The doors to Bernas Center opens and a tall timid figure enters the room. Clad in a crisp white button-down shirt and black pants, he walks across the room, initially uncertain where he should sit and settle. A closer look at him reveals his age; his boyish charm slowly being introduced to the realities of law school with shadows under his eyes. He smiles shyly and quietly introduces himself, his voice softer than expected.
Despite the unassuming stance, Mateo Escueta (1B) is no stranger to fame and fortune. Do not let his meek demeanor fool you; this guy has been all around the Metro with his trusty guitar in hand –playing gigs, opening for concerts, and producing his own songs which could be currently heard in SoundCloud, iTunes, and Spotify.
His exposure to the music industry began when he was 13 years old, tagging along to play with his brother, musician and singer Miguel Escueta. At a young age, he had rubbed elbows with famed bands and fellow musicians such as Urbandub, Up Dharma Down, and Yael Yuzon, among others. Mateo has also guested on radio shows, toured for gigs, appeared on noon time show Party Pilipinas, and even became part of the opening act for Kelly Clarkson’s concert here in Manila –a life most high school kids at that time could only dream of. His most prominent memory of performing at that age was when he and his brother appeared for Myx Mo! in 2009, where he played in front of 150,000 people –an event that still leaves Mateo speechless upon recollection.
The succeeding years, however, have shown that Mateo has stepped out of the shadows of his family name (aside from his rock star brother, he is also related to Mark Escueta of Rivermaya fame). It was in college that Mateo seriously pursued his love for music. Apart from toying with his guitar, Mateo has also dabbled in song writing –something that sets him apart from other budding musicians who limit themselves into playing cover songs. Such songs became a hit to friends and peers, and his link to his SoundCloud account was shared incessantly that in just a few weeks, his song “Keep Me”played in all continents in the world. Mateo began to be invited to play in college gigs and concerts. In his junior year, he joined the Ateneo Musician’s Pool (AMP) which he describes as “one of my best decisions”as the org believed in him and helped him organized his performances and song launches.
With the help of his family and friends, he released an extended play (EP) in his college senior year, in which copies were easily sold out. His songs were also made available in other channels such as iTunes and Spotify. Features of him in different publications, including the Loyola Schools’The Guidon and YoungStar of the Philippine Star, and several indie websites also propped out both online and offline. It is no wonder that upon graduation, Mateo was awarded the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts (LSAA) for Music.
But for the young musician, these accolades and recognition are only the icing on the cake. Mateo describes his songs as his personal outlet for his thoughts and emotions, and when he started making his songs, it was only for his personal use and enjoyment. It was only through the prodding of his blockmates during their Christmas party that he began to share his original songs. Calling himself an introvert, Mateo was at first hesitant to make them known to others. But people began approaching him and telling him that his songs spoke to them, and it was then that he thought that he must be doing something right for him to touch other people’s lives. And so he became more open to sharing his passion to others.
Now, Mateo has decided to pursue another passion in life –law school. He feels extremely blessed with all the success in his music career and that it is now time to fulfill his childhood dreams of being a lawyer. Deciding to put his budding music career on hold does not feel as a loss to Mateo, as he states that music will always be a part of him, whether he becomes a lawyer or a musician or neither. Although he might not be producing any songs now, Mateo says that music “is something that I can’t live without”and has made plans on continuing this passion when time permits it.
Mateo noiselessly shifts in his seat. The guarded look in his eyes disappears when he begins to ardently explain how he feels secure and completely himself when he plays his music. His eyes light up and his hands get wild in animation in describing how songs are more than just a catchy melody. His voice gets excited when asked on his musical inspirations are (he looks up to John Mayer and listens to almost all music genres). He enthusiastically strums a few keys in his guitar and a quiet smile appears on his face. Although quiet and unassuming, Mateo’s disposition speaks volumes of his love for music that transcends the bounds of law school. P
Mateo’s latest EP is coming out this June. Like his Facebook page here.