Get To Know: Matt Wertz

Matt Wertz, a rock musician and songwriter from Nashville, has been involved in art and music since he was young.

Growing up in a family that encouraged to explore and dive into art and culture, his love for the field led him to the University of Illinois, where Wertz studied industrial design.

To escape from the stress of his undergraduate classes, Wertz turned to music.

Writing songs and performing for dorm hall audiences was where Matt got his start in performing, and continued to schedule concerts and shows on campuses and around town.

Wertz' first record, Somedays, which was released in 2001, was made possible with help from his parents, who loaned their son enough money to pay for the first 1,000 copies of his debut album.

Matt began performing at summer camps for students, touring colleges and universities around the country, and soon, performing on his own headlining tours.

Twenty Three Places, Wertz's second album, released in 2003, was recorded with his close friend, Ed Cash. This was the album that "set the tone for the rest of [my] career", with well-known songs that remain staples today. Two years later, another album was released, Everything in Between.

A new road was taken in the production of this album, with more up-beat and lively songs to get the audience going. 75,000 sold albums and shows performed with Ben Folds, Jamie Cullum, One Republic and others later - Matt Wertz found a record label that understood where he was coming from.

Under Summer Sun was released on Universal Republic and featured some of Matt Wertz's favorite songs from past records, along with four newer songs.

His latest release, Heatwave, was released in August and has been the focus of his current fall tour.

Matt Wertz has spent his autumn months touring around the United States with indie duo, Elenowen and promoting Heatwave.

Empty Lighthouse had the opportunity to sit down with Matt and further discuss how he got his start in the industry, musical inspiration and favorites, as well as some upcoming plans. Read further to get to know Matt Wertz.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: How did you first get your start in music?
MATT WERTZ: Growing up in a house with a mom who loved to sing, I was surrounded by music from day one. I took piano lessons like a lot of kids, and also like a lot of kids, I quit and got a guitar. I was 15 and guitar was much cooler than the piano.

Now, I really wish I still knew how to play the piano.

When I got to college, I started writing songs, then I started performing those songs, then I started recording those songs and selling them. It has all happened quite organically.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: Who do you consider your musical influences?
MATT WERTZ: The Temptations, James Taylor, Pearl Jam, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder and Counting Crows.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: In Spare time, who are some bands and artists you listen to?
MATT WERTZ: Lately, its been Haim, St. Lucia, Foy Vance and Bel Biv Devoe.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What has been your most memorable touring experience?
MATT WERTZ: I remember my first "real" tour, back in 2003 or 2004, and showing up in cities for the first time ever and there actually being people there who knew my songs.

It was incredible. Even if there were 20 people there, nothing will top that surprise.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
MATT WERTZ: I think it would be Pharrell Williams - he 's just super creative and I think what we'd make would be really interesting and cool.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring?
MATT WERTZ: A pen, a journal and my Bible.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What are your upcoming plans in regards to more touring, recording and releases?
MATT WERTZ: I am planning on doing some shows in early 2014 to hit some of the cities I missed this fall, then maybe trying to do a tour that's a little outside of the box in late spring / summer.

Not sure about new recordings, Heatwave still feels very new to me.

To stay up-to-date with Matt Wertz, take a visit to http://www.mattwertz .com - and be sure to look out for more released tour dates come the new year!