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Building a Side Project with Mathieu Santos 

The Artist:
Mathieu Santos

Current Projects:
Massachusetts 2010
Ra Ra Riot

Fairhaven, MA


It’s not uncommon for musicians to let the itch for further artistic exploration get the best of them. Some try out a different role in their current band, others go a step further and create their own side/solo project. The latter was the case with Ra Ra Riot’s Mathieu Santos. A founding member of the group and its bassist since 2006, Santos has come to be known as one of the most innovative bassists in all of the indie rock world. But that peer admiration wasn’t enough — Mathieu wanted to pursue a new creative outlet and did so by branching out on his own as a multi-instrumentalist. The result is Massachusetts 2010, Santos’ eclectic, colorful debut album released on August 2nd via Barsuk.

We caught up with Mathieu before he hit the stage with Ra Ra Riot in Boston to talk about what it’s like transitioning from bassist to front man, whether he has used Ra Ra Riot as a launchpad for his new solo project, and what creative techniques he has used to promote Massachusetts 2010. Check out his conversation with Ben below!

Mathieu Santos Quick Tips

  • Have the urge to experiment and see what else you can do musically? Go for it! There’s nothing wrong with taking a few months off and exploring some of the ideas kicking around in your head. This feeling is natural, especially for artistic people like musicians. We’d probably go crazy if there was no outlet for the music rattling around in our brains!
  • On top of that, pursuing another project when you have the time is a sure fire way to learn about another aspect of the music business you might not be very familiar with. Mathieu used this opportunity to enhance his knowledge on the recording process, and is a more well-rounded musician because of it.
  • If you only have a short amount of time to record an album, say 4 days like was the case with Mathieu for Massachusetts 2010 go into it with excitement instead of anxiety. By viewing it as a positive challenge, Mathieu was able to get it all done and done well on time. Additionally, giving yourself such a small window forces you to not over think things, one frustrating symptom all musicians must learn to deal with at some point in their careers.
  • Looking for creative ways to promote your album? Mathieu and the other members from Ra Ra Riot hosted a Ra Ra Riot room on Turntable.FM and streamed the album to the band’s fans. Turntable.FM is even bigger now than it was when that happened, so giving it a shot would be a good idea!
  • If your primary band members are cool with it, sell your side project’s material at the same merch booth! Mathieu has been able to use Ra Ra Riots’ popularity as a vehicle to promote his side project by making it available at the merch booth for every show.

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