Fort Worth-based producer and songwriter Morgan Matthews has been passionate about music for as long as he can remember. Indeed, some of his earliest recollections are of hymns and the like that he heard in church. While still young, Matthews scored a four-track recorder and thereby the fuse to his audio arsenal was lit. He composed, pitched lyrics and otherwise labored for years in bands as he grappled with the obstacles to success.
His break came circa 2018 when he produced his song “Show Me Love.” Ultimately it found its way to Alicia Keys, who re-recorded it with Miguel. The song is now slated as the lead single on Keys’ Alicia, which drops sometime in 2020. Matthews has since worked with Ashley All Day, Samoan recording artist Savage and in conjunction with MTV and PBS.
Obviously there are far more opportunities for rising audio professionals in creative centers such as Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta than in smaller markets. But of course it has become more practical to build an audio career outside of the more popular ports than in the past. “I wouldn’t do it in Fort Worth,” Matthews says. “You have to use the internet if you’re going to do it here.”
Writers of all descriptions have days when they simply don’t feel up to the task; days when creativity seems to be forever a step ahead of them. As a songwriter, Matthews also experiences such hindrances from time to time. “Even if it’s not good that day, I still try to finish,” he explains. “It’s going to be a bad [session], but you still did it. If you just lie in bed all day, you’ll get in the habit of not [working] when you don’t feel like it. It’s just like a job at Walmart: you have to get in the habit of going in.”
To date, the most crucial connection he’s made was when he was put in touch with Alicia Keys. “I was making music at one point and people were contacting me from all over the country,” Matthews recalls. “[An artist] went into this big studio in Miami [with some of my songs]. Soon after that I got a call from someone at that studio. They wanted me to send more material for Tory Lanez––so I did about 10 songs for him. Two years later they called again and told me that he took ‘Show Me Love’ to Alicia and she liked it. I didn’t even know that he was in those circles. Because of that, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to and collaborate with a lot of people that I never thought I’d be able to.”
Matthews has always strived to do whatever he deems best for artists, but in his experience not everyone shares his approach. “There are [producers] out there who will say, ‘Let’s change this’ just so they can get that money. That’s wrong. I just want to make the song sound good.”
Matthews is always in search of new talent and fresh material is pitched to him regularly. “I’ve always felt that young artists’ sounds are where it’s at,” he observes. “It’s super-hard to [develop rising musicians], but I’ve wanted to for so long. Artists reach out to me and I always ask what their goals are. A lot of them don’t know about marketing or advertising their song, especially young ones.”
For eight years Matthews spent nearly every day in his parents’ backyard storage shed as he shaped and sharpened his craft. Recently he landed a publishing deal with Universal Music Group and the Gunna record Drip or Drown 2, which he worked on, was certified gold last year.