Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit Talks New Album, Telling His Stories, and Staying Sincere as a Band

by Lauren Boisvert

Delta Spirit has been around since 2005, when the band began in California with members Jonathan Jameson (bass), Brandon Young (drums), and Matthew Vasquez (vocals, guitar). They then added Kelly Winrich (multi-instrumental), and in 2011 William McLaren (guitar) joined. They released their debut album, “Ode to Sunshine,” in 2008. The band went on to release an album every two years before going on a 6-year hiatus in 2014. In 2020, Delta Spirit made a triumphant return with the album “What Is There”; now, two years later, they’re releasing another album, titled “One Is One.”

Recently, I had the great opportunity to speak with Matthew Vasquez, lead singer and guitarist of Delta Spirit, about their new album. We spoke in part about influences on the album, why he does what he does, and his advice for aspiring musicians. When I told him it used to be my dream to play music, he politely encouraged me; so, Matt, I’ve decided to pick up blues harmonica because of you. When I whip out my mouth harp and serenade my co-workers on all-hands calls, know that it’s all your fault.

The Origins of Delta Spirit

First, I want to know how the band started and how you met your bandmates?

Matthew Vasquez: Probably the most infamous story of our band getting together is I was busking in San Diego; I had driven down to Orange County where I was living at the time. I used to busk a lot, and this guy Brandon [Young] rolled up and was like ‘Hey, you’re pretty good’ […] and I knew he was in a cool band and we kind of connected from there […] then met his bass player, which, both of them, the rhythm section, kind of became Delta Spirit. And then Kelly Winrich and I went to rival high schools in our little beach city town […] and all the while there was a guy who worked in a guitar shop named Will McLaren, he was just down the road, but he didn’t join the band until he was already living in New York, much later, but it all fit like a glove really.

‘One Is One’ Takes Delta Spirit in a Different Direction

So I listened to the new album a little bit, and just wanted to ask about influences musically, and influences lyrically. It’s kind of different, stylistically, from your others; I wanted to know how you guys made the decision to put out an album like this?

MV: I think that, stylistically and sonically, music is constantly moving forward, and I think we have a tough time in this band going backward in any way […] It makes more sense to try something challenging, so that’s where we lead in with that. Also, electronic music is really interesting to make, and super fun, and we’ve got other projects that we’re involved with […] bands, music, so yeah, that’s just how the structure came about. Just like any other record, it’s the things you’re interested in at the time.

Matthew Vasquez On Communicating Through Music

Next, I want to know what influences you personally as an artist, so what makes you want to do what you do?

MV: It’s kind of the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, it’s both a blessing and a curse, I’m limited within this space, but it’s also certainly freeing, it’s not so limited [when it’s] what you want to do. You know, continuing to write music, and travel, and communicate your feelings to other people through this medium; it’s a really lovely way to live if you can handle it.

I love every aspect of this business, and I love the journey, and playing with my friends, and rolling down the road and seeing beautiful things and eating different foods, and I love telling my story […] The heart wants what the heart wants, you’re gonna do what you really love anyway, no matter what.

Delta Spirit’s ‘What’s Done is Done’ Video Creates Much-Needed Space for Actors with Disabilities

I watched the “What’s Done is Done” video: amazing, beautiful. Zack Gottsagen and Jamie Brewer are so talented, and that representation is so important and so beautiful. So I wanted to know the inspiration for that video and what led you guys to that video?

MV: The idea was floated to us from our dear friend and talented director Michael Parks Randa, who has worked with people of all different disabilities and abilities with his film “Best Summer Ever,” where differently abled people worked in cast and crew creating a motion picture. And we loved the spirit of that so much; he brought up the idea of maybe doing a video with the same attitude and aesthetic in mind. And we were fully behind it, especially with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation getting involved. It was really quite special and it was so much fun. We had a killer SXSW party and it was just a killer time, so much joy.

‘Illogical Faith in Yourself’

I want to know if you have any advice for aspiring musicians or anyone who wants to get into that life?

MV: You know, just listen to the universe, listen to yourself. I know it sounds really, really, really hokey; but the thing that has made our band probably last as long as it has is sincerity and really honoring that part of our band. Really following our own path, believing in ourselves. Those are the hokey things everybody says but it’s truly what it is. Even if it is completely ridiculous and illogical, like, illogical faith in yourself is really what it takes to make anything happen in this crazy place.

It’s also luck, luck and talent. You know, we all do with what we have, we do the most with what we got. As long as we’re doing that, we’re winning. And all of this is so based in perspective. [But] it’s great! It’s really fun.