Exclusive Matthew Santos Interview

Nowadays, it’s tough to find an artist who can cross boundaries of genres, and still remain equally talented in each field.

Not many people can claim to be able to have a mastery over folk/acoustic music, and yet deliver a chorus on a hip-hop track that has the entire world singing.

Overrating The Underrated has found one. We bring you an exclusive interview we conducted with the critically-acclaimed Matthew Santos. Click below!

The talent displayed in the spectrum of music Matthew Santos involves himself in will endear him to anyone. From the chorus of Lupe Fiasco’s Superstar, to a live performance of Love Sick Fool, he has the ability to express a wide range of emotions, and the conviction to take you on the emotional ride with him.

For those of you unfamiliar with his solo work, check out his Myspace to listen to a few tracks. I expect most of you are familiar with his work with Lupe Fiasco, and if you aren’t, check out both of his albums to hear Matthew on a variety of tracks, including (but not limited to) American Terrorist, Streets on Fire, and of course Superstar.

Be sure to listen out for the new Lupe Fiasco single Shining Down which also features Matthew, and is set to be released on iTunes UK imminently.

Without further ado, enjoy the interview. A huge thank you to Matthew Santos for your time, and also a big thank you to Amanda Meyer for organising the whole thing.

How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard your solo work?

An old Soul singer raised on Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper, Bjork, and Ella Fitzgerald, with bittersweet, pop sensibilities, and wandering, explorative tendencies…

How is the new album coming along? What can fans expect from the album?

The new album is almost finished! This album is a bit more ambitious than previous works because it touches on musical ideas that I’ve never explored before.  I was extremely involved with the production process so it gave me a chance to experiment with some things.

There are epic rock songs like “Wide Eyed Fire Fly” and “On the Radio” which comment on my experience with mainstream music psychology and the effect that it has on an artist.  Then there are songs like “Born To Do” which mix elements of hip/hop production and pop/rock/breakbeat with a message of taking responsibility of our unique gifts and talents.  Then there are some ballads, some folk songs, some cinematic, orchestral shit.  We also take you to church with a gospel choir in “Death, Sex, and Regret”.  The album may be seen by some as a bit schizophrenic as far as range of genre, but when it comes down to it, it’s all soul music to me.  Besides, I feel that nowadays there is more emphasis on the “single-song” then the “total-album” so this gives music lovers of different creeds a chance to enjoy at least some of our music, if not all of it, and hopefully people are open enough to see the art in all of it.

Your live shows have been rated highly over in the US, and your live album sounds awesome. What can someone who has only recently heard your music expect from your shows?

I currently am performing my material in two different fashions: solo, and with my band.  Solo performances are as intimate and soulful as it gets in my opinion.  It’s immediate, raw, organic energy– just a guy and an guitar.  With the band the energy is hotter, more powerful, more dynamic.  It’s more of a soul/rock show with the band, but it tends to be a little less intimate.  Overall my priority in live performance is to sing and play from a sincere place or mind-state.  To do that, I really have to be immersed in the emotions of the songs so that those raw feelings are clearly transferred to the listener.  That’s why I usually sing with my eyes closed, ‘cause if I’m not feeling it I promise the listener won’t be either.

What’s the heaviest animal you could throw over a football post? (American Football posts are included…)

I don’t know, an ostrich?

You’ve done some great collaborative work with Lupe Fiasco. Are there any artists out there right now that you’d like to collaborate with?

I’d love to do a song with Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, or to work with DJ Shadow, Bjork, Sia, or Fiest.  And Daft Punk!  I really love Andrew Bird too.

You seem to have an appeal to a range of styles, as your solo work is more acoustic/folk based, whereas the Lupe work seems more Soulful/urban. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

You name it.  Lately I’ve been into soundtracks to movies.  The Fountain has an amazing score to it.  I feel that more music you listen to as a singer/songwriter the more colors you have to work with in your own songs.

If you had a bionic arm, what would you name it and why?

I would name it Omni.  Like the “omni” used in words like omnipotent, or omnificent.

As you know, we’re trying to spread the word about you in the UK. Have you spent much time in the UK before? If so, how did you find it?

Yeah I’ve been to London a bunch, and Dublin and Cork etc.  We did Glastonbury last year when I toured with Lupe throughout Europe in the summer.  It was amazing!  Kinda expensive, but I can’t wait to go back.

Anything else you’d like to say?

As soon as there is enough support in the UK for me to be able to come over there and tour, I’m there!  Spread the word and I’ll see you soon indeed.  Peace in love.

There you have it folks. Needless to say, let’s spread the word and get Matthew over here!
Keep an eye out for his upcoming album as it sounds like it’s going to be something for everyone, and of course keep your eyes peeled for more exclusive interviews!
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