Matthew van der Want’s debut album, “Turn on You”, was recorded in 1996 by Lloyd Ross of Shifty Records and released on the Tic Tic Bang record label in December. “Turn on You” featured several well-known South African musicians, including former African National Congress member of parliament, Jennifer Ferguson, who performed on two duets on the album, and Tananas drummer Ian Herman. Two singles from Turn on You reached the 5FM National Top 40 and several of the tracks from the album received airplay in South Africa.
In 1998 and 2002, van der Want collaborated with songwriter and composer Chris Letcher to release an EP and two albums. 1998’s “Low Riding” album was nominated in two categories in the South African Music Awards in the Best Rock album and Best Adult Contemporary categories. 2002’s “Bignity” was also nominated for Best Rock album in the 2002 South Africa Music Awards. Both albums were recorded by Lloyd Ross of Shifty. The acoustic duo of van der Want and Letcher were critically acclaimed and they were repeatedly hailed as two of South Africa’s top singer songwriters. Bignity was listed in the Mail and Guardian’s top ten albums of the decade (2000–2010).