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-in--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."
Dodging in and out of pop ditties, lilting melodies, and quirky song structures, Dick Prall's inability to stay in one musical place is reflective in a body of work that mirrors his personality: youthfully distracted and sweetly cynical. He puts great care into fashioning accessible and viral songs, inserting them with content that, if you look beyond the hooks, shows you a landscape filled with unsavory characters, undesirable behavior, frustrating ambivalence, and a decent dose of thoughtfulness. You could label him a storyteller--one who leaves you happily singing along to tales of serial murder and roadside sex long after you've tucked away your ear buds.
Prall hit the ground running with his first full-length, Somewhere About Here -- dubbed "a track-by-track monster" by No Depression magazine. The follow-up, Dressing Up the Failure, under his alternative moniker Starch Martins, opened the door to national performances with renowned artists such as Jon Brion, Mike Doughty, Bobby Bare, Jr., Glen Phillips, and Justin Townes Earle. Dressing also received critical acclaim by many media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times who praised Prall for achieving "a brand of rootsy power-pop that is smart, introspective and filled with great hooks." His next album, the eclectic Fizzlebuzzie, prompted Performing Songwriter magazine to call the diverse record "a box of chocolates for your ears" and earned him a featured spot on NME.com. He upped the ante with the release of the beautifully infectious Weightless, and with its single "The Cornflakes Song," garnered more radio spins across the country, a coveted spot on Paste Magazine's CD compilation, and airplay in the Starbucks national chain.
Now poised to self-release two EPs within the span of only a few months -- Winter 2010 and Spring 2011 -- Prall is not only songwriter and performer, but has taken on the role of producer, as well. The first EP, simply titled Inc., contains five songs that fuse lush vocals, straight-forward guitars, hypnotic drums, and sugary-affected strings with undeniably catchy-as-hell melodies, accumulating into a powerhouse of oddly pop-fueled gems.
Throughout his career you never know what Dick Prall will offer up, but you're assured that he's serious about the craft of writing songs. He's stuck with this because he has to -- it's a DNA thing. And let's hope that DNA is generously mixed into the next batch of songs that come to light next spring. If he can keep up the pace of releasing EPs every few months as he's intending, and they're anywhere near the quality of his previous records, then every season will be a welcome change.
Comprised of ten original songs, Stolen Silver's self-titled debut pays homage to the experiences Levi and Dan have endured together throughout the years. Co-produced by long-time collaborator and friend John Ovnik, the album was recorded in Chicago at Deaf Dog Music and draws inspiration from an array of their musical faves including Bon Iver, Nick Drake and Sufjan Stevens. "We put absolutely no limits or constraints on the sounds. We really wanted to exploit the inherent mood that each song, and sound, dictated on its own" says Myers. The result is a mix of captivatingly potent tunes that exemplify their knack for incisive personal narratives and emotionally keyed up deliveries.
Dan Myers and Levi Britton met in Traverse City, MI before Dan was old enough to consume alcohol, and Levi had just graduated from high school. As fate would have it, they were both hired to be in the Golden Garter Review, a group created by a wonderful tourist attraction called Dill's Olde Town Saloon that would recruit musically talented college students from colleges in the Midwest to come play for hungry crowds.
After developing a strong friendship throughout their time together in the GGR, the two moved to Chicago and spent four years as roommates in the Logan Square neighborhood writing songs every night and appearing as fixtures in the locals bars. In 2001, they started a successful, critically acclaimed acoustic four-piece pop band called Down the Line, whom they have released five albums and toured with extensively. Additionally, Dan regularly plays violin and sings vocals with Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band and writing songs for major movie studios. His most recent placement was in The Weinstein Company's Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil.
As time has passed, Levi is back in Traverse City, both guys are married to wonderful women, and finally those long nights of writing sessions are paying off through their new art folk duo Stolen Silver.