Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Revolution - part one

Who is Mateo Jordache?

How dare I attempt to define a man in a few paragraphs? Especially a man of complexity; a man continually evolving through artistic exploration and self-examination.

No longer is Mateo Jordache the twelve-year-old boy torn between two families; nuclear and professional, a brand new lead vocalist who's soul-lifting voice caught listeners by surprise and inevitably reminded them of.. another M.J.

Nor is he the youth in the good seats at the Juno Awards daring to hope, nor the one on stage at the Canadian Urban Music Awards, shaking hands and unleashing his dreams a little more. He is no longer the youth at the helm of the production studio for the first time, in awe of the new art; the marriage of image and sound. And he is no longer the man who took the leap and put the bulk of his resources and reputation on the line to become the impetus for a new corporation.

And yet he is all those things and more; a young man changed, for better more than worse, with each brave step and new experience. And he is still a self-taught musician; always seeking the next new instrument to make acquaintance with, and the next challenge; the next opportunity to attempt to improve himself and the lives of those around him.

He is a man of warm humour who bares his thoughts and deeds with rare transparency, who pours himself, unvarnished, into the songs he writes. In an unforgiving culture where artists and performers almost universally rely on public facades as a shield; a necessity for self-preservation, Mateo Jordache resists - at what cost, remains to be seen.

Grounded by an R&B base and styled by sounds as diverse as Gospel and New Age, runs the soundtrack to one man's life; an ongoing story of love, pain, desire and dreams; a story not unlike your own and mine.

I wrote the above piece in February 2010 and later that year we conducted the following interview. Here is the transcript. In part two I will reveal the latest evolution of one of the most inspiring people I know:

  RL: Alright?

  MJC: Alright.

  RL: When did you decide that you were a musician? And is that the right label for you?

  MJC: Yeah. That's a loaded question. How do I answer that one? When did I decide that I was going to be a musician: I think it was offered to me, the idea; the prospect of being a musician. Well, I shouldn't say that. It was offered to me; the prospect of being an entertainer. At first when I got into the music industry I can't truly say that I was a musician. At first I was more of a puppet for two masterminds behind the project that I was in, called Unique, which stayed the same band members but we left those guys. Anyway, I'd have to say I definitively knew I was an artist when I started creating music here, which was in ninety-six. that's when I got my keyboard.

  RL: And you were what age?

  MJC: I was sixteen if my math is right. Which it's probably wrong! [laughs] It was either 1998 or 1996.

  RL: So, you said the two masterminds?

  MJC: We had partnered with these two guys. I won't say names. But we partnered with two guys in Toronto who basically wrote the songs, produced the songs, branded us and we didn't have much say - in much of anything, really. We were doing what we were told because these guys had taken us under their wing, right? So there were pros and cons with that scenario.

  RL: And at that time you were working with Dane and Omar -

  MJC: Dane, Omar and Joel; yeah. Joel, being my cousin.

  RL: How long had you been working with them at that point?

  MJC: When we got together with those two guys? We'd been working together for about two years as a band. I was asked to be in the band in May of 1996

  RL: And what were your experiences from that point on? You were singing?

  MJC: Yeah. We started going into the recording studio pretty much right away. Actually the day I joined the band - or a few days prior to that, we did a photo shoot. And after that we started going into the studio in Toronto called - what was the name of the studio? Prime Time. And there was a guy that owned it; Danny Mazer. And he was such a nice guy. Always a nice guy. That's what I remember about him. One day we got a call. He'd been in a horrible accident when he was on vacation and he was paralyzed from the neck down. Pretty terrible.

  RL: So at that time you called yourself an artist because you had what capacities? What was your contribution to the operation at that time?

  MJC: My basic understanding of being an artist is that you create - whatever your product is, I guess is what it comes down to. We had started out where I wasn't creating. I was singing; performing the product as opposed to creating it. And when I got my first keyboard; the Trinity Plus, which is now classic - it's funny. That was when I started to feel like an artist. That's what being an artist represented. Da Vinci didn't have someone painting his paintings for him. He painted his paintings.

  RL: So at that time did you decide that music was going to be the primary focus of your life?

  MJC: Yeah. When I was asked to be in the band I was fourteen and that's when I devoted my life to music. I would say that when I was sixteen that's when I felt like an artist. Those two years between I felt like I was just an entertainer. I was just performing.

  RL: How important were the influences of your three band mates?

  MJC: I guess I would answer that question by saying that I'm the artist I am today because of them. So, however you value my music. I would say that they're huge.

  RL: Would you say that they were your teachers?

  MJC: I would say that they became more formal, consistent teachers. I would say that my teachers prior to them were people I was exposed to as artists. I was listening to Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra. I was listening to all those artists long before I ever joined the group. That was field research as well, for the artist I am today. But definitely, joining the group created a more formal environment for the teachings I would acquire.

  RL: So those influences brought by you, ended up having an effect on Unique-slash-The Show?

  MJC: Not Unique. Unique was more of a prison environment because you didn't have much room to - it was meant to be, intended to be a very sexual… Jodasy - if you don't know who Jodasy is - only someone in the R&B realm would know but they were very - an ultra R&B band. I can't really describe them any more than that. So we were modelled after them. We wore the shiny pants and leather outfits, You know? It makes for a very funny story now but at the time it was like - ehh, I don't know! This is a little loud! You know? You start to feel like you're wearing a costume!

  RL: So then you got a little more freedom as The Show, after that?

  MJC: Yeah. Absolutely. When we branched away from those guys we were able to become more the master of our domain. Then there was the internal power struggle! You know? Every group, I'm sure has it. I was always far more left than the rest of the guys when it came to musical - but not in every realm. There were certain songs where we just clicked and we would knock it out of the park. But then there were certain genres that I wanted to conquer as well that would have been too -- for some reason it just wouldn't fit the overall image of the band. So there was a lot of internal power struggle there.

  RL: Was there generally a hierarchy in the band?

  MJC: Yeah, at times there were. And that was generally when there was a management figure and the manager tended to be more of that pop culture type of person and wanted to do more of that traditional sound where as I was always wanting to take a more experimental approach.

  RL: Do you think you gained a sort of equality at some point or were you always the low guy on the totem pole?

  MJC: I adapted to the adage - the loudest mouth gets fed! I practised that in the group to the very end. I definitely appeased a lot of things when we did The Show record because we had a record label; a new record label who also had an opinion and there's only so much you can argue with the hand that's feeding you. So all of our hands were tied behind our backs at certain points. And that's a reason to be discouraged from ever signing with a record label. Because my feeling is that if you're an artist then… I don't care that you don't like it. You know what I mean? I don't mean that in an arrogant way. It's just not useful to me. I'm not trying to do this so that it wins everybody over. I'm making it for me and I hope that other people like it. I know that there are going to be people who criticise it and say whatever, but I'm approaching it from a more artistic - now with that being said, you have to consider the business end of it. And I usually don't let the business of it sneak into my music, to tell you the truth. I let somebody listen to a song today and it had a long intro and it was just the piano and they were saying, yeah, you might need to shorten that intro and I said, No. No. I like it. And I imagine if I like it then there's got to be someone else out there who's going to enjoy it just like I do. So no. And it wasn't that their idea was wrong. But I raise my kids! You know what I mean? You don't raise my kids. I raise my kids. I make those decisions. Unless your idea's better than mine! You know? If it's just a simple preference I'm going to go with my preference. Maybe because I'm a greedy bastard but I don't care who knows it!

  RL: Do you have another track to share...? The last track had a bit of unwelcome tension for this sort of -

  MJC: Oh okay, I hear you.

  RL: Not that it's not a lovely song.

  MJC: Cool. Cool.

  RL: So now obviously - sorry - I have to remember that this is not a typical discussion. I'm supposed to let your voice -

  MJC: No worries.

  RL: But you must be enjoying the autonomy you have now, where you're in charge of your music.

  MJC: Ah, but it's a double-edged sword. Here's the thing: I've fought for artist integrity my whole life and now that I have it, I'm insecure with it.

  RL: Is that right?

  MJC: Yeah! I'm insecure with it because I'm used to having validation from people; forced validation at that, where as now I'm the shot-caller and it's so funny because I'm personal to the point where, if somebody criticises it too hard I get offended a little bit even though I don't want to admit it, you know? But with saying that, I'm still insecure about - Oh, I really hope people like it, you know? Deep down inside, as much as I know I like it, I really, really do want people to like it. You know? In my heart I really want people to appreciate it for what it is. Whatever. I'm just a guy that started making music at a young age and I love it. No different than anybody else, really.

  RL: Well, I guess all artists - part of it is making connections, right?

  MJC: For me, music is a diary. Especially in the way that I save the songs. I don't save them with a title. I save them by the date. And so sometimes I'll go pull up a random date - June second. What was I doing June second, nineteen…? I can go all the way back to 1998.

  RL: Do you find that a song that you wrote in the past can remind you of what happened that day?

  MJC: Sure. Sure. I mean - it's not a guaranteed shot but in the very least it will be familiar because I created it. This is what I sounded like back then. This is who I've evolved into now.

  RL: Does it actually tell you what kind of mood you were in?

  MJC: It doesn't necessarily tell me what kind of mood. I was going to say: That can be deceiving because by nature I'm an intense person. It just happens to be the way that I am. The things that raise the hairs on the back of my neck are those intense moments in the movie. So I tend to convey that in my music a lot. The only good thing to that is, there are more people on earth who can relate to depressing music than happy music! [laughs]

  RL: So you're still an artist, obviously. Is that still your primary function in life?

  MJC: No. I decided to get into the entrepreneurial spirit after The Show disbanded in 2006. I recognized an opportunity while working in the family business. My father is a financial advisor and I did all of his marketing for him and I noticed that a lot of financial advisors; a lot of his colleagues didn't have any brand of their own nor had any online exposure. And most people know today that there's billions of people online. Funny update I heard the other day: If facebook was a country it would be the fifth largest country on earth. So I recognised the opportunity in that and looking at the elements that I wanted to draw together to create the business I realized that I was creating the vehicle that could propel my own artistic endeavours.

  RL: We're talking about Mattheaus right now?

  MJC: It was Mattheaus at the time, yeah. There were a couple of other ideas prior to Mattheaus but they didn't come to fruition and Mattheaus stuck; weathered the worst recession anybody in our generation had ever seen. I'm proud to say we stayed above water and we're pre-launch now.

  RL: Did you give up on Mattheaus for a while?

  MJC: I shouldn't say I gave up on Mattheaus but I couldn't work with Mattheaus for a while. I got to a point where I couldn't take it any further and the recession -- my target market being financial advisors, the recession hit the financial industry the hardest and first. So my target market became poor. [laughs] I needed to wait until things came back. And we've done that.

  RL: And that's come with a re-branding?

  MJC: It's come with a re-branding. The new name is Majch Corporation and it's come with tighter partnerships. This time around I feel most content with the people I'm working with. It's hard to work with people who don't share a common goal; a vision. And I don't blame them, you know? Because everybody has their thing, right? So no fault of their own. But it's great when you can find people who you connect with on that level. It's important.

  RL: So what are your goals with Majch Corporation?

  MJC: Well, I'm looking to get into a position where I can train agents that will go out on my behalf, or Majch's behalf and present to financial advisors, and then one day, maybe sell the company. Who knows? But mainly I'm looking to get it to the position where it can drive itself so that I can focus on my music.

  RL: And what are your musical goals?

  MJC: Musical goals? Would be to create my record. I guess immediately, would be to finish the brand, create the record, get it out there, market it, distribute it, get a loyal fan base. Get the attention.

  RL: Do you expect your musical endeavours to be a permanent component of your life from now on?

  MJC: I don't think anything's permanent.

  RL: I see.

  MJC: For now, it's what I love. I don't see how I won't love it. I've loved it this long. It's the most consistent element of my life; at least one of them. So regardless whether it's a success commercially or not, it's something that I'll always do.

  RL: Between Majch and the music, does one of them have priority over the other?

  MJC: The music is more personal to me. Majch is, to me, a great opportunity. It's a smart business venture because it really helps Mateo Jordache the artist. You know, when I look at the reason my band and I didn't get the recognition we necessarily deserved with the launch of our record, it was lack of marketing. It was lack of brand awareness and I've now created those elements internally so now I'm in control; complete control. It's my way of saying, fuck the record label! You know? They just suck the life out of the music. Now with saying that, I do have a price!

RL: I see.

  MJC: If a record label approached me under my terms where I have full veto and artist integrity I would be willing to join a record label but I'm not planning for that. I'm planning to make my own success a little less conventionally.

  RL: Is there something a big record label can do for you that you have no way of doing for yourself?

  MJC: No. I always have a way. There's always a way. A record label would be quicker. Because they have the money but the internet has really opened a lot of doors for the independent artist. If you can be in charge of your brand and come out with a strong enough brand - and obviously the music has to be of equal calibre - I think you have a chance to do it on your own. I don't think you need to rely on a record label. I think if my friends and people who have listened to my music are as honest as I hope they are, then I think a lot of people are going to like it. I hope they do.

  RL: So you view the internet in a pretty positive light - that it creates opportunity?

  MJC: Absolutely. The internet has allowed you to be marketed and presented to people while you're in bed, sleeping.

  RL: And what you've said about the internet's opportunity for musicians; do you think that applies to other art forms as well?

  MJC: Absolutely. One hundred per cent.

  RL: Do you have any other goals in your life right now, outside of the music and the Majch Corporation - of the major goal, long-term variety?

  MJC: Yeah. Sure. Health. I want to be a healthy person. I'm trying to stay committed to my gym routines and I'm trying to eat better. I'm trying to be a better person. I'm always trying to be a better person. I don't know why that desire's so strong. I don't know if I'm unique from anybody else but all I can say is I have a really strong desire to be a good person. Whatever. Just live right. I just want to make this journey the one that counts. It's the only one we know we have for sure.

  RL: Yeah, those are common thoughts that I hear from people in artistic communities.

  MJC: Yeah.

  RL: So, all of these endeavours; is this reasonable? Can you possibly find the time to pursue both the music goals and the corporate goals?

  MJC: About six months ago, I would have said I don't know, but I've been doing it so I guess the answer is, yeah. Is it easy? No. But I'm doing it. I'm moving forward.

  RL: Have you had to make sacrifices in order to do that?

  MJC: Absolutely. Financially, socially; in every sense of the word.

  RL: Is marriage a long-term goal?

  MJC: Marriage a long-term goal? I don't understand marriage enough to say whether I want to use that word to describe that commitment, so I'm just going to say commitment. In the last five years I've started to rebel against common traditions and marriage happens to be one of them for reasons that may make sense or not. I know that I do want to commit to somebody. I do want to meet that person and have that person in my life for as long as I can. You know? I have that desire. I've pretty much lived the single life since I was sixteen. I'm twenty-seven now. I'm still young but I want to experience the next part of my life with somebody. I feel like that would make those experiences that much more enjoyable. Not that it's hinging on them but it would increase those moments, you know? Getting the first pay check, getting the first client, launching to a new country, hearing that my song's nominated for a Juno or a Grammy. For whatever reason I have a strong desire to be in the company of that person.

  RL: Is it an age thing? Do you feel like you're starting to settle down?

  MJC: I designed my life from a young age and this is what the plan was. It's going according to plan. Whether it happened subconsciously or not, I had set out to be ready to settle down, as they say, at about twenty-seven. My dad was twenty-seven when he had me; married to my mom. It just seems like a good age. If people are right when they say the thirties are the best years of your life; the thirties and up, I guess, I want that to be enjoyed with someone who I care about.

  RL: Is life still an adventure though? Is it still exciting?

  MJC: Life is an adventure every day. Life is an adventure every day. Sometimes it's also a sad story for a long time too but there's still adventure within it.

  RL: You were not born in Canada.

  MJC: Yes I was.

  RL: Oh, you were?

  MJC: Yes.

  RL: Sorry. [laughs]

  MJC: [laughs]

  RL: Rewind that!

  MJC: Edit! [begins singing]

  RL: Would you care to name a style or genre for your music?

  MJC: I have no idea. New age? I don't know. It's got an R&B base; a rhythm and blues base. But then, depending on what I sing to it, it can change that too. I don't know. New age R&B? My band and I coined our sound urban reality but I don't like that. Maybe modern reality.

  RL: Do you think that was a good label for what you guys were doing back then?

  MJC: Yeah. I think it was a fitting label because we had a very pop sound. Even though we had cross-over songs, overall we branded ourselves a pop band.

  RL: And the music you're making now; is this a fair example; is this very typical of what you're doing now; this song we're listening to?

  MJC: Yeah. I guess so. This would be a good example of my sound. This is a very intense song. Piano...

  RL: And these labels that we give to describe music; are they useful?

  MJC: Only useful for the sale of the song, I suppose; for search [purposes]. Other than that...

  RL: So this is the sound we can expect in the new album.

  MJC: Yes. this is the sound for sure.

  RL: And what kind of content are we gonna get in the new album? What are we going to be singing about?

  MJC: Well, I decided to do it in a way where I had about... eighty-twenty. So eighty per cent about relationships; the trials and tribulations of them and I was attempting - I don't know if it's going to stay this way but for now, we're trying to keep it - I say 'we' because I have a writing partner; Dane, and I wanted to keep it that it was almost singing about one relationship, you know? And create a story about it, told from beginning to end.

  RL: You were saying eighty-twenty. Eighty per cent to do with relationships and twenty per cent...

  MJC: To do with - I wanted to take it to a darker place. Exploring different thoughts and ideas that I've had throughout my life; suicide and anger and you know , family relationships. I don't want it all to be about a girl and a guy kind of thing; talk about how I felt about my relationships with my siblings. Whatever, you know? The relationship I felt with a stranger on the bus.

  RL: So is it all kind of sober and introspective or are their joyful components too?

  MJC: From what I can see right now the joyful components are going to come from my feelings of excitement within a relationship. I suppose I could write a song that just focuses on - right now I feel great. I don't know if that leaves a lot of room for people to be like - well, good for you, motherfucker! [laughs]

  RL: You're feeling excitement within a relationship right now, are you not?

  MJC: I am.

  RL: So is all of the material from the heart then?

  MJC: It's all from the heart. I was telling you earlier, Dane, who I'm writing the record with, he came up with a line the other day that had something to do with playing poker and I said, I can't say that. I don't play poker. I can't make a reference to playing poker when I don't play poker. I don't want to put my foot in my mouth that way. I don't want to leave room for that.

  RL: Is that dangerous to put yourself out there so honestly?

  MJC: Dangerous. Probably. Because you become exposed to the masses and the masses have opinions but aside from that I don't really want to be famous. Fame is something that was attractive when I was younger but I experienced a very mild amount of fame and it was cool but I would get that same satisfaction from knowing that people were buying my music. I would know that they're buying it and they keep buying it and that means they like it and they appreciate it and that, to me, means more than, you know, the other stuff; being approached at the mall - not that I don't care about that stuff. I mean it's nice when someone can appreciate your music in a public place but I would rather be a little bit incognito and a little more low key than that if I had my preference. I don't want to get to the state that I can't go to the mall unless I call the owner, you know? [laughs] And have them shut it down. How fun is that?

  RL: Back when you were young and going through the Unique experience, did those kinds of thoughts ever occur to you?

  MJC: No. I was too young. I wasn't thinking. I wasn't forecasting like that back then. My forecasting was: what city are we going to next to perform, you know? It was very short. And all of us were like that to some degree because in that phase of our lives we were just happy to be performing and have a fan base and have a song on the radio and videos on Much Music. We were just excited about those things. We lacked foresight.

  RL: Did you have stars in your eyes? Did you have private dreams of stardom?

  MJC: I've always wanted the big life because I was exposed to those things. You know I've always wanted that stereotypical kind of lifestyle, again without the fame. but as I've grown wiser, I think. I've become more realistic and more...

  RL: Practical?

  MJC: Practical, thank you. I've become more practical in my expectations of life. Not that I wouldn't love to be in the situation where I can buy a castle and buy houses for all my friends and family. That would be incredible. I would love nothing more than to be able to meet somebody who needed help and just be able to do that right away. To have the power to be able to change someone's life and circumstances. I think it's a big deal, you know? And I would have fun with that! That's the thing. I'd be the best rich person in the world!

  RL: Without the money though, do you already have an avenue for helping to change peoples' lives?

  MJC: Well, I try to keep my relationships - why are you laughing?

  RL: I'm thinking of your music!

  MJC: Well! Yeah, absolutely. I guess I don't realize the significance that music can have on some people. Not that I take it for granted myself. I feed off of music and I guess I forget that people can feed off my music too. I feel too humble to say that it can change someone's life but if it does then I don't think that there's any greater compliment than that.

  RL: Has that happened to you? Have other artists and their music resonated with you that it...

  MJC: Yeah. Actually, there is one record that I can say - that definitely defined the moment where I decided that I was going to make my own music and that was a 1998 record by a Canadian girl named Esthero and I've been a fan of her ever since and the record was produced by a guy named Doc; a producer named Doc and I've met them both several times since then but it's just that record, A Breath From Another; such an awesome record; such a creative emotional record. Loved it.

  RL: Were there specific lyrics that really spoke to you or-?

  MJC: You know, I'm funny. I'm not so much about lyrics. It's not my strongest suit. It's not my strongest skill. I really appreciate lyrics but I'm far more into the sound of things. I love the marriage of the sounds; you know, experimenting with an organic sound or a natural sound and a digital sound, you know? And the vocal added into that mix and how that sounds together. I love that! You know, I listened to some music, as you heard me play for you; some Afro-Cuban music. I don't know what the hell they're saying. I'm singing along though! You know! They could be devil chanting for all I know! Actually my colleague understands Spanish so we went for lunch yesterday and I asked her, can you translate a little of this? And it ended up, the song I love ended up being about a candle and the candle representing - like - come and get this candle. It was a sexual reference. You know? Like holy shit, that's so funny!

To be continued.


nutschell said...

wow, that's a great interview! I loved learning about him. I'm definitely interested in his music now.
Happy A-Zing!

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Wow. You deserve a reward for reading to the very end! His music really is beautiful though.