Matt Sassano finally released his electrifying new EP In Defiance last month via Rockfest Records, bringing forward a unique, message-driven message that uses deep honest lyrics and vocals to pull listeners in.
As a chart-topping Christian rock radio vocalist, Matt Sassano has curved his way into the industry using his powerhouse vocals and heavy rock melodies to create music that seeks to speak deeply into the hearts of listeners who find themselves lost and battling with so many things in life.
Matt Sassano has combined his powerhouse vocals, heavy rock melodies and EDM undertones with his faith and unique life story to deliver a love letter to misfits everywhere across five tracks.
Sassano holds nothing back as he tackles topics including life with a disability, addiction, mental health, and struggles with loved ones with the hope of resonating with fellow rock fans who seek strength and solace in his lyrics.
“My EP ‘In Defiance’ is a heavy-hitting and hopefully thought-provoking body of work. I hope that the vulnerability in the lyrics will help the underdog feel less alone in their struggle. I hope this music is a reminder to stand in defiance to whatever brings the listener down, tells them they are not enough or powerless. It was an honour working with Josiah Prince on this project and we poured a lot of heart and passion into each track.” – Matt Sassano
The In Defiance EP doesn’t just show off its EDM-styled undertones but also combines those hard-hitting rock vibes together with a faith-tied message that covers some of society’s often asked questions of identity, pain, pressure, guilt and much more.
The EP which has been known for featuring deeply honest, urgent singles like “Not My Name” and “Dear God,” correctly conveys what Matt Sassano tries to communicate when he titled the EP as In Defiance. The EP clearly speaks to those that wish to take back control of their life while understanding the challenges that come with it.
Songs like Guilty Pressure are among the tracks on the EP that a symbolic while delivering a message of struggle and coming to terms with some of the evils we face in our daily lives.
Matt Sassano Unleashes Emotive, Electronic Rock EP “In Defiance”
Though Matt Sassano launched his solo career in 2016, his roots in rock music run deep with his bands Transparent and Transparent Soul. His six years with these rock ensembles prepared him for sharing his debut solo LP Transcend in 2019, driven by energetic synths and raw storytelling.
His passion for Christianity, songwriting and music creation have helped him navigate life with Cerebral Palsy and the rare learning disability Dyscalculia. Not only has he connected with fellow underdogs everywhere through his craft, but Matt’s work was also featured on the 2012 NASCAR The Game: Inside Line.
As Matt ventures into a new chapter of his musical career with the awe-inspiring and riff-laden In Defiance, it’s clear his heavy rock journey is far from over. We reached out to Matt to ask a few questions about his journey and his latest EP release.
1. The In Defiance EP speaks to the underdog and struggles people often face in life. It feels like a letter letting listeners know they still have the power to take back control. Is this one of these things you wanted to communicate?
Absolutely. Thank you so much for this time to chat by the way.
There’s so much that comes against us day to day. Depression and suicide are on the rise. We are the “most connected” society due to the internet and technology, yet the most isolated and alone. The foundations of everything we thought we knew are being challenged. There is political division on every front. People are more confused than ever about who they are and where they fit in the world.
They are confused about what they believe. Absolute truth has been traded for a very subjective truth. We can give in to these tragedies or stand in defiance. I hope this EP encourages us to stand in defiance of everything that brings us down, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I hope we realize we have power and can make a difference no matter how insignificant we feel.
2. Faith and Christianity are some of the topics that are slowly becoming difficult matters to talk about in today’s society without raising so many eyebrows. How have you been able to navigate this while keeping true to your message and talent as a musician?
That’s a good question. For me, I like to make music that is not only for people who claim to be Christians but also for those who may not subscribe to any particular belief. I write songs about my faith because as a Christian it’s obviously important to me. I also write songs about being the black sheep, living with disabilities, wrestling with your beliefs, relationships, and things that I feel everyone can relate to.
I think being authentic is the key. When you try to be authentic people tend to be interested in what you have to say across the board. The worst thing to be today is fake. People sense it and hate it. Even if they may not agree with everything you say, they very likely will respect you for saying it if you’re real. If they don’t like us, then that’s fine too. All we can do is be honest and if we raise some eyebrows, so be it. We hope people like our music but if speaking what we believe offends people, then it is what it is. We still love ya.
3. With the world recovering from a pandemic, how did this affect you these last few years?
As someone who faces disabilities, I’m unable to drive. I have issues with navigating. I spent a lot of my life isolated as a kid and an adult. The loneliness was bad, but it wasn’t the worst part of the pandemic for me. My biggest struggle was watching my first big tour opportunity crumble. I also hated seeing so many loved ones out of work and struggling. It was a mess.
I was set for a whole month-long tour with GFM. We played 1 show in Fort Worth, Texas and everything shut down. I was sent back home for an entire year and a half. I heard crazy stories from people who lost their livelihoods and everything. We were all devastated. Because of the depression, I was facing during that time, I ended up in a toxic relationship and engagement. It ended as quickly as it started, and it was really hurtful. I had a lot of bumps to take and things to learn in 2020. Mission accomplished. I’m happier now in 2022!
4. People with learning disabilities are often treated differently in society and yet you have been able to push through all the hardships and at the same time use your gifts to create music around your experiences. Your new EP speaks deeply about this. Is this your way of bringing to light matters often not spoken about openly?
It took me years to feel comfortable enough to talk openly about my disabilities. I live with both “cerebral palsy” and another lesser-known disability called “Dyscalculia.” I always had a sense of humour and could be self-deprecating, I guess. That was my tool in high school to distract my peers from my insecurities.
Deep down, I didn’t want to be looked at differently though. It wasn’t until this year when “Not My Name” was written that I just fully said “I don’t care what people think. I’m talking about it.” I had a whole other plan for the EP. Not My Name wasn’t even written going into the first few sessions of recording. A month or so later, I just felt strongly that it was time to confront the topic. That’s what I did.
I’m glad to say that “Not My Name” went #1 on Christian rock radio. It’s opened a much overdue conversation. I’ve seen so many people with disabilities or who just feel like “black sheep” inspired by it while I’ve been on tour. I couldn’t be happier with that.
5. The track “Sorry Is A Dirty Word” is a powerful work of art. What were your thoughts when working on it?
“Sorry Is a Dirty Word” is a track that is close to my heart. I’ve talked in other interviews about how I was raised in a pastor’s home. On one hand, I got to learn a lot of the good aspects of my faith. On the other hand, I was very disillusioned for many years. My father who was the minister in our hometown church was very physically and emotionally abusive to both me and my mom.
While there were probably a lot of sincere people at the church, I also grew up surrounded by a lot of hypocrisy by leaders. It affected me and my mother in a huge way. We swept the abuse under the rug for years. We tried to save face, we hoped things would change, and we justified it. Oddly enough, there really weren’t many places we felt we could turn. To this day, my father denies any abuse and refuses to make it right or acknowledge the past. Hopefully, it’ll change one day. I doubt it, but I don’t know.
In the same way, I featured the female vocalist “Azariah” on the track. She offered a lot to the track not only musically but also emotionally. Here’s a fun fact. She and I are dating. We had a variety of deep conversations about our troubled backgrounds and relationships. We talked about how we’ve continued to grow through them. After all that, it seemed undeniable that she needed to be on the song! I personally think we exceeded even our own expectations together on it. I’ll let the listeners be the judge though.
6. Your music shares a lot of insights on disability, addiction and mental health. You tackle a lot of painful topics just like in your track, “Not My Name.” Today’s world is waking up to the devasting effects of what happens if we ignore our mental health. What are your thoughts on this?
As someone who has seen both sides of the aisle, I am so glad these conversations are finally coming up. When I was a teen, I spent some time battling depression. I ended up in the psych ward and felt very lost. I’m living proof that you can fight your battles with depression, anxiety, and mental health.
Years after being a patient in the ward, I saw things turn around. I worked as a mental health aide. I would plan activities and help manage the patients. While I think it’s awesome to be persistent in prayer about mental health, I also think spiritual and mental health can get mistakingly lumped together in the same basket.
It is important for the Christian community to help others spiritually and to support people in their mental health battles. In the same way, we have to also acknowledge that some battles aren’t a “one size fits all.” For me, it took a combination of prayer, counselling, and temporary medication to finally get to a point where I am better and no longer in need of the meds for anxiety.
For someone else, it may be a different journey. I think we should continue to remove the stigma on things like therapy and medication. I also wanna clarify that I’m not belittling the power of genuine prayer. Physical, spiritual, and mental health are all their own aspects of overall health. They should be treated that way.
7. What is your creative process like?
I usually get the idea for a theme and title first. This can be inspired by a multitude of things. Once I arrive at an idea and theme, I usually just emerge myself in the topic. I’ll draw from my own experience, I’ll watch movies and YouTube videos on the topic, and I’ll talk to other people about their experiences and opinions.
I try to come up with pretty vast knowledge on a particular subject from a bunch of different perspectives. Once I do that, I grab a sheet of paper and scribble everything down. Facts, phrases, words, etc. Before long tunes come, verses are formed, and a song is written. Most of the time, it’s a slower process for me. Everyone is different, but that tends to be my process.
8. Aside from creating music, what do you usually do for fun in your free time?
My mind is always busy, so when I’m not writing or touring, I like watching Netflix or…..don’t laugh…. Disney plus. I’m huge on the 90s and early 2000’s movies, shows, and video games. My “recommended section” on my movie apps shows what a weirdo I am.
It can go from “Kenan and Kel” to documentaries about conspiracies. I enjoy hanging out with family and my girlfriend. I also have a little chihuahua named Wiley at home I love to be ignored by. Jk. Lol. She’s a diva but she’s a good dog. I’m fun to be around but pretty chill when not doing something creative.
9. Should the fans expect another album soon or there are several projects on the way?
I’m always writing even when I’m not in the studio or expected to. I think to get quality songs, it’s important to be stockpiling for future releases as soon as serious inspiration hits. At least that’s how I see it for myself. I have plenty of songs in the works for when “In Defiance” has done its thing. For now, I’m just happy to be seeing the amazing reception of that EP though. Thanks, everyone.
10. Are there any artists or bands you would love to collaborate with in the upcoming years?
I love what John Cooper is doing. I’m a huge fan of Skillet’s music obviously. On top of that, I love what he’s doing on his “Cooper Stuff” podcast. I’d love the chance to work with him because I feel like we would really connect both personally and creatively.
Also, I wrote a song I think would be perfect for a Joseph Rojas feature. He doesn’t know anything about it yet, but I think it would be sick for a potential future release. There’s more but it’s just so many artists to list. I guess you’ll have to see and hopefully be surprised by the rest. Lol.
11. Anything you would like to share with your fans?
You are not alone. You are not powerless. You are loved by God even when you may not even know it or believe it. I hope you’ll start the process of standing in defiance of whatever brings you down or makes you feel alone. I appreciate you very much.
Stay up to date on Matt Sassano’s upcoming announcements and releases HERE.
In Defiance EP track listing
- Dear God
- Sorry Is A Dirty Word
- Not My Name
- In Defiance
- Guilty Pleasure
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Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.
He writes for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project and a freelance consultant passionate about technology and web.