The New Kid ON The Block
Matthew Kiss, whose real name is Matthew Kisilenko, of Rockaway Beach, is 20 years old and an aspiring musician. “My mother was always keen on music,” he says. “It was just always there,” Kiss continues. He started to play the piano at the age of three under his mother’s supervision, but in his early teens his life changed when he picked up his first real six string at 13-years-of-age.
Like a true child of the iPod generation, Kiss can’t define his music with a single genre. He lists an eclectic group of artists that influence him, ranging from chart toppers such as John Mayer, the Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson, legendary rockers Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, and new up and comer Justin Nozuka, as artists that influence him currently. Kiss says that his sound is a mix of acoustic rock and soul with a dash of funk thrown in there for good measure.
Kiss got his start in a few bands with his friends, playing electric and acoustic guitar. After seeing a John Mayer concert at 17, though, he had a change of heart. “I always wrote poetry, and started songs that I never finished,” he says. “After seeing him [John Mayer] live, I went home and wrote my first song.” Since then Kiss has devoted all his efforts to writing his own music and lyrics.
Kiss is one of the budding artists in Rockaway and praises the Rockaway Artists Alliance for helping him grow. “The RAA doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” he says. Every Thursday at 8 p.m. on the RAA stage, located in Fort Tilden, Kiss goes to the ‘secret spot’ for open mic night. Kiss credits the RAA for giving him the opportunity to gain more experience on stage playing his own music.
For over three years now, Kiss has focused on his music career, but it was during his most recent show at Gizzi’s Coffee on July 23 that he really felt he was going somewhere. The crowd was into the music and for the first time he saw the crowd sing along with him. “I looked up and I saw their lips saying the lyrics with me,” he remembers. “I had a smile from ear to ear while I played. It was unreal.”
Kiss wants to eventually record an album, but at the moment is focusing on gaining a bigger following through his live shows. His next show is August 21 at Gizzi’s Coffee in the West Village at 16 West 8 Street. There you will be able to see him perform his growing collection of original songs including his personal favorite, “Lock the Door.”