Matt Orsini aims to spread the word about his perception of Christianity with his music
When we think of Christian music, most of us picture the traditional worship genre: the chilling, penetrating sounds of the organ, often accompanied by a chorus of soprano voices, most likely heard in an old, beautiful, impressive church.
But the fact is that there exists many different kinds of Christian music: rock, gospel, pop, blues, rap and yes, even metal.
“Royal Blood” by Southpaw. From the artist’s Official YouTube Channel.
Christian Metal is the genre 21-year-old Concordia student Matt Orsini has chosen to explore with his solo project, Southpaw. Orsini was raised in a Christian household, studied at a catholic high school, and is now minoring in religion. For the last few years, he has been creating music that combines his faith and his love for metal music, leading to a powerful, yet unconventional, final product.“You see, you either get the people who are just like, ‘I love it,’ the people who are like, ‘ef christianity,’ and the people who are like, ‘oh my God, this is blasphemy, you can’t use the F word,’ it’s ridiculous,” Orsini said.
The idea behind the name for the project came from the concept of the “southpaw” in Christianity, meaning the people who would write with their left hand and often be punished for doing so, Orsini explained.
“I thought, what a perfect title … there’s the right hand of God, and everybody should be writing possibly with their right hand—that’s what traditionally was believed—but I think that it’s time for us to move past tradition and conventional beliefs around christianity, and we really have to re-imagine the faith, because I don’t believe that people are getting on board with it anymore,” Orsini said. “And I think that … the southpaw in society is someone who can see past the conventional right-hand ways of doing everything and they can make their own way through faith as a Christian, and that’s basically what I’m doing.”
Orsini’s passion for music began when he was just a child. He started by learning how to play the guitar, and then took-up the bass. His first musical success came with a band called A Hopeless Lie, with whom he recorded an EP that contained five songs: one ballad and four heavier, faster songs. The lyrics did not address religion. After three years, the band broke up because of creative differences.
After the band’s break-up, Orsisni and some former members reunited and created a band called Abagail. The band stayed together for about a year and a half until Orsini quit, as he felt he was the only glue holding the band together, something he felt was a very bad sign.
After that, Orsini took a little time off from music, before finally starting his solo project, Southpaw, where he got to explore Christianity, a topic his past bands were not interested in writing about.
“A lot of the people that I was in bands with weren’t Christian or they didn’t believe in God, or they did all the drugs that I wasn’t into. It just didn’t jive with how I live my own life, and then I said that I had to make my own music that expressed how I feel,” Orsini said. “I think I really had to do it because, for me, there really isn’t any separating God from my life, and if I really love hardcore, then I think it should also be a part of the Christian music that I love and that I like to listen to.”
Orsini now does everything on his own: writing the lyrics, playing guitar, adding electronic drums and editing.
Last year, Southpaw released its first song, “Royal Blood.” The song looks at why using any kind of drug can negatively affect one’s relationship with God: “I was made to serve the Lord, not here lying on the floor/ As death beckons me and knocks on the door, a glutton of the chemicals is always begging for more/ And the rush is fine, but the down will make you wish you had died/ You close your eyes instead of looking inside, just ‘cause you’re breathing doesn’t mean you’re alive/ Look into my eyes, and you will see God.”
Orsini does not use any drugs whatsoever, except maybe a drink once in a while—though never enough to get drunk. He has proudly been “drug free since ‘93,” the year he was born.
“You know, go ahead, you’re free to do [drugs], but I don’t see how it’s going to bring you closer to God,” he said. “In the end, I think it’s the tightness of your relationship with God, your bro-ship with God, that’ll get you… not that it’ll get you into heaven, but it’s just nice to have. Instead of meeting Him for the first time, you’d like to be like ‘hey God, what’s up?’ fist-bump, and then you go through the door.”
After the song was released, some people criticized Orsini for swearing in a song that spoke about God in “Royal Blood.” His response?
“As human beings, we all swear. And I think that it’s only natural that we [accept] it. And actually, I think it makes it a little more honest. The fact that I say, like, Jesus loves you. Oh, yeah, ok. Dude. Jesus fucking loves you. It’s like, ok it’s more sincere! You have to admit it’s got this tone to it that’s just unrivaled by regular speech,” Orsini said.
Southpaw will soon be releasing a second song, entitled “Nails”, which deals with social crucifixion. According to Orsini, crucifixion is still present in today’s society, just not in the way we would expect. He believes that social crucifixion, where people are mentally attacked and harassed, is a huge problem today, in many different ways, like bullying on social media.
“I am a product of bullying, from when I was really young, and you need to be able to look through it. You might be able to crucify your body, but your spirit always lives on, as long as you have a good spirit you can get through everything,” Orsini said.
“I really think that it’s got to be genuine, from the heart, and because God comes from my heart, and because I genuinely am attached to hardcore music, the two go hand in hand. I really wanted to contribute to this scene that I said I could only find a handful of people in this scene, I really want to bridge that gap. People might want a bit of a different taste of christianity today, and I’m hoping that that is what I provide through my music, and that’s why I mix it up with hardcore.”