Alumni Spotlight: Matt Haze
A graduate of the studio guitar program, Matt Haze ’05 is making his mark in the music world.
When Haze studied at USC, he was a founding member of the New West Guitar Quartet, along with Perry Smith, John Storie, and Brady Cohan. What began as a class ensemble continued beyond their time at USC. The ensemble toured extensively around the U.S. and overseas, providing an incredible experience for Haze and his colleagues.
But Haze’s interest in music came long before he attended college.
“As early as I can remember, I had music in my head,” says Haze. “I was improvising songs in my head walking home from school.”
He recalls seeing the movie Wayne’s World with his father as a child and having his interest sparked seeing Wayne and Garth lip-syncing and head-banging to what seemed to Haze an outrageously crazy song. Later that year, he received the album “Classic Queen,” as a gift – which included “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the movie – and learned more about the band.
“Queen was very influential in sparking my passion for music, and impacted the way I like to approach music even now,” says Haze. “I like songs that develop the way an orchestral piece would. I love the combo of richness in musicality and wildness in passion and creativity.”
At USC, Haze recalls many hours spent practicing at USC. “I never liked practicing in practice rooms,” says Haze. “I find them sterile for creativity, so I would do all my practicing by fountains, sitting on the grass, or out by the commons area where other students would stop by and listen.”
The collaboration and camaraderie of the Thornton School was a valuable experience for Haze. Those connections have continued to influence his career.
“There are a few guys that were in the studio guitar program at the same time as me who remain good friends, and we’re constantly recommending each other for gigs,” he says. “We’re all doing tours with major artists and that’s a very fortunate place to be.”
Fortunate indeed, Haze has been touring and recording with major artists including Solange Knowles, Matthew Morrison, Katharine McPhee, Lady Gaga, and others. In addition, Haze is developing a project called Generation Maze – a rock band in the classic sense, but with a cello and piano as fixtures in the sound, and Haze as the lead singer in addition to guitarist.
“Before I played guitar I wanted to sing, and I’ve always intuitively approached guitar as a lyrical instrument, so a few years ago I decided to start studying voice,” says Haze.
He began writing new material and wanted to challenge himself, so he began doing a weekly gig solo in Beverly Hills. Now, with several songs together, he’s working with friend Louis Cato, who plays drums with Marcus Miller, a bassist, to arrange and define the sound of the full band version of the project. The premier Generation Maze album, Portal 1, will be available this summer. The group is also currently working on a recording and developing ideas for their first music video with director Slavik Anishchenko, who has been an effects specialists for several films including Transformers and The Mummy. Taking advantage of online tools, the group is raising funds for their album and video online, where fans can view live clips of the band, interviews, and other special features.
Haze has also started to host creative musical arts events in private residences, rather than playing in clubs. The set up is similar – with a sound technician and stage lighting – but done in a more intimate setting. After Haze performs, the venue serves as an open space for artists – musicians, dancers, painters – to share their talents.
Haze relishes the opportunity to perform and describes it as a chance to tap into something greater than what he can understand intellectually. “I would compare it, or perhaps even say it is meditation,” says Haze. “It’s getting to that point of losing myself in the moment, unconscious of myself, but still witnessing what is occurring. It’s pure bliss!”
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