Q&A with Mateo Stevens

Back In Town, the new album from Mateo Stevens is an ode to the singer/songwriter's hometown of Los Angeles. Drawing his musical influence from growing up in Southern California in the punk rock scene, and having been immersed in latin culture his entire life, Mateo Stevens set out to write a bilingual album with Back In Town. The album is out now, and listeners can check out the title track and accompanying music video below!

Interview by Dom Vigil

You just released your new album, Back In Town! How excited are you to finally have it out there for listeners to hear?

When we started working on the project I really had no idea how long it was going to take to see it through, so I am ecstatic that its finally out for people to hear. It really was about a year and half long project full of a lot of hard work and I’m really excited about the final product.  

What does Back In Town mean to you? 

I actually started writing the song Back In Town about the feelings I had when moving back to Los Angeles from London where I was living for seven years. The lyrics on the surface talk about an unhealthy relationship with a woman, but in reality the song is about my relationship with that city and needing to move on.  I named the album after the title track because this whole project started and was inspired by being back in my home town.  When I came back I was able to get in touch with Erik Janson of the band Wildling, and he was on board with the project and he agreed to produce the album and everything came full circle and felt right.

Did you have any goals or messages that you wanted to convey with this album?

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. Another huge goal was to make the album bilingual, if I had to put a number on it, I’d say the album is 75% in English and 25% in Spanish, and both are important to me.

What would you like listeners to be able to take away from Back In Town? 

I hope that listeners will connect with the unique sound because if anything I think it’s very different from a lot of the stuff out there right now. What I like about the song is that not only are the lyrics very meaningful to me personally, but I think there is an interesting mix of live instruments with electronic sounds as well. 

You also released a music video for the album’s title track. Can you tell us a little bit about the song?

The whole project started with the song “Back In Town.” We were lucky enough to have Asdru Sierra of Ozomatli and Abstrakto play the trumpet on the song which really helped us get our foot in the door when shopping the song around for film and television placements. It’s such a powerful part that he came up with after hearing the song and it really pulled everything together, and I think with his signature sound and reputation people really listened.

How was the filming of the video?

The filming of the video was a lot of fun. It was the first video I have ever done and we shot it all in one day out in Venice and at the (sadly now gone) Witzend on Lincoln Blvd. We got as many people we could get together who played on the record and reconstructed the story of the song and did a live performance, it was directed by John McHugh and he had a lot of great ideas that we worked in and I was really happy with how it turned out. 

How do you feel growing up in Southern California has influenced or impacted your music or songwriting? 

I grew up in and around the punk rock scene in Hollywood in the 90’s and that has always had a big influence on me, but I also love the history that Los Angeles and California has with Latin music as well, and that’s what came out in the album I feel, a diverse mix of influences, we even have some hip hop in there, so I would say the biggest theme of the album is the mix of musical genres that you find in Southern California. 

What, if anything, would you like to bring to or change in your music scene? 

It can be hard to get people out to the shows time and time again, so we really strive to make them special. I see live music often, and I’m constantly learning from others and getting better ideas of what I like and don’t like and how I want to incorporate things into my live show. What we bring to the shows and what people really connect to is musicianship and diversity of sound, but I think keeping things fresh is really important and the best bands are doing that and we want to bring that as well.

Do you have any big plans coming up, not that Back In Town is out?

We just released the album on August 8th and we have been playing shows around LA and just trying to promote the album as much as we can. We also did a show in Mexico in May of this year and I would love to get more shows like that lined up. I am always writing and getting my ideas out, and have some collaborations planned for the near future as well. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

 Thank you very much!  The music its available on iTunes and Spotify, we have the music video for “Back in Town” up on youtube and also my website mateostevens.com


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