Photography by Tracy Morford
Words by Ryan Michael Commins
When Mateo Lynch was only sixteen, he found himself launched into notoriety due to the success of his soundtrack for the popular Spanish language show, Esta Sociedad (This Society). The track quickly reached the top spot on Los 10 Mas Pedidos, which is the Latin MTV equivalent of the old Total Request Live format. That’s when his life became crazy and the fans began to follow in droves, even though he has yet to release an album of his own. I was given the assignment to interview Mateo while he is on a month-long hiatus from New York, in his hometown of Lima, Peru.
We sat down to chat over Skype to talk about what it was like to be a teen pop star and where a person goes from there. Mateo, now twenty-two, was sitting in a mustard colored bedroom with two young girls sitting behind him on a bed, giggling and smoking throughout the entire interview. I assumed they were his nieces, or maybe his little sister and her best friend. Mateo and I were wearing almost the same glasses, both awkwardly smiling and laughing when a delay would cause us to cut each other off in mid-sentence during our conversation.
WC: Did you know that you wanted to be a musician? Or did it just grab you at the time?
ML: I don’t know. I think I’ve always been drawn to music. I love to create songs, but I don’t consider myself to be a musician, it’s just something I do. I have this need to write music. You know?
WC: What kind of stuff are you currently listening to?
ML: I love Ryan Adams, I’m always listening to him. Recently it’s been a lot of LCD Soundsystem on my iPod, but I listen to all kinds of music.
WC: When did you first start creating music?
ML: When I was sixteen I shot a promotional spot for the Peruvian television show Esta Sociedad. A similar American program would be something like The O.C., but the song blew up and was in the Top Ten after airing on MTV Latin America. So, I kept doing music after that. I also wrote the soundtrack for a movie called Mañana te Cuento 2. When I was 18, I moved to Mexico City to keep pursuing music, but now I’m leaning more towards acting.
WC: Why are you into acting now more than music?
ML: I always wanted to study acting, but since everything started with music, it kinda just became my focus. I actually auditioned for a part on Esta Sociedad, but I ended up singing the theme song instead.
WC: Are you trying to go the theater route, or would you rather be in movies and television?
ML: I would rather do films … definitely.
WC: Who are some of your favorite film makers?
ML: Right now I’m really into David Lynch. I really didn’t get his work before, but now that I have a different perspective of the craft, I can see all the little details that make his films so unique. I also like the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu as well.
WC: Do you find inspiration in any current actors today — people that you would love to be in their shoes?
ML: I would love to be in Ryan Gosling’s shoes.
WC: Yeah, me too.
ML: (Laughing) Yeah, I love Ryan Gosling and Gael Garcia Bernal.
WC: Outside of studying acting do you have anything that you’re working on now?
ML: I’m on a break from school at the moment, I’m studying in New York City, at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, it’s a conservatory of two years. And after the first year they only select twenty people to return for the final year, and I was chosen to come back, so I’m really happy about that. I’m off until September and I’m in Peru for a month. I’ve never stopped writing music, so I wanted to just give myself the time to get back with the producer of the songs I wrote in the past, but work on new material and a new sound that has evolved over time. So that’s what I’m doing now… a more free approach. I’m at the point where I want to do what I want to do (the girls in the background are laughing). Yeah, they’re laughing at me.
WC: Do you ever have to deal with crazy people that recognize you on the streets?
ML: Not that much anymore. In that video of the series, I was wearing a striped shirt and had long hair. If I would go anywhere with a striped shirt on at the time, I would be fucked. (One of the girls on the bed says, ‘There was a time.’) Yeah there was a time when we would go out in public and it would be crazy.
WC: Having gotten a taste of that, does it make you a little more reluctant to get back into that situation where you would become very recognizable?
ML: It makes me very nervous. Like, when I’m not on stage, and just hanging out in a restaurant or something, I don’t like to be noticed. It’s weird.
All clothes vintage.
Grooming by Marcel Dagenais