Matthew Santos, a Minneapolis native who came to Chicago to study music composition at Columbia College, learned to play guitar at the age of 15 and soon after began writing songs and gigging around his hometown. Now it seems the laws of attraction couldn’t be any stronger.
“The right people gravitated toward me and what I was doing, like you throw this vibe out to the universe or whatever and the universe responds with an echo of exactly what you need,” Santos says. The vibe he sent out was strong enough to land him a deal with Atlantic Records and it also helped him collaborate with three-time Grammy nominee Lupe Fiasco. Santos had a bit of a hand in Lupe’s “Food ‘n’ Liquor,” contributing to the track “American Terrorist,” and now, with Fiasco’s second album, “Cool,” on the way, and new single “Superstar,” which also features Santos, the two are teaming up for a world tour.
?There’s something about this 24-year-old that produces an aura of cool, calm collectivity well beyond his years. And while his sound is similar to contemporaries he’s shared the stage with, such as Josh Kelley, and those he’s recorded tracks with, such as singer-songwriter John Martyn and soul singer Sam Butler, Jr., Santos’ well-written and occasionally autobiographical lyrics set him apart from the never-ending list of new musical talent. And his career aspirations are set as high as an artist can get.
“I hope to inspire people through music to own their talents, take responsibility for their talents and use them, hopefully, to serve the greater good,” he says. “I want to show the world that you can do something that you love and live in this society, finding a balance between coexisting in a social construct and following your heart.”
Those are pretty big hopes for a guy whose debut album hasn’t even hit stores yet. Santos’ solo album, “Matters of the Bittersweet,” is scheduled for release on Candy Rat Records in November. His EP “As a Crow Flies” is now available on iTunes. For Santos though, his present success and the maintenance of it is all about decisions and following his heart.
“Someone once told me that in every decision there are only two choices—love or efficiency,” he says. “Usually when you follow love it feels good and you know you’re on the right path. When you follow efficiency, you might be getting [things] done, maybe stepping on people’s toes or whatever. The whole business side is the efficiency. I’m trying to stick with the love side.” (Mary Kroeck)
Matthew Santos will be performing with Lupe Fiasco at House of Blues, 329 North Dearborn, (312)923-2000, on October 31, at 9pm.