Jon Devoto is one of the founding members of Ivy Hill Entertainment. He's also a producer, sound engineer, performs at private events and weddings and plays lead guitar in the - famously Oakland based - rock band The Matches.
The Matches have been enjoying a resurgence that began with 2014's E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals 10-Year Anniversary Re-Release and has included reunion shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City as well as an Australian tour and two brand new songs. Yesterday, February 1st, The Matches announced they would be touring again, this time in celebration of the 10-Year Anniversary of their sophomore effort, Decomposer.
In addition to his work with The Matches Jon has produced and mixed a record with Brent Walsh (I The Mighty) that was released on Equal Vision Records and performed at a slew of events for Ivy Hill Entertainment, including the Napa Valley Film Festival!
With all that's going on with Jon we thought now would be a better time than any to sit down with him and pick his brain! He didn't disappoint and, yes Matches fans, he is available to perform at your wedding!
Tell us a little bit about what you do at Ivy Hill Entertainment.
My biggest roles as an Ivy Hill co-founder so far have been content and event production, as well as community building and artist development. I have a good amount of experience with music and video production and marketing, so I really enjoy helping artists build their content library to share, as well as helping them build and identify their artistic identity within Ivy Hill Entertainment. I also love playing host and throwing events, so event production with Ivy Hill has been a blast for me!
It's also been great for me to introduce my existing music and social network into the Ivy Hill Entertainment world. I'm lucky enough to know heaps of wonderful and talented individuals, and it's so rewarding to introduce them to each other, create a sense of community, and watch things grow... and of course I love to play Ivy Hill Entertainment gigs!
What does a week in the life of Jonathan Devoto look like?
Oh boy! One of the best things about my life is that there really is no typical day or week for me. Aside from playing private events and working as a co-founder for Ivy Hill Entertainment, I also run a recording studio where I get to record and produce bands, teach music and career coaching, and play in original music projects (including the Matches from time to time!).
There are periods where recording projects keep me locked in the studio for weeks at a time. Other times I'll find myself spending most of my time prepping for gigs and learning new material for my repertoire. I even get to tour the world every now and again... Things never get repetitive or boring in my life!
Wow! You do so many different things relating to music - do you have a favorite?
My favorite thing about what I do is the diversity.
What was it that first drew you to music?
I started tap dancing when I was 3 years old (and continued for about 12 years... and recently starting taking tap classes again!). It gave me a really strong percussive sense and comfort on-stage that I am so grateful for. I always saw my mom playing guitar when I was growing up, and knew I wanted to do that someday. I got my first guitar when I was 5.
Obviously The Matches reunion shows have been a big part of this past year for you. How does it feel to be back in that saddle so to speak?
It's ridiculous! Seriously when we went on hiatus back in 2009, we never thought we'd be doing this again. The biggest reason we're doing it again is because we've found that there's still a demand, as there's actually quite a few people who want us to be making music still. It's so rewarding to have that feeling exist after all these years, to know that we touched so many people at that deep of a level. This past year, 2015, we not only got together for some more reunion shows, but actually wrote and recorded two new songs at my studio. Getting back with the guys for writing was so easy and fun - somehow our rapport and dynamic only grew stronger while we were apart. Getting to record, produce, and distribute the songs ourselves, on our own terms, was also really wonderful. Very reminiscent of when we first started being a band, before we got signed, and did practically everything ourselves.
What’s it like playing in The Matches in 2015 vs. 2005?
The best part about coming back to it now is that there's really no pressure and no expectations. We don't have to worry about being a full-time band, selling X amount of records, or selling out shows... And somehow we seem to be selling out more shows now than we ever did back then! Really just doing this very part-times now allows us to still focus on our own lives outside of the Matches, and still develop as individuals, so that there's not all this stress and expectation wound up into being the Matches, so we're all having a lot of fun! There's also a lot of mutual respect among band members that has developed over the years.
What are some other professional highlights from the last year?
2015 was my first year really focusing on playing weddings and private events. It was really rewarding to not only exceed my expectations with the amount and quality of gigs I ended up getting, but to also find myself the co-founder of a company helping other artists build their career doing the same kind of work! Slightly a stretch... but end of 2014 I saw my first label release as a producer/mixer. A solo album I produced for Brent Walsh of I The Mighty was released on Equal Vision Records, along side bands like Say Anything, The Deer Hunter, and Eisley. 2015 was also a year where I started to find ways to structure my time better to allow for things that I'd been slacking on that really bring me enjoyment, like co-writing, practicing guitar just for fun, and spending more time with friends and the great outdoors!
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Every year I try to refine what I do just a little bit more, and 2016 is no different. I hope to be less scatter-brained, and overall do less things, but do better at the things that I do. This year I'll be doing less recording projects, but really invested in the band I do work with. I hope to play less private event and wedding gigs this year, but to focus more on customizing the events I do play in an effort to really make them special. I look forward to making more time for writing, as well as continuing my personal and music growth... And of course I'm looking forward to the Matches Decomposer 10-year reunion shows!