“Let there be house! And house music was born……… House music is a universal language, spoken and understood by all…… You see, house is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you’re deep into the vibe of house.” – Mr Fingers (Larry Heard); Can You Feel It (In My House), Trax Records. Chicago, 1986.
Invoking this very notion as Larry Heard’s track did so many times decades before, Matt Black is creating his own house legacy. “House is a feeling as the song used to say so I like to think my music evokes that sort of emotion, therefore creating Housefeelings”, he shared.
Everyone at some point in their life experiences influences navigating their course in life. Matt is no exception. When asked about his early passions and influences I was intrigued to learn how diversified his music interest is (was). From rap and hip-hop to punk and metal. With playing the guitar (however, jokingly admitting he wasn’t that good) and his favorite bands – Depeche Mode & Radiohead.
His biggest influence as a producer; however, has been John Graham – known under the pseudonym Quivver. By which Matt mentions, “For someone to be making music for as long as he (Graham) has …keeping up that consistency is something not many producers have managed”. So when I asked Matt how he maintains fresh and different sounds – there was no denying that challenges exist. “I think it’s all about appreciating new artists” explains Matt; adding “I love discovering new artists and that keeps your sound fresh… ultimately a DJ just plays other people’s music so you’re only as good as the music you play and as long as people keep making fresh and interesting music then I’ll keep playing it”.
Growing up in Devon (Southwest England), “I had very little experience of Electronic music” Matt shares. It wasn’t until moving to London in 1991 new friendships began to form introducing him to the local rave and club scenes leading to his discovery of house music a few years later in 1994. It wasn’t long before Matt’s friend Shane persuaded him to fill in for a mobile deejay that happened to be off one night at the London pub they frequented. Continuing his story with excitement, Matt tells FRISKY his “first taste of real deejaying” came from his first club gig in West London at a student union bar – “A friend of mine organized the event … I did the warm up & had the place absolutely jumping before the headliner took over and the buzz was incredible!”
Luckily for us, Matt continued to realize his calling as a deejay and producer.
Matt’s style infusing deep progressive house with hints of techno comes with no surprise as being no stranger to FRISKY. He’s had previous guest mix spots (The latest on Pro-B-Tech, Universal & Immersed). When the chance came for his own show – Matt immediately secured the opportunity. “I have always wanted to get a show on FRISKY ever since I can remember” he explained. Then continued by saying, “having my own show means I will be able to showcase more of my music to a much wider audience”.
As our interview continues – there’s no doubt Matt will leave yet another positive addition to his growing profile as an artist.
Tell us what role, if any, does music play in the multifaceted divisions of the world? And what role in society, as a music artist, do you consider yourself having?
I think music can have a very positive effect on society. It can unite people and bring them together. From a personal point of view if my music can give people enjoyment and take away the drudgery of everyday life then that can only be a good thing.
What has been your experiences/hurdles in the music industry in general and as a producer & DJ?
I think the biggest hurdle of being a producer DJ is being heard. Whether it’s getting your mix heard by a promoter or getting your demo listened to by the right label. Unless they already know who you are the chances of it being listened to are slim to non-existent. Everyone needs that little leg up now and then and if you read stories from DJ’s who have made it they will all say that at some point they were heard by “A big name DJ” and then their career took off. That’s not to say they haven’t worked hard. But I think you need that little boost if you are going to get anywhere in this game. From my own experiences, I can tell you that it is hard work and you have to be dedicated. There are rewards and playing your music to crowds of music lovers is a fantastic feeling.
If you were to give one piece of advice to an up-and-coming DJ, producer/artist what would it be? What would you tell your younger self?
That’s a tough one, I think the main one would be self-belief is everything. You are going to get knocked down so many times and it can really knock the stuffing out of you, best thing is enjoy the highs but not get too carried away and not to get too downhearted at the lows either. You have to keep going no matter what and if you work hard at it and believe in yourself you can make it in the end. I think the one piece of advice I would give myself would be to enjoy it more; as sometimes I got so carried away trying to succeed I forget to enjoy it when I actually did.
When making both new original tracks and producing mixes, do you have a philosophy you abide by?
I’ve always been a believer in the journey is the important thing. So I try and make my sets like that journey, you start at point A and then arrive at point B. You want to maintain the interest but not peak too early. Obviously, it depends on the length of the set but if you’re playing 2 hours you don’t want to play all your best tunes in the first 20 minutes! Pacing is important and you want to keep peoples’ interest but not bash them over the head continuously. With tracks its similar, start with the intro build up the groove then you have the big moment or the break before it all kicks off again. I’m quite old school in my track building and like to keep it interesting with subtle changes throughout the arrangement.
Since your music journey began, in what way(s) has creating music transformed you? And what keeps you motivated on a daily basis?
As I said before, my main motivation is discovering new music. When I ran Segment records I used to love it when I got a fantastic demo. I couldn’t wait to share it with the world, I have always tried to champion new artists in my sets and that’s what keeps me going. My favourite artists right now are Luke Brancaccio, Cristoph, Yotto and Silinder plus the Pro B Tech family. I recently discovered a guy from LA called Willscape who I think is destined for big things plus Daniel Glover is another one to watch. So many exciting talents around now.
“Acoustic Pleasure” is your current ongoing project released monthly. Is there any significant backstory between Acoustic Pleasure and Housefeelings?
The name Acoustic pleasure was actually my wife’s idea, I was looking for a name for the show and she came up with that and it just fit. Originally the concept was to showcase some of my new productions and also play some of my favourite music, but since then the show has grown as I have been able to feature some of my favourite DJ’s and producers on the show. In the past I have had guests such as Luke Brancaccio, Ian Dillon, Kiz Pattision, Jawjee and also my good friend and co collaborator Chris Sterio and I hope to feature more top guests in the next few months. I am also going to be starting a new label soon with the guys from 2 Reels so you’ll be hearing a lot more from us in the future.
What are your thoughts about the “mainstream EDM” movement and popularity of electronic music festivals? Does this have any impact on your production work and or in reaching diverse listeners of all ages?
To be honest, I have little interest in EDM. I think there will always be more commercial sounds around and EDM is probably the biggest we have seen so far. But, then I remember when I first got into electronic music – it was stuff that was in the charts at the time such as Moby Go and Prodigy. But I was then able to go onto to discover more underground music so I suppose if EDM leads the kids to less commercial sounds then that’s not a bad thing. It’s funny now though, how more underground DJ’s are starting to gain mainstream appeal again. So [it] will be interesting to see where the music goes next.
Outside your music career, what do you like to do for fun? And what makes you really happy?
When I’m not making music I like to chill out and watch films and TV series, I enjoy spending time with my wife and family. I also probably spend far too much time on social media, sometimes I can get a bit carried away with it – all though when I’m making music I tend to switch off the internet so I can focus better. What makes me happy? My wife and my music.
In one word how would describe your music? And in one word how would you describe yourself?
Oh that’s a tough one. Music, I would say driving. Me, probably say sincere.
What words would you like add/say to the FRISKY listener and devoted follower?
Ok well thank you for the questions. For the first show, I will be featuring some of my brand new productions which you haven’t yet have heard unless you were at some of my gigs over the summer – so it’s a little bit of an exclusive for you all. Secondly, I would like to thank everyone for their support and I hope you enjoy the show. Finally, I would like to thank Paul and all the Frisky radio crew for having me on, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to getting started!