Terry Matsuoka

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“He can belt out a soul-felt growl as effectively as a heart-touching melody. The guitar playing is clean and refined.” 


 - Jason Riggs of The Weekly and 91X


"San Diego’s acoustic music scene has grown to enormous proportions... While it’s gotten harder to sift through their numbers to find the truly talented ones, certain performers have begun to stand out. One such musician [is] Terry Matsuoka..." 


- Bart Mendoza of San Diego Downtown News


“His name is Terry Matsuoka and he is so cute and super-talented. He sings, plays guitar, performs beatbox, writes his own songs, and is funny.” 


- Virginia Loh of Asia The Journal of Culture and Commerce


“Matsuoka’s effect on the audience is akin to that of a cool cousin you only see twice a year, yet wished would never leave.” 


- Fernando Ramos of The Daily Aztec





Terry Matsuoka is a singer-songwriter with intricate musicianship, tight pop songwriting and a soulful voice.  His songs are easily relatable because he writes about scenarios that come up in his personal life.  While the base of his style is in rock/ pop, he draws on his own musical tastes which also include the blues, reggae, classic soul, jazz, classic country, punk and hip hop.    

Whether solo or with his 4-piece band, Terry Matsuoka's live show is an entirely unique experience in itself.  In addition to performing his songs with enthusiasm and passion, his shows can sometimes enter the realm of a variety show.  Musically he will improvise, loop musical phrases and play percussion on his guitar.  In past performances, Matsuoka has also performed stunts like drinking poison, getting possessed by Elvis' ghost and doing dances choreographed by audience members.  He delivers hip hop spoken word and human beatboxes with remarkable ability.  He has shared billing with artists as diverse as Steve Poltz, Patricia Barber, Gregory Page, Tim Flannery, Far East Movement, Vienna Teng and Jewel at storied venues like LeStat's, the Viper Room, Java Joe's, Twiggs and the Casbah and events like the San Diego Music Awards Acoustic Festival, Kollaboration, Street Scene and the San Diego Asian Film Festival Gala.





Terry began his solo music career while fronting his band- The Urchin.  Playing solo/ acoustic allowed Matsuoka to concentrate on his songwriting and play songs that were a little more laid back than the ones he was playing with his alternative rock band.  He began by playing consistently at the Innerchange Coffeehouse in San Diego as his primary venue (at the same time as singer-songwriter Jewel- who eventually recorded her first album there live).


The Urchin eventually broke up and then resurfaced with a different line-up as an even harder edged- Blue Elder.  After representing Southern California in the Musician Magazine/ Ticketmaster Showcase, Blue Elder disbanded.  Matsuoka's solo acoustic gig represented a more consistent artistic outlet than the band dynamic.  Even still, Matsuoka has much experience being a band member.  In addition to the aforementioned bands in which he sang and played guitar, he has also done the same in indie rock band- Scapegoat, has rapped and human beatboxed in various acts, played just guitar in the hip hop gospel group- Chosen Generation, bass in punk rock band- Halfwit and drums in punk/ funk band- Funkapotimus and funk/ soul band- Blackmilk.


In 2000, Matsuoka released his first solo CD.  Appropriately titled, Raw Acoustic Stylee was recorded “indie-style” in Matsuoka's bedroom with an analog tape machine with no electric instruments (acoustic guitars, upright bass, toy accordion, maracas, cardboard boxes, human beatboxing, etc.).  In addition to this, no effects (such as compression or reverb) were used in the recording.  Jason Riggs of The Weekly described Raw Acoustic Stylee as "...a handmade piece of art.  The warmth and craftsmanship offers a direct connection to its creators... damn refreshing in this age of computer-generated beats and over-dubbed sample and guitar riffs".


In 2006, Matsuoka released his album Totally Rad, and took his alterna-pop to a new level.  He uses influences from his love of music like 60's soul, dub reggae, rock-a-billy, and folk blues as stylistic touches to make his own brand of indie pop.  Matsuoka brings together his skill and experience performing and recording with different bands by producing and playing all of the instruments on the album (with exception of guest percussion by former Alfred Howard and the K23 Orchestra percussionist Aaron Irwin and human beatbox on one song by longtime collaborator JNav).


Matsuoka is set to release his newest batch of songs Handmade.  On this album he worked with producer/ recording engineer Glenn Suravech.  They set out to make an album that retained the intimate and raw nature of Raw Acoustic Stylee but bringing out higher production quality.  Matsuoka brought on female vocals from singer-songwriters Joannie Mendenhall and Catherine Nguyen as well as cello playing from Jan Elie.  Matsuoka also had his bandmates play on the album.  Rodney Jones played drum tracks and some bass playing from longtime Lindsey Yung collaborator Chad Tuthill.  Matsuoka thinks that this album represents his best songwriting to date.