Welcome to the official home of Louis Matteo!
How amazing would it be if singer | songwriter | mega-instrumentalist | indie rock cutie pie Louis Matteo knocked on your door and then proceeded to set up guitars, assorted percussives, and a glockenspiel for a performance in your living room? That’s exactly what’s going to happen for some staunch Matteo devotees when he hits the road in support of his sophomore album, Patchwork Pattern.
You see, Matteo funded this rock-&-roll-success-story-in-the-making, in part, with a Kickstarter campaign that included the incentive of a performance en la casa of he, she, they, or it who had reasonably deep pockets and was willing to put their dollars where their hearts were. Put it this way: this guy is really, really good at what he does. So you might want to think about making friends with your neighbors, because his vehicular behemoth could end up on your street.
“Kickstarter is the backbone of Patchwork Pattern,” Matteo states proudly.
While Kickstarter shows a tremendous amount of initiative on Matteo’s part, as well as bespeaking highly of his talent and its recognition, there’s another aspect to the foundation of this Patchwork Pattern that’s equally significant: Matteo rounded out his production funding by selling off his 1953 MG TD, the ultra-classic roadster his grandmother had willed to him. (Can you feel your heart breaking? Matteo could.) But from loss there is gain, and who needs a car in New York, anyway? Nonetheless, the separation of car from guy is a testament to Matteo’s commitment to what was to become and what now is Patchwork Pattern. Hey, he didn’t get into Berklee College of Music on his good looks alone. In fact, the Ohio native recorded his 2007 debut, Confront the Congregation, while still on the student roster at this most prestigious of music school in the nation. Bravo, Matteo.
Matteo emphasizes, “Patchwork Pattern is a celebration of not only my life but of those lives that I’m a part of. I chose “Patchwork Pattern” as the title because the entire theme of the album is about how each person goes through a similar yet unique set of experiences. When you look back on it, our lives are a string of pieces that is soldered together. All these different components that make up our lives, I see them in terms of colors and objects. Each person has their own patchwork pattern which is their life.”
In fact, the album artwork, which art director Gail Marowitz rendered so vibrantly and so symbolically, surely must be cryptically representative of Matteo’s own life. Be sure to ask him about it.
What Matteo gives us in terms of the music, melodies, and lyrics on Patchwork Pattern are specific, in-the-moment revelations – honest and vivid. There’s unabashed romanticism, courageous intimacy, conflict and resolution, all set against the backdrop of the cityscape landscape fire escape of the city that has claimed him for its own. Patchwork Pattern has in its very musical fibers a lightness of being (viva la glockenspiel) and ultimate positivity without contrivance, self-consciousness, or a Pollyanna bill of goods. Matteo achieves substance and depth in observant, straightforward lyrical stitches that bring together scenes familiar.
Because many of the lyrics make you go, “Ohhhh…” they beg the question, “So, Louis, um, what’s going on?” Also known as “Play and Tell.”
Matteo diplomatically attests, “The songs on Patchwork Pattern are inspired by life situations, but not necessarily mine. When I wrote them, I was motivated and inspired, and I wanted to share that feeling for the music with everyone. That sense of comfort you get from interactions with friends and within everyday living is definitely part of the message. The lyrics on Confront the Congregation are darker, but I didn’t write Patchwork Pattern to be intentionally lighter, though I wanted to deliver a resolution message. Regardless of whatever it is that people go through in their lives, there is some sort of resolution, and it’s always worth putting the time and effort into reaching that. It’s like learning from something; at the end of it, you reflect on it and realize how much you’ve grown, without knowing it while going through the process. It makes you feel good.”
Matteo, who clearly gets things done and inspires and projects a sense of accomplishment on others, says, “I wrote most of the songs on Patchwork Pattern within a few months, with the exception of a couple songs that I already had, which I was incorporating into my live sets. I feel like it’s always a good idea to try out new material on my audience, especially before bringing it into the studio, so you can take it from one place to the next. The writing process was very solitary, but some of the ideas were conceived while travelling or drawing inspiration from different situations from life, whether in the morning during my Manhattan commute or through interactions with friends or all forms of relationships. All of that goes into the creative process, musically and lyrically. While the writing process is very solitary for me, it’s also very important that someone else hears what I’m doing so I can get a mirror perspective.”
Matteo came to the recording process uber prepared (blame and credit for this can be equally divided between Berklee training and Matteo’s DNA hard-wiring) with fully realized demos, his gently persuasive vocals, guitars, percussions, and that trusty glock. He brought together musicians Rebecca Haviland (vocals), Mike Tuccillo (bass, vocals), Elliot Jacobson (drums, percussion), and Patchwork Pattern producer Saul Simon MacWilliams (vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion) to create quite the zeitgeist. Though there were joint sessions of arrangement, the result is a delicate craftsmanship borne of a natural balance of instrumentation. The music and lyrics are uncrowded and unfettered by an obligation to brute force or even pushy insistence.
Picking a producer is one of a musician’s paramount decisions, but when Matteo met with MacWilliams, the question answered itself. “I instantly fell in love with the vibe – his vibe and also the vibe of his studio,” Matteo recalls. “It’s a real, accepting environment. Any project that Saul accepts – and he doesn’t produce that much – he’s heavily involved. I brought him Confront the Congregation and he immediately had a feel for what I was doing. Also, I had heard some of his other work and I fell in love with the way he conducted. He’s very encouraging, but he pushed me a lot, too. He helped me to push the limits of my creativity, of my ideas. He made me think about the songs differently. He made me think about life differently. There was never any negative energy and zero judgment.”
Matteo may or may not lead a charmed life, but he definitely knows how to maximize his blessings and send them forward. It was inevitable that he would bring much-needed positivity to negative space when the three Fs – fans, friends, and family – put their funds where their ears and their hearts are.
“Kickstarter inspired and motivated me more than anything,” Matteo says, “Knowing that my friends, my family, my fans – people who have supported me forever and those who recently discovered what I do – it’s all the more reason for me to give something that I know that people will enjoy. They will be able to listen to it in different places and situations, and get everything from it that they generously gave to me.” --Angela Lang, Music Journalist, Los Angeles, California