Matt Sauter found his folk after a painful breakup.
The 25-year-old folk rock singer-songwriter, who’s known as Adventures with Vultures, switched from making hip-hop music after his then girlfriend told family and friends that he played guitar and sang.
“She wasn’t a big fan of me making rap music,” Sauter said. “She would always tell her family and parents that ‘He’s a singer, he plays guitar and sings.’ When she broke up with me, it really hurt, so I said if she wants to tell everybody that I play guitar and sing, then I’m going to play guitar and sing.”
Two years later, Sauter officially entered the folk rock world with the release of his new Adventures with Vultures EP, “Junction,” in October on Original 1265 Recordings. Named after a street in Plymouth, Mich., “Junction” represents a rite of passage for Sauter as an individual and a musician.
“There’s like a handful of us, me and my buddies, we all actually have JCT tattooed on us, so there’s a little brotherhood with these kids that I grew up with, and they’re still my great friends,” he said. “I wanted to make this project for these kids who had been around me since we were 6.”
At age 6, Sauter discovered his love of music while playing makeshift drums with his older brother in Plymouth. He started banging on pots and pans and later graduated to his first drum kit. By that time, Sauter’s brother was in middle school and had decided to form a band with friends his own age.
“I was just kinda sitting there like, ‘What the hell do I do?’” said Sauter, who’s influenced by Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and Eminem. “So I started joining bands with kids my own age and played drums in some bands. I also played bass real briefly in some bands and dabbled with that.”
“Junction” serves as a critical turning point in Sauter’s professional journey to become a musician. For nearly 20 years, Sauter has been telling family and friends that music is his one and only career path. Today, he’s less than four months away from receiving his honors bachelor’s degree in songwriting from the Detroit Institute of Music Edition (DIME) in Detroit.
“Back then, it was cute for a 6 year old to say it, and then as we got older and started going to college, I kept saying it. People were like, ‘Dude, you have to hang up this dream,’ and now, I’m still doing it,” he said. “No, this is my plan A, my plan B, my plan C, and I’m going to keep going.”
Sauter achieved his first professional musical milestone with the release of “Skies of Gold” as part of DIME Sessions Volume 2, an annual compilation album that features some of the school’s emerging musical talent from the Motor City.
Soon after, he signed to Original 1265 Recordings, an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company, and recorded his first EP at Tempermill Studio in Ferndale, Mich. Elise McCoy, DIME head of recruitment and admissions, produced “Junction” and initially auditioned Sauter at the school.
“I remember going into Tempermill, and it was like a super ‘70s, ‘80s recording vibe,” he said. “It was a giant room with carpet, and it’s real old school looking, wooden floors and just gorgeous. It’s kinda like a full circle thing with the person who auditioned me is now producing my first project.”
Behind the ‘Junction’ EP
As his first Adventures with Vultures project, “Junction” features four introspective folk tracks based on Sauter’s personal experiences in life and love. Sauter talked about the inspiration behind each song on the EP:
1. “Okay Guy” – “It’s funny, all these songs are pretty much about girls, but I was dating a girl, she was more on the religious side than I am. She was mad that a lot of my songs that I had been performing were about the original girl who broke up with me, which I explained to her that the best songs come from a sad place. I tried to channel that heartbreak. I’m d***in’ around with ‘Okay Guy,’ and the lyrics say, ‘If heaven is true, wondered if you would let God know that I’m an ‘Okay Guy.’ I kinda wrote that song kinda being a smart a** to her. I’m like, ‘I wrote you a song,’ and she wasn’t too happy about it, but the song ended up being one of my main tunes.”
2. “I Found a Dreamer” – “I had a couple of buddies who wanted to be pro baseball players when we were kids. They were good baseball players, and I played football my whole life. Obviously, when you get older … these dreams kinda get changed into real adult jobs. I mean, I’m 25 years old, but being 8 years old wasn’t technically that far away, but what happened to those dreams that everybody was so furious about? ‘I wanna be pro,’ and then all of a sudden, they just settled for ‘I’m gonna go to college, and I’m going to sell seat belt buckles.’ This song is about if you stop believing, then I’m going to still chase my dream, and you can live out your dream vicariously through me.
3. “Poor Boy” – “I have a buddy I grew up with, he’s a little bit older than me, but he’s still a good friend of mine. Like two years ago, he attempted suicide. He’s all good now. He just went through a depressed stage. Everybody goes through it. I’m not going to say that song is about him, but when I heard the news of him trying to take his life … that song I started writing at the same time he attempted suicide. It was like, ‘Listen man, s**t’s hard, it’s hard for everybody. This life is not easy. Keep loving yourself, and keep going after it.’ ‘Poor Boy’ was kinda written more as a sappier song, and now it’s kinda more like a power, inspirational, fast-driven song.”
4. “Heart on My Sleeve” – “That’s about the main girl who broke up with me. When we kinda broke up, I was kinda hurt about it, and we were still talking a little bit. Then, she broke the news to me that she had a boyfriend, and she was moving to California. Bam – just like that. I’m like, ‘When are you going to California?’ and she’s like, ‘In a week.’ I’m like, ‘Holy s**t.’ When she left, I was kinda bummed about it. I haven’t really written any songs about her because of my first original couple because I was in a good place. I just got signed. I’m like, ‘I’m over her, and I have kinda a different inspiration other than her.’
New Adventures on the Horizon
Sauter will be headlining one of his first big performances Jan. 20 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Mich., with Fusion Shows. He’ll be sharing the bill with Brother Elsey (formerly Fifth and Main), Great Expectations and Honey Monsoon.
“A lot of my buddies’ bands are going to be opening up, and I mean some great bands,” said Sauter, who will be playing with a live four-piece band during the show. “We’re excited about that one.”
He also recently released a new music video for “Okay Guy” and has been writing some new material for another upcoming project.
“As for new songs, I will play them in the set, but they’re not songs that anybody’s going to be able to hear for a while because we’re focusing more on the ‘Junction’ EP as of right now,” he said.