Music as Therapy: Inside the Dreamlike Estate of dia maté

Months away from her first year in college and dia maté has already taken life by the horns to chase after her dreams. At 19 and while in the middle of a pandemic, she signed with one of this generation’s most prominent music labels, and released her self-written and mostly self-produced EP “Don’t Quote Me.”

The record, according to the young musician, serves as a diary entry of some sorts—a peep into some of the most impactful moments in her life. And that’s generally what listeners will get out of her collection of tracks, with her special ability to soothe, embrace, and mirror the most intimate thoughts in one’s ever-anxious mind. As someone who debuted into the music scene in a time where we’re all feeling all sorts of emotional upheavals, this is both a daunting time to introduce yourself to the world, and a unique opportunity to reach out to more people going through the same emotions.

Image courtesy of Island Records Philippines

For dia maté who has dreamed of being a musician all her life, the timing might be less-than-ideal, but an opportunity still worth taking, “Honestly, I wouldn’t have waited any longer because I really wanted to grab the opportunity by the horn and take it. Because I love music, and if I could do it right away, at this age and start early, I would do it.”

She’s a firm believer that when bad things happen, good things can come out of it. In her case, despite the pandemic, she’s been able to focus a lot more time on her music, specifically teaching herself how to produce tracks from scratch. For someone who taught herself how to play various instruments at such a young age, while absorbing all the musical lessons she can get from her environment, she’s used to taking matters into her own hands in terms of her craft. That’s really been her main mindset throughout this period of isolation, she shared with us.

Thinking of the future, planning what’s next, and asking herself “What can I do tomorrow or today to improve my craft?” This has become her daily motivation to work and manifest that good things will come if she works hard enough.

Images courtesy of Island Records Philippines

True enough, good things did come in the form of her being an official artist under Island Records Philippines, joining the same label as other rising acts like herself such as Fern., Zack Tabludo, and so many more. Many of whom she’s grown to be good friends with.

Coming into the label, dia shared how grateful she felt working with a team who knew and respected her identity as an artist. Something she’s unknowingly cultivated since she was a little girl, falling asleep to Norah Jones with her mom, and jamming over smooth R&B tunes with her dad. This combination explains perfectly the type of music she makes: soothing, touching, with the lyricism and soulfulness of R&B.

Her distinct sound shines beautifully in her discography thus far, and she expressed that Island Records played a big part in that insofar as they allow her to continue exploring the type of music she wants, without putting her in a box or specific genre.

Image courtesy of Island Records Philippines

“They’re pro-artist, and it’s nice because they’re very supportive of the music I make. It’s more of guiding me towards a certain direction. They give me advice and tell me what makes the most sense to release right now, or what they think is a very strong song,” she elaborated, even highlighting that it was the label’s confidence in her track “Heart Hates Me” that led to it being the first one to be released from repertoire as her official introduction to the industry.

With just five tracks officially released under her name, four officially housed in her recently-released EP, she has effectively marked her identity and style as an up-and-coming artist with lyrics that came from her heart, and productions that bore the fruit of her personal lessons on music-making. Some tracks were also produced by other artists she looks up to like CRWN for “Heart Hates Me”, whose “Wait” with Jess Connelly dia admits to being a constant entry on her playlists since it was released.

As a creative, hers is a journey that greatly relies on inspiration, and as far as her personal process are concerned for songs she produces herself, the beat would normally come by, before evolving into a more fully-realized track. Once arranged, mixed, and up to her own standards, she creates a melody from it by singing and recording with her microphone in hand. Once the melody is settled, she builds the song off of that.

“Sometimes when I feel snazzy, I sing freestyle. I’m not that good, but sometimes it works out, and it creates a good melody. That’s actually what happened with Faded, specifically the chorus,” she enthused with a slight chuckle.

Image courtesy of Island Records Philippines.

The beginning step in her music writing is often the most difficult one to surpass, she shared, as she has a habit of overthinking where to start, and what to do. But once the creative juices start flowing, she gets most excited whenever she finishes a new track, especially by herself. She opened up, “I feel that it’s very fulfilling na ‘Wow I made something’”.

A big part of her music is that it’s wholly her, and she revealed that that has also been a source of anxiety for her at times. But, ultimately, her biggest wish is for listeners to find something about her music to connect with.

“I think as artists, we all have our anxiety about releasing our work. Because it’s our baby, and we took so much care for it, let it grow into something we’re so happy about. And of course, I’m gonna be so sad if people don’t like it. But music is such a subjective type of art. There are a lot of people who’s not going to like my music, and there’s are a lot of people who don’t like my genre. And I think the most important thing about it is that I am happy with what I have come up with.”

She furthered, “I’m happy with whatever people feel when they listen to my songs. If people feel comfort through my songs, that would be amazing. Because I love discovering music and connecting to it. I think that’s my main goal, for people to connect with what I’m putting out there, and with what I’m saying. I love it when people don’t feel alone.”

Right now, as an artist in the earliest days of her career, the biggest goal she dreams of fulfilling soon is to perform in front of a live audience. Having started her artistic journey in the middle of a pandemic, this has been something she missed out on, with COVID-19 getting in the way of arguably one of the most thrilling parts of being a performer. She hopes to bring her songs to an international festival like Wanderland, and to feel the energy of people loving music around her.

Image courtesy of Island Records Philippines.

Looking further into the future, dia maté dreams of growing to be an artist with a platform to reach and help many people with her music. “Music is not only my therapy when I make it, but it’s also my therapy when I listen to it. It helps me cry, happy, get in the mood, dance. It helps me to handle my emotions. And to have that giant platform to help that many people with my music, sounds like a dream,” she expressed.

She also noted that there are not a lot of women music producers in the industry, and this has been a great motivation for her to get better: “I’m so in love with the process of learning about music because it gives me all the endorphins. And I’d love to tell girls that if they want to make music, they can. There are so many opportunities. You just have to try, and get there.”

dia maté is certainly an artist to look out for, especially if you’re looking to feel the healing powers of music. With her soulful sound and empathetic message, her artistry sure surpasses her thrust and her stance in the music scene, but more of her ability to tell remarkable narratives that are familiar and heartful. And this is bound to grow as she evolves into an even more well-rounded writer, producer, and ultimately, as a young woman making a name for herself.

“Dont Quote Me” is just the first of her many artistic endeavors, and we’re ecstatic, and ever hopeful, to see what else she comes out with.

Stream “Don’t Quote Me” now on all major music platforms, under Island Records Philippines.