With a career spanning over 20 years, Matt Riley, our Creative Director of Music Performance and Industry, that counts the likes of Willie Russell and Jackie Lomax as former colleagues. Now, he is passing his expertise on to the next generation of musical talent – here, he shares his tips and reveals all…


Tell us a bit about your early days in music…

I always loved music. There was always a lot of music in the house while I was growing up. My dad started to learn the guitar and would show me the chords – but within a few weeks, I’d caught up and was better than him!

After a short stint in a band formed at school, I was asked to join a group as their guitarist. We were quickly signed to Elton John’s label and were named The Spirits – it was a real whirlwind of rehearsals, tours and recording sessions.


What has been the chart topping moment of your career?

It has to be playing the Mercury Lounge in New York with The Spirits – many of my idols had performed there so it was huge deal for me. Filming the video for our single, Mohave Desert, was another highlight. I remember thinking how beautiful the setting was and how this was exactly what people dream of.


What’s the best thing about teaching at LMA?

Watching a student’s journey and supporting them from their first performance through to their graduation is incredible. I’m proud to be part of such a passionate, hard-working team.


What makes training at LMA so special?

The hands-on time students get is invaluable and there is no substitute for being in the thick of it -playing instruments and rehearsing in bands. Everything we do and write for the students is replicating the industry, so they’re getting ‘real-life’ experience early on working on exciting projects.


Looking ahead to The Grammys in February. What’s the secret to creating an award-winning song?

If there was a recipe then everyone would do it! Broadly speaking, it’s about hooking in to something or having a song that could be lyrically poignant at that time. Or, it could just be a great melody. The rest is all about and getting the right people to hear it!


What advice would you give to musicians wanting to break into the industry?

That’s simple: Listen to everything going on and take everything on board. And grab as many opportunities as you can – you never know who is watching and where it could lead you!


Favourite song lyric of all time?

In terms of my favourite lyrics, I love Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, all the classics.  My favourite lyrics change from day to day and even minute by minute.  One lyric that always makes me smile is from Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’,

‘I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes

And just for that one moment I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes

You’d know what a drag it is to see you’

It’s angry, harsh and honest!


What song do you wish to have written?

That is way too difficult to answer!  Okay then, I know it’s more than one song but it’ll have to be the B-side of Abbey Road.


Who would you love to perform with?

The list is endless: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The Beatles, Cream, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Miles Davis…I could go on and on.