This week’s Friday Feature: Makin’ Beats features British songwriter/vocalist, Matt Henshaw. Matt’s music today is positive and conscious; there was a time when the positive wasn’t happening. With the breakup of his old band, Censored, in 2008, Matt fell deeper into substance abuse. Read how he made it out of that dark time and regained his love for performing music. Enjoy the music and the Q&A!

Matt Henshaw Leicester, Britain, UK

GLM: Your songs embody such positive sentiments that it would be hard for anyone to imagine the depression you were under at the disbanding of Censored in 2008. How did you make it out of that dark time? How did you get “clean” from substance abuse?

MH: It was a pretty bad period towards the end of 2008, a lot of things going off, not just the band, it started when I got quite ill in the April of that year. But I had to get away from the band and that lifestyle to get healthy and to stop doing a lot of the things I was doing. I got a job in a pub shortly after I decided to stop drinking to be around alcohol and see the effects of it and not to be tempted to have a drink, that really worked for me. I’m just quite stubborn, and decided I wasn’t going to drink, and decided to take a break from music and do other things, and I did.

GLM: What brought you back into doing music again and what focus do you have now as you work with a variety of people and musical genres?

MH: Two things really, I moved away from my home town and met loads of new people who ask bloody questions about your past and what you’ve done with your life, so when I mentioned that I’d been in a band and sang and played the guitar they wanted to hear for themselves. It was good really because I got the bug again, and there are certain people who pushed and encouraged me that I’ll remain truly grateful to. Then the other big factor was Jimmy B-Boy, Mr. ReggiiMental, we had a very productive 2010 and achieved a lot more than some do working on projects for years, it’s nice to add a successful hip-hop record to my canon.

GLM: Talk to me about a couple of artists/bands that you would say have been influences to your sound.

MH: Since falling in love with music again over the last year I have listened to a great deal of Sam Cooke so his voice and melodies will no doubt influence anything I do, even if I don’t have one tenth of his vocal ability. And that’s it, anyone with a decent melodic voice who can sing a nice tune, from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to Damon Albarn Matt Henshaw – The Deepest Cellar (Radio Edit) by Matt Henshaw

GLM: What’s another passion of yours outside of making music?

MH: I watch a lot of films. Animated films in particular do it for me, if you can get so much humour and emotion from a drawing or a model then I find that impressive. I’m particularly buzzing off that Rango film with Johnny Depp at the minute.

GLM: What’s your newest equipment or software? What’s your favorite equipment or software?

MH: I’m a bit old school when it comes to equipment. I don’t really jump on new technology as quick as maybe I should. But I’m a little old fashioned in maybe that I like to record good noises and not do too much to it, and if it’s good it will sound good on a record. So the last thing I had was a new Epiphone guitar, but other than that it’s the classic pedals, wah, BOSS flangers and stuff like that. And simple computer software like your Adobe and Cubase stuff with pretty basic mics. I envy people who can do great things with technology, synths and computer programmes, remixes and studio masterpieces have dominated mainstream music for a while now, and even though my forte is not that I don’t see it as a problem, it’s evolutionary like everything else, and there will always be something for everyone, even if it’s a little harder to find. Check out people like Pogo for what really modern music sounds like, progressing on from people like Beck and The Avalanches. I love putting stuff in contexts and perspectives, I could talk about this stuff for hours …

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