The Road to South Africa: An Interview with Jason Matkin


Kirsten Walz

Jason Matkin performs at last year's Exhibition Day.

When senior Jason Matkin moved to Encinitas two years ago, he probably wouldn’t have guessed that his talent as a singer-songwriter would earn him a spot on tour with some of South Africa’s top musicians as part of the Carnegie Hall Music Exchange Songwriter Search.

Upon moving to Encinitas, Matkin faced the challenge of adjusting to a new town. Most students at SDA couldn’t point to his Central California hometown, Exeter, on a map. “When I moved to Encinitas, it was a difficult move, and it was difficult to make friends,” he said. Many of the songs he performs today reflect that time in his life.

Matkin has always had a taste for music. Even though he detested piano lessons as a kid, he was determined to learn guitar in middle school just because he “thought it would be a cool thing to do.” However, he was too afraid to sing until last year, when fellow senior Chloe Rock saw his potential and encouraged him to share his voice with others while they were in the MIDI recording class here at SDA. From there, he got his start at E Street Café’s open mic nights and performances at school.

Matkin’s neighbor saw an ad for the Songwriter Search in Rolling Stone magazine and suggested he enter.  The application involved sending a video and personal statement to be reviewed by a panel of five judges. Six young musicians were chosen from the US, and they will meet up with six more winners upon arrival in South Africa. He leaves Nov. 30 and will be there for 10 days. Matkin says he hasn’t met the other winners, but he has heard their music. He’s excited to give his music some exposure and meet new friends.

As for his future plans, Matkin says his main goal is to be able to play music. Although he has already come so far, he says he is still finding his voice and wants to improve his instrumental skills.