Matthew Mansfield can be heard across northern Michigan on any given day. Not only is he a DJ for Z93 radio Monday through Saturday, but he also performs live at several venues throughout the region. To top it off, he has two young boys at home.
He sat down with Interlochen Public Radio News Director Noelle Riley to chat about his passion with words and music. Riley is formerly a freelancer for the Record-Eagle.
Q: When you’re not playing music, you’re a DJ at a radio station. What are your duties and what’s it like?
A: I am the afternoon drive host, which is Monday through Saturday 3 to 7 p.m. I know that sounds cushy for an afternoon job, but I do take care of a big request hour and other things — promotions and lots of commercials. It’s a radio show. You’ve got to keep up with pop culture, which isn’t something I wasn’t fully interested in before starting at a top 40 radio station, but you can’t look anywhere without seeing it, especially with social media these days. I try to keep up with that stuff, and I try to be as visible as possible for the radio station. I try to let everyone know where I’m playing. Even if they don’t want to hear me play and sing, at least they can come out and meet somebody from the radio station too.
Q: You’re a one-man band. Describe how you approach playing music?
A: I never play my own originals; I usually just play covers. Anytime I listen to a song, I listen to the full band, and I listen to what everybody’s doing. Therefore, I try to recreate that when I play a show. I use a very large pedal board with a loop station, so I’ll create the drum sound on there, I’ll create the bass sound. I’ll do the backup harmonies and vocals, and I’ll record all the different guitar parts, so … when I’m playing live, I want it to sound like a full band as if you were to walk in and not look where the sound is coming from, it would sound like it’s a four-piece band, and then you turn around and it’s just me, really working my feet and beating my guitar pretty hard to get that drum sound too.
Q: So how did you get into music?
A: As far as playing guitar is concerned, there was a family friend that had a few guitars — as a little kid you’re interested — and he picked one up and he was trying to woo his brand new girlfriend, and so he played a few songs. I was like, that’s exactly what I want to do. And then when I started to listen to other songs I thought the entirety of music is pretty amazing. I’m going to stick to that.
Q: If you had a dream venue you’d want to play, what would it be?
A: I don’t mind outdoor gigs as long as your covered and all of the cables are covered. I think just because I’m also a big Beatles fan, I’d like to play Hollywood Bowl.
Or, I guess, Red Rocks is kind of the typical one. It’s pretty, and I don’t like picking the typical choice. Pine Knob is nice.
I went to tons of concerts down there. I know it’s DTE (Energy Music Theatre) now, but it’s still Pine Knob to me.
Q: Where do you see yourself as a musician in 5 years?
A: I really don’t see myself anywhere in five years to be honest. I don’t look that far ahead. I don’t know if you’ve done that much research on me but there’s not much out there about me as a musician. I don’t post anything. I’m not on Instagram… it’s just, hey, I’ve got a gig coming up, I hope people like it.