"When I first started out, I didn't know what style I was," says Matt Duke, a South Jersey-born, Philly-based, 24-year-old singer-songwriter. "I still don't and probably never will." Matt stands out in an industry that loves to categorize. His second full-length album and first for Ryko, Kingdom Underground, came out in 2008 and rocked a fairly big sound. However, Matt tours primarily as a solo acoustic singer-songwriter, so his fans have come to expect a slightly quieter fare from him, which is how the Acoustic Kingdom Underground EP came about.
"It's a nice complement to the album," says Matt. "I'm used to going out and touring solo acoustic and the fans often say, ‘We like the record but we like what your shows sound like too,' so this is for them. Regarding his Philly-and-beyond fanbase, Matt says: "I have seen blue-hairs, 14- to 18-year-old girls and college kids at my shows. And Myspace has helped exponentially." Some websites have lumped him in with other artists such as John Mayer and Jason Mraz, which is okay with him.
Matt looks super-young – almost teenage – in photographs, but the sound of his voice and the gravity of his lyrical content make you believe he is an old soul who has been through a lot. "That's exactly the image I am hoping to project," says Matt, who incorporates pop, folk, jazz and rock into his repertoire. His stadium-ready Vedderesque voice may have mass appeal, but for now you are more likely to see him in a coffeehouse setting, following in the footsteps of some of his heroes, such as Ani DiFranco and Conor Oberst.
The Kingdom Underground Acoustic EP features six tracks that were largely inspired by Matt's literary experiences. Although he dropped out of college after "15 minutes," he has used many great novels as a jumping-off point for many of his finest tunes.