27th birthday, and I’m obsessed with certain numbers,” he says. “Nine times three is 27, so it made sense in my own little mind.”

On the album, Hemerlein plays all the parts on every song with the exception of some samples and drums, but tonight he’ll be accompanied by cellist Katie Chambers, beatboxer Christylez Bacon, bassist Dennis Turner, pianist Jeremy Teter, drummer Jon Laine, violinist Matvei Sigalov and DJ Chris Nitti. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
- Washington City Paper

Standout Track: No. 10, “Silver,” an achingly beautiful song about aging lovers that’s very much in a Radiohead vein. Matthew Hemerlein, 25, sings plaintive melodies and dissonant harmonies like Thom York minus the whine, and he accompanies himself on violin, cello, upright bass, and guitar. A static-filled breakbeat keeps the sonorous strings from becoming too pretty.

Musical Motivation: One morning, before teaching a full day of guitar lessons, Hemerlein descended into the soundproofed basement of his Bloomingdale group house and recorded “Silver” in just a few takes. “It wasn’t a premeditated song at all; everything was done exceptionally fast,” he says. Lazy, jazzy triplets on the bass formed the foundation of the song, and the bittersweet lyrics quickly followed: “Don’t let me be the one to hold you back/I’ll be the one who’s blind with cataracts,” Hemerlein sings.

Creative Theft: What nearly did hold Hemerlein back, however, was the fact that his laptop was stolen just as he was getting ready to put together his first album. He left it on the subway at L’Enfant Plaza; the hard drive contained all of Hemerlein’s songs in various states of completion. Though the computer never turned up, Hemerlein was able to recover many MP3s of rough cuts he’d emailed to friends or saved to his iPhone. But because they were not WAV files, Hemerlein couldn’t rework or revise them, leaving him with an album that he’s not fully satisfied with. However, “Silver” is the one song Hemerlein says he would not have touched. “It emerged from my head pretty much already done,” he says.

Matthew Hemerlein plays Friday, Nov. 20, at Sova - Washington City Paper

For the few professional musicians that make it to stardom, there are thousands of others working tirelessly in pursuit of that dream. Matthew Hemerlein has made it his life's mission not just to record and perform, but also to teach.
In this first person account, he describes his journey to become a complete musician, and how he nurtures others to do the same. - BBC World News

But it's when the music is at its sparest that "Lazerproof" offers its central revelation: that Jackson's singing might be greater than the sum of La Roux's parts. An airy remix of the duo's single "Bulletproof" by Washington's DJ Nacey (also featuring local musician Matt Hemerlein) gives her angelic timbre breathing room rarely afforded by her partner Ben Langmaid's insistent new-wave production. The throwback rhythm from Ken Boothe's seminal reggae classic "Artibella" offers even starker relief, elevating one of the more subdued vocal performances on La Roux's self-titled LP into the stunning "Colourless Artibella." - Washington Post


"Bulletproof" La Roux remix by Nacey Featuring(Matthew Hemerlein)- On LazerProof released digitally by Major Lazer and La Roux

"Hot Nickels" October 20th 2010



Matthew Hemerlein is a dynamic and central figure in the DC music community. Known for his vibrantly creative Solo Looping Show, Matthew’s music is an original blend of classical, pop, jazz and trip-hop that calls to mind such artists as Radiohead, Andrew Bird, Moby and Prince but ultimately falls into a category of its own. Fluent on six instruments, including the violin, cello, seven-string guitar, mandolin, piano, and upright bass, he collaborates with both local and international acts and was the recipient of the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities Young Artists Award. Matthew has been featured on The BBC World News regarding his work as an Artist/Educator and has performed at such venues as, The House of Blues New Orleans, Wolftrap and 9:30 Club, The Black Cat Mainstage, and also headlines a wildly popular monthly show at The Gibson Guitar Artist Showroom.