Tag Archives: Matt Makovsky

MAK’s Mom

Matt Makovsky has led a varied life.

At Staples High School, the Class of 2001 member captained the football team, and ran track. He played piano, drums and violin, and sang in the choir.

Matt Makovsky, in the 2001 Staples High School yearbook …

He continued playing football at the University of Pennsylvania, earned a degree from Columbia Business School, then built a career in London and New York working for the National Football League, and launching his own marketing and innovation agency.

He hadn’t picked up an instrument since Staples. But Makovsky was invited to a friend’s studio session as a guest.

He was convinced to hop in the booth. Hearing himself through a recording mic, he was transported back to his long-ago love of music.

He set up a home studio. He wrote songs. But he kept working as CEO with Skylabs, an innovation firm.

“I’d get my teeth kicked in by a client,” he says. “Then I’d go home and write 2, 3 or 4 hours a night. It helped me in business. But I reached a breaking point.”

… and now.

Calling himself MAK, he released 3 albums. They include influences of pop, R&B, reggaeton and electro.

His new single may mean the most to him.

He wrote “You’re The Reason” as a tribute to his mother. She’s battling cancer.

He gave it to her privately, then released it on YouTube. In just 2 weeks, it’s found an audience. In just 3 weeks, it’s been viewed nearly 300,000 times.

The Comments section is filled with touching praise. Much of it comes from moms — and their children — who had never heard an artist honor his mother this way.

“It’s a universal song,” MAK says.

“Anyone who has that someone in their life who is the reason they are who they are can relate to it.”

He credits his parents with exposing him to “so much at a young age.” His mother nurtured his interests, and supported him as he pursued his many dreams.

“To get the opportunity to pay my love back to my mom through my music is a treasured gift for me, coming full circle,” MAK says.

“I had never written a song dedicated to one person,” the Brooklyn-based artist says. His mother put herself through Harvard University, and had a career as a teacher.

“That challenge was daunting. But I didn’t go looking for this project. It became apparent that the most powerful love language I had to translate my feelings and emotions to my mom was through this song.”

MAK adds, “The lyrics are deeply personal, while telling a story that anyone can relate to. I wrote this song for my mom, but I realized along the way that it was not only for her and me. It could be your mom, or anyone in your life that is the reason you are who you are.”

MAK teamed up once again with his friend, producer Yonatan Watts. He said, “something just feels right about this track. These nostalgic piano chords over an upbeat rock synth and drums feel sentimental, while getting your energy up at the same time. It was the perfect vibe for MAK to celebrate his mom to.

“You’re The Reason”’s AI-enhanced music video intriguingly fuses a storybook tail of MAK and his mom with oil-painted Impressionist art, synthwave aesthetics and artificially enhanced scenes.

“You’re The Reason” is now available on streaming platforms worldwide. Click below for the full-length music video. 

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Matt Makovsky: Staples Football Star Tackles Music

At Staples High School, Matt Makovsky was a talented athlete. He captained the football team, and ran track. Sports helped get him into an Ivy League school.

He had other talents too. He played piano, drums and violin. He sang in the choir.

Still, the Class of 2001 graduate says, he was not really in touch with his artistic side. He hung out with “the popular kids” — the jocks.

Matt Makovsky, in the 2001 Staples High School yearbook …

“I didn’t know how to reconcile both parts of my life,” he notes with regret. “I wish I had that perspective back then.”

Nearly 20 years after his last football game, Makovsky still counts his University of Pennsylvania teammates among his closest friends. Sports gave him his identity.

“There’s a reason companies recruit athletes,” he says. “They can take on a lot. They’ve learned character.”

He misses the locker room. Plus, he says, “I was in great shape.”

But now — with a degree from Columbia Business School, and years as a successful entrepreneur — Makovsky has changed careers.

He wants to be a pop star.

Makovsky has spent a lot of time thinking about his high school years. “Things were more separate than they should have been,” he says of the Staples culture.

Speaking of himself and his classmates — in every realm — he says, “We didn’t truly embrace what  was special about what others did. I wish I had spent more time developing relationships in other areas besides sports.”

He pauses. “You only have so much wisdom at 16.”

Makovsky was as talented a musician as he was an athlete. Though he says he was the best violinist, he was not named concertmaster. Mariangela Lisanti practiced more.

She also won first place in both the Intel Science Talent Search an Siemens Competition. She’s done quite well, and is now a professor at Princeton. However, Makovsky says with amazement, “at Staples I got more recognition than she did.”

At Penn, he thought about joining an an elite a cappella group.

“They were sick!” he says with awe. “But I was singularly focused on football. We all ran together. We didn’t have time for other stuff.”

Now — after shifting gears — he does.

… and today.

A friend from the business world, Jared Feldman, had also been a star athlete in New Jersey. But he’d never let go of his artistic side. When he played some beats. Makovsky was intrigued.

He wrote some lyrics. The next morning, Feldman sent a “super-polished version” of Makovsky’s beat.

Feldman arranged some studio time. “As soon as I hard my voice, I was hooked,” Makovsky recalls.

He set up a home studio. He wrote songs.

Meanwhile, he continued working as CEO with Skylabs, an innovation firm.

“I’d get my teeth kicked in by a client,” he says. “Then I’d go home and write 2, 3 or 4 hours a night. It helped me in business. But I reached a breaking point.”

Calling himself “Mak,” he released one album.

His second — “Lucid Dream” — dropped a few weeks ago. The difference this time, he says, is producer Yonatan Watts. Makovsky formed a bond with the “operatic and hip hop singer/songwriter,” who has worked with Ariana Grande — a relationship as close as he has with his former football teammates.

Making music is “an intimate process,” Makovsky says. “Those moments when it gives you chills — you can’t buy that.”

“Lucid Dreams” already has 750,000 streams. Part of that is due to Makovsky’s marketing.

“I have resources a 17-year-old can’t have,” he says. “I’m applying my business and athletic mentality to being an artist. I want to win at this too.”

Makovsky thinks about his Staples days often.

“I wasn’t able to embrace all the parts of myself,” he says. “I didn’t have the maturity or understanding. Young people have evolved more, but at 16 you still don’t understand every part of you.”

“My culture in high school didn’t provide an environment to fully be myself. I don’t blame it. I wanted to be football captain more than concertmaster.

“But nothing beats being Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande. That’s a different stratosphere.”

Matt Makovsky, making music.

At Penn — where the Quakers set a 4-year Ivy League record for football success –Makovsky played in front of 40,000 fans. He recently did his first post-quarantine show, for an audience of 100.

But, he says, “the energy was great. There’s a connection between a performer and an audience. That kind of love is amazing. If you believe in what you do, that’s a game-changer.”

And now that he thinks about it, Makovsky realizes there are plenty of connections between sports and music.

Every locker room has a sound system. And, he says, “every athlete secretly wants to be a musician.”

Long ago, Makovsky’s mother told him, “Football will end. But music will always be part of your life.”

She was right.

So his message to today’s Staples students is the same one he’d give to his 16-year-old self: “Embrace who you are. Be open. Experiment. The more well-rounded you can be, the more full person you’ll become.”

(Click here for Matt Makovsky’s Spotify link.)