Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 15th 2010 12:19PM by Alma Verdejo
Describe your sound in your own words.
I make eclectic music that is not constrained to any one genre but that is intended to be expressive and reach people at their heart.
How did you become a musician?
Music has always been a part of my life, I come from a musical family and I was always encouraged to be musical in a non-abrasive way. I didn't have stage parents that were trying to make me famous. I had a mom who I would sing with at church and was always encouraging to explore my creativity.
So there wasn't really a moment when I decided, "I'm going to be a musician"; I think I was always a musician. And then there was a moment in my life where I was, "I don't want to do anything but this. As much as it would be great to get a degree, I'd rather to write music."
What are your musical influences?
I always go back to Aretha Franklin records. I recently acquired her entire catalog. I got all of her records and I go through to them on shuffle. When I was 15, I used to scoop ice cream at Baskin Robbins and I had her cassette on tape and I would listen to it nonstop
Did you ever consider going by a different name?
The thought occurred to me, but nothing's ever stuck. I've been performing as Matt Morris for my whole life.
Have you played SXSW before?
I played last year but this year is my first year playing an official SXSW showcase. So I will be playing my officially SXSW showcase on the 20th at 10pm. My full band is coming out and a show that I'm really excited about is the ReadyMade Rocks performance on the 20th at 3:30 pm.
You've worked with Christina Aguilera and also with Justin Timberlake. Did you exclusively write songs for them or did they kind of change around?
'Miss Independent' was a song that Christina and I started for 'Stripped' and it ended up being finished by Rhett Lawrence, the producer, and Kelly [Clarkson], and it was sort of an interesting collaboration. The songs I wrote for 'Stripped,' Christina and I wrote together and the song that is on Justin's album 'FutureSex/LoveSounds' were written for his album. So the songs were written specifically for their projects.
Your songs seem to tap to different listeners, like pop and country music, like when you wrote for Justin Timberlake with his duet with Reba McEntire as well as writing for Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson. Are you aware of this range of musical genres when you write your songs?
Some songs reveal themselves right away that it's going to be a specific thing. Other times, I think the better songs can be recorded in different ways. If you record it this way, it could be recorded as a country song; if you record it this way, it sounds more country. Sometimes, when Justin and I wrote for Reba McEntire, we set out to write a Reba McEntire song, to write something that would fit into her repertoire. If it sounds like a country song, it was because we meant for it to be a country song.
Other songs, not so much; You kind of discover what they are once you go into the studio to record them. There are some songs on my record that kind of went a different direction once there was a band in there and [we] started cutting.
Anything you take on a SXSW survival kit?
I carry a big leather satchel with a bunch of stuff in it. I carry an aluminum bottle to refill, something to read, something to knit. And chargers: Chargers are a must.
What is the craziest that has happened to you on tour or that you've seen on tour?
I stayed in this motel once on the road and I went into the room and I walked in and it smelled like a person. It smelled like there was a person still there. I was debating whether or not to unpack and I went into the bathroom, and there was writing on the wall. We're not talking about a rest stop bathroom; this was a room I had paid for.
You and Justin Timberlake covered 'Hallelujah,' by Leonard Cohen for a benefit for Haiti. Why did you pick that specific song?
We chose 'Hallelujah' for the 'Hope for Haiti' telethon because it felt right. We thought about performing another song, actually a Beatles song: "Help!," the ballad version, and we took both of them to the rehearsal space. We practiced it a couple of times and 'Hallelujah' felt right because it was beautiful and yet mournful, somehow it was appropriate for the event.
Describe your show in three words.
Dynamic. Unexpected. Intimate.
Alma Verdejo is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.