In our weekly series, YYZ >, we speak to expat Torontonians about what they miss—and don’t miss—about our city. This week: A familiar face from ET soaks up the sun and talks up the stars in L.A.
Matte Babel is a former MuchMusic VJ and CP24 host/correspondent/reporter now living and working in Los Angeles as the Tinseltown correspondent for Entertainment Tonight Canada. He also does piece work for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, as well as “music stuff” for Fuse and TV One. Babel moved in January of last year, and started working the following February at the Grammys.
Why did you move?
It’s only natural that a job feels like work sometimes. Work itself is satisfying: challenging, humbling, gratifying, so many things. But, for the first time in my life, my job felt more like a chore, and at that point it was time to move.
Why did you choose L.A.?
I didn’t really choose L.A. I kinda got lucky because this is where the job happened to be—and when I say “kinda,” I mean that the sun shines on even a dog’s ass occasionally.
What are you doing there?
My job is pretty dope. Basically, I interview actors and musicians in all types of settings: red carpets, movie junkets, exclusive one-on-ones, in the studio, on set, at their homes. Because of the nature of the business, I don’t really have a set schedule, it varies day-to-day depending on the month and time of year. Awards season is crazy; the summer can be pretty quiet at times. I’m usually in and around every major awards show or event that takes place in L.A. I work out of the CBS lots in Studio City, which is where ET and The Insider are based.
Are you happy you moved?
Yep. Most days I wonder why I waited as long as I did but, then again, fear is a crazy thing. I’m a big advocate for change and expanding your horizons. Comfort breeds complacency.
How does your L.A. neighbourhood compare to your Toronto neighbourhood?
It really doesn’t. L.A. has some incredible areas, and it’s so big that you’re discovering new nooks and crannies every day. Having said that, I’m not sure there is anywhere like Toronto. I mean, Toronto is cool but not so “cool” it’s overwhelming, like Williamsburg, for example. Toronto is diverse, but underneath the diversity there’s still a cohesive commonality. It’s safe—something I probably overlooked, but appreciate in hindsight, and most importantly it will always be home. I try to be objective but nostalgia is a monster!
Does anything about L.A. remind you of Toronto?
Not really, they are two very different places.
What do you tell your friends in Toronto about L.A.?
It’s alive! L.A. had over 300 days of sunshine last year. It changes your whole mood and mindset. People are just more active and it inherently affects you and the way you live. The beach, the water, the influx of people from all over the world—it just has this electric feel. [This is] in part because, like nowhere else in the world, L.A.—as it has so many times throughout history—can literally change your life overnight. It’s a machine that creates unthinkable opportunities and you can almost feel that energy. In addition, you can basically live the extreme of whatever you choose, all the way from hipsters to Barbie to techy to surfer, which makes for an interesting melting pot of people.
L.A. can be one of the most superficial, plastic places on the planet but, at the same time, it has some of the best produce in the country that [allows for] a very holistic, natural way of living. Some people live in excess, others live on nothing. You can be in your car all day, or you can be outside all day. You can surf or ski in the same day.
How are the people different in L.A. than Toronto?
It’s tough to describe people in L.A.; I feel like most of the people in this city are from somewhere else and I don’t feel that it’s like a New York or Boston where there’s a “typical” native. Having said that, I will say there are all kinds of weirdos out here. I see shit every day and think,“Only in L.A.!”
What has surprised you about moving there from Toronto?
How many Canadians live out here. There’s like a Canadian mafia. For a relatively small country [population-wise], we continue to do some pretty big things.
What do you miss most about Toronto?
I love food, so I miss my favourite restaurants and that feeling of familiarity, like when you’ve had the food so many times that you can taste it before you arrive. Places like 7 Numbers on Eglinton. Foxley—love their black cod. Randy’s—best patty you’ve ever had. Diner’s Corner, Sotto Sotto, Fresh, The Beaconsfield and, of course, a nightcap at Goodnight! I also happen to love clothes, and essentially everything I own is from this spot called Nomad. Remember when your mom used to lay out your clothes on your bed? Well, the owner kind of does the same thing but on the counter by the cash register.
What don’t you miss about the city?
I don’t miss how small the city can be at times. Like Drake says: “We from a small town, everybody talks and everybody listen / But somehow the truth just always comes up missing.”
Would you ever go back?
I go back all the time. No idea where I’ll end up, but Toronto will always be home.