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‘Rough Diamond’: Wildcat Hawkins’ Debut Doesn't Dwell on the Pain

Parker Reed, photos by Andrea Paulseth

SOLACE IN A SCENE. Matt Keig, a.k.a. Wildcat Hawkins, almost quit music entirely before the Chippewa Valley music scene inspired him to keep going. His debut album, Rough Diamond, is the result of 10 years of mashing genres and singing from the heart. “I feel like that’s where the good stuff comes from in life,” he said.
SOLACE IN A SCENE. Matt Keig, a.k.a. Wildcat Hawkins, almost quit music entirely before the Chippewa Valley music scene inspired him to keep going. His debut album, Rough Diamond, is the result of 10 years of mashing genres and singing from the heart. “I feel like that’s where the good stuff comes from in life,” he said.

Not everything comes out perfectly the first time, and one local musician’s debut offering has been unearthed, molded, and is about to be presented to the world.

Matt Keig is a Chippewa Valley-based singer-songwriter who performs under the stage name Wildcat Hawkins. Performing regularly at open mics in Eau Claire and crafting his uniquely personal and intimate acoustic ballads, Keig released his first full-length album, Rough Diamond, on May 29.

“A lot of the songs are sad in a way, but they don’t dwell in that sadness. It’s more of an acknowledgment of how I felt and dealing with those feelings in a positive way. I hope that comes through and helps ease people’s minds.” –Matt Keig, a.k.a. Wildcat Hawkins

The collection of songs recorded independently by Keig from 2009-2011 and recently remastered by Kyle Culver of Sprinter Studios is a unique blend of genres bound to captivate the listener in ways they may not expect.

“I hope people can have a meditation of some kind and find some catharsis in this album,” Keig said. “A lot of the songs are sad in a way, but they don’t dwell in that sadness. It’s more of an acknowledgment of how I felt and dealing with those feelings in a positive way. I hope that comes through and helps ease people’s minds.”

Before arriving in Eau Claire, Keig struggled to find the words to describe the pain he was experiencing. Plagued by heartache and discontent, he put down his guitar and closed off his singing voice for a period of time before finding refuge in the Chippewa Valley music scene.

“I gave up on music,” Keig said. “I didn’t have any motivation. I felt disconnected from my art and felt pessimistic about everything associated with being a performer in general. I didn’t have any direction for what I wanted to do, I didn’t think it mattered if my work was good or not, and I didn’t think there was any type of market for the type of music I was making. But I started to meet the right people in this area and that started to turn things around.”

Now that the first Wildcat Hawkins album is out, and he has found his musical inspirations again, Keig said the next step in his musical journey is to keep releasing original music and capturing the melodies that flutter through his mind, escape through his voice, and capture the hearts of listeners.

“Music just gives me a special feeling,” Keig said. “It makes me feel at peace and in harmony with nature. Music makes me feel alert and alive. My music conjures feelings of the heart, and I feel like that’s where the good stuff comes from in life. It’s the only way I can express how I really feel.”


You can stream and buy Rough Diamond by Wildcat Hawkins on Bandcamp at
wildcathawkins.bandcamp.com.

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