Meet Matthew Jamal or @sunday.applepie – double bassist, composer model and student at Manhattan School of Music.
He fuses classical, jazz + latin influences to make his sound – check out track Lazo to get a good sense.
Herbert wanted me to find out more about Matthew, his journey, dreams and upcoming EP ‘Redefined.’
Photo by: Kel Burchett
Would I be wrong in saying that it hasn’t been straightforward for you to pursue classical music? Can you tell me a little about your journey and what’s made you keep at it?
Classical music is not the most diverse genre. Often when I am playing in an orchestra I am one of two or three black musicians out of the entire orchestra. So yes you are right! It is not a straightforward path for any black or minority child pursuing classical music. In middle school, being a classical musician was just another thing added to the long list of things that I was bullied for. It was important for me to keep pursuing music because music is what makes me feel happy. I would play my bass any time I needed a distraction from the hard times my family was facing. Now I’ve realized that my true passion is not just classical music, but it’s all of the genres that I’ve been exposed to. My passion is creating a new kind of music one that allows me to express myself fully.
Do you remember what the first piece of classical music you ever heard was?
The first piece of classical music I heard was probably the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.
What is that you love about the double bass?
The double bass has such a wide range of notes and textures, and it fits in just about every style of music. I love how expressive it is and how easily I can sing through the instrument.
..and you busk?
I started busking when I was 15 in order to raise enough money to attend Interlochen Fine Arts Academy. The summer before my sophomore year (the year I transfered), I got up at 5 everyday to secure a spot outside of a metro station in D.C. I would play the entire morning for 4 hours, and sometimes I would go back out in the evening and play for another 2 or 3 hours playing in 80 degree weather. The hard work paid off, and I was able to attend Interlochen all three years. I continued to busk on breaks, and any chance that I got. I still busk to this day to pay for my current school, Manhattan School of Music.
Photo by: Cheryl Frisby
…and you model?
My modeling career actually started while I was busking! Photographers would always stop and take my picture and suggest that I model professionally. When I got to New York I decided to pursue it. I really enjoy fashion, and it helps pay off these student loans.
You use Latin and Jazz influences in your music seamlessly, do you have any particular heroes/ heroines in these genres?
Esperanza Spalding is definitely my biggest influence. She is an afro-latina bassist and singer that I am in love with. She was actually my first exposure to the bass.
Are there are any other genres/ artists that you listen to in particular?
I really love 80’s and 90’s hip hop and R&B. Some days I listen to Tribe Called Quest and Tupac. Other days, I listen to Luther Vandross and Anita Baker. I definitely have an old soul.
As I become more popular, I want to be able to reach out to singers and dancers to collaborate. One up and coming singer that I want to collaborate with is Daniel Caesar. I actually have a song that Im performing in Detroit in February that would be perfect for his voice.
I’ve seen that you are about to release your debut EP ‘Redefine’ – what is that you want to ‘say’ with your first ‘offering’ –
Redefined is an EP that aims to redefine the way people view the double bass and its role it plays in music. The ep is not confined to one genre of music. It is a genre bending collection of sounds, thoughts, and messages that I made for the people of this world but also for myself. It is my way of expressing myself, and if you can be blessed by my gift than that is a bonus.
And to finish.. I gotta ask …what’s the big dream?
The big dream is for me to be able to bring my music to as many as possible. I would love to be able to inspire young kids to pursue music because music is the best outlet of expression. I was able to devote my time to music and stay out of trouble. I want to be at a place where I can help as many communities as possible. I want to be able to travel the world collaborating with musicians and artists. Creating music until I die.