Undecided Future is sure about one thing—they’re not stopping now. While the band has struggled to maintain a consistent schedule, they are undoubtedly cohesive in their resoluteness. Each member has their own vision. It all started over six years ago when the band members found each other in what seems to be a meant to be happening. All five members attended Orange County School of the Arts.
Matt Isaac, who is on lead vocals, is a well-spoken curly-cued guy who simultaneously manages to give the air of not giving a fuck. All members care deeply about the band and understand its past as well as where it needs to go. Cole Fredrick slays the guitar while with Nick Stone adds a keyboard flare. Matisse Pasillas controls the drums and Hayden Lyskoski is on bass.
The band is homegrown and has an eclectic sound that isn’t boxed in by a big studio or by a rigid manager. It’s full of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Latin rhythms combined with a fresh funk and R&B sound. This band is not controlled by one member; it’s a collaboration. All of the visuals are created by the band. They’re self-made and everything they do has soul invested in it. That means everyone is writing, everyone is brainstorming, everyone is creating, and everyone is jamming. All hands are in.
Undecided Future has a rich musical background and from what seems like birth, they knew that following a musical path was for them. Nick fell in love with piano in the third grade playing at Orchepia School of Music and now has made it to USC’s Thornton School of Music while Cole also started in third grade and is currently at the Musician’s Institute. Similarly, Hayden started playing guitar and kept on learning how to play classical, jazz, flamenco, and rock music. Meanwhile, Matt and Matisse’s fathers were pursuing musical careers—Matt’s was a lead singer in a Rockabilly band in Orange County and Matisse’s continues to work as a professional drummer/percussionist who has played alongside Latin artists in addition to pop groups respectively. Once the match was lit, the fire never ceased to burn.
Each individual is fully dedicated to the band and possesses the raw energy that together one wants to see when they go to a live show. The people crave an experience and Undecided Future strives to give that to the audience each and every time because they know time should never be wasted. The band has faced numerous setbacks from their crazy schedules that already don’t allow them all the time they wish to be together and practice as a group to Hayden’s devastating cancer diagnosis. Right when the band had won a chance to play with Jason Derulo on Ryan Secrest’s “Best. Cover. Ever.” Lyskoski was undergoing chemotherapy and trying to hang on. A wrench was thrown and the group dynamic was threatened when they found themselves trying to find replacements for Hayden and keep morale high. However, Hayden was able to experience filming that video with Derulo alongside his best friends and is proud to say that he has survived and gone through full remission.
Upon first glance, the title of their album “Jugo” might seem strange, but upon further investigation it perfectly compliments the group. They’re a mix—a mix of sounds, mix of personalities; a blend of brotherhood. They’re still that rambunctious group that you know goes way back. They joke that Matisse will make headlines by pulling a Kanye moment like West did with Taylor Swift at the VMA’s. When talking about playing the Super Bowl, they start laughing and going on a tangent about how they would roll up in Ferrarris alongside Drake and all of a sudden the Ferrarris would start to float. I sat down with them to hear from them about their origins, dreams, and how they plan on changing the music industry.
Gabriella Clifford: When did you all meet? What was the birth of the band?
Matisse Pasillas: We met in high school about seven years ago at Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana [California] and me and Matt were in the film program and we were like, “Lets start a band.” So then I met Nick in my chemistry class and we just jammed at my house and I was like, “Oh cool he should probably be in the band.” We were just figuring it out and we got Hayden and we were just jamming in our house and were like he’s into it and then we saw Cole in the lunch area plugged into like a little box amp and he wasn’t even playing that loud or clear enough for any of us to hear if he was good or not, but for some reason our minds were like... we just asked him it was so random.
GC: What was the high school like?
Matt Isaac: You could only be there if you were studying like an art of some sort so it was a lot of really like obnoxiously creative people there and yeah it was a really weird, interesting group of eclectic people.
Nick Stone: It was definitely dope. The strangest thing was possible because we met each other—potentially lifelong friends— and a whole other crew of other people that we still hangout with from high school and a lot of us are still local and it’s really passionate, driven homies that we made. People that went to normal high schools a lot of them had trouble meeting other people that were into music or whatever they’re into.
MI: If you saw Victorious, it’s kind of like that.
GC: What would you say your concerts are like? What’s your experience like performing?
MI: We have a lot of experience performing. We’ve been playing shows consistently for seven years now—I think we’ve probably passed 300 shows at this point. Each venue is a little bit different—some are charity events, some are high schools, some are college parties—it really depends where we’re playing. It’s cool to see how diverse our crowd is and how many different types of people enjoy our music.
MP: I feel like we’ve never really been able to put a demographic—most of the audiences we’ve had have been everybody—old people and young people.
GC: Do you remember your first concert?
MP: It was the Pacific [Islander Festival] in Long Beach. We were playing a Polynesian festival and that was our first show. I saw videos from it—it’s pretty funny, but yeah, that was pretty awkward. It was still really fun. We were terrible. It was a great learning experience.
MI: We played the dumbest stuff—like, “What I Like About You”—a fucking Jett cover, “Fine by Me”, “Take It or Leave It.”
MP: We used to play a lot of reggae music too.
GC: Did you develop any rituals? Any band rituals before shows?
NS: For a while, before every show we were like, “We’re going to buy milkshakes and down them!” But we didn’t really stick to that one. We would throw shit on stage and stuff like that.
GC: How did you decide on the name Jugo?
MI: It just kind of flowed out. We decided on some colors, we decided on a concept and the name kind of came. There were some arguments about the name—it being a Spanish name— we were worried about—but we do Spanish titled song on the EP so we liked the connection and also the colors of jugo so it’s kind of a branding element.
NS: It’s also the juice aspect of what we put together on this album—it’s us working with the producer Dem Jointz and all of us bringing our own kind of flavor and fruit to the table and collectively mix together.
MI: Even this small element of the name being Jugo and not even the title is in Spanish —it just has a Spanish phrase in it, we are looking at our Spotify and where we’re trending—our number 3 city is Mexico City, like that alone is kind of awesome.
MP: I think Jugo came to us also just because we are from Southern California—most of our environment is Mexican shit—we’re always eating Mexican food. It’s been a big part of our lives.
GC: What was it like winning Ryan Reacrest’s “Best. Cover. Ever” and performing with Jason Derulo? Include at the beginning?
Hayden Lyskoski: The other thing was that I was away getting chemotherapy and we won that when I was kind of doing cancer. A few months after that I survived and went through full remission. It was a crazy experience I think filming that music video, but also like hanging on.
GC: How has being in a band influenced each one of you and your lives outside of the band?
MI: It just makes it, it feels like overall being in this band makes in different social situations like meeting people—not being afraid to talk to people.
HL: It definitely helps us have more things to do, because it’s Orange County—there’s not like a lot to do out here so...you gotta make things happen for yourself and being in a band was a big part of that.
MP: I feel like I do art most of the time in my free time so this is all I want to do—it is my hobby and my career and profession so you need to invest in it.
GC: Who is a part of the artistic direction of the band and evolving it visually?
MI: These guys were studying music there and Matisse and I were studying film those four years. It made it really easy to just take the reins on it and be able to make our own videos, plan our own photoshoots because we had all of the connections from film school to orchestrate the whole teams to make it so that would happen. Matisse also worked at Complex Media for a while so we got a lot of good connections from there and just like have kind of been growing our little team and been executing—we’re not slowing down.
MP: The concepts usually come from what the music makes us feel like. I feel like our music definitely—I just see a lot of different, bright colors. The inspiration comes from the music, movies, and art that we’re drawn to.
NS: It also shows in the merch that we’ve been making. Matt’s mom is actually a designer and Matt has figured out how to print art on march and that sort of stuff and we’re making Jugo sweatshirts.
GC: Which concerts have you attended that have been transformative experiences?
MP: That’s been a thing we’ve been talking about a lot lately—most concerts that kids are going to these days are literally a DJ and a rapper.
HL: I’m like damn that’s what it takes to get a job there.
MI: They just stand there with a mic in their hand and just stand there and speak the lyrics. I’m just like damn there used to be so many more elements to the show—it should be entertaining, it should be recognizing the music and that’s what the cool part is. It should be about the entertaining aspect of the show—how engaging the band is with the audience. If someone’s going to spend money on a ticket you’ve already bought the album, why would you buy a ticket for that album or you could by a ticket to an incredible show.
HL: I don’t know man. Some people put on a crazy, crazy show and I realized how many concerts I’ve been to and I didn’t really like the music, but the person is such a good performer that it’s like damn they play a great show—you got to admire that.
GC: What would be your dream life was musicians? How would you know—what would be a moment you know that you dreamed about that you’ve made it?
Nick: Definitely touring around internationally—that’s the ultimate dream, but we’re kind of living it already to a certain extent. We’re not touring internationally right now, but being together, making music, being creative, and working with people who we feel super comfortable with and trust musically.
HL: I think for me—a long time ago—I was dreaming about being able to just dedicate 100% of my time to doing this. Now that I have that, I’m going to dream of something else.
NS: I still feel like that’s a big goal for me, because I feel like with going to school right now. These guys have to figure out—I mean they have jobs and we all have to support ourselves in this time. So definitely short-term dream is to move in together perhaps or at least be able to support ourselves fully off this—to Undecided Future—to make our living.
MP: And play the Super Bowl.
HL: I think that would be the one thing that would bring all that in.
MP: Play the Super Bowl and bring in a bunch of cool artists that never get to play the Super Bowl that people would want to see on that stage.
GC: What artists would you bring on?
MP: Noname would be really cool to bring up.
MI: That’s so random!
MP: Bring out Tyler the Creator, bring out Pharrell...
GC: What have been the hardest challenges that you face as a group?
MI: We just want to get together more—like if we could get together every day of the week that’d be sick, but we’re only getting sometimes two, three days on the weekends.
NS: It probably depends on who you ask.
HL: For me it was cancer—getting really, really sick and not being able to do all of the same things that I could do. At one point I wasn’t able to walk, which meant I couldn’t play songs
and just I feel like I’m not even dealing with that anymore so I’m just in a better place than I was.
NS: And I remember that was strenuous obviously mostly on you, but also on the group dynamic and trying to—having to get replacements for him. It was tough even after that because meaning that—we’d been really working on keeping the best stuff and trying to get back into our normal flow.
HL: That’s always been one of the bigger obstacles. You learn real early not to give a shit about tiny issues.
GC: Can you tell me about your experiences with record labels?
MI: They’re looking for supreme patties. They’re not looking for new artists—they’re looking for artists that will sell their shit for them. They want to play it safe and find that niche sound that they can understand and formulate. A group like us may scare them because we don’t really have a direct direction because we want to try everything, we want to try sounds and we want to have a crazy live show. That could be scary to a record label because we’re like kind of random in that aspect, but we feel like that’s one of our ultimate selling points, being unexpected.
Nick: Honestly, we used to want the record label, but now we realized that it’s probably not the best thing considering we can and we’re learning to do everything and it’s important to our artistry. We want to be able to do what we want to do and build our own empire. It takes time to build your artistry and record labels are all about now, momentary—it’s like we’re going to sign you and then if you don’t take off in six months to a year—you’re shelved and you’re back to square one.
GC: What strikes your inspiration? How does the songwriting process work for you? Who writes?
Nick: We all write music—we write together and we write individually—just depends on the song honestly.
MI: It’s cool because every song comes together in a new, different way. It’s like maybe it’ll be from a beat, maybe it’s a guitar lick, maybe it’s a vocal lick, or maybe it’s a lyric—it all comes together differently. Most songs are fully collaborative and it really comes down to practice and at practice we come together and jam it out and that’s when we find the root of the song and from there we find the lyrics and structuring it and then from there recording it with the parts that we’ve been writing. It’s all gotta sound good live.
NS: We think about when we’re writing songs, “How is this going to translate to a live show?”
GC: What do you think is missing from music today that you guys could bring to the table?
HL: Live entertainment. Live instruments is a big one—a lot of people—people place varying degrees of importance on live music and for us it’s of maximum importance all the time.
MI: I have a good example. I remember we saw Chance the Rapper live and he had a full band and he was doing his thing, but he was barely fucking singing his lyrics—he was like out of breath, he could barely keep it together in my opinion and I was like damn we could outperform him and it’s like damn that’s Chance the Rapper. I was pretty let down.
HL: Everybody can sound the same way on the computer and because of computers and that’s great that technology has come to all of us on a consumer level, but like to be able to come play that shit live you got to be able to follow that up with that awesome live action. You should be able to replicate your studio stuff live and then act on it and expand on it.
NS: I think it’s that attention to detail and motivation to really look at your live show critically and be like, “Well, what else can I do to improve and make it more exciting?”
MI: The live show isn’t just turning up the bass and screaming your lyrics—it should be way more.
MP: There’s also a lot of really good music coming out right now, it’s just a lot more underground and not as radio. It really depends on where you look, but from what we’re seeing right now—it’s a really factory sounding sound right now—so it’ll make it easier for us to break through more I think. We’re making our entire brand from scratch and it’s all us it’s not a company telling us what to do or telling us what to fit into or what our genre is. I think it’s to inspire kids not to put themselves in a box and not to think about “What genre am I?” and to just have fun and do what you think feels good.
Undecided Future’s Album Jugo is out now.