¿Téo? Takes a Deeper Dive: Luna, Authenticity, and Musical Evolution

In the world of music, where authenticity often takes center stage, the artist known as ¿Téo? (Mateo Arias) stands as a beacon of genuine creativity and unapologetic self-expression as The Contrast Man. ¿Téo? takes us on a captivating journey through his music, artistry, and life experiences. With his latest album, “Luna,” he explores a darker and more sensual side of his music, offering fans a profound contrast to his previous work, “Sol.” “It felt like a natural progression,” he reveals, comparing the two albums to the interplay of night and day.

¿Téo?’s music is a fascinating blend of diverse genres, including hip-hop, reggaetón, and bossa nova. In the interview, he explains how he immerses himself in these genres, absorbing their essence, and channels them through his unique perspective. Describing his music as “Neo-American,” he reflects on the rich history and culture of music, both classic and contemporary, and how it informs his creative process. “I like being part of the times while having some understanding of where we’ve been,” ¿Téo? shares.

One of the standout tracks from “Luna” is “Don’t Stare Too Long,” a song that carries deep personal meaning for the artist. ¿Téo? reveals, “This song expresses what I feel to be a very universal feeling in relationships sometimes when they’ve reached a certain place, and it’s no longer possible to avoid what needs to be said and done.” This candidness and sincerity are at the heart of his songwriting, bridging the gap between personal storytelling and broader audience resonance.

¿Téo?’s journey extends beyond music; he’s a founding member of MSFTSrep, a fashion venture alongside Jaden Smith and his brother Moises Arias. The interview explores the intersection of fashion and music, highlighting how both are mediums for self-expression. Speaking of his collaboration with his brothers, he enthuses, “They’re such wizards in their own right, and it’s always exciting to see what the three of us can conjure up when we align our vision.”


Beyond his music and fashion endeavors, ¿Téo? brings a unique perspective rooted in his background in acting. Drawing parallels between acting and performing as a musician, he shares, “All the years of having acted helped me realize when it’s time to go (action!) there’s no looking back, and you just have to jump.” This seamless transition from the world of acting to music underscores his adaptability and readiness to embrace new challenges.


As for what the future holds for ¿Téo?, he tantalizingly hints at upcoming projects, indicating that he’s already immersed in them. With “Sol” and “Luna” as foundational pieces of his artistic evolution, he’s excited to delve deeper into the seeds he’s planted, taking his music and creativity further. In his own words, “Taking them further.”


In a world where authenticity is a rare gem, ¿Téo? shines brilliantly as an artist who embraces his extraordinary ordinary self. His music, artistry, and insights shared in the interview with Contrast Magazine are a testament to his genuine spirit and commitment to pushing creative boundaries. As he continues to explore the depths of his craft, the world eagerly awaits the next chapter in the enigmatic journey of ¿Téo?.


Your album “Luna” explores a darker and more sensual side of your music compared to “Sol.” What inspired this shift in theme? It felt like a natural progression. I’ve expressed this project to be the other side of the coin to “Sol”, so the way night is to day, or coolness to warmth, is the way Luna is to Sol. 


Your music draws from various genres, including hip-hop, reggaetón, and bossa nova. How do you go about blending these diverse influences? I genuinely enjoy all of these different genres of music. I do my best to study and absorb the essence of these genres/sounds, and funnel them through my lens. I’ve coined the term Neo-American at times to describe my music. Seems fitting. I love what the world has to offer in terms of creativity, so much rich history and culture. Classic and new. I like being part of the times while having some understanding of where we’ve been.

“Don’t Stare Too Long” is a standout single from “Luna.” Can you share the story or inspiration behind this song? This song carries a lot of meaning to me for many reasons. Probably my favorite on the project. I started the idea for this song on a full moon night and then I took it to London to finish it last year (2022). The song expresses what I feel to be a very universal feeling in relationships sometimes, when they’ve reached a certain place and it’s no longer possible to avoid what needs to be said and done. Some of my favorite, and perhaps most sincere songwriting. 


How do you balance the line between personal storytelling and creating music that resonates with a broader audience? I just enjoy writing from a genuine place and that’s usually a great start for resonating with a broader audience. At times it’s difficult to get the “audience” out of your head as you’re creating. But once the heartbeat of the storytelling or the mood you’re setting is there, it kind of takes a life of its own and starts working for itself.  


“Sol & Luna” was your recent tour, which included sold-out shows and even a stop at Coachella. Can you describe some memorable moments? The entirety of the tour was so transformative to be honest. Any touring artist can tell you, being on the road is a different beast altogether. There’s a lot of sacrifice, long hours of traveling, sleeping in a different bed every night, but all of it makes room for a lot of spontaneity as well. Whether it be on stage, or all of the moments in between. Coachella was a highlight for obvious reasons. I had always said I wanted to play the same year as Frank and I felt lucky to have experienced that weekend with my family present.

Photography by Corey Myers.
Photography by Corey Myers.

As a founder of MSFTSrep with Jaden Smith and your brother Moises Arias, you’ve ventured into the fashion industry. How does your work in fashion intersect with your music? For me, when I feel good, I do good work. Fashion and music are both ways of showing and expressing what you feel like, and what’s on your mind. Collaborating with those boys (Moises and Jaden) is of my favorite things to do. They’re such wizards in their own right and it’s always exciting to see what the three of us are able to conjure up when we align our vision. 


You’ve had a background in acting in television shows and films during your youth, including Disney XD. How has your experience in television influenced your approach to making music? For the most part, acting made me feel comfortable in front of a camera. But there was always a character to play. When it came to performing and doing shows as myself, that was frightening for a bit. Until I realized all the years of having acted really helped me realize when it’s time to go (action!) there’s no looking back and you just have to jump. Once I took that initial leap, all the years of my acting background felt like the foundation for me to build on. 


What can fans expect from ¿Téo? in the future? Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about? I have the next few projects in my head already that I’m working on and have been working on for some time. Now that Luna is out into the world I get to focus on those. It feels like Sol and Luna, again, laid a foundation for me to build on. I presented many variations of who I am and where I’m at with my music. Now I’m looking forward to going deeper into those seeds I planted, and building on those genres and approaches. Taking them further. 


The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different? I have a philosophy that the more ordinary you can be, the more extraordinary you are. It’s sounds paradoxical and like a contradiction, but I’ve found it to be true. The less you try, or feel a need, to stand out the more authentic is the result. You end up being exactly what you are. If all human beings are absolutely unique by nature, what can be more strikingly different than being extraordinarily ordinary.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Contrast Magazine. michael@contrastmag.us


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