Matt Ylvisaker


Aptly-titled “Ylvisaker”—A Tribute to Dad, Musical Lineage—is Rich with Soul, Gospel, and Hip Hop Influences

***Stream Now on Bandcamp***

***Watch Music Video for "Feelin So High"***

Minneapolis-based soul artist, Matt Ylvisaker, is no stranger to music. You could say music has been a part of his life since the very beginning. His father, John Ylvisaker, started touring America in the 60s, appearing at Civil Rights Conventions before writing one of the most popular Lutheran hymns of the 20th century, “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry”—a song you will still hear sung at many baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. 

Matt’s mother, Mandy Ylvisaker, is an accomplished pianist and flutist. His brother, Jeremy Ylvisaker, is a renowned guitarist who has played alongside Andrew Bird, Haley Bonar, The Suburbs, Brother Ali, and many others. “I was born into music,” Matt says. “My father did revolutionary things—basically invented Christian Psychedelic Rock—but he always said mom was the more talented musician.” 

When Matt was 6, he was gifted a fiddle by his mom, who insisted he learned to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as his first song. The rebellious young six-year old cut straight to bluegrass. In 4th grade, Matt traded that fiddle for a baseball bat and the next several years were consumed by a passion for sports. The music, though still alive in his soul, would have to wait as a young Matt explored other childhood dreams. 

By high school, Matt was back in choir and playing various instruments by ear. Influenced by musicians like Bob Marley, Sly Stone, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Matt gravitated toward piano-driven soul, pop, and rock. The following decades were filled with playing in multiple bands (including Sonik Boom of Love with Alexander East), playing basketball, waiting tables, and exploring the vibrant nightlife of the Twin Cities. Matt also did social work in the inner city and has spent the past couple decades doing non-profit work in Africa. Matt always knew he’d record a solo album—he just wasn’t sure when. 

As the saying goes, good things take time. 

In a world obsessed with instant gratification and quick fixes, Matt Ylvisaker let music lead him back, always knowing his time would come. Throughout the years, Matt has been stockpiling songs as an alchemist, using bouts of isolation and emotional pain to craft songs of joy and hope. “I had nine songs that no one knew about but me,” Matt says. “ I felt it was time to show people that writing about vulnerability and transparency can lead to a greater joy and purpose in life.” 

In 2016, when news came that John Ylvisaker was ill and could pass away at any moment, Matt enlisted brother Jeremy as producer and they went to work as fast as they could on what would become Ylvisaker—Matt’s debut album, aptly titled as a nod to his family’s musical lineage. 

“I wanted my father to hear my record,” Matt says. 

Using their father’s mortality as a catalyst, the brothers recruited an incredible group of Twin Cities musicians—drummer Martin Dosh (Dosh, Andrew Bird), bassist Jim Anton (Johnny Lang, Greazy Meal), rapper Truth Maze, conga player Tony Paul (IRAS, Socaholix), vocalists Jayanthi Kyle (Gospel Machine, Romantica) and Andra Suchy (Red House Records, A Prairie Home Companion), and trombonist Matt Darling (The Honeydogs)—and poured their hearts and souls into the creation of Ylvisaker. 

The album kicks off in style with lead single, “Feeling So High” Feat. Truth Maze, an electronic, synth-infused blend of hip hop, gospel, and soul. Another standout track, “Love The Children,” channels the spirit of world music—inspired by Matt’s work educating, tackling poverty, and fighting disease in Africa—while closing track, “Mollee,” evokes more of an ethereal indie rock atmosphere. “The Throne” is a peppy sing-a-long gospel anthem, clearly influenced by Matt’s upbringing in the church, but with more a dose of festive New Orleans brass than your typical Lutheran potluck. 

If you’re a fan of the music of Prince, Jamiroquai, or Amos Lee, you will find a kindred spirit in Matt Ylvisaker, who has recruited an All-Star band to bring his honest, inspiring songs to life. 

Two weeks before John Ylvisaker passed on March 9th, 2017, he listened to a preview of the album. “Top notch stuff, kid,” he told Matt. “I’m proud of you.” 

Ylvisaker is streaming now, exclusively on Bandcamp. It will be available February 9th on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon, with a release party scheduled for February 16th at Dancing Ganesha (1100 Harmon Place in Minneapolis). A portion of the album sales will go to charitable causes, Moving Forward Africa and Hope For the Child

To schedule an interview with Matt Ylvisaker, please email MattYlvi(at)hotmail(dot)com.