Born in Nanaimo, B.C., Matt Aasen’s relationship with music began when he first picked up a guitar at the age of 13. After taking a few lessons at a local music store, he came to the conclusion that simply knowing how to play a piece of music wasn’t enough; he sensed there was something deeper to be understood beneath the surface. He eventually moved on to lessons in jazz and theory with renowned Canadian jazz guitarist and then Vancouver Island University guitar instructor Pat Coleman. After studying with him for a year, Aasen enrolled in the jazz program at VIU, where he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies.

Following his degree, Aasen started teaching lessons at his local Long & McQuade. Over time, he developed a passion for teaching, which helped him become one of the most sought-after guitar teachers in town. By the time he had decided to come to Toronto, he had been at L&M for 10 years, was teaching 60 students a week, and had hosted five masterclasses in the store.

Teaching at L&M provided Aasen with a flexible schedule that allowed him to continue to gig, tour and record. During this time, he released eight albums, embarked on 14 tours of Western Canada, and played more than 200 concerts, including performances at Rifflandia Music Fest, Victoria Jazz Fest, Victoria Ska Fest, and Kaslo Jazz Fest. The styles of music performed and recorded ranged from progressive metal to pop to fusion.

Currently, Aasen’s main creative outlet is with Hard.Times, which endeavours to disguise tuplets and odd meter within easily digestible R&B and jazz. Lately, the group has been collaborating with vocalist Felicity Baker, with whom they’ve released the single High With Me.

Over the course of the pandemic, however, Aasen didn’t have many opportunities to play music with others, so he began getting serious about solo jazz guitar. He had his first solo performance in August in Nanaimo. Now, he’s here in Toronto working on his master of jazz performance while trying to refine his solo chops.