The best kind of artist is the one who pleasantly surprises you, whether at the hand of their sound, persona, or live performance. For Matthew Estevez, it’s all three.
A four-track recorder is where his journey began as – like so many young hopefuls alongside him – he took to YouTube to share his original music. Years passed and Estevez, now going by his stage name The F-use (a PG alternative to his initial, less-than-family-friendly idea, The Fuck You’s), began to gain a reputable following on an unlikely social media platform.
Ah, Reddit. The stock market isn’t the only thing the site is capable of impacting, and Estevez has had a front row seat to it all: breaking out into the alternative rock scene by way of a subreddit’s version of the Grammy’s gone viral and the continued attention received from marketing new music in his own posts. But this unforeseen path to recognition is just the beginning of Estevez’s charming unpredictability. Much more can be distinguished via the fiery blaze of his new single, “Chaser”.
At first glance, Estevez has the look of your typical laid-back college student over your melodramatic rocker, but then he opens his mouth, and without warning, you’re thrashing in the center of a rowdy mosh pit, enveloped by Dave Grohl on your left, Robert Plant on your right, Jack White in front and Dave Evans behind. It’s an “Oh. Damn! Okay!” moment, sonically thrilling and wildly electrifying, capturing your attention in an instant with its commanding guitars and pulverizing drums.
The F-use is Estevez through-and-through, which means, not only does he write and sing every song, but he undertakes the role of guitarist, bassist, and drummer, making himself an undeniable force to be reckoned with. We see this in the “Chaser” music video, featuring the artist dressed in an array of outfits representing each ‘member’ of the band, including a maid’s costume and cat ears, while playing in front of various colorful green-screen backgrounds. There’s also – whether intentional or not – a subtle reenactment of the legendary chocolate cake scene from the classic film, Matilda. Just slightly more hardcore.
The more you unlock about The F-use, the more treasures you find, and in an effort to dig for some extra jewels, I got to ask Estevez a few questions about himself, his rise in popularity, and his new music.
In your latest music video, we see you kick ass on multiple instruments. Is there one in particular that initially swept you away and into the world of music?
Drums were my first instrument, my first love, and will forever be my favorite instrument! I genuinely attribute my start in playing music to Beatles Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I would set ‘no fail mode’ on and go to the real drums and pretend to play the game. I learned my grasp on rhythm and influences from all genres and decades because of that. After playing through all of the songs, I found it pretty natural to play along to other songs I loved – I’d just plug into my iPod and play along to all of my favorite songs while learning the drum parts.
Who would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to your sound?
It goes without saying that the Foo Fighters are one of my biggest influences. They understand how to get a clean sound while making room for gnarly riffs, melodies, and screams. The Beatles, System of a Down, and The White Stripes I’d say are all up there as well.
Does the music you generally listen to and enjoy also reflect the music you make, or is it a bit different?
I’m not entirely sure! I’ve never really dissected my music to see which melody or idea stemmed from a specific inspiration. I’ve been told here and there, “Oh major *whatever band they hear* vibes!” Sometimes it’s a band that I don’t like or ever listen to which is neat regardless. I listen to a lot of hip-hop, folk, and cheesy pop songs so those, mixed with my rock influences, all inspired me in their own way! Whatever I’m listening to at the time is typically reflected in the energy of the songs I write; while I was writing ‘Chaser’ I was listening to a lot of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age – that kind of stuff.
How did you react to your “Grammy” wins in the viral Reddit post?
I was speechless. To be honest it didn’t feel real. My phone started buzzing away with mentions and notifications – I saw comments about being awarded “best alternative rock song”, but it was about an hour or so before I realized I was also awarded “best male vocalist” (which came as an entire surprise to me). I geeked out when the post hit a thousand upvotes, but now it’s sitting almost at 35,000- I don’t even know what to say! There’s also an insane amount of talented musicians and artists on there too, a lot of very deserving musicians all got spotlights on their projects that were for the most part well under a thousand streams. It benefited the community as a whole immensely.
How does it feel to know the immense impact you’ve played on the Reddit music community?
Honestly, I feel like the Reddit community (specifically my r/IndieMusicFeedback family) has had a bigger impact on me. The community is built around prioritizing genuine feedback and support to those who post, and it brings together musicians, producers, and songwriters from every corner of the world and level of expertise. There are 90 songs on that Reddit post, and there’s an entire production team behind every song on there, all playing an essential role to make that post as strong as it is. Also, the literal thousands of songs that had been posted each year; it’s impossible to pick even 90 favorites.
Your single “Chaser” has also gotten lots of buzz on the platform. Does it ever surprise you the amount of support you’ve received so far?
One hundred percent. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to any type of outpouring support, whether it be one or one hundred people. I’ve made some close friendships with a handful of people from being active in the community, but every time somebody shows support by sharing or commenting I always make sure to reply and show how thankful I am.
Speaking of the new single, what was the process like behind making it?
This song is made up of four riffs that I had been trying to make their own songs for a few months. I was frustrated that I couldn’t come up with anything else to flesh out the songs, so one day I cut and pasted the riffs next to each other and… the song kind of just happened. Vocally, it was the most intense performance I’ve done so far. The overall energy and vibe of the song needed it, so it took about two weeks to get enough takes of the vocals. I’d be screaming as hard as I could for each line, so after two or three takes my voice would start cracking and I’d have to stop for the day.
Can you dive deeper into the making of your latest record?
Not much has changed from my writing and recording process of any music I’ve put out. After I fiddled around with the different riffs to form a full song, I drummed along to it a few hours a day to figure out what fills and rhythms fit best. Once I came up with all of the parts, I spent those two weeks getting all of the vocal takes down and building all of the tracks. I create different guitar and bass amps in Logic for every new song; I haven’t recorded my physical amp for any of my songs which sometimes is a surprise to people.
When it comes to drums, I usually have my good friend Joey help because he’s more of an audio guy than I am – so he has different recording styles for every song I do. After everything was recorded, Joey worked his magic on the specific intricate frequency editing and making things sound all smooth, then we tag-teamed back and forth between mixing, editing, and testing the song out on all different kinds of speakers and spaces to see if it worked everywhere.
The loose meaning of the song is about somebody who I used to be really close to that turned out to not be who I thought they were. They were acting different around everyone they were around, and after sharing some vulnerable moments with, I felt wronged. It seemed like they were trying to be the “cool” person to whoever they were around, so that’s why the song is called ‘Chaser’; chasing popularity wherever they could.
What was the vision behind its music video?
Can I be honest? There wasn’t any set-in-stone plan we had. This song didn’t have much of a story, and we had just finished up filming a more emotionally driven video, so we wanted to just have fun with this one. I knew I wanted to perform in front of a greenscreen and have a bunch of random backdrops and effects that I left up to Morgan and Lyv to play around with. They showed up to my house with tons of props, hats, glasses, and the infamous cat ear headphones. Morgan had the idea of having random skits during the song, so after we filmed the performances, we just went wild with all of those random scenes. We ended up finding “personalities” for each instrument, the drummer being plain, the bassist playing the TV Head character from a previous music video, lead guitar as the “slowly going psycho” maid, and the vocalist to be the counterpart.
Will there be more music on the way for us to look forward to?
Yes! At this very moment I’m pretty burnt out from all of the releases I’ve been working on and posting about; I haven’t taken a break since I started writing, promotion, marketing, and everything in between for my album back in May of last year, plus two singles after that. I’m taking a few weeks break (I’ll be surprised if I can last that long), but I do have a new single that’s almost done! I’m trying my best to stick to a new song at least every two months for this year, and hopefully by the beginning of next year I’ll have enough songs built-up for another full album.
And finally, what lasting impression would you want to make on a first-time listener?
I want them to want more and know that I’m putting my authentic self into it. I’d hope the impression would make it known I’m in this for the long haul and that I’m always putting my best foot forward.