We connected with Los Angeles based artist Hazansky aka Joseph Matveyenko for an exclusive interview to discuss his soulful new EP “Grandma”, as well as several other topics. Specifically, we got the opportunity to pick Hazansky’s brain about the development of the EP’s four songs, whether there were songs he recorded that didn’t make the final cut, his thoughts about the music scene in Portland, OR, and much more.
After reading our Q&A with Hazansky, be sure to connect with him on his website and IG, and stream and share the “Grandma” EP.
Congratulations on the completion and release of your EP "Grandma". Tell us about the development of the EP's four songs and whether there were songs that were recorded that didn't make the final cut.
Thank you so much. I started writing the EP following a break-up and turned to music to express my feelings that I had been internalizing. I wrote the last song “Better Alone” first as a way of recapping in my head all the events that lead up to the failure of the relationship.
I actually wrote the title track “Grandma” even before I knew that I would be moving back to LA for college. I applied to UCLA in the fall but wrote “Grandma” about me moving in with my grandma before I even received my admissions decision. Fortunately, I got in!
There was a fifth track that I wrote in LA with our bassist, Atreyu, that didn’t make it into the EP, but it’s going to be on our next release!
What was it like working with Riley Geare (of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) on the EP?
I met Riley when I was a sophomore in high school when his new band Cardioid stopped by at our school during their tour to play for students. I kept in touch with Zak Nelson (Cardioid’s guitarist) and Riley after they played and have been making music with both of them ever since. Riley moved to LA that year, but Zak took me under his wing at his studio in SE Portland and helped me explore my musical interests and develop skills in audio engineering.
Working with Riley on “Grandma” was an unimaginable experience. We got to track the electric piano, bass, and drums all live without a click track at his studio, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Simply having access to all the boutique instruments he had helped unleash some of our creativity.
If you had to describe the EP to a stranger in three words, which ones would you select?
Sexiest grandma song. Nobody’s written a song that sexy about their grandma. Throughout the recording process, Riley kept commenting that if he wrote “Grandma,” the lyrics for sure wouldn’t be about his grandma, but about something a little more... intimate.
How did the experience of moving in with your grandma for college impact you as an artist?
I just moved in last Tuesday, so it hasn’t even been a week yet. We’ll have to see how it shapes me as a musician, but I’m really excited to be in LA as an emerging artist.
My grandma inspires me with her work ethic and role in helping the community, and I hope I can become like her when I’m older. She still works full-time and hasn’t even thought about retiring.
Describe the music scene in Portland, OR. During your time there, was there a lot of support for emerging artists from locals, as well as a lot of venues to perform?
Portland historically hasn’t been known for its music scene, but in my 2 years there I’ve seen a resurgence of culture around local emerging jazz and RnB artists at venues like The 1905. Because it is a relatively small scene, the music community is extremely tight-knit, especially for jazz players, and all of us know each other and work together.
It's been a dream come true to be able to collaborate with musicians in Portland that I idolize.
With the EP now released, what are some of your goals musically for the remainder of the year and for 2020?
Now that I’m in LA, I’m building a studio in my grandma’s living room. The next project will be mostly self-produced and include some smooth hip-hop vibes. I’ve been working with a hip-hop label in Portland called Burn Money Records, and we’ve got some great collaborations coming between Hazansky and other artists they work with.
Our first show in LA is in October and will be announced soon!