Stuart Chaseman admits that he loves being in the spotlight, so when Netflix approached him about their new reality dating show “Jewish Matchmaking” he was more than thrilled to join the team. A musician based in the lively city of Chicago, Chaseman has always been open about his feelings and relationship struggles in his songs, bringing together elements of folk and rock to create a new yet reminiscent sound of artists like Bob Dylan and The Goo Goo Dolls. The singer/songwriter’s new album releasing May 19, “Secrets, Lies, and Alibis” behaves as sort of an emotionally-driven chronicle of all his failed relationships and how he has grown throughout these experiences. Looking back on the past and toward the future, Chaseman recognizes the perfectly timed opportunity to not only promote his musical escapades but also find new connections both in romance and in business as he remains committed passionately to his art.
Q. Talk about your latest single “Sins”. How does this song differ from other breakup/relationship songs?
A. I mean I don’t know if lyrically there’s anything so unique about it. That topic has been explored a million times but the reason it’s been explored a million times is because it’s an awful, powerful thing. When it happens, it hurts and a lot of people can relate to it. I think the song is written pretty well. Some songs are really cheesy, some are really good. Ultimately, some girls have gotten into fights about who the song is about but ultimately they’re all about me.
It’s about what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking and in this particular song, it’s looking back on a relationship that I didn’t appreciate enough at the time. With distance comes clarity and how I could’ve done things differently, and the realization that the damage has been done and there’s nothing I can do, that bridge has been burned. The whole thing is real. It’s like let’s take a page out of my diary and put some chords behind it.
Q. The first line of “Sins” pays homage to Bob Dylan. Talk about how he’s an inspiration for you.
A. There’s no one like Bob Dylan. I mean Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize, no other songwriter has done that. There’s just no comparison. When it comes to playing guitar there’s Jimi Hendrix. When it comes to being an actress there’s Meryl Streep. When it comes to basketball there’s Michael Jordan. There’s just certain people that have reached the level of what they do that they’re just head and tails above everyone else and that’s kind of like Bob Dylan with the songs he’s written. I don’t specifically sit down and say I want to write a song like Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen but you can’t help but emulate the artists that influence you.
People tell me all the time my songs sound like Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan. Songs come to me in all different ways, sometimes it comes in the verse, sometimes it comes in the chorus. Looking back at my life and the times where I thought settling down wasn’t for me, that’s kind of the idea of like a rolling stone. I just kinda copped that line and then I just kind of went from there.
Q. You’re based in Chicago which has a very rich history surrounding rock and punk. What have you witnessed from those movements and how have you implemented them into your music?
A. I see shows all the time, especially when I was younger but I really came up through more of the folk and acoustic music scene. I used to go to open mics and play like Heartland Cafe and No Exit. I’m not a big punk person as far as Chicago artists, I guess the biggest person to come out of Chicago from my generation is Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins. I met him once. He’s a nice guy. I’m a really big fan and friend of Michael Mcdermott. He’s a really great Chicago artist. Of course, Chicago is known for the blues.
I can’t play like that or sing like that. I think you have to do something at least as good as everybody else if not, better and I can’t sing like that. So, I just kind of find music that speaks to me. I don’t know if there’s anything about my music that makes it specifically Chicago. I don’t drop many Chicago references. I do love my city. I didn’t realize what a great town it was until I got to travel the world. Given New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago I would take Chicago in a heartbeat.
Q. In addition to your new album releasing later this spring, you’re about to star on the Netflix show “Jewish Matchmaking”. How does it feel to have both a musical endeavor and a television opportunity simultaneously?
A. It works out pretty good. I mean ultimately I want to sell albums and I think the show is going to help with that. My goal was never to be on a reality show but the opportunity just kind of popped up. Somebody is gonna have to see me on TV and think I’m gonna have to Google Stuart Chaseman or go to my website. I have no expectation as to what this opportunity is going to bring me but it has to bring something. It’s not gonna register 0 on the Richter Scale. I’m just gonna have to wait and see what happens. I think anybody who creates any sort of art doesn’t want to just do it in their bedroom. You want people to hear it. It’s not so much about monetizing this opportunity I just want people to hear these songs.
Instead of having 25 people at a show if I have 100 or 200 people at a show that means it’s reaching more people and if this reality show gives me an opportunity to do that I’m all for it. Also, I’m not a particularly private person. I’m totally fine with cameras around me. I gotta be honest, I’m an attention fanatic. Having a crew of 25 people come to my house and everybody surrounding me and all being about me is right up my alley(laughs). I’m really grateful for the opportunity.
Q. Can you share any fun behind the scenes stories from “Jewish Matchmaking”?
A. Well, I don’t really have any family. If you usually watch these reality shows they usually get the mother or father to talk about how they’re so frustrated their son or daughter isn’t married yet but they asked me to get a bunch of my friends together to talk about my dating life. I think all my friends were pretty excited to be on TV. One of my friends, Ben, he just kind of started monopolizing the whole thing! I was like “Whoa dude you gotta stop asking questions” so that’s always interesting. Also, the people that I worked with worked on Curb Your Enthusiasm or House of Cards. They were all top-notch people. I’m not used to hanging out with people like that so after shooting we’d go out to bars and I’d try to network and stuff like that.
One thing that you’ll see on the show is that they set me up with a stylist and I have a way of looking at things instead of a positive as a negative unfortunately. I guess I’m one of those glass-half-empty people. So when they say we’re gonna get you a stylist, instead of the first thing popping in my head “Oh that’s great!” I get defensive and I’m like “What are you talking about? I don’t need a stylist, I think I dress pretty great!” The stylist did say to me when she took me to buy clothes, she whispered in my ear “You have great style already” and that her job was pretty easy. I did learn I was buying clothes in the wrong size. A lot of people buy clothes too big for them so that was interesting.
Q. A lot of streaming platforms, namely Netflix are inundated with romance-based reality shows. What sets “Jewish Matchmaking” apart from the rest?
A. Well, the ethnic-focused angle of course. This isn’t the first time that they’ve done it; the producers did an identical show called Indian Matchmaking. I had never heard of it so when I got called to do [Jewish Matchmaking] I sat down and watched [Indian Matchmaking] and I only got through 2 episodes cause I got in my own head. I was like, “Oh well I’m not gonna act like that, that guy’s a douchebag.” So I watched a little taste of it. Also, it’s not a game show. A lot of reality shows like The Bachelor, it’s like a competition. I wouldn’t say this is a documentary by any means it’s definitely a reality show but as much as possible you’re just going on dates. It’s not like I have a choice of different people and they’re competing and there’s that angle. So, It’s a little bit more authentic to an extent cause they’re just filming you going on dates.
Having said that, to some extent, it’s just like long form improv cause nothing about it is like a date. There’s no way to make a television filming feel like a date. I mean you’re just sitting there with this person, there’s lights on you, there’s cameras all around you, there’s 30 other people in the room. So there’s constantly this elephant in the room that you don’t wanna talk about. But, it’s probably a lot more like a date than other reality shows that are more like game shows. The producers of [Jewish Matchmaking] wanted to bring a certain authenticity to it.
Q. The title of your upcoming album, “Secrets, Lies, and Alibis” sounds familiar yet new and enticing, how did you come up with it?
A. My last two albums were named after lyrics within the songs. I always thought it was an easy way out when artists take a track off the album and make it the title. I’ve never done that. There’s a song on the album called “Little Girl Blue” and there’s a line in the song where I’m reflecting on another relationship. Particularly a young lady where I’ll just say honesty wasn’t her strong suit. It’s about a girl who I can’t get to, her walls are too thick and she’s unable to be vulnerable with me. There’s a line in that song that goes “Secrets, lies, and alibis lead to the regret I see in your eyes.”
When I wrote it I didn’t say “ok this is gonna be the title of the album”. There’s a sadness to this girl. She’s damaged somehow and she won’t even let you know how. As soon as I wrote “secrets, lies, and alibis” I was like “That’s a good line, I like that.” It was just cool sounding and it kinda summarizes the album. Something about that title makes me think that the album is confessional. That I’m digging deep and I’m revealing something about myself. I’m wearing a Rolling Stones shirt right now and I love the Rolling Stones but you could listen to their entire catalog and not know anything about Mick Jagger that you didn’t know before. That’s the type of writer he is. Me on the other hand, you could pick out any three songs and you’re gonna learn something about me that you didn’t know going in. That’s just the way I write. That’s the type of art that I create.
Q. Now that you’ve participated in this reality show could you see yourself working in the television industry more often in the future?
A. I would certainly take advantage of an opportunity like this again. This was definitely a positive experience. Maybe next time I’d like something where the actual theme of the show is music and I don’t have to try to direct my narrative towards that. It would be a more natural fit. I’m an entertainer. I like attention, I like being on stage. I like people hearing what I have to say and I like people listening to my art. How many more effective ways are there to do that than to have a bunch of television cameras on you and broadcast it nationally for the world to see? Given the opportunity to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Realistically, I don’t know how often opportunities like this are going to come around so I definitely want to make the most of it. We’re gonna have to see what happens when the show debuts. It’s interesting, the other day I was leaving the gym and I heard some call out to me and this guy was like “I saw you on Jewish Matchmaking!”
I was like, “You saw me on Jewish Matchmaking, the show hasn’t even started yet.” And he said, “Yeah my friend works for Netflix and I got to see it already!” I was like, “Are you serious, I haven’t even seen it yet!” So I had a bunch of questions for him about the narrative of the show and how I was presented and then after we were introduced he goes, “Can I take a picture with you? My girlfriend loves you!” As we’re taking this picture together I realize that I’ve been waiting my whole life for something like this. The idea that someone stops me on the street, is familiar with me, and wants to take a picture with me. I’m in minute one of my 15 minutes of fame and I plan on savoring the next 14 minutes as well.