We caught up with Southsea based musician MATTE! for an interview following the release of the superb single ‘Aurora’.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m James, a 30-year-old music producer from Poole, UK.
What is your songwriting process?
I tend to just build loops using Ableton Live, playing with different melodies, basslines and rhythms to see what fits together. My hard drive is filled with hundreds of different song ideas that I keep revisiting over time.
Eventually, I’ll get to a point where I’m listening to something more than tweaking it, and at that point I’ll start arranging the loops into the full track, adding fills and automations and replaying some of the sections I want to be more dynamic.
Tell us about your latest release?
‘Aurora’ and ‘Lagoon’ are both a little more upbeat, a bit more dancey tracks than the stuff I released on Rouge. They’re the first tracks I wrote for my new EP ‘Azure’ (out early next year) and came about as I was trying to build tracks in a more modular way to be used in my live shows, to allow me to experiment and tweak the arrangement of tracks as I’m playing them so that I can work with the crowd a bit more.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
My music toes the line between being danceable but also chilled enough that you can just sit back and enjoy listening. I really like keeping that balance, and it’s something that I try and instil into every one of my tracks.
I really like music that can transcend your mood, so you don’t need to be “psyched up” before you start listening, and it can just sit as a soundtrack to whatever you’re doing whilst listening.
Who are your musical influences?
I’m a huge Minimal Techno and Lo-fi House fan. I’ve always got people like Janus Rasmussen, Bonobo and Aparde on my playlists. But I’m also a big fan of more experimental artists like Four Tet and Mr Scruff. Anything I can dance to always gets me in a creative mood.
Who are your non-musical influences?
The philosopher Alan Watts has had a profound impact on the way I approach both my life and my music. Over a decade ago, I heard this lecture which he gave soon before he died, and it’s stuck with me for a very long time.
I’m also a big design nerd and have always been an admirer of people like Ira Glass and Sir Kenneth Grange, both because of their attention to detail and the way they approach their work.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
I once played a set in this tiny little pub. It was like the size of a bedroom, and the performance area and bar took up more than half of it, but we still crammed about 40 people in there in front of us. It was an incredible atmosphere, though.
Being so small, every person there got to know each other. The acts would finish their set and then just jump down into the crowd to watch the next and get stuck in with the fans, and it was just incredibly intimate. I’d love to go back there and do it again, but unfortunately, the place has since shut down. I hope someone revives it one day.
What is your funniest gig moment?
Prior to getting into electronic music, I played in a blues band in my teenage years called “The Beat Club”. We played at a mini-festival on the beach in Weymouth where I grew up, and our set started just as the sun started to set.
It was a bit of a bizarre situation, but none of us in the band could see a thing out the front of stage, none of the crowd, because the sun was shining straight across the surface of the water. It was a really surreal experience to be playing completely blind, but still being able to hear the crowd interacting with us, and we had a whale of a time.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
I think the biggest obstacle is fighting through the noise. I love the fact that it’s so easy now for artists to release and promote music independently rather than having to get signed on to a label.
That democratisation has been fantastic not just as a catalyst for musicians who would otherwise be completely unheard, but also for the quality and variety of music that gets put out now that would have been ignored 20 years ago. That said though, because every man and his dog is releasing music now, it’s really hard for a new artist to stand out from the others.
Musicians now need to also be their own manager, tour manager, press liaison, designer and marketing team and that’s a sh*tload of work that pulls them away from their music. It’s not for everyone, but I love the challenge and the variety.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
You’re going to spend the entirety of your career flitting back and forth between “I suck, I should give up” and “This is it, this is why I love doing this”, sometimes hitting both extremes multiple times in the space of an hour.
You’ve got to embrace the good times, pounce on stuff when you can hear it’s working and play it to everyone; your fans, your friends, even your nan. Get them psyched about it, and it’ll give you a boost, and you’ll take that confidence into your next track so that it’s even better.
The early days are when imposter syndrome is definitely at its worst, as you’re making stuff you know isn’t quite there, but you’re not sure why. Once you get through that stage, you’ll find you can be much more methodical when making music and the quality becomes much more consistent.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
I’m hoping to get my EP Azure out sometime early next year. I’m taking my time writing it and getting used to playing the tracks as I’m recording them so that I can start gigging these new tracks regularly once it’s out.
I’m also hoping to launch a couple of collaborations in the meantime and get out of my comfort zone a bit and try and feed the stuff I pick up from that back into my music.
FV Music Blog August 2020
Want to be featured? Contact us here!