”Written byFreddie Hiney
Some musicians know from an early age that practising and performing music is what they’ll do for the rest of their lives. But, for Mathew Rodriguez, it wasn’t that simple. Having only picked up his first guitar in 2016, and then realising that he could reinforce the strings with his smooth and soulful voice, it has been a meteoric rise for someone who ‘discovered he could sing’ only a few years ago. For some, this would be a lifetime’s work of learning instruments and going from show to show with no more than five people watching on. But, for Mathew, the skills were innate; he just needed some strings and a mic to show himself he could do it, and the rest was history.
“I have a musical family. I picked up a guitar at 18 and just discovered I could sing. But my whole family has always been musical. My cousins and aunts all play keys or guitar. So, you hear that on family holidays. I remember my aunt; she did live gigs for a while. That really inspired me on – I thought she was like the coolest person I knew.”
Born in Denver, Colorado. Mathew moved from the States to Wilderness at an early age with few memories of his hometown. However, it is on the Garden Route where he feels at home and has pursued his passions. In most of his childhood and teenage years, music wasn’t a passion, more of a fascination, something that he wished he could do. “I went to an academic school, so there was no real exposure to a music scene. In my school there was maybe like one other guy playing guitar that I knew of, and I was like, that guy was pretty cool. There were no real gigs or anything for my age group. So, it was only after school that I found some like-minded people who also love making music.”
For Mathew, the skills were innate; he just needed some strings and a mic to show himself he could do it, and the rest was history.
In fact, it was photography that first caught Mathew’s eye and caused him to leave college to pursue it as a career. “I convinced my dad to let me drop out and start doing photography full-time as a job. That’s kind of how it started. So, I’ve been doing that since. Photography since like 2018 and then music since like 2019.” He notes that he found his devotion towards music and photography having enrolled himself into college ‘to study B-Comms, Accounting. It was just like the opposite of who I am as a person, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school. I guess through that process of realising that’s not what I want to do, I found that I was creative and that I liked music and photography, so I just started doing it as a hobby.’
His sound sees jazz intertwined with Indie music and the new-age tone of bedroom pop, giving him a unique, soulful, but modern sound leaving people in awe. Incorporating his jazz roots gives his songs an ageless sound that brings you through the highs and lows. His smooth and effortless voice on tracks such as ‘Someone to Love’ and ‘Keeping All My Love’, backed up by his guitar, puts you into a melodic trance. It’s not long before he has his audience transfixed, like a bear serenading a fish into their paw without a flinch. “The goal is to let people not space out, but kind of just chill out and be nostalgic in a way, bringing back some feelings of something from your childhood or something else. I think that that’s kind of what I get out of making music. So, I kind of just hope people will get that as well.”
His sound sees jazz intertwined with Indie music and the new-age tone of bedroom pop, giving him a unique, soulful, but modern sound leaving people in awe
With the fusion of Indie, Jazz and bedroom pop, what is Mathew’s method to making music? “We have a super DIY approach, Theo [Mulder] and I, when we are recording – because of the limited gear we have in a bedroom. We are definitely influenced a lot by bedroom pop production and that whole sound that’s going on at the moment. I feel like indie music and bedroom pop co-exist and they’re like almost the same sound. And I definitely feel like that’s what my music is going for.”
From hobby to career within a year, Mathew Rodriguez has already played to packed-out shows in the Garden Route opening for bands such as Diamond Thug and Beatenberg, while the digital following continues to get bigger. The lockdown has been a chance for Mathew to further hone his craft and perfect his sound. “It worked out really well because the music I was making at that time and preparing to release, I actually scrapped it. And it worked out great. Because I’m so much happier with the new music that I’ve got now. I almost feel like I was…rushing ahead of myself too quickly, so yeah. It’s given me time to just take it slow.”