A Sitdown with Jason Matkin


Alicia Lepler

Going professional in the music industry requires more than a few investments upfront: cash for studio recordings and equipment, cash for travel, and time to play and perform. It’s a difficult balancing act, especially when you’re a full-time student at UC San Diego. Jason Matkin, business major and singer-songwriter straddles the line between these antithetical obligations with the hope of succeeding in both. The UCSD Guardian sat down with Jason to discuss the highs and lows of being a student musician.

Well aware of those hurdles, Matkin wryly reflected, “The industry is really hard … But if I could choose one career to do for the rest of my life, it would be music.” He’s wanted to be a musician well before coming to UCSD, and his first album, “Forget the Dark,” stands as testament to that desire.

A mix of mountain folk and pop, it’s a one-man guitar-and-voice collection and the culmination of years of work.

“I started when I was in high school,” Matkin noted. “There’s some songs that are very old. For example, ‘Parkside’ is the first one I ever wrote.”

When asked to discuss the connecting thread between business and his overarching musical aspirations, Matkin told the Guardian, “I figured international business would be more applicable to music. Being a musician is essentially being self-employed, and you spend a lot of money. Recording, traveling, you know, getting where you need to go. On instruments, repairs, strings.”

Nonetheless, Matkin’s choice of major has borne fruit. “I make money playing at shows, restaurants and corporate events. With the knowledge I’ve acquired over these last two quarters, I’ve been able to convert it into a legitimate business.” It’s a slow-going process, but his profile has grown over the last two years, and he’s started work on a follow-up to 2015’s “Forget the Dark.”

With recent singles like “The Storm” and “Underwater,” Jason has laid the foundations for a new album, planning to record during the early weeks of this spring quarter. His work has veered closer to an earthy, down-home style in recent years, accented by a personal enthusiasm for hiking and backpacking.

Primary creative periods accompany times spent in Alaska at his uncle’s house. Upon a customary visit last August, Matkin found himself reinvigorated and ready to work again. “I went through a long period of no writing … It’s hard to be in such a picturesque location and not feel inspired. The first three days I was there, I wrote five songs. I played shows there … It was amazing how instantaneous it was when I got there — the writer’s block was just gone.”

Matkin also touched on more pragmatic concerns. He was candid with the Guardian about the difficulty of receiving exposure.

“You can go about it just off promotion, promotion, promotion … Eventually, you might create a fanbase and a record label might sign you. Or it could just be dumb luck.”

He’s taken a philosophical stance toward the music industry rat-races, however. “The music itself is what I’m in this for. It’s not fame, necessarily. To me, success is being able to do what I love.”

Find out more at http://www.jasonmatkinmusic.com/
Image Courtesy of Jason Matkin