The first truth about promos is: You get loads of unwanted music. Luckily though, there are the labels, friends and artists that send you the good stuff. And once or twice a year, you’re blessed with the really, really good stuff. Like on this sunny and cold winter morning four years ago, when we first heard Matthew Styles‘ “We Said Nothing”: Jacking in an uncannily-funky acid-house vibe, we embraced it as an instant classic. It’s the whirring odd-swoosh we like in Matthew’s productions: the kind of very contemporary tribal groovyness. A swing trick he performed again with the Worst Case Scenario track “Hot Beef” and last year with “Don’t Call Me Again” on Running Back. Head straight for the dancefloor – but read this interview first.
ROOF.FM: Matthew, you played in Japan last weekend. How was it?
MATTHEW: Tokyo was amazing, as expected. The Dj Pi-Ge from Pan Records/Clubberia.com bought me over for a small party. It was an enthusiastic, knowledgeable crowd and we had a good time together. Some great record digging to be had there also!
Yeah, they must have some of the best shops there…
Indeed, I only visited Disc Union and Technique, but that was more than enough, they are both very well curated.
I’m not so fussed about the vinyl vs. digital discussion. But there is something sexy about a 12” playing on a Technics in a smoky nightclub.
Any anecdotes you would like to disclose from recent gigs?
Oh, I always have a few, as seems that I can be a bit clumsy. The last one that stands out was when I was in Spain, I started pouring myself a drink while mixing and not paying attention, and poured the drink directly in my CD case instead of the glass, I totally didn’t notice for a few minutes, until I saw all my cd’s floating in Fanta Limon… Luckily, the promoter helped me out of that “sticky”situation and helped clean all the cds, which was very nice of him.
You were lucky it didn’t mess up your record bag. You still play vinyl these days?
Yes, only very rarely do I not take any records with, but there are occasions when I do not, for example if I go on holiday but maybe have one gig in a month there. I’m not so fussed on the vinyl/digital argument, really if it sounds good and gets the job done and suits my workflow I will use it. I still really enjoy the art of playing vinyl and the fact that it is not a perfect medium. There is something sexy about a 12” playing on a Technics turntable in a smoky nightclub. However, I have spent quite a lot of time digitising some of my favourites, due to the fact I destroyed quite a few favourite records over the years, so many things I like to play a lot I have recorded. Using computer as a DJ, for me doesn’t suit my workflow so I wont use it, but understand why people do.
I got introduced to your productions with the truly fantastic “We Said Nothing” on Diamonds & Pearls: What’s the story behind the track?
Thanks for the nice words! This one has a special feeling for me too, it’s the first time I really felt I captured the sound and feeling that I wanted in a track after many years of producing. Not sure how I could define that though. It happened all very quickly with the writing and production, and the next day I knew it was kind of strange but grooving at the same time.
I also like the Worst Case Scenario release on Rekid…
That project is with a very good friend of mine Ed Cartwright, he lives in the UK and has a family and business to take care of. Unfortunately, we seldom get a chance to meet for a couple of days to make something happen. Maybe its one of those projects that sees a release every five, ten years or so…
Tell me about “Liquid Sky”, the track which is on Nick Höppners forthcoming Panoramabar Mix?
Nick has been a big supporter of my music since the Diamonds & Pearls record, and I sent him some new stuff one day, and he asked if he could consider them for his upcoming mix, and he selected the “Liquid Sky” track, so they could use it for the mix and vinyl sampler. I am very honoured to be a part of the whole project.
It seems you’re quite prolific these days…
Well, it’s true that I have stepped it up now, I stopped managing labels last year, and decided I wanted to focus on the art of making music. I had been holding down day jobs for the last 17 years alongside music, and I thought for once it was time to dedicate myself to something I enjoy so much.
So you no longer handle the label affairs for Horizontal?
Dinky and I put the label on hold for a while, we started working on an album together last year which has been quite a big undertaking, so we decided to concentrate on that for the time being, but again it doesn’t mean that we won’t do more releases again someday, its just on ice for now.
It’s a big undertaking?
Well the style isn’t “dance music”, and its more song based structures with vocals and more complex arrangements, its a different different discipline and as we are both quite busy, there are only a few days a week to get in the studio if we are lucky. We didn’t have an experience of recording with microphones before and so its a big learning process for us.
Collaborating with Dinky: how is that working out?
Dinky and I have been together a number of years now, we got married a few months ago in Chile. This project is something that started as an experiment a year or so ago, and there are a lot of songs now, so an album is almost ready. Dinky is a fantastic composer, singer and songwriter, I guess I am more helping with some more complex technical things, some programming, sound design and mixing.
Did you have an idea when you approached this mix for Roof.fm?
I always just to find a nice flow of records from different era with nicely contrasting textures. Some old school, some new, classic and raw vibes with a few oddities.
Does the style of the mix represent what you would normally play in the club? Pumping sound between disco and Chicago house?
I think it’s a pretty fair representation of what I do, all the records are in my bag