Getting To Know Mateo

Mateo (Headphones)
Introducing Mateo: a young singer-songwriter from New York via LA, who has penned hits for the likes of Jazmine Sullivan and Eve.  Now, Mateo is stepping out from behind the writing pad and in front of the mic with his new live album, the aptly titled Get To Know Me (Live At Swinghouse).   Having abandoned a career as a financial consultant, Mateo decided to pursue his true love of music after a chance encounter with John Legend.

“I was a marketing major at college, like most kids I didn’t want to say I did music because it seems a little bit wacky, people look at you like you’ve got your head in the clouds” Mateo reminisces on the phone to SoulCulture.   “While I was still at college my first job interview was with [then financial consultant] John Legend… I remember looking at his interview card and seeing his bio and saw that he played keyboards and I was like, ‘I got this in the bag ‘cause I’m into music and he’s on the same page as me’.”

Mateo (Complicated)cropMateo didn’t get the consultants job, but he and Legend kept in touch and the meeting became a turning point in Mateo’s career; “I ended up quitting my consulting career.  It got to the point where being in an office every day I felt like I was dying inside, I really hated it.  I ended up quitting and moving to LA to do music.”

Mateo soon found work as a composer on rapper Eve’s hit TV show whilst immersing himself in the LA music scene.  However Mateo struggled with overwhelming stage fright in the early days, he says.  “I had stage fright like crazy, but one of my friends booked me a show at Hotel Café which is a small but really famous venue in LA.  After that I really caught the performing bug.  I love it now – I feel more natural up there on stage than anywhere else.”

Mateo’s gigging schedule accelerated rapidly and his sold out live performances as well as a huge following on MySpace ended up leading to a deal with MySpace Records.

When asked about his sound Mateo describes himself as a cross between Alicia Keys and Coldplay stating, “It’s piano based music, it’s got some Alicia Keys influences but also a lot of Coldplay influences.  Those guys as well as Lauryn Hill and India.Arie helped me define this sound”.

Combining elements of R&B, soul, alternative rock and pop, Mateo has created his own style with songs such as ‘Get To Know Me’, ‘Complicated’ and ‘Human’, the track that helped launch his career.  “It’s being influenced by all these different genres to come up with this mega hyper genre,” Mateo says of his personal style.

Along Mateo’s journey he has meet some of the biggest and most influential artists in music.  “I ran into Quincy Jones at party in LA and was asking him, for young artists and producers, what is his advice.  He said, ‘Take your favourite arrangements and remake them’.  I think what he meant by that was all of those songs that you love, study why you love them, what is it about them that you love and try to put that into your own music and incorporate that sound or that idea,” says Mateo.

Mateo is currently embarking on a US tour supporting British indie band Keane and will, in the not too distant future, be bringing his sound to UK audiences.

Get To Know Me: Live At Swinghouse is out now on MySpace Records.

–Chris O’Gorman

Mateo online: Official Website | Twitter | MySpace | YouTube