Matthew Santos Interview
By: Cara Carriveau
Grammy-nominated artist Matthew Santos has established himself as one of the rare and striking voices quickly emerging from the Windy City’s music scene. With a growing fan base hailing him for his ethereal voice, Santos has secured his place in current music with his distinguished style and elusive musical gift.
Santos and his band are featured as one of the top ten bands to watch in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times. They are currently recording and developing original material for their forthcoming album to be released in early 2010. His full band features Aviva Jaye (vocals, keyboard), Robert Tucker (drums), Graham Burris (bass) and Matthew Nelson (keyboard).
Native to Minneapolis, Santos discovered his passion for music at age six when he started playing piano and his inspiration for playing guitar began at the age of fifteen. At first Santos pursued the visual arts, but decided to dedicate his life solely to music and relocated to Chicago in 2001 to study music composition at Columbia College Chicago.
He released his first independently produced album Change is Better in 2004 and EP As a Crow Flies in 2006. In November of 2007, Santos released an acoustic album Matters of the Bittersweet under Candy-Rat Records, with intimate video recordings available on YouTube.
“The acoustic, folk-pop fare is a far cry stylistically from what Santos contributed to many tracks on Fiasco’s latest album, “The Cool.” However, the soulful underpinnings of his voice are what remain consistent, containing a versatility suitable for his singer/songwriter styling as well as R&B.” – Billboard Magazine
“I want to be an artist that people won’t know what to expect from next, but they can expect that it’s going to be quality. I’m not a niche artist that writes and sings the same kind of songs over and over again, and I think that’s what sets me apart from other singer/songwriters,” says Santos.
Santos’ vocals are featured on multiple tracks on the Gold Record “The Cool” accompanying Grammy-Award winner hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. Their collaboration is best known on the Grammy-nominated single “Superstar.”
In 2008, Santos joined Fiasco on his world tour, including debut appearances on MTV’s TRL and Spring Break, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Show with Craig Ferguson and David Letterman’s first live show after the 2007 Writer’s Guild of America Strike.
They opened the 2007 mtvU Woodie Awards and performed on MTV’s 2008 VMAs. While touring, Santos performed in festivals including Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and South by Southwest music conference. Santos and Fiasco opened Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour.
It’s a belief in something bigger than himself and his musical vision that motivates Santos as a singer-songwriter. “I hope to inspire people through music to take responsibility for their own talents and use them to serve the greater good,” Santos says. “I want to show the world that you can do what you love and live in this society, finding a balance between coexisting in a social construct and following your heart.”
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