Grammy-nominated artist Matthew Santos has established himself as one of the rare and striking voices quickly emerging from the Windy City's music scene. With a growing fan base hailing him for his ethereal voice, Santos has secured his place in current music with his distinguished style and elusive musical gift. Far from all of the sound and fury of the modern music trends, 27-year-old Santos is quietly rising into one of the most remarkable voices of his generation.
Regarded on YouTube as a "legend-inâ€“the-making," word has spread about his riveting talent. Santos was nominated for "Best Rock Entertainer" for Chicago's 2009 Music Awards and his band are featured as one of the top ten bands to watch in Chicago by The Chicago Sun-Times. His full band features Aviva Jaye (vocals, keyboard), Robert Tucker (drums), Graham Burris (bass), Chris Gelbuda (lead guitar) and Matt Nelson (keyboard).
Since his world-known collaborations with Grammy-Award winning hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, Santos has faced more expectations and pre-conceived notions from music lovers than most singer/songwriters. Santos' vocals are featured on multiple tracks on Fiasco's Gold Record The Cool and most widely recognized on the Grammy-nominated single "Superstar." Perhaps it wasn't surprising that Santos' own music was related to the hip-hop genre by only the thinnest of margins. With a wealth of music to offer the world, Santos' performances during the "Superstar" phenomenon became counter-intuitive to his desire to focus on his own "soul-folk-rock" music and break free from the disillusioned association as Fiasco's "hook guy."
"The acoustic, folk-pop fare is a far cry stylistically from what Santos contributed to many tracks on Fiasco's latest album, "The Cool." However, the soulful underpinnings of his voice are what remain consistent, containing versatility suitable for his singer/songwriter styling as well as R&B." -Billboard Magazine
Santos' upcoming album entitled This Burning Ship of Fools is an eclectic collection of original songs both new and old. "Exploring an edgier sound than previous works with more electric, high-energy songs and expansive production, the album was an experimental venture into the realms of alternative/pop/rock, while honoring my roots as a soul/folk/indie-rock musician," says Santos.
All self-produced with co-production by Greg Magers and recorded in Chicago, This Burning Ship of Fools explores the nature of the music industry in songs such as "Wide Eyed Firefly" and "On the Radio"; the nature of "the golden promise of happiness and salvation" in the song "You Will Be Saved"; compassion, community and hope in the song "Good Life"; the longing for romantic love in the songs "Decembers Ghost," "Break Free," and "Drop a Coin"; issues of free will, balance, and patience in the song "Time Still"; and a story of an all accepting, homeless man in the song "Days Like This."
"I want to be an artist that people won't know what to expect from next, but they can expect that it's going to be quality. I'm not a niche artist that writes and sings the same kind of songs over and over again, and I think that's what sets me apart from other singer/songwriters," says Santos.
Native to Minneapolis, Santos discovered his passion for music at age six when he started playing piano and his inspiration for playing guitar began at the age of fifteen. At first Santos pursued the visual arts, but decided to dedicate his life solely to music and relocated to Chicago in 2001 to study music composition at Columbia College Chicago. He released his first independently produced album Change is Better in 2004 and EP As a Crow Flies in 2006. In November of 2007, Santos released an acoustic album Matters of the Bittersweet under Candy-Rat Records, with intimate video recordings available on YouTube.
It's a belief in something bigger than himself and his musical vision that motivates Santos as a singer-songwriter. "I hope to inspire people through music to take responsibility for their own talents and use them to serve the greater good," Santos says. "I want to show the world that you can do what you love and live in this society, finding a balance between coexisting in a social construct and following your heart."