“Delicate picking gives way to powerful strumming. Melodic whispers ascend into a booming chorus.  Songs about lasting friendships end, memories of fleeting moments begin.  Songs that invite you for the ride down the highways of the prairies. Songs that paint a picture in your mind that go well with a full glass and your mates by your side. Canadiana folk rock, your son is calling.”

-Adrian Gregorich (ramsgateandhackett.com)

Growing up, once-rapper Nepean white kid Matty ‘Graven’ McKechnie was a massive teen listener of J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and old school hip-hop. Having played in suburban garage bands since his mid-teens, he began to adapt and progress with the shifting musical terrain around him while still staying true to his idyllic influences. Graven’s songs are truly atmospheric, raw, passionate, personal and rare – and with a wild, rotating and circus-like band of hyper-talented individuals backing him (including his band The Dirty Hustle), his music generates interest and intensity. Having opened for and shared stage space with such artists as Slow Leaves, Megan Nash, Dave Gunning, Tanya Davis, The Wooden Sky, The Good Lovelies, Steve Poltz and Al Tuck, Graven is an active player in a few different collectives, and has been a two-time Cross-Canada touring guitarist and vocalist for Lanark, Ontario songstress & up and comer Ali McCormick.

JAYBIRD:

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“If you were to delve into Graven’s most recent record Jaybird, you might find yourself feeling a sense of nostalgia…We walk the finely woven web of McKechnie’s memories and musings, reflections that translated into a concept for an album. Jaybird is the culmination of those efforts, and it’s a finely composed collection of folk songs that range from the delicate and solitary to the hopeful and anthemic. There is a search for meaning that lingers throughout, which is hinged to the impetus of this album – the transient nature of moments, the inescapable reality that all things in life are impermanent. The bird flies through one’s field of view long enough to create a snapshot in time, if only in the mind, and then it’s gone…That’s how this album hooks you – it is pensive and raw, untethered from the harnesses of emotional apprehension. That is the power of a good song, or in this case, a good album. It draws the listener in and takes them on a journey through it all.”
– Matias Munoz (Ottawa Showbox)
The album that loomed weightily in my mind, consciousness, soul and in the dusty sound-hole of my Sigma acoustic for almost two and a half years is finally ready to be set free. These songs are about a very specific period in my life, and for nearly a year, I struggled with my desire to even make this album happen. Many of the songs were based on a concept that was linked to my real life. In the spring of 2013, I traveled alongside Matt Mays and his band for a few shows to film some social media videos. After 3 shows in southern Ontario, I headed back to work for my dad’s accounting company in Ottawa, and the band headed west to Alberta. 4 days after I left the band, Jay Smith (a guitarist and epicentre of the group) was found dead in his hotel room in Edmonton.
It was hard to know what to think or what to feel, and many of my musical friends from Halifax, and the greater music community of the east coast, were shredded. But I sort of went through that process as an outsider; I only knew Jay for a couple of days, and we only had one lovingly, laugh-y conversation about a mutual friend (Dave Marsh). In that short time, though, I saw that he affected many people in a direct and heavy sense. He was a master songwriter and a vicious guitarist. It was a month or so after Jay’s death that I separated from my ex-wife, and knew that my life needed some massive changes. And so, in the upheaval of such a massive and traumatic event, I was enduring personal traumas of my own. People seemed to be dying all around me. A great friend of my brother’s passed away that summer from leukemia, along with my friend Dan’s father in the spring, and another kind man and accountant from my dad’s company later that summer. I was struggling to find meaning or solace in the wake of this monsoon.
The songs of Jaybird aren’t really about Jay or any specific person – although that event is a flash-point for the theme of the songs. In 2015, my friend Paul Myers (a journalist and musician) posted a photo that he took with an iPhone app in Singapore. The photo is of a large bird flying away from him, as he views it from behind – and I realized that Jaybird was about a very fleeting and momentary idea. People can bring such colour and beauty and brilliance and power and creativity and inspiration and laughter and love into our lives – and in another instant, they can be gone. I started to see this truth also become evident in the seasonal nature of friendships, and how the good ones will last through storms – but the ones that are not very rooted, or worth much weight, can dissipate in the smallest spring shower.
But despite the deluge, Jaybird is ready to be let out of doors from its dark cabin basement dwelling to see the unrelenting and hopeful light of day. 15 songs were first tracked by Tom Brown and Steve Gaw in August of 2015 in Gaw’s basement – and the song count was later whittled down to 9. Tom captured a great overall deep guitar and drum sound for the beginning of the record, and Steve recorded one of the most sonorous tracks of the record with two microphones on one take.
It was after this pivotal point of making the first dent that I began to see another bird – one that was flying to me. After many years of searching and waxing and waning, I found Jillian in the fall of 2015 (October), and we clicked instantaneously and started a beautiful love relationship. And in the spring of 2016 (early May), our daughter Sloan started winging her way into the world and joined us on December 24, 2016. The song O Little Plum is Sloan’s bright spark of new things amidst the sorrow, and a breaking point in a long night.
The super-talented band I play with (The Dirty Hustle) added master strokes to this record. Steve Gaw (bass, keys) and Justin L Purvis (drums) played on nearly half the tunes, and Ben Mullin (guitar) was able to get his sweet licks on to one, but in the end, I ended up rounding out the remainder of the project on my own. My old camp friend Jason Germain (of Jason Germain Mastering in Nashville, TN) also added some incredibly skillful fine-tune brush strokes to the main meat and rough edges of the sound, and he really put forth a wizardly powerhouse effort to get these songs finished.
I hope you find some peace in Jaybird, or at least a tiny twinge of hope.
It did that for me.
May it find you well – wherever you are.

Tour

MARCH 24 – WHITEWATER BREWING CO. – COBDEN, ON (W BEN MULLIN)

APRIL 8 – IRENE’S – OTTAWA, ON (W THE DIRTY HUSTLE & BEST FRIENDS/ RACHEL STILES, OL’ FOG EYE AND OWEN DAVIES)

MAY 5 – ACOUSTIC GRILL – PICTON, ON (W BEN MULLIN)

MAY 26 – THE COVE – WESTPORT, ON (W BEN MULLIN)

JUNE 15 – BLACK SHEEP INN – WAKEFIELD, QC (W SLOW LEAVES & COLLEEN BROWN)

AUG 4 – PRESSED – OTTAWA, ON (W BEN MULLIN , MEGAN NASH & TARIQ ANWAR)

AUG 12 – THE DOMINION HOTEL – MINDEN, ON (SOLO)

SEP 8 – BAR ROBO – OTTAWA, ON (W THE SONIC DEFENSE + RACHEL STILES)

*SEP 21 – BAR ROBO GUITAR HOBO RESIDENCY (NIGHT 1 OF 4)*

*OCT 5 – BAR ROBO GUITAR HOBO RESIDENCY (NIGHT 2 OF 4)*

OCT 13 – IRENE’S – OTTAWA, ON (W NEW BAND + SLOW LEAVES, STILL WINTER HILLS  AND SPECIAL GUEST CATRIONA STURTON)

OCT 14 – WHITEWATER BREWERY – COBDEN, ON (W CATRIONA STURTON)

*OCT 19 – BAR ROBO GUITAR HOBO RESIDENCY (NIGHT 3 OF 4)*

*NOV 5 – BAR ROBO GUITAR HOBO RESIDENCY (NIGHT 4 OF 4)*

NOV 10 – MUSIKKI – KINGSTON, ON (W CATRIONA STURTON)

Press

JAYBIRD (2017):
“Matty McKechnie, the man behind the music of Graven, had to take a trip through the darkness before he could see the light…The album draws its name, and much of its inspiration, from the fleeting moments he shared with East Coast rocker Jay Smith, the guitarist for Matt Mays whose tragic and sudden suicide in 2013 shocked the Canadian music world…After closing the latest chapter, one full of darkness and death, he’s turned to a fresh page by welcoming a new life into the world. His first child, daughter Sloan, was born on Christmas Eve.”
-Aedan Helmer (Ottawa Citizen)
“McKechnie is probably best known as Graven, a soulful singer/song writer who was a contender for CBC’s Searchlight music competition in 2015. His lyrics are like poetry, not surprising when you consider he started his musical career as a rapper from Nepean, cutting his teeth on old school hip-hop rhymes will also listening to classic rock. Though the first record he ever owned was Springsteen’s Born in the USA, it was rap that first really gripped him, inspired by the poetic wordplay of LL Cool J, Run DMC and the Beastie Boys…Here, McKechnie walks the ridges of an alt-country landscape planting seeds of folk-rock along the way. What sprouts up are songs he calls his “thickest”, “crunchiest” and “folk-rocky-est” to date.”
-Andre Gagne (Ottawa Life Magazine)
“If you were to delve into Graven’s most recent record Jaybird, you might find yourself feeling a sense of nostalgia. Graven is the ongoing alt-country/folk project of Matt McKechnie, a long-time musician, journalist, videographer… and whatever else it is he is really good at. He is supported by his band, The Dirty Hustle, who added some gritty layers and rounded out a lot of the songs on Jaybird. We walk the finely woven web of McKechnie’s memories and musings, reflections that translated into a concept for an album. Jaybird is the culmination of those efforts, and it’s a finely composed collection of folk songs that range from the delicate and solitary to the hopeful and anthemic. There is a search for meaning that lingers throughout, which is hinged to the impetus of this album – the transient nature of moments, the inescapable reality that all things in life are impermanent. The bird flies through one’s field of view long enough to create a snapshot in time, if only in the mind, and then it’s gone.”
-Matias Munoz (Ottawa Showbox)
CHANNELSURFING THE SEAS OF THE CINEMATIC MIND (2015):
“Delicate picking gives way to powerful strumming. Melodic whispers ascend into a booming chorus.  Songs about lasting friendships end, memories of fleeting moments begin.  Songs that invite you for the ride down the highways of the prairies. Songs that paint a picture in your mind that go well with a full glass and your mates by your side. Canadiana folk rock, your son is calling.”
-Adrian Gregorich (ramsgateandhackett.com)
“Ottawa musician Matt McKechnie also known as ‘Graven’ is a singer –song writer with moving, poetic, thoughtful lyrics…The 20-song album is about the idea that sometimes life is like a foreign film. It features themes of death, redemption, pain and solitude.”
-Adria May (Apt613.ca)
FROM MOUNTAINVIEW TO CANYON HEART (2007):
“It doesn’t take much effort to get this EP. The songs are made with honesty and heart and invite you along for a little drive down a black highway. It is a short trip any northwest music-lover should take.”
-Michael Dallas Miller (Burnside Writers Collective)
VALLEY THEORY (2009):
“I was quite taken aback by the sounds of the Valley Theory EP by the underground Canadian rockers Graven. As opposed to reaching out for the anthemic pop heights of its countrymen and women, these guys have opted for reinventing and revisiting some solid ‘90s Midwestern rock. If not for regular references to Northern touchstones like Halifax, the Northern Lights, and the Lodestar, Graven could easily and deservedly be mistaken for yet another hard-working bar rock band from the American Midwest. Matt’s sonic influences range from Wilco to Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, and the Gin Blossoms with twinges of Spoon and The Hold Steady present for good measure.”
-Adam P. Newton (Dryvetyme Online)
“Musically, the band puts the emphasis on a warm, spacious sound. It’s slightly fuzzy around the edges but never overdriven and never stretching past a comfortable gallop.”
-Bob Ham (PASTE, Portland Mercury, Stereogum)
“Graven may not set the world on fire, or even usher in a belated jangle-rock revival, but they’re good at what they do, and anyone else who pines for Toad The Wet Sprocket should find plenty here to enjoy.”
-iheartmusic.net
FEEL REAL (2013):
“(Matt’s) smooth, evocative voice meshed well with their mellow sound and his ability to mix singing while playing the guitar and harmonica was very impressive…The harmonica riffs were so reminiscent of ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ that the Tambourine Man himself might as well have been playing along with them.”
-Caroline Garrod (The Queens Journal)
“Graven’s lyrical content ranges from dealing with the everyday, skirting with the spiritual, to dealing with facing what you find digging through your old stuff in your parent’s basement…No matter if you’re young, old or somewhere in between, change in life is something we are all struggling with, and Matt might give you a fresh perspective.”
-Michael Pacitto (North Grenville Times)