Matty G, Dubpolice’s American connection took time out from his amazingly hectic schedule to talk to Subrewind’s Emmo about his new EP, dubstep and balancing work and music across the transatlantic.
What can tell you about this latest EP with Dub Police, how do you feel it compares to your body of work to date?
I think the “Back to the Bay EP” really covers my full range as a producer, and is the embodiment of some concepts I’ve been trying to refine over the last couple years. When I think of other producers, a lot of them have a sound or style that people can identify them with. People have labeled me as the hip-hop-style producer of dubstep, and rightfully so, but when you look at my larger body of work, there’s a lot more to it than that. I’ve produced songs that are on opposite ends of the spectrum, from dark, deep, hip hop influenced stuff, to mellower tunes, that in the past were heavily influenced by reggae. The hip hop style tunes have evolved a bit in the ever challenging pursuit of making a minimal banger, which manifested in tunes like the Screw Up Remix and Jam Like a Tek on the EP. However, I made a conscious effort to step away from the reggae end of things, and began to incorporate soul and r&b vibes in my more “musical” tunes. I love reggae, and it still influences my work in a lot of ways, but on a obvious tip, I wanted to represent styles of music that hit a little closer to home geographically speaking. I feel like True Soul, Ooohhh Baby, and Caetano are the pinnacle of that effort, and am grateful that they’ve been made available for other people to enjoy.
The title single “Back to the Bay” that I did with longtime friend Ugene, in my opinion, is a bit different than anything I’ve worked on before, mainly because of the choice of synths. It still has a bit of that Matty G feel, but it’s definitely a departure from the norm for me. Ugene is big on his Korg MS2000, so he’s always coming up with new sounds when we produce together. For this particular tune, we just kept going with what sounded good. We didn’t try to constrain ourselves to what our style is, or what we want it to be, so as we scrolled through sounds we’d just go with whatever clicked. There are some poppy synths in there that I would normally find a bit cheesy, but for this tune they worked, so we went with them.
The musicality in “Back to Bay” seems like a progression for you. Have you recently changed production techniques or software?
Funny you should say that, because this EP was all made on what was a new computer at the time. Most of my earlier work was done on an iMac G3 in OS 9. That’s geek talk for “My computer was really slow,” haha. Jam Like a Tek was acutally the first tune I started on the new computer, and didn’t finish for about 2 years. The new setup had a sampler on it, so that’s the first tune I started experimenting with that on, which is how I worked the vocal sample. The main advantage the new setup gave me was that I had the processing power to use midi instruments, where before my system was too slow. That has really contributed in me doing some more original “musical” compositions, instead of having to rely solely on samples. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a big fan of freaking a sample, but it’s nice to do something 100% original. The pressure is rising a bit as far as samples are concerned as well, and I’ve heard of people getting letters in the mail regarding works they’ve sampled in their tunes, so it’s a bit safer straying away from that direction.
On the actual musical style, as I answered in the previous question, I’ve been working on doing some more musical-r&b-style productions, and this is where I ended up. The midi capabilities really allowed me to utilize some of my more classically trained skills, and incorporate simple sounds that I previously lacked like strings and what not. Caetano is a good example of that. I really freaked the violin on that one.
Living and playing in the USA what first hand experience can you offer on how dubstep has grown and where the scene is moving too now?
I’m a bit of an old man, so I don’t go out as often as I should and check the scene, but from the shows I’ve been playing the scene appears to be healthy and growing by the minute. The US is such a vast country, that there’s huge potential for growth, and the scene is already huge! That’s the thing about America, once something catches on there’s almost unlimited potential. People are really digging it over here, and not on an obscure, underground level, but on a about to break mainstream level. Hell, it might already be mainstream.
As far as where we’re going, I’d say the rougher American style, chopped up bassline, rock and roll tunes are ruling the day right now, but some of the more established “old school” promoters are making a conscious effort to do smaller nights and showcase the darker, minimal sound. These nights are doing really well, and I think as the young crowd gets a little more into the music and scratches beneath the surface a bit, some of these smaller old school events will gather a bit more steam, bringing some much needed diversity to the larger dubstep scene in the states.
You still work full time, can you give us some idea on how you go about balancing gigs, production and touring?
It’s really difficult balancing all of my responsibilities, and it’s getting even harder with each year I get older haha. For me, and I think a lot of producers, the best music is made in the early hours of the morning. I used to work on beats until 5-6 in the morning, and then go to work for 8 hours. Now I’m feeling it when I pass out at 2am hahah. To be honest, my life is very one sided. I have a lot of interests, and I’m not really able to pursue them because I put all my time and energy into making tunes. When I come home from work, it’s straight to the desk, make a cup of tea, and get on the beats. I do most of my touring on the weekends, and luckily my job is flexible and are always accommodating when I need to take time off during the week. I don’t know if I’d be able to hold a job down if they weren’t flexible like that. That’s pretty much the way it has to be if you want to be successful though. You have eat, breath, and sleep music. The day job just makes doing that a bit more difficult.
Going back a little, can you tell us how you got started with Dubstep, for a West Coast Boy like yourself Croyden and London must seem a long long way away?
I’ll give ya the long story haha. I started djing jungle and drum and bass in about 2000. That’s when I met Nick Argon, who had been involved a lot longer, and was throwing raves in the San Francisco Bay Area going back to the mid 90’s. He was deep in the scene, and brought out all the big acts, Dylan, Loxy, Tech Itch, Trace, Ed Rush, you name it. He eventually gave me my first residency alongside Boreta who is now in Glitch Mob, and Killjoy who now produces as Eprom. It’s crazy to think how we were all kicking it back in the day, and went off to each be successful in our own rite. Anyways, Boreta cut out a bit earlier, and Eprom moved up to SF shortly after. Nick and I continued to do small nights here and there, but I pretty much gave up on djing by 2005. I’d purchased the iMac G3 I spoke of earlier from Ugene a bit before that, but really started working on production around 2005 when I stopped djing.
My early productions were all over the place tempo wise, but they had a common thread of big bass. I used to play these for Nick all the time, and he’d always tell me I needed to release them. In late 2005, Nick came over and played me a bunch of Rinse FM sets and schooled me on dubstep. His brother, who has been into grime for a long time, turned him on to it, and Nick was stoked. He heard similarities between what I was making, and what dubstep was doing, and basically said I should produce at 137 bpm and see what happens. Shortly after I started messing around, I came up with Bitter Love and For the Smokers, and Nick decided to revive his then defunct drum and bass label Argon Records and release them. I believe that was in late 2006 or early 2007.
London is a long ways away, and I’ve made the journey every year since 2007. My first time out was for the DMZ two year anniversary which was a historic night. Nick and I went out just to check it, and basically met everyone who was poppin’ in the scene, not only in the UK, but from all over the world. A lot of lasting friendships were made on that trip, and I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for that experience. That was kinda the beginning for me, and the rest has been a blast.
You have consistently received massive recognition and support from lots of the original scenes producers and DJs like Cotti, Caspa and Mary Anne Hobbs but do you feel that sometimes you are a little underrated both as a DJ and a producer in the European scene?[answer]You know, not really. I got a lot of love out of London back in the day, and that support has continued throughout the years. That was just how things developed through it’s own natural course. I don’t have as tight of a connection to the larger European scene, and to be honest, I haven’t taken the time to cultivate it as I should. I have homie’s like Tes La Rok and Desto in Finland and Bunzero in Belgium, but I haven’t reached out to some of the other producers that have come up through the years which helps in the grand scheme of networking and all that. So yeah, I haven’t played out as much in Europe, but it’s my fault for not being proactive and planting roots out there.
What are the plans now for 2012, will we get to see a Matty G album at any stage?[answer]As far as production, right now I’m polishing up my latest batch of tunes, and hopefully there’ll be a single or two in there, but I don’t think an album. I’d love to do another EP, but I think I’m still building up to an album. As far as gigs and all that, things are lining up nicely, and I’ll probably be heading out to the UK again in June, so if anyone wants to get a head start and book me, feel free to hit me up.[/answer]
Thanks for the chat Matty, looking forward to what 2012 and the new tunes bring. Talk soon.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, it’s much appreciated. Go to www.mattygbeatz.com to download your free copy of “Jam Like a Tek” from the Back to the Bay EP out now on Dub Police.