From seeing his piano-driven performances at shows, to seeing him sing on Youtube, the young, fresh, and talented musician is making a name for himself. He first started out with a series of mixtapes "Underneath The Sky" Chapters 1-3 and "Love & Stadiums" and an EP entitled "Suite 823." that eventually caught the eye of mega-producer Kerry "Krucial" Brothers who took him under his wing of production. with the new partnership in place, Mateo's been able to work with Alicia Keys on the song "Say It's So", Stacy Barthe, Goapele on "Don't Shoot Me Down", Pusha T, & Swizz Beatz. Now, as he's ready to drop his first studio album with the label, he sits down with us and discusses his musical growth, his Myspace days, and his latest project "We've Met Before" (iTunes).
you start with your music career...
I'm originally from Cincinnati, OH. I grew up in a musical family. My Grandfather played for Charles Brown and James Brown as a jazz guitarist. My Grandmother is also a musician, she's toured throughout New England and Cananda back in the day as a singer. I grew up in the church and started singing early. I went to college for business but I was doing music on the side. I got a job after college and that's when I knew I wanted to do music. I ended up quitting and moving to LA to pursue music.
My mom always pushed me to go to a HBCU. I liked the whole vibe of it so I went to Morehouse college. I was a music major and business major. I didn't think I could do music professionally - it was kind of a fun thing.
I was in New York, and my roommates cousin, a rapper took me to all these studios in Brooklyn and I used to sing there and record. I put a really bad demo together, and I know it was bad cause I listened to it recently [laughs] and I took it to a producer in LA who
Your name is Iman Jordan... where did Mateo come from?
I've always loved the name Mateo. It means "a gift from Heaven." I decided to go by that because music is my gift from God so I was like it was the perfect name. Sometimes you need that alter ego on stage cause I grew up nerdy with books and Mateo is like the free, doesn't care, spontaneous person - the other side of me.
What was it like as a MySpace Records artist?
I started getting buzz on MySpace and getting features. It was one of those things where it didn't do what I thought it would do. I call it my incubation period cause while I was there I was able to put out a lot of mixtapes and it helped me to find what my sound was and help me develop relationships with blogs.
I had a single "Complicated" that MySpace wanted to put out. I met him cause he was going to do a remix. He was starting his label and wanted me to be an artist so it came out perfect. It's like family now, we been doing this for a while. He's like an uncle, you know? He took me under his wing cause when I recorded "Complicated" that was in my bedroom and now that I can record in a professional studio with all this gear is exciting. He allows you to vibe out - we don't chase records, try to sound like anybody and it's dope.
working with Alicia Keys & Goapele...
It was great. First of all, Kerry got Goapele to sing on it and I wasn't even there. But I developed a relationship with her afterwards cause we've performed together. It's great to meet someone that's beautiful inside and out like and have a beautiful voice. On the "Say It's So" side, it was a shock, I had no clue Alicia was gonna jump on that record. It was perfect, just what the record needed. Working with Alicia on her last album was amazing. She's cool, down-to-earth, one of the greatest artists of our time - that was a great thing meeting your idol, someone you admire and you walk away and even bigger fan.
"We've Met Before" (iTunes) Who produced, wrote? What is noticeably different from this EP than your previous EP's in terms of your musical growth?
Most of it is Krucial Noise production, JL Brown and everybody in house. This is a taste of what the album is gonna be like but 1000 times better. I mostly wrote all of the songs on there. I think my sound has grown and become more defined. It shows all my sides: The R&B side, rock/alternative side, Soul side. All my life I've been trying to make the best LOVE song but now I'm trying to make the best LIFE song.
your single, "How Good is Your Love".. Who is the main girl?
I'm writing about a girl who seems perfect. She has the best everything and the only thing you don't know is how good her love is. It's written from a different perspective, from a life, everyday perspective which is what the album is gearing towards. Very different from when I was writing songs on my mixtapes.
Her name is Raelyn and she is based out of LA. We were looking for a lead - I wanted a girl that was hot and pretty but in a different way. The girl that I used to crush on when I was young. I didn't want a cliche, Hollywood girl, just a dope girl you see walking down the street and she was perfect for that.
Cincinnati has the most spins for "How Good Is Your Love." How does it feel to have your hometown support you?
It's amazing man. That means so much to be cause I grew up listening to Cincinnati radio stations. Feels great to have support from your city.
On your iPod..
I'm really into indie rock. I like Little Dragons. I love AWOLNATION. There's so much music out there and there's a group I just found yesterday in London - I forget their name but they are on heavy rotation.