What happens if you cross Bobby Mcferrin, Youssou n' dour and Seal with a Vocal percussionist ? Meet vocal voyager Randolph Matthews.
If you’ve caught Randolph live, or his music, you’ll understand Randolph Matthews operates in his own parallel world, well away from traditional mainstream record label marketing formulae. His music is an evolving journey, rooted in purity and unshackled expression, drawing from the greats of Youssou n'dour, Seal and Bobby McFerrin.
I fell in love with music when I was seven years old, with two tape recorders in my bedroom. My mum loved singing while cooking down stairs, so I learnt to layer up voices and beats upstairs which, over time, got a bit lost during my teens. At 21, I left work as a telecommunication engineer to follow my heart and passion and pursue music as a career, re-kindling the layering voices I had learnt as a kid”
This early music schooling evolved in to Randolph soaking up London’s burgeoning late-‘80s soul-jazz scene, including regular trips to Norman Jay’s feted sessions at Hoxton’s Bass Clef. A career in music soon followed. He started out as a percussionist before finding his true vocation as a live vocalist, performer and lyricist. By the 1990s he was performing and leading backing vocals for the likes of US soul / boogie legend Don Blackman, recording with Arthur Baker on tracks for Brooklyn’s soul legend, Will Downing.
After and extensive period of collaboration Randolph went solo in 2006 to exercise the sounds he was still hearing he need to get out and it wasn’t long before the year saw Matthews sign his first record contract and release his debut “I Love” with Documented. An aurally delicious blend of emotive words, chants inspired by progressive beats, and raw melodies, it was a promising experiment, for turning vocal emotions into something tangible. “ I felt so vulnerable creating this, but it was the right type of pain that comes with singing out what you feel is real to you “It gained a loyal following, being picked up by Vocab Dance Company performing his single Canvas in there sold out Kwenda Kwenda tour and collaborations with German producers Seasons and Sygaire (Sonar Kolletiv), and release of track Open to Love by Radio 1 tastemaker Giles Peterson’s for his double boogie compilation “In Da House”
Randolph took his time to listen to inspirational soloist such Keith Jarrett, Pat Methney and Bobby Mcferrin before his next release in 2011 of co produced world beat album Precious. Tracks reflect intimate and expansive delivery that oozes through the songs layers with unique twists and turns of ethnic beat box. Combinations of unusual arrangements in 3 Peckham Lane, hypnotic hang drum playing in Rise and sensitive production touches throughout come courtesy of dub /electronica producer Seb Taylor (Kaya project interchill records).
Randolph’s unique blend of Jazz, soul and ethnic beatbox has him following his love for interactive performance around the globe with a string of established artist in the last few years such as Plan B, Grace Jones, Shlomo (Edinburgh fringe tour) and world music artist Seun Kuti plus regular performance for the London Jazz festival and Ronnie Scotts Jazz audiences. His recent collaboration with the Young voices choir took Randolph up and down England from Manchester arena to the Royal Albert Hall performing to more than 500,000 people over two years alongside Alexandra burke, Beverley Knight and Irish folk singers The High Kings.” I love performing and use it as an opportunity to reject the predictable boundaries of vocal expression and get to the heart of what moves us in a performance space its just mind-blowing!
Last year Randolph ‘Voce Solo’ toured, London, UK and European. Randolph's solos show took the audiences on an organically magical journey through his precious album material, edge of the seat improvisation and witty stories whilst technology layers his voice. As though sound is erupting from within him, a musical volcano of clicks and glottal stops, Jazz percussive melodies and songs composed out of audience members names. You cannot simply watch him perform; you and Randolph become the performance together. Matthews says “When I am introduced on stage, the wording is always ‘Randolph does his thing…so without further ado, here is his thing…’ Whats that ‘thing’ is dependent on the day and the audience.” One thing's for sure you will most definitely have a unique experience everytime. Look out for this years collaborations and new album releases…Waka Waka