Jamaican musician turned actor Matthew Steel has been steadily working behind the scenes to make his 2017 debut a memorable one. Fresh off his new release "Guitars and Pianos," produced by renowned Jamaican selector and producer Supa Dups, Steel will star in Cess Silvera's highly anticipated "Top Shottas" TV series filmed in Miami Florida. Inspired by his work ethic and his viewpoint on the power of music and connection, KNG2LA wanted to catch up with multi-faceted artist and discuss his message.
KNG2LA: We see you grinding. Tell us how you've been preparing for this release.
Matthew Steel: I've literally been locked away in a dungeon for the past few years educating myself on the music business side, as well as on the actual music side. Lots of theory, vocal training, songwriting as well as guitar and piano classes. I figured, the pros that consistently put out good music, know that there is a some kind of formula. Not that everything will be a hit, but that there is some structure to a good track. They never tell the public or upcoming artists that though, and keep it bottled as if it's some kind of magic.
KNG2LA: Besides Supa Dups who are you working with?
MS: Besides Supa Dups, I also have Winston "Blackout" Thomas doing some production.
KNG2LA: Did you recently leave LA for Florida? Tell us about your journey moving around.
MS: Yes, I actually just left LA for Miami in June of 2016. The real reason behind that is, I was contacted on social media for a role in Cess Sivera's new "Top Shottas" TV show, which I was not expecting at all. I got a message and thought it was for a reality show so I wasn't paying it much attention. Then Cess called me and I realized it was for Shottas, I couldn't believe it. That's a classic, so I was ready for sure. We spoke for a bit and realized we had a lot in common in regards to growing up, etc. I had NO acting experience and they told me I had three days until the audition. I crammed all I could those few days. I went to the audition and flopped. The casting director said "No way, he's not an actor," yet Cess pushed for it anyways and here I am. I've gone into really deep studying in acting since then. I never thought I'd love anything as much as music, but it's pretty close to my heart now. The emotions you get to express are very similar. I do really enjoy it. One other thing about that, my mother was and still is the first person to encourage me in anything, so it was interesting to me that I signed onto "Top Shottas" on her birthday; I thought that was really, really cool.
All in all, it's actually a return home, as I moved to Miami from Jamaica years ago. All of my family and most of my friends have been here. At first, LA was so different to me. It took me about one to two years to find places and people that I felt were on the same wavelength. I really fell in love with LA and California in general. The landscape reminds me of Jamaica quite a bit. The mountains and all the greenery, there is so much beauty. My time in LA were some of the toughest times, but at the same time, some of the best years of my life. I can never forget LA. I know I will always go back as much as I can. I will always love it.
KNG2LA: Where in Jamaica are you from?
MS: I am without a doubt a country man. I was however born in Kingston, Jamaica, but raised in St. Mary and Ocho Rios, where I went to high school before immigrating to the states. I did go to Knox College in Spalding Clarendon for a few years before finishing high school in St. Mary and Ocho Rios.
KNG2LA: How do you want your music to affect people?
MS: I want people to know that no matter what they're facing, there is a way out and that there are so many other people across the world that know what they are going through. I want my music to stick in the hearts and minds of the people. To offer at least some kind of therapy or comfort. I've never really cared for the hype or flashy side of things. Not to get too dark or sad, but as many other people out there, I feel as if I've been through way too much suffering and pain to get caught up in things that don't move my soul. I really only care about reality. Substance over anything. I'd really be doing music even if it was just for my own sanity.
KNG2LA: Is there anything you see happening in these times that inspires you to create?
MS: In these times, more than ever, there is so much going on. I have a feeling a lot of honest, heartfelt music is going to have a major place in popular culture very soon. With everything that is going on, it's only natural that people want to feel and hear more truth. There are a lot of entertainers out there and don't get me wrong, they have a place too, but we need more true artist's at the forefront of change. More balance I think. Life can't be just about distracting ourselves from the issues happening right now. We are not the last set of people that are going to be on this earth. There's a whole new generation, and after them, and after that, and after them as well. We have stop saying it's not our responsibility for what we present to the youth. I feel that's just an excuse to go for the money, while ignoring the truth. The ones who use that excuse, I'm sure they don't sleep that well at night. I don't see that stance making much sense to them when they have children of their own. Yea the bills need to be paid. Bob Marley and 2pac's bills are paid too though.
KNG2LA: What's coming up next for 2017?
MS: For 2017, I will be getting the best music I can, out to the world. Also, the "Top Shottas" TV show is supposed to be on its way! I want to share my story, what I've been through and what I know others are going through. I want to connect with people and encourage them to be as true to themselves as possible, and realize that our emotions are human! We aren't supposed to suppress them. To not follow or want to be like anyone else. To not idolize anyone. They are all just like us. From the biggest "star" to the newest names, it's all the same. Love and unity is everything; anything that only serves to separate us is of no use.
As Steel explores his journey, explores his place in the world, we join him on that journey through his music. His desire to find peace is one we all share. We look forward to a continued positive, united output from this Jamaican artist!
Pree the video for "Guitars and Pianos" here on KingstonToLA:
Photos of Matthew Steel by Richard Harthog Photography.