Touring Musician Talks UMD Roots, Life in the Music Industry

By Jesse Johnson 

At the University of Maryland, Matt Baden was a communication major. Currently, Baden considers himself a full-time musician, studio engineer and producer. 

“I didn’t think it was going to be the path for me, but as I got older, it became clearer,” he said. 

Baden, who releases music under the name “Warren Russell,” grew up in Severna Park, Maryland, and began taking classes at the university as a freshman in 2014. Constantly playing music, there wasn’t too much time to get involved in activities or clubs around campus, he said. 

“I had friends that were involved in different clubs and Greek life, but I never pursued that,” Baden said. 

In his sophomore year, Baden released his first full-length album under the “Warren Russell” alias, “Nothing but a Little Bit of Something.” After its release, Baden visited Los Angeles during spring break and met up with Dru Decaro, who Baden had known through playing in the Maryland music scene. 

After a second visit, Baden began working as an intern at Decaro’s studio, where he said he was introduced to a “boatload of great artists.” Baden moved to Los Angeles after his junior year and transferred to the Los Angeles College of Music to study music production and guitar. 

Having only visited California two times, and Decaro being the only friend he had there, Baden said the decision to move was exciting, but he was still nervous to leave home. 

“Taking a leap of faith to leave Maryland to live in a whole new city was what it took to really push me to pursue a living in this career,” he said. 

While working under Decaro, Baden met Christian French, a “young gun” from Indiana. After working together on French’s song “Love Ride,” and getting to know each other, Baden was asked by French to play guitar on his upcoming tour opening for Chelsea Cutler, which Baden accepted. 

“Neither of us had any prior tour experience,” Baden said. “We went into this wide-eyed and as prepared as we could be.” 

Opening for Chelsea Cutler on tour, as well as opening for Quinn XCII and embarking on a headlining tour with Christian French gave Baden a fair outlook as to what touring is like, he said. 

The first thing you learn while on tour, he said, is how to live out of a suitcase, with the key being to pack only essential needs. Touring also brings certain lifestyle changes, including being mindful of what you eat and how much sleep you get. 

“It is very easy to want to go hit bars every night,” Baden said. “But there is an obligation to perform and execute, and that takes priority.”  

Even though he is no longer a student, Baden looks at his experience at UMD as beneficial, with some of the connections he made at the school crossing into his music career. 

“Although I’m not using my communications degree necessarily, I think the social skills I learned while attending a big school like that was what helped me in my first few months in Los Angeles,” Baden said. “I had to make new friends and new connections, much like it was when I left high school to go to college.” 

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cam Nisbet.

Jesse Johnson is a junior journalism major and can be reached at rockerjj17@yahoo.com.

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