StarShine was able to get some one-on-one time with our 2010 Artist to Watch, Matisse, a couple of weeks ago to find out more about this new Jive recording artist. Not only has this girl got the look and the sound, but she’s got the personality to boot! Matisse is easy to talk to and as sweet as can be.
After our interview, she invited us to check out her show at Mega Jam in Medford, NY the weekend after. Matisse performed like a seasoned pro and had the crowd singing and dancing along in the blistering heat to her single “Better Than Her”.
Now, enough of us rambling on how wonderful she is–find out for yourself in our interview with Matisse!
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): We’ve been introducing you to StarShine readers, but for people who don’t know who you are…In your own words, what would you say sums you up best?
Matisse: Wow, there’s a lot. [laughs] This might take a while. I’ve basically been singing my whole life. I’ve spent half my life in Connecticut and half my life in London. I have a twin sister who I sang with up until two years ago. I come from a very musical family. My father was in bands and as we got older we would go to the pubs and weddings and sing with him. Ever since I’ve been 4-years-old, this is what I’ve known. I can’t see myself doing anything else. So we started writing over in the UK and we finished high school there. We decided we weren’t getting enough of the American sound that we wanted and we moved down to Atlanta where I spent three years working with people like Dallas Austin who discovered TLC and worked with Madonna. And then Tricky Stewart who did “Single Ladies” [by Beyonce]. We had a song on the Step Up 2 soundtrack after signing with Interscope Records in L.A. And we’re over in the UK promoting that, did a video for it, touring, and my sister decides that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. She wants to leave the group and go back to school. She was inspired by Obama and wanted to get an education. [laughs] So I was left on my own, which has actually been the best thing. Things have just fallen into place. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been good. I actually worked with the same people on this album—Dallas Austin, Tricky Stewart, Ne-Yo. My sound is pop/R&B basically, but my first single “Better Than Her” has a little bit of a dance element, which is kinda strange…
SS: That was written by Kevin Rudolf, right?
Matisse: Yup, mm-hmm. So yeah, now I’m just out there—finally out of the studio. I’m finally doing it after all of these years.
SS: Who are some of your inspirations?
Matisse: Definitely Madonna, Blondie, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Bonnie Rait, Michael Jackson, Prince, Tina Turner—you know, the big ones!
SS: Now where do you see your music fitting in amongst those inspirations?
Matisse: I don’t know—I always say I listen to so many different genres and I think everybody—this generation—does, with i-Pods and everything. So I feel like I have a fusion of everything. I loved Aerosmith and Bon Jovi as a kid and actually even Michael Jackson—with electric guitars—I try to incorporate that into my music. It’s definitely melodic. I feel R&B music the most out of everything. But I don’t know—it’s hard to compare myself to other people out there. I’m just doing music that I feel and trying to stay in my own lane and not compare myself to others.
SS: Have you written any of your own songs yet?
Matisse: I have—with my sister, we wrote everything together. Then when she left, I had never written by myself—we were always a team. The A&R person I was working with had worked with Whitney Houston, Leona Lewis and Jennifer Hudson, so his style was to give songs and I definitely wanted to be a part of it. So it’s been a combination. Like Ne-Yo wrote a couple of songs, Claude Kelly…
SS: It must be cool to get songs from Ne-Yo especially.
Matisse: Definitely! My priority is good songs. If Ne-Yo wants to write me a song, I’ll take it. [laughs]
SS: When is the debut album coming out?
Matisse: Probably fall, I would say. We’re just working on this first single. Akon just got on “Better Than Her”. I thought he was going to do a little part, but it’s really become a duet. He’s got two verses, so I think that’s going to be the new single. We’re just waiting for that to be mixed. So yeah, for the album—hopefully fall.
SS: Now what are you going to be doing leading up to the release? Of course, press…
Matisse: Press. I’ve been doing a lot of shows. Really a lot of radio stuff. Just promoting the single.
SS: Has there been a moment so far in your career that you’ve said “Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening!”?
Matisse: Um…hearing my song on the radio, of course was definitely a surreal experience. I always heard artists saying “Oh my God, I heard my song on the radio!” I imagined what it would be like. I was in the car with my dad. I never listen to the radio now when I’m in New York unless I’m in the car. It was weird—I almost didn’t even react, like it didn’t seem like me or something! And then definitely having Akon on my song. I’ve loved Akon for so long. When he told me, I thought he would just say like [sings] “Akon!” [laughs] He said he wanted to be on the whole project. So hearing our two voices on the song was definitely a cool thing.
SS: Do you have a favorite song on the album so far?
Matisse: Hmm…I really like “Selfish”, which is one of the Ne-Yo songs. It’s a ballad. I like singing it the most. I’m a ballad girl. It’s a different twist. My whole objective has been to come from a strong perspective as a girl. I feel like there’s a little bit missing—especially for young girls. So even in the ballad—nothing is coming from a victim place. That was the important thing for me—to be empowering. This song—I feel it the most.
SS: Did anyone ever give you a really good piece of advice?
Matisse: I grew up with LuLu—who’s big in the UK. She’s older now. She has just kind of led by example. She’s huge and has been around for years. Everywhere she goes around Europe, everybody knows who she is, but she’s still so thoughtful. I think the key is to not believe your own hype. It’s a job and that’s what I’ve seen in her. She separates her work from her personal life. And I think to realize that we’re all the same. Just because people know you doesn’t make you any better. My sister had open heart surgery and I’d look at the surgeons and think “God, they’re doing amazing things everyday”. They’re the most humble people. They would never be “Well, I’m amazing because I just saved someone’s life”. Whereas sometimes in this business you get people with huge egos, and I think we are not the ones who should have that attitude. They should, but they don’t. So I’m certainly not going to get like that.
SS: And for my last question, if you could dedicate any song in the world to your fans, which song would you choose and why?
Matisse: Oh my God…
SS: That’s my hard-hitting question. [laughs]
Matisse: That is hard. I always loved…”Because You Loved Me”. Like your strength. My voice when I couldn’t speak. Eyes when I couldn’t see…yeah! I think that would be good! Hopefully I’ll have more who will love me as time goes on. [laughs]
Follow Matisse on Twitter: www.twitter.com/matissemusic!