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Feature: Matter [Interview]

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Having forged a distinctive sound over the course of his decade long career, Matter’s fluid, hypnotic style has found a place in the sets of progressive music tastemaker’s Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren. Also laying claim to an impressive discography, the Melbourne resident has showcased his music on Cid Inc’s Replug Records, Hernan Cattaneo’s Sudbeat Music and UK behemoth Anjunadeep. Now landing on Roger Martinez’s Higher States with a new EP alongside fellow Australian Funkform, we catch up with Matter in this exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hi Matty, thanks for joining us today, tell where in the world you are and what are you up to? What are your plans for the week?

Hey  Mitch, great to chat again mate! Right now it’s 9:15am and i’m on a Melbourne tram on my way to work. This week is pretty busy –  I’m flat out writing music leading up to my European trip while i also juggle being a lead frontend developer at a tech company.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer?

It all began as a teenager in the mid 90’s when I became addicted to a little piece of software called “Impulse Tracker”. For those who haven’t used it, it was a little DOS program of around 1.4MB, so it would fit on a floppy disk. Think: old school graphics and lots of numbers and Hex codes flying around on the screen. This program was actually incredibly powerful and allowed me to start writing my first electronic music, albeit poorly and regularly breaking the BPM speed limit.

On the other end of the spectrum, I grew up learning and playing piano, guitar and sax so i’ve always been involved with one musical discipline or another.

Name five tracks that were most important in your musical development and why are these pieces so significant for you.

Now this is a HARD question isn’t it? Tastes change and influences come and go, but i’ll try and capture some of the things that affected me early on.

Robert Miles – Children

A legendary track that deserves a mention for what it did to me as a young lad. This helped cement my love for electronic music early on when I was a teenager. I stuck with that passion even though my friends at the time who were all in to Nirvana and 90s grunge tried their best to dissuade me.

Orbital – Halcyon & on & on

Another influence shaping record that has stood the test of time. You could drop this now and absolutely destroy the floor with it. 🙂

Moshic & Da Silva – Gibberish [London Mix]

A very special record that managed to transport my entire consciousness to another planet when I heard Digweed drop this on a heaving Thursday night Bedrock session at Heaven in London.

Sasha – Bloodlock

Sasha’s airdrawndagger album is, in my humble opinion, an absolute masterpiece. This is just one track from that album that affected me quite a lot in my early 20s. His Involver series (especially the first two) were also groundbreaking albums which affected my style immensely.

Probspot – Foreplay

I’m living in London, it’s about 2004 and I’m in my mid 20s having the time of my life. Collecting records is a passion and this is one I keep coming back to. I think you can hear a LOT of influence in this style of music that definitely shaped my productions to come 🙂

Are you musically trained? And do you think it’s necessary for success in writing electronic music?

My saxophone teacher used to say I was “A lazy shit, with natural talent.” Haha! Look, let’s just say I have had many musical teachers in my life try to train me in one way or another, and most of the time I have resisted strongly and failed them greatly. 🙂

Honestly, in today’s technology heavy world, you’ll be better off being a nerd who can operate complex software like a DAW rather than someone who is musically trained, so no, I don’t think it’s necessary for any measure  of success.

We interviewed GMJ earlier this year and we asked him this so I’m curious about your take on it as well. Progressive music is well known for being hugely popular in Australia and it has been for well over a decade. You’ve lived through all of it, how has the sound and scene there changed over the years?

Australia has been a hotbed for great electronic music, no doubt. Progressive music, has been around  here for a very long time, but it hasn’t always been the most popular genre for the masses and went dormant for a while. More recently though, the sound is coming full circle and finding more of a foothold back in the festivals and clubs here. There has been a big shift from a club centric culture to a festival culture and I think that has a lot to do with it. There’s nothing better than partying during the day out in the australian bush, and the progressive sound is the perfect backdrop for that.

Looking back over your discography, what would you say was a pivotal point in your career? Is there a release that stands out which really helped establish you?

There is one track that jumps out as a moment in time for me where i realised that my productions would start to have a wide reaching impact and that is a remix I did for Stellar Fountain back in 2013: Hoova & White Resonance – Disconnected (Matter remix). This was somewhat of a breakthrough track for me and was the first to get charted widely and picked up by quite a few DJs. From there, I managed to build a following and build my fan base through soundcloud.

There’s a dreamy, meditative quality to your productions yet they still carry enough punch and drive to work really well on the dance floor, is this something you strive for and where does your inspiration come from?

Got me! I absolutely love creating dreamy textures and emotive music. I think it has a lot to do with the music I was exposed to as a child. I have always been obsessed with epic 80s power ballads with plenty of melody, emotion, and over processed reverberated snares! Also, what is the point of music if it does not make us feel something? This is key for me. If a track doesn’t take me on a journey, then it’s usually missing some element to get me there.

What do you want your music to convey to the listener and has that changed in the last few years?

Generally, my music is being played very loud to a bunch of people either in a dark room or outdoor at a festival under the blistering sun. It’s very easy to find yourself in a difficult situation at those events, and I always strive with my music to convey a feeling of  “hey, everything is alright, the universe is out to help you and we’re all in this together” Once we have that connection established, then my music will want to try and take you deeper into yourself and gather some cosmic insights. Failing that, and all that hippie shit aside, then I hope it just makes you dance and enjoy yourself for a while 🙂

How much of an influence is music outside of electronic spectrum?

Massively! I get inspired from many different sources and genres. I also spend way too much time crafting Spotify playlists of rare cuts of various styles of music. My most recent creation is a playlist I call the “Event Horizon Dinner Party” … https://tinyurl.com/y3arz8s7 It’s the kind of music I would want to listen to while cooking my final meal, just before being sucked into a black hole! haha

You have a new EP in conjunction with fellow Australian Funkform called ‘Trails’ out this week on Roger Martinez’s Higher States imprint, it’s your first time working with Funkform, tell us this project came together.

We do indeed! Maddy (Funkform) and I have been friends for a very long time now. I have always admired and been inspired by his music. He has featured in my sets more times than I care to admit and he is a brilliant producer. More recently, he relocated from Cairns down to Melbourne and we finally got stuck in to something we have been speaking about for years. Our first collaboration project! Suddenly, ‘Trails’ was born.

Why did Higher States seem like the right home for these tracks?

Roger Martinez is not only a brilliant producer but also the highest calibre of human being. He was recently here in Australia and we managed to catch up a few times and chat about music and the deeper meaning of life. After that, I knew that his label was the right home for these tunes. I mentioned to him about the collaboration project that Maddy and I had started and he said to send them through when ready and here we are.

The most well received track thus far has been the ‘Cosmic Dub Edit’, walk us through the production process on that one.

We started this one in my studio while having a few beers. I think the name actually started out as the “Golden ale” edit because of the brews we were drinking at the time! We got a nice basic groove going and started to evolve the track from there. After we got it to a place that we were happy with, Maddy took the track to his studio and added all sorts of amazing effects and flair to the track and when I commented that it sounded like there were a bunch of cosmic comets flying around, that’s where the new edit name came from. Funnily enough, the original Trails came from this track which we then decided was the title piece for the release.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things with collaborating with someone like Funkform or GMJ?

A collaboration is all about compromise and balance. It doesn’t always work, and can be tricky at times, but more often than not, if you stick with it, you end up with something that you could not have produced on your own.  I think that’s what I love most about collabs, it’s being mindful that the energy that you each bring to the music. And watching it evolve into one synergistic piece of music that could not have existed otherwise.

Let’s talk about your creative process. How does a project start for you? Do they usually start with either a melodic idea or solid drum loop? And how much live play is involved in helping refine a track before you’re content with it?

I have a default template in Ableton set up ready to go. It’s pretty bare bones, but has all my hardware synths wired up and ready to play. I have a soft kick drum and a 909 clap to fast track what it feels like to have a beat behind whatever i’m starting to make. I also have my return channels ready to go (a trusty large reverb and large delay, which I am ashamed to admit I over-abuse). From there the process is very organic and i tend to allow my mood to direct what kind of music I want to make at the time.

I will often test out a tune on a dancefloor before it is released by giving it a good nudge up against Fabfilter Pro L2.  I find that is enough to “simulate” a finished mastered product and often helps me to spot balance mistakes in my mix. If your limiter has a lot of gain reduction, and you aren’t getting a decent RMS or Loudness level, then you know something is up and you will want to fix that before throwing it on a loud system.

ADE is fast approaching, will you be playing any of the events? What are your plans for the trip?

Yes! I’m very excited about our upcoming European trip. I will be heading over there with my musical brother-in-arms Mr. GMJ. First up we will be playing at Progressive Astronaut in London on a boat cruising down the Thames(!) with some super interstellar talent, seeing the likes of Moshic, Nadia, Sonic Union and Dale Middleton on there, to name a few. The after party is looking damn tasty too with our Australian bro Cookie making an appearance alongside Daniel Glover and Imran Khan. And all this within hours of me stepping off the plane (phew!)

After that it’s over to the Netherlands where we are super happy to be playing at the Replug Records 10 year showcase party at Club NL, with Mr Cid Inc himself, our good friend Alex O’Rion, Interaxxis, Navar and Orsen. Yeah!

More details on both these events here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/2122422147805516/
https://www.facebook.com/events/402327203722596/

Not to mention all of the other ADE events that are on at the time. Let’s just say that we’ll sleep on the plane home, OK?

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than just the music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

It’s interesting. I used to use social media to keep in touch with friends and family, but now it is mostly about keeping in touch with my music contacts and publishing updates for those that are interested. It’s a double edged sword though. I believe social media has allowed us to create connections we would not have in the industry, but at the same time I feel that it sucks a lot of time and energy from us that could be better spent making music!

With the barriers to production at an all-time low for many people, and the availability of studio software so easy, do you feel it has had a negative impact on the electronic music market?

The low barrier of entry to music production i think is a good thing! What a great hobby to have. I don’t think this alone has much of a negative impact on the market, however, there is one thing that we need to talk about, that is perhaps somewhat controversial. I am thinking here about the record labels (I use the term loosely, as anyone can create one these days) who are signing productions of very low quality.  The market is saturated right now with these kinds of tracks. Labels, even some well respected ones, are releasing too soon and too often. DJs want quality, not quantity.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

My Virus TI Snow has featured in a lot of my productions over the years! I also have a Moog Little Phatty which is lovely for fat warm basslines.

As for software, I’m really digging Repro 5 right now which has a great analog emulation going on. And i couldn’t mention software without giving kudos to FabFilter. I use their EQ plugin on every single channel. So important!

What are your favourites venues to play in Australia and why?

This is a very easy question to answer. There is only one dancefloor in the whole world that takes the favourite spot for me and that is any of the stages at Rainbow Serpent Festival, but in particular the Market Stage. I will often picture myself in the centre of that dancefloor while producing music, picturing what it would sound like in that space.

What can fans expect for the remainder of 2019? Anything you can share with us?

I’m very excited about the remainder of 2019!! After ‘Trails’ on Higher States you will see brand new productions from myself and fresh collabs with the likes of GMJ, Funkform, Dimuth K and Chris Cargo, releases & remixes on onedotsixtwo, Proton, and the ever famous Balance Music (!)

Oh! And one more thing, I have been working tirelessly away on my very first album! I have around 8 tracks produced for this, leaning more towards a gentle melodic and emotional journey but still with enough thump to get you moving, so watch this space!

The guest DJ lineup for my Ultra Sound radioshow is looking hot too, with guest performances coming from the likes of Tripswitch, David Leckenby and Zankee Gulati. With all this, and the various festival and club performances lined up for the remainder of this year, I am feeling very emotional and pumped about 2020 and beyond!

Big love Mitch. A pleasure to chat with you and the Progressive Astronaut crew once again. A massive thanks to the fans who have supported me over the years. See you on the d-floor! <3

‘Trails’ is out now on Roger Martinez’s Higher States, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/2kAgfrX

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