Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Michael Schatte
Michael Schatte (pronounced SHAW-tee) has emerged as one of the most compelling guitarists and singer/songwriters on the North American roots music scene. His sound spans a number of styles: rock, blues, celtic, bluegrass, rockabilly – Eclectic Electric Roots Music is Schatte’s preferred descriptor – and his list of accomplishments within these genres grows at a healthy pace indeed.
Recently a finalist at the Memphis International Blues Challenge where he performed at Tennessee’s historic Orpheum Theatre, Schatte has appeared on some of the continent’s best festival and theatre stages, winning new fans and a reputation for world-class musicianship by way of hundreds of concerts in Canada and the United States.
His unique blend of genres was delivered with stunning impact on his 2015 studio album Turn Back the Vikings. Recorded in Toronto and mixed in Austin, Texas by Simon Tassano (the live and studio engineer of choice for folk-rock legend Richard Thompson, whose Sam Jones is the sole cover song on Vikings), that album is now followed by Michael’s finest work to date: Conundrum. Releasing November 6th, 2020, Conundrum showcases why Britain’s Blues Matters! magazine called him “…one of the best undiscovered songwriters of our times,” while The London Free Press regards him as a “Canadian guitar great.”
Produced and engineered by Schatte with a keen ear for organic yet punchy production, Conundrum puts Michael’s world-class musicianship and unforgettable lyrics on full display. This album exposes lust ready to boil over (Water In the Kettle) and an historic tale of Scottish assassination-by-explosive (Dry Black Power). It tells of humorous sibling rivalry (Please Don’t Dance With My Brother) and tense sexual rivalry (Genevieve, Daria, The Upper Hand). It is peppered with existential whimsy (Conundrum, In the Cold Hard Here and Now) and searing blues boogie (Longtime Lover, Come On Down). It features blistering Celtic instrumental riffery (Good King Richard) and poetry inspired by the ancients (Bread, Water, Love). And finally, the new record shines a revealing light on our darker human impulses (Silly Old Man, The Candy Aisle, A Mind A Mess).
Intelligent lyrics, hook-filled arrangements, and Schatte’s rich singing voice surely have a way of capturing attention, but it’s his work on a certain six-string plank of wood that ties it all together musically. A highly respected and downright fiery guitarist and multi-instrumentalist (like his other records, Conundrum sees him exorcising demons on mandolin, tenor banjo, hammered dulcimer, violin, and a host of other tools), Schatte has developed the habit of leaving audience jaws agape. He’s been compared to world-class players decades his senior, and counts Peter Green, Danny Gatton, Albert Lee, Mark Knopfler and of course the aforementioned Richard Thompson as major influences on both his electric and acoustic fingerstyle playing. Reviewing a recent concert in London, The Beat Magazine described Michael as “one of Canada’s best-kept secrets and certainly one of its most skilled rock performers,” citing his “masterful manipulation of the guitar” and a vocal style “as polished as his picking.”
There’s a reason Michael has been called “Canada’s hidden treasure.” Get the latest album and see him perform live to discover it for yourself.
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