Super Duper Awkward and Depressing Matisyahu Interview

In a May 2006 interview with Dutch magazine Revu, the Hasidic superstar whose real Hebrew name is Feivish Hershel, tells his interviewer that he’s not happy, that religion doesn’t make him happy, and that he “pretty much” stopped using drugs. Feivish abruptly ends the interview seemingly disdainful of having to answer the reporter’s questions.
I wonder if dicking over JDub some months later cheered him up at all. If not — hey Matis — why don’t you come back to the people who actually care about you and your happiness rather than a corporate monster that only cares about the sales you post?
[Update] You know what’s awesome? All the absolutely disgusting comments that people are trying to post calling me all sorts of nasty names and shitting all over JDub, because I matter-of-factly stated the Matis dicked over JDub. It reminds me of why I dropped off of Phish tour and why I never got into Dave Matthews. Too many asshole fans who think they have a fucking clue…
Congratulations, Matis, on your newfound success and all its benefits, like perfect strangers who frothingly curse and deride others for being disappointed in you. Mazal tov.

37 thoughts on “Super Duper Awkward and Depressing Matisyahu Interview

  1. schadenfreude on your part? Maybe he was simply tired and annoyed at the shallow, patronizing and at times confrontative interviewer?

  2. ah yes, seeing matisyahu depressed makes me simply jubilant.
    i was his #1 fan. seeing him like this doesn’t make me happy. it makes me further disappointed.

  3. I don’t think we need to judge Matisyahu too hard. As someone who has met him a few times at Chagim, he has always been quiet and bit standoffish. For as long as I have “known” him I would probably put the word depressed on him. This interview is obviously something that stems from depression. Particularly the overwhelming cynicism he displayed. I can also say that the music world will do that to the best of us. He needs help getting happy, rather than a lot of criticism which will push him down further. Not sure how anyone would do that though.

  4. I was at the same shabbat table as Matisyahu when I was in Denmark this summer, and he was in much better spirits. He seemed to be having a great time with his wife and child, if somewhat quiet. I would think that he’s just exhausted.

  5. I grew up in the same city/shul as Matis and was one of his first followers, watching him play free gigs with 20 people in the room . . .
    At those first performances I had several opportunities to talk to him for a while and he was always very quiet and standoffish – even with all of the connections we had and that I was friendly with his sister. . . .
    Basically, what I’m saying is that’s just him. Granted he could have done a better job of acting if he knew he was going to be on tape . . .

  6. He’s still pretty good on C Rayz Walz new album alongside Kosha Dillz.
    …i have nothing else contructive to add to this post.

  7. I thought it was refreshing to see an entertainer be real, and not “on” or hyping something like they do in every interview. Everyone is sad every so often. He seemed a bit tired and confused at points, like how much was he committed to this interview… I think the only part I found truly sad, was when he said religion does not make him happy. I got to feeling that way at Reform shul we went to for convenience more than faith. With their contstant drone of the Torah being a Metaphor, or fiction…we moved to Chabad. EVERY time we go there for service or social event I am excited to get in the car and go, I am excited to be there…I am HAPPY there!

  8. “pretty much” is a big step.
    The interviewer sounds so sweet and perky! I hope he wasn’t looking down at her just… stam.. you know… because she’s a goyl.

  9. BS”D
    classic matis humor.
    interesting u had to post this. still upset are you about the
    split? they once asked matisyahu how does he keep his beard
    so long? um, u stop shaving…
    maybe u will understand this in simple terms-
    and moshe saw 2 isralites having a dispute, so hurt was moshe
    rabbeinu that ahava yisroel was lacking that he approched the
    ‘wicked’ one and said…….they said to him–nu? what are you
    going to do kill us like that egyptian?…….

  10. Interesting…
    Well – truth me told – I think lots of artists are depressed…that’s what gives them the energy to be creative and expressive. We love their art because it’s full of emotion.
    I think it was Billy Joel who said “If we had Prosac in the 1700s, we’d not have any of Beethoven’s greatest symphonies…”

  11. A few things are evident:
    1 – Matisyahu was tired and being low key
    2 – The interviewer was being totally annoying and invasive. I cant help but think about certain Dylan interviews I have read in which he flat out lied to reporters because he was annoyed, or to simply play with them.
    3 – Mobius, frankly, if I had to compare the bitterness of your post and the bitterness of Matis’s interview, I think your post would come out WAAAY more bitter. Perhaps we should stick a Dutch reporter in your face at the end of a long hard day and see what sort of answers you give? Would you be “chipper” and all “I LOVE G-D” and stuff, or would you be like, “get the $%#@ off my $#% bed!”?
    I’m actually much more inspired to listen to matis’s music after seeing him be real and not hyper G-d intoxicated.
    Cut the brother some slack, Jack. Sheesh. I have this feeling that if he acted all high, and G-d inspired, you would manage to spin it negatively with some other headline– “Matis High on G-d While Screwing Jdub”, etc.

  12. i can’t believe you’re still bitter about the J-Dub split Mobius. it’s like so 9 months ago. as if you really “care about him and his happiness,” give me a break. you just want him back safe and sound in our little culture ghetto so that you can feel all “we beat the goyim at their own game” superior again. klal yisroel is its own “corporate monster” with folks like you pretending to be “open and tolerant” but really just wanting to fold anything “other” back into itself. the fact that Matisyahu isn’t under our thumb anymore still drives you MAD, and that’s just so, so typical…

  13. I gotta say,
    I’ve never been an enormous fan of Matis and his music so much, just cause I’m not really a reggae/dub guy, but a couple of things struck me about this interview:
    1. I got the sense that the interviewer was really baiting him, hoping to get him to say something that would make him look particularly bad when juxtaposed against his publicly religious nature. Like, “what do you mean, religious Jewish guy, that you don’t mind your videos being on MTV with scantily clad women. You’re supposedly better than that (even though we’re not)!”.
    2. He didn’t seem depressed to me, so much as very reserved. I got the impression that he sensed the above from the interviewer. She was less curious about his music than interrogating his religious beliefs. While I may have my own ideological issues with Chabad, he’s a musician. I’d rather ask, “How come every time I’ve seen you on stage, I haven’t been impressed?”
    3. I think in many cases, becoming a Ba’al Teshuva can leave one open to more scrutiny especially because there are many habits/beliefs/orientations that can’t always be left behind so easily. We all have contradictions, something that Mobius stresses quite frequently and openly. Matis could very likely have some that are easy to criticize, in terms of reconciling his old self and his new self, however long he has already been religious. The fact that he’s a public figure opens him up to having those things exposed.
    4. I was really bothered by the way they dropped in those cuts of the fans. Made the whole thing seem kinda disingenuous.
    5. Finally, from my Orthodox high school days: “You’re not supposed to be religious because it makes you happy. You’re just supposed to.
    Love and kisses,

  14. oy oy- dont be so hard on him. Ahavat Yisrael- dan leKaf Zechut……..and if he is losing fire, we dont need to pour more water on him, but hand him a match…

  15. did anyone else feel like the interview started in the middle? meaning, like we walked into something that was already going on and so we weren’t privy to the dynamic that was created earlier and coloured the interview itself? that reallly struck me – like his attitude was that he was personally against her, b/c of something that happened off camera… and it was so obnoxious – i mean, every journalist has an agenda but some at least attempt subtlety, y’know? that whole thing with the fans (“yeah, he’s happy”) was really obnoxious. this interview is on the old side – i wonder where he’s at now…

  16. I like his work, too.
    But, it doesn’t mean i know the man’s constitutional-fiber or his very being — and, yo-yo-yo, it totally doesn’t mean i have even come close to knowing the man’s being itself; Not even close.
    It just means i like his work — which is something entirely different than the man.
    When he starts advocating the consumption of children and/or the eradication of this or that race then, yes, we can throw out his work and the man.
    He has created good work.
    That’s important to remember, so far.
    [email protected]

  17. I have to agree with the whole religion is not supposed to make you happy thing.
    If it was supposed to make you happy, you could ditch it when you found something else that made you happier. Somehow I don’t think that’s how it works.

  18. Don’t like his music – can’t hear the lyrics. Want Jewish Liturgy set to bluegrass and celtic airs.
    That said, yah, he seemed annoyed with the interviewer. Understandably so – she was baiting him, trying to build a story of conflict between faith and performance that wasn’t there, and he was doing his damnedest to deconstruct her agenda, giving her answers that seemed more designed to strike at her assumptions than anything else.
    I think BD has it exactly right about why he answers that Religion doesn’t make him happy. People who look for “happiness” from their faith tend to shop around a lot and fall away quickly.
    As for the name thing, let it go. I was named something Yiddish at my bris – Renchel or something. Don’t really remember. When I was in Hebrew School I was told “That’s not a Hebrew Name.” They called me “øàåáï” and that is how I have been known ever since. It is how I was called to read the Torah when I became Bar-Mitzvah, and it is how I signed my Ketubah. I would not be surprised if something similar happened to Matisyahu.
    Sorry it didn’t work out between JDub and him. but your engaging in ìùåï äøò against him only tears down JDub’s rep in my eyes. And that’s a pity, because I really like that LeeVees album I have.

  19. Mobius, I got to say, I’m not really sure why you put this post here. I do feel very uncomfortable for having watched that, and while yes, it was already ‘in the public domain’ it was an obscure inerview in Holland. Why repeat such a thing? Why bring it over here? What did we gain from this? Other than being able to talk about a friend, or someone that used to be some of ours friend, andn to pry into his life and his exact emotional state on eyears ago, what did we gain? This seems like just the type of thing we’re trying to avoid.

  20. it sounds like a reminder to me… be careful what you say to reporters… i mean everyone today has to be careful what they say over e-mail for g-ds sake! emilia

  21. So, he looked sad. I don’t know why some people think the interviewer was baiting him. I also can’t understand how someone with a healthy religious grounding with think it ok for half-naked women to be gyrating around him while he performs. That’s when he cuts the interview; when he can’t answer that question honestly.
    That said, he’d probably be a hit on tour in the USVI, among the general population, and among the Rasta.

  22. She was less curious about his music than interrogating his religious beliefs. – When we farbreinged in Boston (January, 2005… Was that before or after the Jdub split?) he spoke about how the music is just a medium for expressing spirituality, and how the “reggae” had become meaningful only after he became Chabad, and other such shit.
    If that’s true, then wouldn’t he be glad to be interviewed about religion rather than music?
    everyone today has to be careful what they say over e-mail for g-ds sake! – Good point, Emilia; I’ve heard something similar before. çëîéí äæäøå áãáøéëí – or some shit like that… It’s in Avot something-or-another.
    Have an emoticon, 😀

  23. It’s obvious he’s unimpressed with the interviewer. He’s public about his religious beliefs, so he’s held up to this kind of scrutiny constantly. Spirituality isn’t a problem for this guy, but religion is, no one else here can relate? Whatevs…
    I wouldn’t even chalk it up to that, every individual artist is asked the same questions over and over, interviewing like that is monotonous and boring, it’s a skill to be able to handle that in tandem.
    Also, he not happy….. wow. When was the last time a talented prolific artist was completely content? It is even possible to be content and produce interesting material?
    Put it in perspective and watch it again. Don’t buy the sloppily edited video hype, use your brain. It’s pretty cut and dry to me.

  24. Mobius
    Linking to an article titled “Fuck Matisyahu . . . ” pretty much says it all. You are bitter and looking for ways to take shots at the guy. Cheap shots.
    You suck. Dude is grammy nominated.
    Dude made JDUB. Dude introduced me to Jewschool (via google)
    Lousy interview aint gonna bury the guy. Try again – or GET OVER IT!

  25. i see, linking to a website now means that you completely endorse its content and that that is, therefore, a reflection on your own person

  26. That wasn’t the only thing I wrote.
    “Dicking over JDUB.” You were very involved and your opinion is very subjective. By not mentioning Matisyahu on this forum for many months I thought you recognized that you were not in a position to objectively discuss thee guy. I was wrong.
    Cheap shots.
    AM: Already buried? 1 – he was and still is the biggest Jewish music story in a long time. If he were buried we would not be discussing him. 2 – dont call me orthodox.

  27. Didn’t the pope make the same mistake recently?
    (verbal hyper-links can be just as ideologically-“dangerous”, too i guess)
    Blogs that only use ideologically-korrect links are so rare these days.

  28. Matis is a sweet soul and he brings Judaism to tons of people. Imagine living your life in a way that you can’t ever let out a depressed day for fear of some blog posting it up on their shist. I’m sure it was just late as hell and he was ready to sleep, not answer these annoying question. As for the Jdub thang. Not many people know the ins and outs of it. All I have learned from life is that what goes around comes around and if they are not on speaking terms, it is probably just as much Jdub’s fault as his. Honestly he was prob just tired of touring and dying to get home to his wife and little kid.

  29. musician life is very stressful..I’ll on the road for a week and I want to come home and get out…someone asked me once how you calm down…and relax…you are always so tense in situations…i realized that when i go on stage i scream to amp the crowd…and its like letting out 1000 things that possess me…itslike lettingout allthe things i wann say to people when i want some time to myself…although…i totally ove that the fact they want to speak to me…and ask question…
    catch 22 i guess…

  30. you can’t be a hasidic rock star without being a hypocrite. so really the jokes on you, and the entire hebrew university crowd who doesn’t know any better becuase you make up the rules at your own convenience. p.s. phish are lame.

  31. are you guys serious? lol, he’s not depressed, he’s trying to hold back from smacking this obnoxiously retarded kid that is posing as an interviewer.

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