Matt Ellis (Australian musician)

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Matt Ellis
Matt Ellis "The Greatest Escape".jpg
Matt Ellis - The Greatest Escape.
Background information
Birth name Matthew Ellis
Born (1973-12-28) 28 December 1973 (age 43)
Origin Sydney
Genres Americana singer/songwriter, folk/rock
Years active 1994 – present
Labels Krow Pie

Matt Ellis (born 28 December 1973) is an Americana genre singer-songwriter who became an indie identity of critical acclaim in his hometown of Sydney. Based in Los Angeles, CA since 2005, Ellis is currently recording his sixth album.

Early years[edit]

Matt Ellis had an international upbringing spending his childhood between Sydney's northern beaches, Melbourne, Brisbane, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand before his family's relocation to Hong Kong – where he spent most of his teenage years.

Inspired by punk & rock bands of his high school era, Matt Ellis formed Sydney, heavy-rock band Sedgwick Pie in 1995. With Matt as their frontman, Sedgwick Pie released two EPs, touring with such prominent 90s acts as Reef (band) UK, Grinspoon AUS & Tumbleweed (band) AUS, before launching his solo career in 2000 with his critically acclaimed debut,"Peel". Release of this album quickly established Ellis on an international stage, with the album sitting in the top 10 on ninemsn for six weeks. The self-produced music video for the title track "Peel", gained airplay on Foxtel's Country Music Channel, MTV Australia, Rage (TV program) and defunct, late-night TV show on Network Ten, Ground Zero. The track was added to rotation in South East Asia, but was eventually banned after outraged viewers called in to complain that the clip – which featured Ellis driving around Sydney blindfolded – promoted reckless driving. The banning sparked an invitation from Channel V Asia for Ellis to interview and perform live at the station in Hong Kong. This performance wrapped the Peel tour which saw Matt Ellis perform at respected rock music venues CBGBs (RIP) NYC & the Knitting Factory LA.

In July 2004, Matt Ellis launched his second, self-titled solo effort at the Vanguard in Sydney. The production team on this second album consisted of Ellis himself, longtime musical collaborator, Tamlin and ARIA Music Awards winner, Jonathan Burnside. As a preview to the forthcoming album, a double A-side single of "In This Life/ Where It Starts" was launched in August 2003 at Sydney venue, The Gaelic Club. Along with more critical acclaim the release also attracted a sponsorship from Cole Clark Guitars, Australia. Tracks from the album received airplay on Triple J, Sydney's FBi Radio, Newcastle's New FM, 2NUR and countless stations Australia wide. The album has also received airplay on College radio in Germany, Canada and the USA.

In 2005, Matt Ellis left Australia with his self-titled album in hand and embarked upon a tour across Canada and the USA which included shows in and around Vancouver, Hornby & Denman Islands and at the North by Northeast (NxNE) Festival in Toronto. Ellis stayed on the road through July and August playing a twenty date acoustic tour through New York, Pennsylvania, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was while on the road that he began writing his next release, "Tell the People." Writing of the album was completed and a demo recorded while on creative seclusion in a remote, coastal village in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

American years[edit]

Returning to Los Angeles in 2006, Matt Ellis collaborated with fellow musician, Branden Harper to produce his third solo album, "Tell the People". Recorded at Veneto West Studios in Culver City, California and engineered by Ronan Chris Murphy, the 11 tracks on "Tell the People" attracted a stellar cast of musicians. The recording sessions included Nels Cline (Wilco) and Tim Young (David Sylvian, The Youngs) on guitar, Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Beck, Joni Mitchell) on lap steel, pedal steel and mandolin, Tim Luntzel, (Bright Eyes, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris) on bass, Dave Palmer (Fiona Apple, Air) on piano and Rhodes and Branden Harper on drums. His wife provides vocals on track 10 & 11.

In promotion of this, well received and critically acclaimed album "Tell the People", Matt Ellis performed across the USA, with regular shows at such esteemed, LA, music venues as Hotel Cafe and The Troubadour. He returned to his homeland twice since this album's release playing both Brisbane & Sydney, Australia.

Ellis has taken to the Little Radio stage at South by Southwest, playing multiple days in 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010.

Matt Ellis' fourth album, "Births, Deaths & Marriages" was released in March 2010. Vocals and acoustic guitar were recorded in a Venice Beach loft with drummer, Branden Harper, once again. The laid-back recording environment suited the songs and Ellis, perfectly, sometimes capturing and keeping a song played in full for the first time. Over several months, special guest musicians were brought in, adding layers to the songs note by note. Returning guest, Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris) added his haunting, signature pedal steel, lap steel and Banjo to four tracks while Tim Young (Beck, Daniel Johnston) channelled the desert through his Telecaster on five of them. Calexico's Nick Luca added further electric guitars, piano and Fender Rhodes while his Calexico band mate, Jacob Valenzuela rounded out two songs with trumpet. This album is inspired by Ellis' travels across the south and his love for the Mississippi Delta region. There is a surprise performance by gospel great (who sang the duet “Gimme Shelter", with Mick Jagger on the "Let it Bleed" album), Merry Clayton. Ellis mixed the album with Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Devotchka, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, Richard Buckner) at his WaveLab studios in Tucson, Arizona.

The lead single, "Heart of Mine", was featured on Andrew Zimmerns' "Appetite For Life" and received an Honorable Mention in the International Songwriting Competition in the Americana category. "Heart of Mine's" Music Video, directed by Ellis, took home 3rd place for Best Video in 2010. Tracks from "Births, Deaths & Marriages" have received wide AAA radio airplay across the USA, including LA's KCSN, operating out of Northridge, California. "Heart of Mine" is now set to feature in the James Franco produced film "The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards".

Matt Ellis has just released his brand new album, "The Greatest Escape", 12 new songs produced by Ellis and mixed by Craig Schumacher. This fifth album, recorded and mixed at Wavelab in Tucson, AZ, has a new, tougher sound that recalls the Australian Singer/Songwriters early rock roots and is available online everywhere.

December 2013, Ellis and his band headed to Tucson, AZ and recorded 13 tracks over 4 days. Produced by Matt, the live tracks were engineered by Chris Schultz and Craig Schumacher (Neko Case, Calexico, The Jayhawks). Ellis returned home to Los Angeles, CA to complete recording, teaming up with Nick Luca (Calexico, Iron & Wine). The pair spent the following months, setting up in multiple home studios adding Vocals, Fender Rhodes, Piano and additional Guitars, before Matt returned to Tucson to mix the album with Schumacher, the celebrated engineer behind his last two releases.

The result is a loose classic rock feel, steeped in Americana and Folk. Ellis’ trademark voice is in fine form and the songs have an extra level of detail, but the long list of guest musicians is gone. The band Matt put together to promote his last full length, “Births, Deaths & Marriages” (2010), is still with him, and he was inspired to build this album around them.

Throughout 2013, Matt was presenting unfinished songs to Josh Norton (Guitar), Fern Sanchez (Drums), Grant Fitzpatrick (Bass), Tim Walker (Pedal Steel) and his wife Vavine (Vocals). The group would jam on songs over multiple sessions, letting arrangements and feel develop naturally, the same approach the band took to the recording sessions.

A double A-Side single, “On The Horizon/Thank You Los Angeles” was released in late August 2014. The band promoted the new songs around L.A. with a launch at The Del Monte speakeasy, a slot on the Abbot Kinney Fest and The Desert Stars Festival at Pappy & Harriets. Matt Ellis launched his fifth album, "The Greatest Escape", on Wednesday October 22 at Harvard & Stone, in Hollywood, California. "The Greatest Escape" became the second most added album to Americana Radio the following month. Ellis promoted the release with performances at The L.A. Vegan Beer Festival at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, The Americana Festival in Nashville and The Living Room in New York City.

Matt Ellis' latest release is a duet with fellow singer/songwriter, Paul Chesne. "They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To" is out now digitally everywhere.

Ellis currently resides in Venice Beach, California, USA with his wife, Vavine Tahapehi – who has contributed vocals on his past two albums and performs with him on stage. He is currently recording his sixth album.


Matt Ellis has recently started working with other artists in the role of Producer.

Blue-Eyed Son's 2013 release "Shadows on the Son", was produced by Ellis and released on Eenie Meenie Records. Ellis co-wrote, arranged and performed on the EP.

Lacey Kay Cowden's EP was Produced and Arranged by Ellis and will be released early 2014.


Artist Title Release Year
Sedgwick Pie Seed EP 1996
Sedgwick Pie Eight Golden Nuts EP 1997
Matt Ellis Peel Album 2000
Matt Ellis In This Life/Where It Starts Single 2003
Matt Ellis Matt Ellis Album 2004
Matt Ellis Tell The People Album 2006
Matt Ellis Births, Deaths & Marriages Album 2010
Matt Ellis Candy/Dangers of the Night Single 2012
Matt Ellis The Greatest Escape Album 2014
Matt Ellis Another L.A. Christmas Single 2015
Matt Ellis & Paul Chesne They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To Single 2016