Matthew DeRubertis is a multitalented musician. He has his own solo ambient music project, SEER Music, which he describes as, “music for your next layer of consciousness.” He has also performed and recorded as a bassist with a large variety of local bands and musicians, including The Open Spaces Trio, Nathan Paul & The Admirables, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones, and Bluelight.
Matthew put out his second record under SEER Music on July 10, titled Canyon Country, which was inspired by a solo trip to Utah in the spring.
When Matthew packed up for his trip out west, the only instrument he brought along was an acoustic guitar, with no intention of creating an album. But once he was alone with his guitar and the canyons, creativity struck, plans changed and the rest was history.
“I got into this rhythm for a few days where I would explore, arrive somewhere deep in the backcountry, and then from dusk until nighttime, I would just play. For four days in a row, that’s how the songs were written,” Matthew says.
Each of the four instrumental songs on the EP are named after the place in which they were written and portray the feelings those places evoked. With some help from the sound of a tanpura, an Indian instrument that provides a constant drone, as well as sounds from the canyons themselves, Canyon Country by SEER Music was born.
“My intention with this project in particular is to capture that essence of my conscious state when I’m out there, which is very present and reflective,” Matthew says. After one listen, I felt he did just that. If you’re a fan of ambient music, or perhaps of singer/songwriter Nick Drake, you will be a fan of Canyon Country, which is available on streaming platforms.
Originally, Canyon Country was set to be released in early June, but after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis and protests swept the country, Matthew knew that he had to set those plans aside. “It became very apparent to me that this is totally the wrong time to be asking for attention, and my efforts and energy were needed elsewhere,” Matthew says.
Instead, Matthew, also a certified yoga teacher, took his regular Wednesday evening and Sunday morning yoga classes and turned them into something more. The typical Wednesday evening class became “Yoga with Matthew: Deep Listening Sessions,” in which Matthew hosts conversations and meditation with friends of his from the Black community. Each session consists of listening to the experiences of each guest and concludes with a short group meditation to allow time for processing.
“I wanted to create a conscious listening space where the white folks in my yoga community, who maybe don’t have as much proximity to the Black community, are able to hear real life experiences of the ways that my friends have encountered racism throughout their lives,” Matthew says.
He held these conversations with Chris Coles, a saxophonist, educator and composer; Peachcurls, a vocalist, guitarist and artist; Nathan Paul Davis, a composer, saxophonist and educator; and Chanda Woodall, a Army Medic, artist and physician in training. You can find these sessions on YouTube at @SEERMusic.
Matthew took his usual Sunday morning yoga class and turned it into outdoor yoga at Henry’s Creamery in Bath Township under the tagline, “Get grounded. Take action.” Social distancing is enforced and all proceeds from the practice and ice cream sales following go to local organizations that benefit the Black community in Akron. So far this summer, Matthew and Henry’s Creamery have benefitted Black Lives Matter, The Emergent Fund, The Refresh Collective, Summit Lake Building Corps, Open Tone Music, The Freedom Bloc, Akron Urban League, and South Akron Youth Mentorship.You can keep up with each week’s practice and beneficiary by checking Henry’s Creamery Instagram, @henryscreamery, and Matthew’s Instagrams, @matthewderubertis and @seer.music
When asked to leave readers with one final comment, Matthew says, “I’m not necessarily here to make people feel comfortable with the work I’m putting forward. I hope that my teaching and my work can help people get more familiar with leaning into the uncomfortable space.”
This year has forced us into discomfort, but it has also offered us a space to grow, learn and take action — just as Matthew has been doing.
To keep up with Matthew DeRubertis and SEER Music, check out his website: www.MatthewDeRubertis.com. There you will find links to Matthew’s and SEER Music’s social media pages/streaming services, information regarding yoga with Matthew and contact information for private music lessons.
Laura Lakins is an educator and freelance writer from Akron, Ohio. Photos: Used with permission from Matthew DeRubertis.