Q&A with German guitarist Matthias Kraft (Matt & The Strangers) - Psychedelic Blues Rock improvisations

"Music played from the bottom of the soul touches people so intense! It brings people together, to feel as a loved part in the universe, instead of feeling separated from each other."

Matthias Kraft: Music Experiences

Matt and The Strangers plays Psychedelic Blues Rock. Matthias Kraft (aka Matt S. Force) started playing guitar in the age of 9 and played all kind of music: Rock, Jazz, Pop and he studied classic guitar. To became a real master of this instrument, to be able to play the music he really feels was his passion for over all the years and he reached it. In 2009 he discovered, that blues is such a big musical passion for him and the real base to create his own music, so that he wants to spend all his musical directions on it.

After a short time celebrities of the international music scene took a spell on his playing and his band "Matt & The Strangers" and found their place in the German professional blues scene. Billy Cox, the legendary bass player and friend of Jimi Hendrix praises Matt, stating: “Matt, you are great! Your rhythm is tight and you play with the Hendrix spirit. As a matter of fact, that is the only way that you can come across sounding as good as you do!” Matt and his musician are working and living in Osnabrück (Germany).

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos from Matthias Kraft Archive / All rights reserved

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does Psychedelic Blues mean to you?

As a child, my mother was in hospital in a serious situation, it had been possible, that she died. I stood in the kitchen, to do the dishes and then there was this music in the radio that washed away all my trouble and fear. It was a slow blues by BB King live. Today, when begin to play a slow blues, I remember how it felt at that time and how this music gave me trust and I hope, I can touch ever guy in the audience with. Maybe someone is sad or so and I can wash away his/her trouble like BB King did with me. That would make my very happy and if, for me it could only happened with the Blues. Psychedelic mean, that the horizon of me and my music is more wider, then only Blues, Rock or Blues-Rock. Every influence that shows deepest parts of the soul means it to me.

How do you describe Matthias Kraft sound and songbook?

Sounds like music, which composer loves not only Hendrix´s music: Megadeth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, Shawn Lane, Verdi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Iggy Pop means a lot to me. So I put the music in a form of Rock, Blues & Blues-Rock songs and try, not to put too much from the other influences in it, not to overwhelm the listeners. Another part of me is the improvisation: I love improvisations on stage, not only on guitar. Live, we´re changing a lot to give the room for spontaneously improvisations.

"In Germany there a great community, that cultivate forms of the blues like Mississippi Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, Brass, New Orleans etc. in an authentic way. The youngster, that play Blues rock often are sound a bit like Rory Gallagher, John Mayer. "

What characterize your music philosophy?

Music played from the bottom of the soul touches people so intense! It brings people together, to feel as a loved part in the universe, instead of feeling separated from each other. Only musicians can give this to others people in this directly way. So it´s real important for me to do it. When I´m playing music, I always try to make me and the audience feel as a great group that loved each other’s truly.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you?

I studied classic guitar/classic vocals and there I met and played together with guys from the international scene. To feel as a part of them was very cool and surely Billy Cox statement about me was important from me too. To play together with Edgar Froese from Tangerine Dream was exciting, even playing together with Mathias Dittner, who was the long year bass player and friend from Uli Roth and Monika Dannemann was exciting too.

What is the best advice ever given to you?

“Take care, don´t drink, take no drugs!” (Ben Grafelt); “When you play music, mean it 100%ly from the bottom of your heart!” (Edgar Froese)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you´d like to share with us?

Oh, nothing real interesting happened. I discovered, when I´m tired (from touring) as I can be, my music sounds partly a bit better, than the others versions. In times, when I played classic music, this was impossible for me; two girls wanted me after a gig for a ménage a trios. The usual things, happened on tour…

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past?

Today it is so easy to get real good instruments, equipment and notes. In the eighties, when I grow up, there was nothing. Only a shitten old Höfner E-guitar, hard to play and sounding terrible, some LPs and Cassettes from your heroes. No TABS or notes for rock guys so that you have to play and learn with your heart and by ear. This was hard, but you´ve got to be active to come inside the feeling, the guys on the records had. To form your own ability to be creative then was a natural effect. Nowadays it´s so easy to get real good equipment and it´s so comfortable, seeing some guy, showing you how to play “Little Wing” or “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” on YouTube. I think, this kills the real creativity and dominates today’s music scene in an extent, I could not imagine, it had been, in another form, existed in the sixties or seventies. Another thing, I experienced, makes real bored and a bit sad: In the past, bass players and drummers (Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon in mind) showed up their own creativity and identity on their instrument. It was mostly exciting to go on stage with 3 creative musicians, having fundament of song structures and they all use the freedom of improvisation to create exciting things together, only this moment can give. Today’s bass players and drummers are often educated for the role of accompanying someone in patterns.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

More real creativity and better esteem of professional musicians.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become reality, what would that be?

Professional musicians, that spend so much time in their playing, need a little help from outside to guarantee their wages, maybe a trade union or so.

Make an account of the case of the blues rock in Germany. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

I think, it was in the seventies, we had acts like Lake, Das Dritte Ohr, Hannes Bauer, The Scorpions.

"I would go back for over 2500 years to be together for one day with the lighted Buddha."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues Rock from United States and UK to Germany?

In Germany there a great community, that cultivate forms of the blues like Mississippi Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, Brass, New Orleans etc. in an authentic way. The youngster, that play Blues rock often are sound a bit like Rory Gallagher, John Mayer. 

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

In mind, that I tried to reach my level of playing very seriously, I saw a guitarist from the scene, who plays guitar like an advanced beginner, but showed up as a profit! I thought to myself, this could only happened with the courage of a sportsman, surely a karate or Kung Fu guy. He is an ambitious ex-football player.

Why did you think that Jimi Hendrix music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Jimi (Hendrix) was a man, who obtained his fantasy of a nature child and he had the courage to put it in his music. This is what we feel, when we listen/play his music open minded: Life could be so joyful and easy, you´re not alone, when you feel like as we were kids and there was no good or bad, friend or enemy. There was only a bunch of love. This is, what Jimi putted in his music and wanted us to feel with him! And it works!

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Such a good question! I would go back for over 2500 years to be together for one day with the lighted Buddha.

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