Over the past four years, the
He's also evolved his sound, incorporating electro-pop, rock and roots, as fans will hear when he returns to the fest on Sunday.
The change isn't truly that surprising, though, because Matisyahu -- born
His latest album, "Akeda," released Tuesday, announces his coming out.
His song "Watch the Walls Melt Down" incorporates electronic sounds and fits squarely in the pop-music continuum, announcing, "I took my freedom back."
"I've always been attracted to lots of different types of music, and I've always seen myself as an artist who combines different things -- like obviously, the
Hasidic culture with reggae music," Matisyahu said. "The changes and the life experience that I've had over the last two or three years has been very impactful, like an unraveling of sorts, and an emotional time for me, and I think that comes across in the music, which is maybe less about energy. My earlier stuff was more just about keeping it, like, high-energy with the reggae, whereas the new stuff has much more dynamics and ups and downs, and a lot more emotion to it, more like real life."
MATISYAHU also went through a divorce since his last appearance in
"A couple of things" were going through his mind with that song, he said: "One, in reference to leaving the Hasidic thing, and in reference to the divorce. And two, people said that to me -- you know, 'You think you're going to go there and that's going to make you happy.' It's obviously a question that I've asked myself."
While the song is soul-searching, the music is steady, gentle, a counterpoint.
"'The Hard Way' is about having to experience things in order to learn, versus taking more of a peripheral take on life -- just really being involved with life and learning things the hard way," Matisyahu explained. "It's a celebration of that, as opposed to being hard on myself."
On the day he called in for the interview, a
"Whenever people want me to come sing, I usually do it," he said. "I like to connect with people, especially people who are going through struggle, who I feel will relate to my music. ... These are my people and my fans."
Matisyahu has been hard at work supporting of "Akeda." Over the past week, he has joined an "ask me anything" discussion on Reddit, played live at Sirius studios and announced a lengthy tour (including
"Akeda" was in the iTunes Top 10 this week at No. 6, just below
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