An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs and Evalyn Gleason. Che also highlighted four members of the SOTA theater department: Lorrie Dewey, Michelle Accorso Sapere, Ed Myers and Luke Fellows.
Today, Che features SOTA alum Adrian DiMatteo.
From SOTA to the Eastman School to NYC. Adrian DiMatteo; A Gifted Musician Healing Through The Power Of Sound
In this highlight we turn our attention to Adrian DiMatteo, an inspirational figure changing and healing other individuals through the power of sound.
I asked Adrian a series of questions. Here is what we discussed;
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I grew up in inner-city Rochester, NY, a place with a deep connection to civil rights history, nature, and arts culture. I went to the School of the Arts (creative writing) for middle/high school, and completed pre-college and undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music (Jazz Guitar Performance).
What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
Initially, I wasn’t inspired to be an artist or entertainer, I simply had an intuition that I wanted to learn how to play guitar. I discovered a natural aptitude, discipline, and love for the instrument which led me to blues music early on. I listened relentlessly to musicians like Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Lightning Hopkins, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker and others who eventually led me to blues-influenced rock music of the 1960’s including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles. At the age of 16 I became a grand finalist in the Guitar Center “King of the Blues” contest which brought me to perform at the House of Blues in Chicago where I met BB King.
They didn’t teach blues and rock in school, so when I had to choose between classical music and jazz, the natural choice was jazz since it evolved out of/with blues tradition. Suddenly I was exploring the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker, Chris Potter, Oliver Nelson, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and a whole pantheon of jazz masters. The Eastman curriculum also required me to study classical music, so I developed a love and appreciation of J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert and others.
At the same time, I was listening to music from Eminem, Radiohead, Coldplay, Dave Matthews and other more contemporary musicians.
After college, I was invited to live in Nice, France and work with an international private events band performing acoustic renditions of popular songs and foreign language classics. I learned upright bass for the gig in three months, and French upon arrival, then spent two years traveling to over 20 countries as a performing artist. After that I moved to Doha, Qatar to work as a solo act for the St. Regis Hotel for three months before relocating to Boston. I started a progressive rock band before deciding to move to New York City where I’m currently pursuing an original music career, teaching, and practicing music therapy. In the past two years, I have learned to play over a dozen new instruments, from Tibetan gongs and healing bowls, to Native American flutes, hand-pans and miscellaneous percussion which I use for sound healing.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Relocating to New York City was one of the hardest, most expensive decisions I ever made. I arrived in June of 2016, living off of savings which slowly disappeared into the winter – the hardest time for most musicians to find work. But I was tireless with networking. I went to jam sessions, contacted friends and industry professionals I knew from the past, put out videos and recordings, proactively acquired students and a part-time job teaching music to pre-school children, and even busked (street-performed) on trains and in parks. By the start of 2017 (not a moment to soon) I turned the corner financially and began to earn enough to cover all of my expenses as a full-time free-lance musician.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?
My primary focus in life is to experience joy, peace, love, and to share that with the world. I am not alive to be famous, or materially successful. I find that many entertainers are driven by money and ego, and I admittedly had those ambitions until I found myself traveling the world, making a lot of money, and still not being satisfied. Now I am on a different mission – to learn the ancient art and science of sound healing, to understand vibration on a deeper level, and to make that knowledge accessible to all. This has led me to many diverse musical encounters – from jazz big bands to chamber ensembles, Latin dance bands, hip-hop collaborations, blues jams, Sufi chanting, mantra meditation, pop songwriting and music for children. I strive to be someone who can authentically express in many different styles, to reach people from all walks of life, and to play music that comes from my heart.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I spend a lot of time reading, writing poetry, journaling, and doodling. I also make an effort to connect with nature as often as possible – hiking, swimming, and gathering around campfires under the stars far from city lights.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
It feels like I’m always in the middle of a dozen projects. I recently recorded a prayer with a Tibetan singer (video/audio) to be released soon. I am also producing a music video for an original song to be released in the next couple months. Behind the scenes, I’m developing a series of guitar/music theory teaching videos to work in conjunction with “Guitar Handbook,” an ios App I had developed to help aspiring guitarists learn music theory and advanced chord voicings. I have also begun organizing my poetry into a collection I hope to publish soon.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I would like to be doing essentially what I’m doing now, but with bigger opportunities and a larger team to support more ambitious projects. I would like to have an established art production studio, and a social media team to help promote and distribute content. I would like to see this content generate enough interest to keep me traveling as a performer, and inviting my peers and idols to collaborate on multi-media art installations and performances, especially those focused on humanitarian causes like education, environmental protection, and social justice. I would also like to fund the expansion of “Guitar Handbook” to include many features I have yet to integrate.
Live a healthy, balanced life. Don’t get caught up in drugs, partying, and frivolous sex. That MTV lifestyle exists, but it’s hollow. Try to remember why you started making art. Why do you love creating beauty? Who do you want to share it with? If you can connect with your heart and put that authenticity into your art, the world will feel your true essence and appreciate you for who you are. Have no fear. There are many ways of measuring success. How can you make the world a better place?
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp: