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SCOPE presents world-renowned singer/songwriter Mat Kearney

BY EMILY BURDS | APRIL 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Audio: Mat Kearney Interview

Hit the lights, turn on the mics, and let the music flow, because Mat Kearney will take the SCOPE stage.

The world-renowned singer/songwriter will perform alongside opening act Emily Hearn to celebrate Senior Week for RiverFest at 8 p.m. in the IMU second-floor ballroom.

SCOPE has had an eventful year of music on campus.

In an effort to add variety to the lineup, SCOPE general manager Phil Monfils said the organization went to the students to find out what they wanted.

"We gather a lot of ideas from students, and Mat Kearney came up a lot," he said. "So when we found that he was available during RiverFest, we jumped on the chance."

SCOPE public-relations coordinator Mackenzie Sheehy said the student organization wanted to use the second-floor ballroom for the venue.

"It can hold a lot of people but has a really awesome intimate feel," Sheehy said. "Mat Kearney was a perfect fit, because his sound combines mainstream pop with an alternative singer/songwriter edge, and we thought this would be ideal to bring to the community."

Also a perfect fit is Kearney's opening act and Georgia native Hearn.

While driving with her husband on their way to Iowa, she talked with the DI about her music, her life over this past year, and singing the "Donky Kong" song to get pumped before shows.

"I want my music to be relatable. I love to have fun onstage, whether I'm by myself or with my band, and to tell a story," she said. "I have a background in country and folk music, but I love pop, too, so I wanted to merge the two and create a really catchy, yet meaningful sound."

This will be the first time Hearn has been to Iowa, but her friends from here gave the state a glowing recommendation.

"They said that it's just all cornfields, but I don't believe them," she joked.

Nevertheless, she said, she is very excited to come here, meet new people, and open for Kearney again.

"It kind of takes the pressure off, opening up for someone else's fans," she said. "You kind of know they aren't really there to see you, so you just want to have fun and make a good impression."

Kearney's fans on campus are very excited to see him.

UI freshman Maggie Wyatt has "loved" Kearney and his music since seeing him perform live.

"I went to the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis one year, and he was playing," she said. "He was such a great performer and really engaged the audience. I felt like I was listening to his record."

Wyatt said she often turns on Kearney's tunes when she needs to relax, saying the relatable and laid-back attitude of his music is quite soothing.

But SCOPE's Sheehy doesn't expect to see fans asleep in their seats tonight. 


"Mat Kearney has a really devoted fan base, and his songs are so catchy and sing-along-able (technical term)," she said. "I'm confident that we'll have a really gracious, welcoming crowd, and the venue space is really beautiful as well. It'll be dope."

As for what's in store for SCOPE this fall, Sheehy's and Monfils' lips are sealed. However, both said many things are in the works, including collaborating with Hawks Nest for Hawkapolooza Five.

"I can't reveal very much information, but Iowa City will be in for some BIG stuff, so everyone should get pumped," Sheehy said, "It's going to be a powerhouse fall semester, and we're collaborating with some other student organizations to bring an amazing lineup of acts. Get ready to U-bill mad tickets, y'all."


MUSIC
Mat Kearney, with Emily Hearn
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: IMU second-floor ballroom
Admission: Tickets available through the Hub


Q&A with Mat Kearney:

Mat Kearney loves to cook. The world-renowned singer/songwriter spends what little time he has at home cooking for his wife to feel "normal."

The pop/rock legend (and secret chef) will take the SCOPE stage tonight in the IMU second-floor ballroom at 8 p.m. The DI gave Kearney a call Wednesday and chatted about tonight's show, his college experience, and rapping with PGA golfers.

DI: Have you been to Iowa City before? What was your experience?

Kearney: I have. I played there a few years ago in like a little theater somewhere. I don't remember where, exactly. I love it. Iowa City is cool, man. It's this little literary town in the middle of Iowa. It's really cool.

DI: What was college like for you? How did that shape who you are and your music?

Kearney: I actually didn't start doing music until I was a sophomore in college. I was an English major, and I would steal my roommate's guitar, and we had these little racquetball courts on campus, and I would go sit in them and play for hours. College is where I really found my voice that led me on this crazy journey I've been on.

DI: How has this latest tour been going for you? How has it been received?

Kearney: I actually haven't been touring that much. I've been in the process of making a new record. I'm just kind of winding down Young Love [last tour]. Young Love was amazing. It was probably some of the biggest crowds. It just seemed like my last record really connected with people. It was kind of a treat because you don't always know if what you're doing is growing or getting smaller. And on this record it really grew and connected in a way that caught me off-guard.

DI: What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you on this tour?

Kearney: Juvenile opened up for me last week. I thought that was pretty interesting. That's what I love about some of these festivals and college towns because there are different bands coming together from different places. It makes it pretty special. It's also pretty fun because you get to meet bands and people that you don't normally come across. This week's show is more of a traditional show.

DI: You are working on a new album as we speak. When can we expect to hear that, and what can fans expect to see from you in the future?

Kearney: Maybe even as soon as this fall. I'm literally in the middle of it. I'm in my home studio and just writing a ton; it's been really inspiring since I kind of invested in my own studio and decided to make a record more on my own. It's been really surprising the stuff I've come up with just by myself, not working with producers or other people. Just kind of taking the reins on the project and seeing what I can come up with.

DI: What should fans know about you that they may not already know?

Kearney: I'm a good cook. That's like my favorite thing in the world to feel normal. I tour so much that I get really obsessed with cooking and could spend all day preparing a meal for my wife, which I end up making too much food, and it doesn't all get eaten. It's my form of sanity. Most people don't look forward to cooking, but for me it's like my little piece of actually I'm normal and living at home.

DI: Your performance here is part of RiverFest's Senior Week in Iowa City. In less than a month, we'll be sending off our most recent graduates into the real world. You went to college in California for some time; what advice would you offer to our seniors as they start the rest of their lives?

Kearney: Take money from mom and dad as long as you can? [Laughs.] No, no. I just know that I followed my heart and something that I love doing and worked so hard at it. And I'm fortunate enough to be making music, which seems ridiculous. Being a musician, or a lawyer, or accountant, teacher, whatever it is, it's finding those little pockets that you really love and those little places that you would do if no one would pay you and then finding a way to get paid. That's what I did, and I don't know if that works for everybody, but it's worked for me.


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