When I Grow Up I Want to Be Like Mateus Asato

He’s a young Japanese Brazilian guitar player that’s building huge following on social media.  And deservedly so.  I don’t care if you play the guitar or not, just listen to him play!

I, of course, feel kinship with him because we have a couple of things common in the background (I’m from Japan but lived in São Paulo when I was a teenager) but that’s not why I like him.  His playing is so expressive, he brings in this vast array of stupendous technical facility to make music that just flows out.  That can only happen after thousands of hours practicing, but he has something more that most of other musicians (including yours truly) lack.

I’m currently working through my sense of time.  I have a tendency to rush, and the reason why I do that is because there is a stuck emotion in there I need to unstuck.  When I play I feel this very childish sense of urgency, like a little boy who can’t keep himself from playing his favorite toy.  And while that may sound innocent and cute on paper, that urgency seems to be driven by a whole host of immature impulses that one should grow out of: insecurity that it gets taken away, impatience to wait for one’s turn, selfish desire to show off, and so on.  So I rush and stumble, like a child who’s running to a toy store because he’s afraid the toy he wants will be sold to someone else and he wants it all to himself.  It sounds really unreasonable and silly as I write this, but that’s what I can tell from sitting here feeling that feeling.

When you’re playing music and expressing yourself, it’s not enough that you have the technical facility.  True mastery consists of having something to say, having the ability to say it well, and having little in the way of doing so.  I’d say most of us have issues with at least one if not all three of those areas.  Mateus doesn’t.  He wouldn’t have been able to play like that if he did.

When I listen to him I just feel his life energy flowing out of him — sometimes it’s restrained, sometimes it pours out, but it’s never blocked or awkward.  He is a master.  He can hold back when he wants to, so that when he lets go the contrast feels dramatic.  Always in time, always melodic.

I’m a guitar geek so I scour the net and watch thousands of guitar players.  But Materus is a rare gem in that he really hits me some place deep, he makes me lose my focus in the technical aspect and just lets me feel.  And that’s only possible because his music comes from somewhere deep inside him — and he has the chops and sensibility to say it well, and has little in his way.

And that’s in a young man who’s probably 20 years younger than me.  Wow.  When I grow up I want to be like Mateus.  He really inspires me to play, and to keep getting better at playing, and playing that tune called life.