Magpie Diaries tour SE QLD and NSW May-June 2019.Image: Facebook
Matt 'Magpie' Johnston has lead quite the life.
From being robbed in Africa, to hosting his own music festival, to starting his own band, Matt is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to believing in yourself.
Matt's band, Magpie Diaries, will be touring (Queensland and NSW) their 2018 album 'Sanctuary' later this month. The band consists of his wife Jessica on drums and vocals, Lyle Dennis on lead guitar, Todd Johnston on bass and special guest Cassie Bofinger on tenor saxophone.
Matt loves the fact he is in a band with his wife. “It's pretty idealistic when you get to play with your friends and partners.
“I guess I grew up playing with my brother and that was always cool; that's what music was always about, playing with friends and family. So playing with your wife is a pretty supreme result,” Matt says.
Matt also hosts music festival events on his parents old property – his childhood home. This came about when he was around 20 after he got back from a year of travelling. “I had some big experiences [while travelling] and it didn't seem like [hosting a festival] was that unachievable.
“It was a bit of a naive thought; figured we could do it better, had a go at it, realised it was a bit of an undertaking but never gave up. I don’t regret the decision, but it was a pretty big one at the time,” Matt explains.
From there Dashville (name of Matt's venue/ business) has grown to be quite successful. They just hosted the 14th The Gum Ball festival, and held four festivals last year. Nowadays Dashville has a whole team of people making it all happen.
Back to the music and Matt finds it hard to pinpoint Magpie Diaries sound. “It's evolving. There's definitely a country element, it's born from the country, I grew up in the country and enjoy country music. I think there's different forms of country music, a lot of people call it Americana, I prefer to think of it as folk country.
“I like bands that have their own originality and approach that's probably the most important thing; we do what we feel comfortable doing. Maybe soul country, there's a bit of soul in there,” Matt adds.
The promotional poster for Magpie Diaries upcoming 'Sanctuary' tour features a little kid; the photo is of Matt as a child. “My mum took that at the beach one day obviously when I was that age.
“I didn't actually put the connection together before the artwork came out; it's a very young Magpie there with his arms outstretched ready to embrace the world,” Matt explains.
Matt speaks of his time travelling the world when he was young as a major influence in his persistence and self-belief system. “That was my first real time of realising how vulnerable we are as humans.
“I was travelling on my own, little boy from the bush, brought a car in Portugal and drove it all the way to Africa. I got robbed and got my identity stolen. I had to work out a way to get clothes and food, and get out of Morocco without a passport and get home when they had no records of my flight.
“Everybody needs to have a bit of a story, a basis of who they are and I guess that experience for me at such a pivotal age, it pushed me into believing that I could take on something such as running a festival, or I could record songs or write them and preform for people.”
Magpie Diaries 2019 Tour Dates
Wed 22 May - Dusty Attic Music Lounge (Lismore) Thu 23 May - Junk Bar (Brisbane) Fri 24 May - Bison Bar (Sunshine Coast) Sat 25 May - The Milk Factory (Brisbane) Sun 26 May - Pelican Playhouse (Grafton) Sun 2 Jun - Grand Junction Hotel (Hunter Valley) Thu 20 Jun - Django at Camelot (Sydney)