Matthew Ryan Jacobs 2023

Kitchener-Waterloo-based artist Matthew Ryan Jacobs has just released his latest single, “Street Lights” – this new track is a slight departure from his usual sound, delving into more of a pop-rock style. With the new song out and an EP on the way, we caught up with Matthew to chat about the new music, the highlight of his career thus far, and his non-musical hobbies.

From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “Street Lights”. 

Matthew Ryan Jacobs: The lyrics to Street Lights are a little depressing if you really pay attention to them or read them outside of the music and melody. The song kind of moves through stages of life – the first verse being young and hopeful, the second verse being the reality of adulthood, and the bridge is kind of a ”shut your mouth and don’t ask questions “ scenario. With the chorus reminding you that in the end we’re all going to die. This is only one perspective though, and a negative one. There is another song on the EP called “Morning Light” that deals with the same subjects from a more positive angle. So, the two are kind of day/night, light/dark together.

FTS: What do you do when you have an overabundance of songs written – how do you choose which ones make the cut to be released?

Matthew Ryan Jacobs:  The tough part is knowing which songs to put time into at the demo phase. I usually have at least a dozen to choose from at any given time, I’m always making voice notes of melodies, guitar parts, and lyrics. From there I just pick whatever one seems to be the most interesting to me that day. After that I send the demo or demos to my longtime producer Ben, and he gives me his opinion. So, from there it’s pretty easy to pick; I always have my personal favorites, but I try to pick songs that might have a wider audience than some others.  

FTS: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Matthew Ryan Jacobs: That’s a hard question, I think just the fact that I’m still doing it and that I’m more excited about it than ever. I think my writing and playing/singing is still improving and that makes the whole process more exciting and fun. There’s been some memorable shows, but I don’t think there’s one major highlight. I’m just trying to enjoy the process of making music, and if some cool things come from that, it’s all a bonus.

FTS: How do you usually find new music? What artists are you listening to most these days?

Matthew Ryan Jacobs:  I tend to find most of the new music I listen to through Spotify; if the algorithm picks something new for me I try to give it a chance.

Lately I’ve been stuck on old favourites though, Dave Hause has a great new album and City and Colour. Other than that I’ve been obsessively listening to The Arcs, love them.

FTS: What are some of your non-musical hobbies?

Matthew Ryan Jacobs: I don’t have a ton of non-musical hobbies, does collecting old guitar pedals count? I do have a 1971 Dodge Challenger that I like to tinker with in the summer, and a boxer named Leonard that keeps us busy as well.

FTS: What’s coming up next for you?

Matthew Ryan Jacobs: After this single, I’ll get to work on planning the rest of the EP release and hopefully some more live shows. Then as always, back to work on the next batch of demos! I also have a handful of acoustic tracks that I recorded in Vancouver live off the floor last fall. I’ll most likely release all those together later this year.


Check out “Street Lights”, the new single by Matthew Ryan Jacobs!

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