TAXI Linked Mather's
Music With the Industry

Passenger Profile: Justin Mather


By Kenny Kerner


With a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies in the ol' hip pocket, Justin decided to dash it all for a career in music? Crazy? Smart like a fox? Let's find out exactly what happened:

When did you first learn how to play guitar?

I was around 12 when I first picked up my dad's electric guitar. He taught me all the basic chords and I went from there. Used to buy guitar player magazines and learn the old Classic Rock songs from the tabs. Playing the guitar was definitely the coolest thing in the world to me then. I suppose it still is now.

Do you come from a musical family?

My dad's side of the family is very musical. My grandparents have always been involved in the music at their church. My grandmother even plays the organ there from time to time. My dad plays guitar, banjo, trumpet, and sax. He was the one who really inspired me to play music. No one in my family decided to try to make a living at music. It was more like, "Let's build a bonfire in the back yard and break out the guitars!" I guess I'm trying to take it a step further.

When did you really think seriously about music as a career?

There have been various stages of becoming serious about a music career. I began to think seriously about it when I was in college. I was in a band that was doing pretty well and I was writing lots of songs, but I felt too bogged down with the demands of school to be as serious as you need to be. Looking back I still wasn't ready then. But I kept playing and writing songs even though there was no "career." It was when I made my first album in 2005 that I realized, maybe I can do this. Plus, I'd already invested a lot of money and almost a year recording those 10 songs, I had to move forward.

The biggest move toward a music career was leaving the teaching profession. I had earned a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies and landed a job teaching elementary and high school Spanish right after college. That lasted for about three years when I finally decided it was too much. So I quit in the middle of the year and moved across the country. Now I make ends meet serving food at a Brew Pub. A step backward professionally, but it's way less stressful, the money is better, and I have more time and flexibility. Over the last year I've managed to build a pretty decent home studio, so things are really rolling now.

What is the music scene like in Berkshire Hills, Massachusetts?

There are a lot of great musicians there. The down side is that there are very few places to play and no real industry connections there. Looking back, moving away was a good move.

How would you describe the kind of music you play?

I play Americana / Alternative Country type music. Lyric based over rhythm guitar. I grew up listening to John Denver, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd—so the words are really important to me. Though having said that, I recently started to record instrumentals for specific TAXI listings, and am enjoying producing more "background" type music for a change.

What inspires you to write songs?

People, places, and feelings. I'm more of a "wait till the song comes to me" type of writer, rather than a "sit down and see what I can come up with today" type. I do try that from time to time, just don't have much luck usually. I try not to write songs just for the sake of writing them.

There are enough songs out there already. If I'm going to add one, it needs to be a real good one; one that is slightly different or has a purpose. I've always listened very closely to Neil Young. He showed me how good a song can be, he set the bar. It's like he's the teacher that I'll be handing my song in to. I always know in the back of my mind the level what I'm up against, so I aim high. I haven't reached that caliber yet, but I've approached it a few times.

I understand that you've released two CDs. What are they called and where can we buy them?

My first CD is called One Pillow. I recorded this one in a great little studio in Sheffield, Massachusetts, with some of the finest musicians in that area. My second CD, Little House In Vegas, has tracks recorded back in Massachusetts before I moved and the rest were recorded here in my home studio. Both of these are available at http://cdbaby.com/cd/justinmather.

What made you join TAXI? How did you first hear about us?

I first heard about TAXI from a musician friend about three or four years ago. I remember looking it up online and being driven away by the price. The ironic thing is that when I joined last year, I had just moved across the country, didn't have steady job yet, was in more debt than I'd ever been in before and all of the sudden the price seemed like no big deal. It was like, I'm already screwed, what's another $300?



How has TAXI changed your impression of the music industry?

I don't know if TAXI has changed my impression, as I didn't know much about the industry before I joined. TAXI has put a face to the music industry and allowed me to be a part of it. Before it was all a big mystery and I was a complete outsider. After attending the first Road Rally and being in the same room with top producers and songwriters and actually meeting some of them and Michael, I feel like, OK, this is the industry. These are the people that are making it, these people are successful. This is the bar and it's set really high. If I'm going to be successful, my work has to be at this level. The best part is that since joining TAXI, I actually feel like I can do that, like I can work on that level.

How has TAXI helped with your career?

TAXI has made a direct link between my music and the industry. Some of my first submissions were forwarded to TAXI's clients. This is huge for me! After one year I got my first deal offer and signed 10 songs with that music library. One month later I got the second deal. All these years of being a musician/songwriter, there has been no problem coming up with new songs. Recording them is much more work, but I still managed to do that too.

The next step is what has always bewildered me. It seemed like after all that hard work, and money, things came to a halt. (Minus the CD sales at gigs, but I have never played on a large enough scale for that to pay off very well.) TAXI has given me the opportunity to move my music from point A (my house) to point B (a slot in the mainstream media).

Do you read the screener comments about your songs? What are your feelings about the comments in general?

Yes, of course, I read all of the comments about my songs. So far they've been great to read. I'm very interested in how other people hear my songs. I think the comments are part of what makes TAXI such a great company—they actually take the time to write to you about your song. And I've always had the feeling that the screener really listened closely and really cared about the song. The critiques are a great thing.

What career achievement are you most proud of so far?

Having 11 of my songs signed to two music libraries is what I'm most proud of. These days anyone can make a CD, it's almost like that's no big deal anymore. Getting those songs to the next level, that's the hard part.



What are your plans for the rest of 2008?

2008 To Do list:

1. Record. I'm working on chipping away at a backlog of songs that I've been accumulating for about 10 years. Now that I have a home studio I can do that! You can write a song in a day but recording and producing it is what takes time.

2. Find studio musicians. I'm still relatively new to this area so I'm still looking for the right guys to help me in the studio.

3. Buy more instruments. My latest purchase was an old 1970s Yamaha 12-string. Got it for $80 at a pawn shop... booyah! Next will be a new bass or maybe a sax, we'll see...

Well there you have it... another happy TAXI member. And more importantly, a successful one. Why not call for your free TAXI member package now. Check it out and decide for yourself.











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