Fresh off a pre-CD release party at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan, I spoke with her about the upcoming album, a change in music genre and crying in studio.
To keep up with the musician on her journey from classical music to rock, you can follow her on her social media platforms: Adrianna Mateo on Facebook and @AdriannaMateo on Instagram and Twitter.
How did the pre-CD release party go?
It went really well. It was a huge turnout, which is wonderful, and there were a lot of great people in the audience. Not to mention people really liked the cookies, so that was a really big thing.
Was it the first time you’ve played a more “rock” show?
It was the first time on that level and that degree of scope. I’ve been performing as a vocalist for two-and-a-half years. I began by collaborating with DJ Spooky. He used to be like ‘oh, just play a solo’ and I’d get super nervous because as a classical musician, you’re used to preparing for it rather than winging it. I remember he always also used to introduce me as a composer. That wasn’t quite right but I do like writing music, so what ended happening was I’d perform as a vocalist.
I would start performing and figuring out what worked and what didn't work in front of an audience. It was the best way to learn. Personally, I need an extraordinary amount of pressure to do well and to learn.
You’d rather work out music in front of an audience? Most people would prefer working in a studio and then going in front of an audience when they’ve perfected their sound.
The cool thing about performance is that it’s temporary. In the studio, that’s permanent. If anything, you should be more nervous about the recording than a performance.
So, tell me a little more about the new album.
It was funded by Kickstarter, which was scary as shit, because you never really know when you get into it what’s going to happen. But it was amazing. People who knew me for my violin playing or my conducting were incredibly supportive. It was like they said, ‘We’ll take this leap with you. We don’t know what this song has in it but we’re sure it’s going to be interesting.’ It ended up raising almost $1000 over the goal, which was $10,000. It was just $200 shy of $11K.
Are you currently finishing up the album or will it be worked on as we get closer to summer?
We’re in the studio right now and it’s this ongoing thing because it’s changing so much. Part of this is that it’s very new for me, which is exciting.
As with all new processes go, there’s a steep learning curve.
The first song that we released is super punk rock. It’s called “Like a Little Kid With a Raging Heart.” It takes inspiration from Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco with the very long track names.
The next song, “August Sun," that we’ll be releasing soon is a little more rock singer-songwriter with a bit of contemporary classical music, some flavor, in there.
The last track is going to be instrumental. David Lang of Bang on a Can is a really wonderful composer. He wrote this piece called for the electric violin and kick drum and that’s going to be on the last track. But it’s going to be a current interpretation of it.
Scrolling through your Facebook page and noticed your post about crying in the studio. What happened?
Oh my gosh. This was such a hard recording session but not in a bad way. I had the session right after the show. I got home from the show at 1 a.m. and I was so wired from the night that I couldn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m. Then, we were at the studio from noon to 8 p.m.
It was such an intense day because when you write a song, it’s really tense emotionally. But there’s a degree of momentum that you’re moving through it because you need to get the feeling out on paper. Then there’s the revision process, which is a little more emotionally removed.
When you’re recording, it’s like you’re bathing in this pool of emotion. It feels like you’re dunking yourself into a hot liquid and you need to do it again and again to get the right takes.
It’s overwhelming emotionally when you’re talking about something that you feel very conflicted about. The song was about push-and-pull within yourself, knowing somebody isn’t quite right for you but you don’t want to be alone.
Putting yourself in that position, in that position of emotional torture, for eight hours was really hard.
Do you plan on doing any music videos?
Eventually, but that’s not really my focus currently. I want to get the music so powerful that the music video is just the icing on the cake.
Photo courtesy of Chesher Cat