If you've never heard of Blackbear, you're in good company. 2012 was a big year for him, as he (Mat Musto) co-wrote Justin Bieber's smash single "Boyfriend" with Mike Posner, as well as released a solid mixtape, Sex, that MTV hosted for download and featured guests included James Blake, Tyler Carter (Issues), and Matt Thiessen from Relient K. I talked recently with Musto about that and more. Definitely keep an eye out for him in 2013.
What inspired you to become a solo artist? Also, what inspired the moniker Blackbear?
I think I'm inspired mostly by a plethora of shit just like everyone else I know, that in itself is inspiring knowing the best inspiration is somewhat of a unorganized garbage dump...one-man-band acts like bright eyes & city and colour...90's rock / r&b...pop culture...hard rap hard rock, 60's, 70's radio stations, long trips, awkward silence, smiles, karma, ghosts...I dreamt the name Blackbear.. I was a prince-like sensation...I bugged my manager to change it for 2 years & he finally said OK.. been that way ever since.
I understand you moved to West Hollywood to pursue this dream further - have you found unexpected benefits from moving there, such as connections in the music industry?
I live in the Hollywood Hills for a year now, and I get a little scared driving - I'm afraid I'll get in a wreck with Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan. I originally moved here to get signed, I got signed by Universal publishing. Bought a dog, car, and a house, wrote & produced songs for a bunch of cool people, and sold almost 4 million records. But you know, I still hate passing that fucking Ryan Seacrest dude on the way home, he has such a punchable face.
When sitting down to write a song for yourself, what things do you like to do to start out? Do you like to write lyrics first and then move forward from there?
I start with a piano or guitar usually, and then press a bunch of buttons in Logic then mumble shit until it sounds cool...
How does your process change (if at all) when writing for another artist? Is there a particular artist you'd like to write for that you haven't had the chance to yet?
It always depends on the artist, but usually I try to find something the artist wants to say, but hasn't said yet. Then I try to make the music sound like the visual concept. It's all about vibes.
Have you grown as a writer since the Year of the Blackbear EP? Furthermore, what helped you in that growth process?
I don't know if I've grown as a writer, I've probably just got cooler hair and smell less bad than I used to, I started listening to the radio a bit more, as well as studied under Ne-Yo for 2 years in Atlanta. I found my "inner bear" & stopped giving a fuck was the biggest monument in my music career. Fuck it, you know?
Your current mix tape, Sex has plenty of features throughout; can you give us the stories behind first meeting the following artists, how they fit in with your sound, as well as any other significant details you can think of about these people?
Tyler Carter (Issues)
Tyler is my little brother and I met him when he was in his old band Woe, Was Me. I feel like I'm the one who convinced him to quit and go solo. I produced his new EP, Leave Your Love, and it's incredible.
I met Posner on twitter. He liked my hooks I was recording out in Atlantic Records studios, and he flew me out to California & we made an album, I think its coming out soon.
Matt Theissen (Relient K)
Relient K is one of my favorite bands ever, and I feel their albums get better and better as they go. I'm blessed to be good friends with Matt, and he doesn't feature a lot on albums, let alone a borderline hip hop mixtape. I met Matt in Los Angeles, and we wrote a song for the new Relient K album. I flew to Nashville and worked on the record with the rest of the guys. Amazing new music, be on the watch for it.
Mindy White (States)
I've known Mindy for almost 3 years now, she's an amazing woman.
Continuing on the subject of your mix tape, what song would you consider to be your favorite? Would it necessarily be the song you would first show a person who had never heard of your music?
I like "All My Lovin", "Running Forever", and "Blame Them ft. James Blake". I like these songs in particular because they showcase somewhat of where my music will be going in the future.
MTV noted you as Buzzworthy upon the release of the mix tape - how significant was that for you, as well as the exposure that you've received from the recognition?
MTV has and is really helping my artist career, I don't really know why they like me - maybe it's the illuminati agreement I just made. I always wanted to be on TRL, so I'm just pretending that MTV picking me to be the first artist that releases a mixtape on their site is equivalent.
You're featured on not only Mike Posner's most recent mix tape The Layover, but you're also featured on Machine Gun Kelly's debut full-length Lace Up. Can you explain how you became involved in both projects?
I'm a huge fan of collaboration, so when my manager Tabari gives me something tight I do it - it doesn't matter how big the artist is, those two just happen to be a little bit more in the lime light. I bump Lace Up all the time in the car and he (MGK) has even had me come sing the song with him at SXSW and some Hollywood shows, it was amazing.
As an artist, what are your goals for a successful 2013?
I hope to tour as much as I can this year, maybe be nominated for something as Blackbear, that would be cool.
What's something you can share with us about yourself that you've never shared with in an interview before?
I'm an alcoholic I think. Help.
Wrapping up, is there anything else you'd like to add?
New merch up on blackbear.bigcartel.com, listen to Nylo, get the new Artist Vs Poet album I produced, look out for new material from: Hot Chelle Rae, T.Mills, Dev, Tokyo Police Club, Mike Posner, Krewella, Brass Knuckles, Tyler Carter, Relient K, Justin Bieber's acoustic album,