The rise of The Tallest Man on Earth practically mirrors our own. Back when KEXP first started playing the Swedish musician (read the story here), very little was known about him, not even his name. By the time he first came into the KEXP studio, in 2009, he was still relatively unknown, but his debut, Shallow Grave, was picking up steam. At the same time, we were just getting started with our video program, shooting as untrained videographers holding handicams. Even still, the video of his in-studio performance of “Where Do My Bluebird Fly” immediately became viral and soared to become our most popular video, more than doubling the views of even our next most popular combined.
Today, after two more excellent albums, Kristian Matsson is most likely more famous than his literal counterpart, Turkey’s Sultan Kösen, and is a force to be reckoned with. During his most recent tour, The Tallest Man on Earth sold out theaters across the country, a difficult feat for a solo performer, and fans practically rioted during his Portland performance at MFNW. Also in that time, our own video program has skyrocketed, with our accumulated video views on our YouTube channel growing each month by the millions (we have over 75 million views at a recent count) — but through the thousands of videos and hundreds of artists we’ve recorded over the last few years, The Tallest Man on Earth remained and remains one of our top three most popular artists of all time, now with well over a million and a half views just on that one video alone. He’s since performed for KEXP during MusicfestNW in 2011 to pack the house at Portland’s Doug Fir, and more recently stopped by the KEXP studio before a sold-out show at the Moore Theatre earlier this month.
In this exclusive performance, he’s as humble (and humbling to his fans and fellow musicians) as he’s ever been, as he shares three songs from his new album, There’s No Leaving Now, plus a cover of David Bazan’s “Lost My Shape.” Keep in mind, as you watch the new session below and compare it to his 2009 session, just how much and how little things have changed: