Interview: Mateo Stevens

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by Deanna Chapman

Mateo Stevens recently took some time to answer questions about how he became involved in music, landed a gig writing songs for a movie, and more. Be sure to check out the interview below!

You’re LA-based now, but did you grow up here or somewhere else?

I was born in Detroit, but my family moved to LA when I was a year old and I grew up in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. At 18 I moved away and was gone for 12 years, but came back to LA three years ago.  

How did you get involved with music?

I started playing guitar and singing at age 10, and played in punk bands all throughout my youth, learned about music production and performing and have been around musicians for as long as I can remember. After I moved back to LA I contacted my friend and producer Erik Janson and told him about the idea for the project and he was into it and we started working on it, writing and recording and shaping our sound.

Getting to do original songs for a film is a huge accomplishment, how does it feel? And how did you get the gig for Spare Parts?

It all started with the song “Back In Town,” having Asdru Sierra of Ozomatli and Abstrakto play the trumpet on the song really helped us get our foot in the door when shopping the song around for placements. It’s such a powerful part that he wrote after hearing the song and it really pulled everything together, and I think with his signature sound and reputation people really listened. “Back In Town” was written and recorded before the film placement process started, but once we met the people associated with Spare Parts there were some opportunities that came up to write some other pieces of music to specific scenes and as a result the other two songs came out very different than the first. We explored our ideas first about how the music fit the scenes and then took on board suggestions that came directly from producers on what they wanted. There was a real back and forth process and ultimately we ended up with some music that was different from our other stuff which we saw as a huge plus.

Are there plans to build on these songs and release a new album?

We did include the three songs that were placed in the film on the album that we released on August 7th. We felt that although different to the others in style, it was a good thing for the diversity of the whole album and there are common themes that still tie the songs to the others.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

The whole album was really inspired by my experience of reacquainting my-self with the city of Los Angeles after being gone for roughly 12 years. I wanted the music to mix elements of all the different types of music in LA. As a result we have rock, cumbia, electro and even some hip hop in there. If you listen to the whole album you will hear that many of the songs have themes of being on the move, traveling, or hitting the road so to speak.  The album itself was inspired by my travels, periods of uncertainty in life, and ultimately coming back to my home town and feeling like I understood it better from being away, and that’s when I felt ready to make the album.

What’s your best and worst LA experience?

One of my best experiences in LA recently I had a few friends from Barcelona visiting me who are big into music production and had some contacts out here in LA, even though they had never been here they ended up showing me some new things in my own city including some pretty wild warehouse parties in South LA going on til the wee hours of the morning. This city is so vast and there are so many things happening but you just don’t find those things without knowing the right people.

Worst experience recently the FBI showed up at my door, thankfully they were looking for the previous tenant, but it felt like the X Files!

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, where can we find you on social media?

Thank you!  The album Back In Town is available on Spotify and iTunes, and I have a website: mateostevens.com, and Instagram: mstevens_music, where we post videos, music and info about upcoming shows etc.

Also, check out the video for “Back In Town” featuring Zara Sky and Asdru Sierra!

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