All posts in February 2013

Performance on Breakfast TV Toronto


“My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook” is out today on iTunes and in store. Matt will be a part of Heart in the City a fabulous evening at Yonge-Dundas Square on Valentine?s Day from 5:30-7:30pm featuring his special live performance.

Performance on Canada AM Toronto


Catch the performance of MY FUNNY VALENTINE here

What I wear: Matt Dusk talks Chet Baker, Sinatra and why he prefers his hair dirty


On his new album, My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook, Canadian crooner Matt Dusk interprets Baker’s iconic repertoire, but not his laconic delivery. “Ultimately if you try to copy somebody, it’s always going to be a second-generation copy. The way I approached the songs was to make it about me doing them, my way.” Dusk also had a little help from his friends: Grammy-winner Arturo Sandoval, Juno winners Emily-Claire Barlow and Guido Basso and an 80-piece orchestra. With this record, the mid-century retro aficionado decided to press vinyl for the first time. “I think the album is conducive to that type of listening.”

Opposites attract  I idolize the way Chet Baker performs. He’s a guy who can basically get in there and sing so minimalist, not give any care to the way he sings, vs. where I come from, it’s all about study and give the big vibrato and the big point of view. Even stylistically he’s the opposite stage persona — casual T-shirts, where I do the full dressed-up look.

Suiting up to get into character  One of my favourite singers of all time is Frank Sinatra. It’s very evident in my voice, because I was also trained that way, to sing like him. The Rat Pack thing, it kind of is a costume, because we live in a generation now that has basically discarded anything that’s fancy. Jeans and a T-shirt and a sports jacket are now OK for formal wear. Unless it says “black tie” specifically, you can get away with that. But I love the idea of dressing up. It’s almost a caricature.

Making tracks  Recording Back In Town at Capitol Records, I dressed in a suit every day. It was too much of a dream to pass up the role because Studio A — everybody went in there — Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald. And wearing a suit was so conducive to it. But with My Funny Valentine, I’m producing the record, too, I’m on a mission. Roll out of bed totally creative and then on the computer until the very last minute, then run to the studio. I was posting it on U-stream; people could watch the record being thrown down, and people were writing that they’d never see me in a T-shirt! I have no in-between — I am either dressed to the nines, or dressed to the ones.

Style inspiration  It all goes back to Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock movies, even Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. Men’s fashion really hasn’t changed all that much. What has changed is the cut of the pants. Sometimes the shoulders.

Suiting up  When I first got into the business I would buy vintage and second-hand suits. I’d go to men’s stores and find out what kinds of suits worked on me, and what brands, and then would find them online for $250 and get them tailored to fit. Now I wear Pal Zileri. I can wear the same suit six years, 12 years from now. I don’t like wearing baggy clothes. I like fitted things, even casually. That comes from the fact that my stage clothes are very tailored: I could gain 10 pounds and wouldn’t fit into them any more. When you’re wearing a suit, it should fit you like a glove.

Shoe-shine boy  The secret is patent leather shoes  because they look very well kept and they’re always shiny. Onstage,
it’s a depth perception of colour. If they were matte, over time they would just look tired. I get them at Aldo or Sacha, which I buy in the Netherlands because I go there quite a bit. You don’t have to pay a lot for shoes — just make sure you take care of them. And shoe trees!

Accessorizing  I have a lot of watches, probably 20. For men, it’s watches and shoes! Watches that people have given to me or that I’ve purchased abroad. The last was a gift to me, a Jaeger-LeCoultre, several years ago. It’s timeless (mind the pun). And I love cufflinks. I have a lot from where I bought most of the 1940s furniture for my house, a vintage store called Of Things Past. But it depends on the suit: a lot of modern suit arms are cut so tight that you can’t even have a French cuff, and you have to choose between wearing the cuff or the watch.

Five o’clock shadow around the clock  I never shave. I have a Wahl clipper from Walmart from, like, 1988, and keep it on the lowest setting because it’s meant for hair and use it once every seven or eight days. The reason why is that when I was younger — and even now — I have no depth to my face [stretches his cheeks back with his hands]. Especially when I was younger, I’d look like Odo from Deep Space Nine. I’d always get carded, so I stopped shaving. I’ve always had bad dry skin around my moustache, so I use that blue Nivea Creme. It works better than what I went to my dermatologist for.

Grooming (including the famous coif)  I am fickle and explore different products. Recently I was at an event for Chivas Regal as an emcee and as I was leaving, they handed me a bag of goodies like American Crew moulding wax. If someone looks at my hair and says it looks great, I think, “Thank god it’s dirty!” Day 2, Day 3 hair is the best. I’ve done so many weddings and have always told the bride and groom before, just listen to me, word of advice, I’ve done this 80 times, don’t wash your hair on Thursday, OK? Let it be.

Cologne  I like to smell good and I’ve got three on the go — Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, Moschino Uomo, which is this weird one that’s discontinued and I have to buy off eBay, and there’s that new Paco Rabanne in the gold bar [1 Million]. Every time I wear that one, women ask what I’m wearing.

My stage clothes are very tailored: I could gain 10 pounds and wouldn’t fit into them any more. When you’re wearing a suit, it should fit you like a glove

Less is more  I love to sail and whenever I’m on the boat everyone makes fun of me because I always wear Speedos. I go pretty short, like Daniel Craig’s James Bond — by TYR, they’re like sports briefs.

Teenage dream  You wouldn’t recognize me in the yearbook photos. Parachute pants with the elastic band waist. The tragic ’90s. I was a child of Zellers.

Retro is a lifestyle  I sail, I drink scotch, I bowl. I’m so old-school I even have a custom bowling ball.

But Retro Tropicana is for walls, not closets No Cuban shirts, no Hawaiian shirts. They’re so loose-fitting and ugly. I’d rather be without a shirt than wear one.

HAROLD stops to chat with Jazz Crooner, Matt Dusk.

From: Harold Luxury For Men

Dear Matt,

HAROLD wants to know…

H: One luxury item you couldn’t live without?

MD: Whisky.  Spirits are a never ending exploration of taste.  You’re always learning and discovering new things about your palate and your ability to draw on familiar references.  I have been collecting whisky for the last 12 years, and have some pretty rare bottles.

H: Your signature fragrance?

MD: I’ve been wearing Versace Le Male for years… although some people would say its sooo 2002, I dont get as many compliments from any other fragrance.  I go with what works! Runner up is Paco Rabanne: One Million.

H: When you need to escape & clear your head, where do you go? 

MD: I literally sail away.  I’ve been sailing since I was a kid, and love it.  There is nothing more humbling than being on the water.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you screw around with nature, you’ll get bit it the ass.  I’m not one of those hard core guys that goes out for two weeks, but one who goes out for a few hours then returns to land, serving martinis once docked at dusk.

H: Strangest thing an interviewer ever said to you?

MD: ”You’ll always be my second best interview.”  Um… first, OK! Second, why would you say that?

H: What’s hanging on your walls?

MD: I’ve got a collection of paintings from local artists. I don’t have the means to afford a Picasso, but I do have the ability to frame it nicely and present it beautifully. If you can’t afford great art, afford great framing.  Everyone will think its worth a million bucks, and it is… to me!

H: Favorite drink?

MD:  Whisky straight up.  Single malt, blend, it doesn’t matter… as long as it doesn’t taste like paint thinner (not that I know what that tastes like).

H: Who’s your favorite designer?

MD: Pal Zileri.  I was first introduced to their clothes in my 20′s.  Now it’s all I wear.  Pal Zileri, being an European designer, is always ahead of the curve by years.  Also their quality is much higher than other brands in their price range.  Buy the suit, not the ad.

H: What’s the coolest place you’ve jet-setted to?

MD: We were recently in Costa Rica on a gig.  We flew private.  Thought that was cool until there was major turbulence… and I was reliving the scene from ALMOST FAMOUS.

H: Do you have a man-bag? What might we find inside?

MD: Man bag, yes! Wallet, camera, cell-phone with a wind-app that tells me if I can go sailing or not.

H: Who is your style icon?

MD: Hands down Cary Grant.

H: Best pair of jeans?

MD: Guess? Guess!  Jeans are utilitarian, their price should reflect that.

H: What’s sitting in your drive-way?

MD: The problem is I can’t get rid of a car once I’ve owned it, So I think the total value of all my cars is less than a new rim on Toyota Matrix.  I own a 2000 VW Golf super modified to 400 hp (I used to race at Mosport), my Bentley-light VW Phaeton, which I love… a GMC Envoy that carries my tools to and from my boat, and a Bricklin.  Do you know what that is?  It was the first designed and produced Canadian automobile, built in 1974.  Its got gull-wing doors that reach for the sky… almost.

H: Ultimate splurge item?

MD: Men’s watches.  When I travel to europe there’s nothing more exciting than looking at one million dollar Vacheron Constantin watches.  But my 1984 Timex is sooo coming back in fashion now.

H: Favorite place to go in your city?

MD: My backyard.  I mean, I travel all the time.  When I’m home, the last place I want to go is out.  Gimme a couch, a martini, and a swimming pool, and let the world melt away.

H: Favorite place to shop in the world?

MD: Florence, IT.  Where else can you get a lifetime supply of belts for $100?


Dont forget to check out Mr.Dusks latest album! My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook

Matt Dusk on the Strombo Show

In the red chair: Matt Dusk. The Canadian crooner is bringing back the songs of Chet Baker with his latest record. He talks to George about the great singers – and yep, drinking.

Plenty of people get famous for starring in reality shows. But Matt Dusk got famous for being in the background of one. Going back a bit, Matt was the in-house entertainer on Mark Burnett’s reality-drama ‘The Casino’. After years spent trying to make it in the bars and clubs of Toronto, The Casino gave Matt’s career a big-league boost. He scored a hit with his debut album ‘Two Shots’: a record that harkened back to the era of the Rat Pack and the giants from that era that inspired him. We’re talking about Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and the West-Coast jazz legend Chet Baker. Matt pays tribute to Chet on his new record ‘My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook’.

Full Show:

Matt Dusk: the classy crooner on learning to sing at St. Mike’s and his latest record release, “My Funny Valentine”

By Judith Muster

Matt Dusk may have been born in the wrong era. From his showbiz name to his tailored suits to his love of a good proverb, pretty much everything about him screams “rat pack” cool.

And yes, Dusk has the substance to match his style. The Toronto native spent the past decade establishing himself as a bona fide jazz crooner and is about to release his seventh album, just in time for Valentine’s Day. My Funny Valentine features renditions of some of Chet Baker’s most-beloved jazz standards, which Dusk has long admired.

Growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, more likely to hear Duran Duran and Nirvana than Chet Baker and Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dusk’s journey to jazz was somewhat circuitous. His place at the mic, however, was set from the start. As a child he loved music and performance and attended St. Michael’s Choir School.

“You are practising for an hour a day, and on Sunday you sing at the Catholic church across the street with the choir,” Dusk says of his days there. “So, I’ve really known nothing else beyond practising and performing.”

“It’s interesting, especially when you’re growing up, how habits just become … well, old habits die hard, and here I am.”

At home, Dusk’s mother was a fan of classical music, and her favourite radio station happened to play instrumental jazz. “Jazz was a good backdrop to doing my homework,” says Dusk. “Because there were no vocals, I wouldn’t concentrate on what was being sung.”

His love of jazz was sealed later in his teens when on a choir tour with school.

“My buddy gave me a tape of these crooners, and it was the first time I’d ever heard it,” remembers Dusk. “I thought it was kind of cheesy, so I started singing along, pretending I was a crooner, and my buddy was saying, ‘You know, you should try to take it seriously.’ ”

“Looking back, the opportunity I was given was very rare.”

Dusk took his friend just seriously enough to enrol in a high school talent competition where he and his karaoke tapes were extremely well-received by a welcoming audience. “It was at this all-girls high school, and they just went crazy, and I was like, ‘Perfect! This is my life.’ ”

Meanwhile, Dusk was actually headed for an entirely different kind of life. His father was self-employed and managed the family packaging company, and Dusk was being groomed as his predecessor.

“I went to work with my dad, since I was, like, six or seven, every day in the summer,” says Dusk. “And then, when I was in my teens, I was running the production side of it, and basically my destiny was for me to become the owner of this company.”

In keeping with his role as future packaging magnate, Dusk headed to York University for economics after graduating from St. Michael’s. Suffice to say, it was not for him. He found it difficult to connect his theoretical courses to the practical work of running the business and was so discouraged that he almost dropped out completely.

“I was actually going to leave and go work in the family business, but my mom said, ‘Don’t do it! You’ll never get this chance back again, and there’s lots  of time to grow up.’ ” Dusk heeded her advice and joined York’s music program instead. “God, I’m so glad,” he says. “I would have been a very wealthy person — and I would have probably been a very miserable person.”

Finally Dusk was where he was meant to be: studying jazz and pop music and meeting like-minded musicians with whom he could experiment and perform. He also began independently releasing records. He never abandoned his business skills, though, and near the end of his degree, he began to market himself in earnest.

“I started working in the nightclub scene when I was 21, in my third year of university, and by that time, I was doing about 18 to 22 gigs a month,” recalls Dusk. “You know you’re a salesman, and you’ve gotta send press kits, follow up, and eventually.…”

Dusk got signed to Universal Records while he was still in university. His independent record sales were just strong enough for Universal to take notice of him, though ultimately his record deal was a testament not only to his business tactics, but also to his jazz skills.

At the time, though, Dusk says, he wasn’t fully aware of how lucky he was.

“I literally went to my graduation, then got on a plane and went to England,” he explains. “But when you’re constantly getting better, you’re constantly getting more work, so it seemed like the natural progression. Looking back, the opportunity that I was given was very rare, but youth is very arrogant. They say youth is wasted on the young.”

Of course, Dusk is still only 34, but he’s accomplished a fair bit since signing the deal. He has recorded six studio albums, including his forthcoming release; one live album; and spent four years in Vegas as an in-house performer at a casino — a stint that was filmed for the reality television show The Casino.

And through it all, Dusk has been pushing the limits of his own repertoire. Though he’s clearly grounded in classic jazz vocals, he has mixed in some pop for good measure. In particular, for his gold album, Good News, one track was even remixed as a hit dance single.

“Part of my problem is my eccentricity,” explains Dusk. “But at the end of the day, I love performing for people, and I’m a pretty good judge of what the audience is looking for. If I think they’re leaning toward something more, I can change into that sort of repertoire.”

This flexibility has also meant that he feels comfortable doing a complete 180 and heading straight back to his musical roots, as on My Funny Valentine.

Dusk explains he first heard Chet Baker back on that same radio station favoured by his mother. He remembers on one of his regular trips to Sam the Record Man finding a Baker cassette in the discount bin.

Since that fateful day he discovered the old crooners, Dusk has had a special place in his heart for Baker, whose singing style is fundamentally different from his own.

“He has a very tender way of singing, and the way that I was taught to sing was very lyrical and aggressive,” Dusk says. “When I started listening to him, he basically gave me a whole other side to learn. You know everybody learns from inspiration, and my journey has been 16 years of rediscovering his music and also learning from it.”

Wherever his journey takes him next, Dusk will surely be following his inspirations and inspiring his audience as he goes.