The Tallest Man on Earth

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For a list of the tallest people on earth, see List of tallest people.
The Tallest Man on Earth
The Tallest Man on Earth - 20100522.jpg
Matsson in 2010
Background information
Birth name Saras Per Kristian Matsson
Born (1983-04-30) 30 April 1983 (age 33)
Leksand, Dalarna, Sweden
Genres
Instruments
Years active 2005–present
Labels
Associated acts Montezumas, Bon Iver, Strand of Oaks, Idiot Wind
Website www.thetallestmanonearth.com

Kristian Matsson (born 30 April 1983) is a Swedish singer-songwriter from Dalarna, Sweden who performs under the stage name of The Tallest Man on Earth. Matsson grew up in Leksand, and began his solo career in 2006, having previously been the lead singer of the indie band Montezumas. His music has often drawn comparisons to the music of Bob Dylan.[1][2][3]

Since 2006, he has released four full-length albums and two EPs. Matsson is known for recording and producing his own records in whichever home he is currently living and states that the connection between his voice and guitar is so strong, he rarely records them as separately tracked performances.[4] He is also known both by critics and his fans for his charismatic stage presence.[5][6]

He was previously married to Amanda Bergman, also known by the stage name Idiot Wind.[7] Together they have written the music for the Swedish drama film Once a Year (Swedish: En gång om året).

Biography[edit]

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Matsson was born on 30 April 1983 and grew up in Leksand, Dalarna, Sweden. Before he began his solo career, he was the lead singer of the indie band Montezumas.

Matsson's first solo release, The Tallest Man on Earth, was released in 2006. The EP received positive reviews.[8][9]

At the start of his solo career, Matsson avoided journalists and chose to dissociate his music with himself. As such, Matsson chose not to associate any personal information or photographs of himself with his music as he wanted to "let the music speak for itself".[10] He later retrospectively characterized this approach as naïve, but also said that he did not believe that his career would be so successful, and he "would just go out and play a little bit."[10]

Shallow Grave (2008–2009)[edit]

In 2008, Matsson garnered attention outside of Sweden with his breakthrough album, Shallow Grave, when it was hailed by the music site Pitchfork.[11] The album was listed as #47 on Pitchfork's list of the 50 Best Albums of 2008.[12] The album received generally very favorable reviews.[1][13] Following Shallow Grave's release, Matsson was chosen as the opening act for the American indie folk band Bon Iver[14] and subsequently went on a solo tour throughout the United States, Australia and Europe. The tour with Bon Iver brought a new wave of popularity to Matsson's music and live performances. Even though he did not have a record deal or distribution in the United States, Matsson still managed to attract large crowds to his solo concerts.[10]

The song Pistol Dreams, also released as a single, appeared in the Swedish television serial How Soon Is Now? (Swedish: Upp till kamp).[15]

On 9 October 2009, Matsson visited the Daytrotter studio, where he recorded a total of four songs, including a cover of Bob Dylan's I Want You.[16] Matsson said in an interview that he thinks that Dylan's album Blonde on Blonde, with the song I Want You listed, is the best album of all time. In the same interview, Matsson said that those who think that he imitates Dylan have never heard Roscoe Holcomb, as "we imitate both this man".[17] During a concert at the Södra Teatern (English: Southern Theatre) in Stockholm in December 2010, Matsson remarked how much he stole from Emmylou Harris, Feist and Cat Power, but added that no one notices because everyone compares him with Dylan.[18]

The Wild Hunt (2010–2012)[edit]

Matsson performing as The Tallest Man on Earth on 17 November 2010

In April 2010, Matsson released his second album, The Wild Hunt. Before the album had Matsson negotiated with several major record labels but turned down these when he did not like their intentions to recast his music in a more commercial form.[10] In the end, the choice fell on the American label Dead Oceans, a company under Matsson himself giving him artistic freedom, "they're music geeks like myself."[10]

The album was well received.[19][20][21][22][23] The single King of Spain, besides the title track also contains a cover of Paul Simon's Graceland and the previously unreleased track Where I Thought I Met the Angels, sold exclusively at the subsequent European tour.[24] During the late summer and autumn of 2010 Matsson went on tour in North America and Europe.[25]

The album was followed by an EP, Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird, which also got good reviews.[26][27][28] The EP was released exclusively on the iTunes Store on 7 September, but was later published on CD, LP and MP3, however, not until 8 November (November 9 in the US). The album consists of five songs, all written for The Wild Hunt. Of these reflected not least the songs Like the Wheel, which was the conclusion of many gigs in the first half, and The Dreamer, on which Matsson plays electric guitar, something that has not occurred in previous recordings.[29]

The Wild Hunt garnered Matsson several award nominations. In 2011, he was nominated in the category "Best Male Artist" in the Grammis Awards,[30] the Swedish equivalent of the American Grammy Awards, but lost to Håkan Hellström.[31] Matsson was also nominated in the category "pop" in the 2011 P3 Gold Awards,[32] but lost to Malmö indie pop band This Is Head.[33] In February 2011, Matsson won the award in the "singer/songwriter" category at Manifest Awards. He was also nominated in the "live" category, lost to Robyn.[34]

On 5 April 2011, Matsson participated in the BBC's program, Later... with Jools Holland, where he performed the songs King of Spain and Love Is All.[35] In June of the same year, Matsson's debut EP, The Tallest Man on Earth, was reissued with the previously unreleased track In the Pockets exclusive to the vinyl edition of the reissue.[36] On 12 July 2011, he released the single Weather of a Killing Kind as part of the 2011 Adult Swim Singles program.[37]

In August 2011, it was reported that Matsson had contributed to the soundtrack of the Swedish drama film En gång om året (English: Once a Year), along with the Idiot Wind.[38] The film premiered at the Gothenburg Film Festival on 29 January 2012 and had a theatrical release on 17 May 2013.[39]

On 27 January 2012, Matsson took part in the Swedish TV game show, På spåret where he, backed by a studio band, performed two cover songs: Thin Lizzy's Dancing in the Moonlight and Cornelis Vreeswijk's En Fattig Trubadur (English: A Poor Troubadour).[40] In February of that year re-released single, King of Spain as 12" vinyl for the event Record Store Day. the album was limited to 2000 copies.[41]

There's No Leaving Now (2012–2013)[edit]

Mattsson performing as The Tallest Man on Earth at Bonnaroo 2013

On 12 June 2012 (June 11 in the UK), Matsson released his third studio album as The Tallest Man on Earth, There's No Leaving Now, on Dead Oceans. The album was recorded by Matsson himself in his home studio in Dalarna during the latter part of 2011 and early 2012.[2] The album was streamed on Dead Oceans' website a week before its official release.[42]

Along with the album, Matsson announced a summer tour throughout Europe and the United States including two gigs in Sweden (at the Södra Teatern (English: Southern Theatre) in Stockholm) and a performance at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.[43] Matsson also toured in Europe in October of 2012.[44]

On 28 January 2013, Matsson took part in a benefit concert for the American musician Jason Molina, who did not have health insurance and, consequently, was in debt after a hospital stay. The concert took place at the Södra Teatern (English: Southern Theatre) in Stockholm, where Matsson played alongside, among others, I'm Kingfisher and Idiot Wind.[45] Molina died on 16 March 2013.[46]

Dark Bird Is Home (2015–present)[edit]

Matsson's fourth studio album as The Tallest Man on Earth, Dark Bird Is Home, was released on 12 May 2015 on Dead Oceans. He also had several festival gigs booked in the Summer of 2015, including the Roskilde Festival.[47]

Musical style[edit]

Critics have compared The Tallest Man on Earth to Bob Dylan both in terms of songwriting ability and vocal style.[48][49][50] When asked about his lyrical style, Matsson explains that he began listening to Bob Dylan at fifteen, and upon hearing Dylan's cover material, he "tried to figure out where those songs came from" and became slowly exposed to early American folk, such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. But he is careful to qualify this, saying "I don't consider my work to be a part of any tradition. This is how I play. This is how I write songs"[51]

With regard to his guitar technique, Matsson uses a variety of open tunings, and standard tuning to a lesser degree. He had classical guitar training in his youth, but says he "never really focused on it" and that by the end of high school he "got bored playing guitar because it was like math",[52] until he then discovered open tunings while listening to Nick Drake in his early twenties. He was drawn to this style of playing because it allowed him to focus on singing while still performing intricate music.[53]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
List of albums, with selected chart positions, sales, and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions
SWE
[54]
BEL
(VL)

[55]
CAN
[56]
FR
[57]
NL
[58]
US
[59]
Shallow Grave
  • Released: 5 March 2008
  • Label: Gravitation, Mexican Summer
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
The Wild Hunt
  • Released: 13 April 2010
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
38 82 176
There's No Leaving Now[60]
  • Released : 11 June 2012
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
14 74 37 110 40 35
Dark Bird Is Home[61]
  • Released: 12 May 2015
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
11 68 40 67
EPs
Singles
Year Title Album
2008 "The Gardener" Shallow Grave
2008 "Pistol Dreams" Shallow Grave
2010 "The Wild Hunt" The Wild Hunt
2010 "The King of Spain" The Wild Hunt
2010 "The Dreamer" Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird
2011 "Weather of a Killing Kind" Adult Swim Singles Program
2012 "1904" There's No Leaving Now
2015 "Sagres" Dark Bird Is Home
2015 "Dark Bird Is Home" Dark Bird Is Home
2016 "Time Of The Blue" n/a
2016 "Rivers" n/a

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ross Hoffmann, K. "Review: Shallow Grave". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "The Tallest Man on Earth". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Hilton, Robin. "The Tallest Man on Earth in Concert". NPR Music. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Kristian Matsson (part 4)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  5. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Austin " Flipside Sounds". Flipsidesounds.com. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  6. ^ Steinborn, Derek (2011-02-03). "Artist Spotlight: The Tallest Man On Earth". The Midwest Man. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  7. ^ "Idiot Wind är fortfarande kluven". DT. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Tallest Man on Earth". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "Review: The Tallest Man on Earth". Kritiker.se. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Gustafsson, Anders K (10 April 2010). "Friheten och musiken viktigast". Dalarnas Tidningar (in Swedish). Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (6 May 2008). "Review: Shallow Grave". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  12. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2008". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Hellquist, Pierre (4 March 2008). "Recension: Shallow Grave". Sonic Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
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  15. ^ "Soundtrack: Upp till kamp". Klicktrack.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Moeller, Sean (9 October 2009). "The Tallest Man on Earth". Daytrotter.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  17. ^ Gunnarsson, Fredrik (22 September 2008). "5x5 The Tallest Man on Earth". Transition.se. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
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  19. ^ "Recensioner av The Wild Hunt". Kritiker.se. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Larson, Annika (20 April 2010). "New Music Tuesday: The Tallest Man on Earth and Two Door Cinema Club". The Oklahoma Daily. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
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  30. ^ Linde, Eva (16 January 2011). "Poplight tippar vinnarna på Grammisgalan 2011". Poplight. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  31. ^ Dahlander, Gustav (17 January 2011). "Robyn och Håkan Hellström dominerade Grammisgalan 2011". Poplight. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
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  33. ^ "Vinnarna i P3 Guld 2011". Sveriges radio. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  34. ^ Gustafsson, Anders K (5 February 2011). "Tallest Man on Earth fick Manifestpris". Dalarnas Tidningar (in Swedish). Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
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  37. ^ "Weather of a Killing Kind". Impossibletrees.com. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  38. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth and Idiot Wind to Score Film". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  39. ^ "En gång om året". Svensk Filmdatabas. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  40. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Plays Thin Lizzy Cover on Swedish Game Show". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  41. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Releases Exclusive 12″ for Record Store Day 2012". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  42. ^ "LISTEN: The Tallest Man On Earth's "There's No Leaving Now" Available for Streaming on NPR". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  43. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Announces New Album "There's No Leaving Now," & Select Summer Tour Dates". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  44. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Announces New Tour Dates". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  45. ^ "Cross the Road Molina". Södra Teatern. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  46. ^ Pitchfork: R.I.P. Jason Molina
  47. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (10 February 2015). "Dark Bird Is Home". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  48. ^ Pareles, Jon (10 December 2008). "Two Variations on an Acoustic Theme". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  49. ^ O'Neil, Luke (4 October 2010). "Tallest Man on Earth is a player with range". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
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  51. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Suhaib Shaikh (part 1)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  52. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Kristian Matsson (part 3)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  53. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Kristian Matsson (part 2)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  54. ^ "Swedish Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  55. ^ "Charts Vlaanderen - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  56. ^ "Albums : Top 100". Canoe.ca. Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  57. ^ "French Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  58. ^ "Dutch Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  59. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  60. ^ "Pre-order The Tallest Man On Earth's "There's No Leaving Now," New Single Available for Free Download News". Dead Oceans. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  61. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Returns With New Album Dark Bird Is Home". 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 

External links[edit]