Matt Masters is back on Freerange with a solo release following his recent collab EP’s with Jimpster and Milton Jackson on Freerange and Lazy Days respectively. With these previous outings receiving a lot of love from as diverse names as Ron Trent, Steve Bug, Justin Robertson and Kid Fonque, it’s safe to say that Matt likes to avoid one particular sound, preferring to develop, explore and push his own style with each release. Here on the ‘Worlds Collide’ EP we’re treated to two contrasting originals plus a remix from one of the leading lights of the South African deep house scene SculpturedMusic.
Kicking off the EP the title track juxtaposes chaotic, glitchy atmospherics with Thomas Newman-esque piano chords to beautiful
effect. Minimal beats leave plenty of space for the intractable modulating synths to cut through the mix making for a tripped-out late-night groove which fizzes and pops into existence like a freshly born robot chicken bursting out from it’s little robotic egg.
SculpturedMusic is one of the new guard of South African producers whose music we love. His underground hit Sad To Think helped introduce him to a wider audience and his warm, soulful and more disco influenced organic touch makes him the perfect choice to remix Worlds Collide. In true South Africa style, he drops the BPM’s into sub-120 territory adding a weight and focus to the tribal groove which is totally compelling. Just the kind of track we can imagine Dixon dropping back in the day at one of his all night sessions at Weekend.
Closing out the release we have Moon Rise, a sun-soaked, funk- filled tune guaranteed to warm your cockles. The shuffling house groove feels like it’s been run through some kind of nostalgia filter, blunted beats wrapped up in cotton wool whilst dreamlike vocals add to the ethereal vibe. Welcome back Mr Masters!
You can now listen to the full premiere of ‘Moon Rise’ exclusively on When We Dip while reading the great interview we had with Matt. Enjoy!
WWD: Thanks for talking to us Matt. Where are you today and what are you doing?
I am currently in my home studio which is on Roman Road in Hackney London. After responding to this interview, I am going to fire up some old vinyl samples I ripped a while back and see where the ideas take me.
WWD: Where are you from exactly? Where are you based these days?
I am originally from Ashford in Surrey UK. I lived there until I was 19 then moved to Hackney, East London in 1999 to go to University. Apart from a DJ season in Ibiza around 2003, I have lived in East London since then. Our first Freerange Records office was based in Hackney Wick and it’s changed so much around here since back then. I live just under a mile from there now near Victoria Park. Our current Freerange office is in Homerton which is also under a mile away so it works well for me. Having lived around here for over half my life, I have seen so much change and I love it. So much diversity and culture to get involved in. There are great restaurants and bars everywhere and Victoria Park is great for my son to play in as it’s huge. There is a lake there too and it’s great in the summer with festivals (All Points East, Field Day, previously Lovebox etc.) and live events. My wife and I have discussed many times about moving out of London but I don’t think we are ready for it just yet.
WWD: Do you consider yourself a Londoner? What it is you like about the London scene?
I would consider myself a Londoner, even when I lived in Ashford, I was only one stop outside the London Transport zones. There is so much to love about London. Obviously, the club and music scene is massive so there are so many places to go and see great music every night of the week. The parties and DJ line up around East London tend to be more underground than ones that are hosted West or Central which is great for me. I don’t think I really have any dislikes. Maybe the tube which is why I tend to cycle most places.
WWD: Do you play out much and where?
I have some regular local DJ gigs at places like Barge East (a 120 year old barge that has been restored), and The Lord Napier (this used to be a squat for years but it has also been restored to its former glory and is the sole pub in Hackney wick) which are both along the canal from me. Post Covid, I haven’t been pushing for DJ gigs to be fair as my son is nearly two, so I have been focusing on him and my wife. Now things are more or less back to normal in terms of Covid and my son is in nursery a few days a week, I want to start to play at some more frequent spots. I just did another tour of South Africa which was a lot of fun so hope to go out there again this year. The team at Freerange have been talking about sorting a regular event too so watch this space.
WWD: When did you first start to dabble with music?
I started piano lessons when I was around 12. I did private lessons first to see if I liked it then continued at school. My piano teacher loved her booze and she stunk of whiskey but was so good (my mum and sister were having lessons at the same time too so I wasn’t left alone!). She had two huge Alsatians that stood next to the piano and if you messed up they could tell and they would bark so it made you practice at home before the next lesson. I stopped private lessons after a while and then the lessons at school flowed into college too. My degree was a Science degree in Musical Instrument Technology rather than an Arts degree so I went down the non-production route of building mixing desks from scratch, creating very basic music software programs, studied psychoacoustics of sound etc rather than producing. It was a very broad degree but I’m so glad I did it as it was so rewarding. During my time at University, I didn’t make any music as I had previously when studying at school and college. It wasn’t until I started working for Freerange that I got a taste for it again.
WWD: Were you a DJ first? What kind of stuff did you play?
Yes. I was DJing throughout uni before I started producing properly. I played at a number of venues in and around London at the time (1999 and onwards). I played a lot of house music but it was more along the funkier vibes of early Masters At Work, Jon Cutler, early Kerri Chandler, early Defected etc type vibes. I ran a night called Juicebox and played at various venues all over London. One notable residency at the time was at Turnmills (which is now sadly flats) where I had the opportunity to host the second room for an event called City Loud where CJ Mackintosh was resident at the time. It was great fun playing there and he always had amazing guests play. Plus, after the event finished, there was a night called Trade that started at 6/7am so my friends and I used to stay on and dance the night/morning away.
WWD: When did you make the move over to production?
It was during my early few years at Freerange. I used to sit behind Jamie (Jimpster) as his studio was basically our office back then in the early years in Hackney Wick. I would watch him produce and get ready for his band The Bay’s live improvisational sets. He would spend hours crate digging and sampling for the sets and planning things for them. It really inspired me to get producing again. He is an extremely talented musician, producer and DJ. Plus, he is a dear friend and such a lovely man. My first release was either a remix for his A Love Like This track with Diamond Dancer or a remix for Brett Johnson. It was around 2007 I think. Whichever one it was, it was my first outing on Freerange and so happy that Tom (the co-owner of Freerange who is equally as lovely as Jamie) and Jamie were pleased with my offerings.
WWD: What do you feel has been your most notable release to date?
My album being released was a real achievement for me personally. I am notably slow at releasing music, and this took me several years to finish. The album featured not just house tracks that you play in a club but tracks that you can listen to at home with various different BPM’s, textures and feelings. Getting that under my belt was a big tick off my bucket list. It’s great that when I go to gigs people ask me to play tracks from the album and it makes me so happy that people enjoy it so much. There is a café/ club opposite my flat and I did the album launch there and we partied into the morning. It was great that so many people came and supported me that day and I will forever be truly grateful for that.
WWD: Which one of your releases do you think slipped under the radar?
Tough question. There are so many that slipped under the radar haha! I had an EP out back in 2010 called Nocturnal Toms on Metroline Records. There is a track on there called ‘Under Wahawo’ (I have never been good at naming tracks) which I really enjoy the groove of and it was a shame it didn’t do better than it did. It has a lovely Rio Padice Remix on it too which has some cool old school bumpy beats to it. I also enjoy playing out ‘Live Again’ which was out that same year. It builds slowly into this nice kind of orchestral theme towards the end.
WWD: Who are the artists from the past who inspire the music that you make?
I am constantly inspired by past and present artists. My mum is a big fan of the greats like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole etc. I used to listen to tracks by these artists a lot when I was growing up and still do today. I like the way that these amazing songs have the small imperfections in audio quality because of the technology that was available at the time. It doesn’t matter how perfect the recording is, if it’s a good song it’s a good song. In terms of house music, early MAW, Kerri Chandler, Chez Damier tracks are all timeless.
WWD: Who do you think is making great stuff right now?
Roman Flugel, Joy Orbison, Kareem Ali, Charles Webster, Floating Points, Pezzner, Crackazat, Cor.Ece, The Revenge, Ron Basejam. They all have their distinctive styles of producing and such talent. Plus Jimpster of course! The producers immerging from South Africa are on fire at the moment too. People like SGVO, China Chameleon, SculpturedMusic, Dwson, Jullian Gomes, FKA Mash all making these huge productions that are stripped back, low slung and raw but sound SO big.
WWD: What kind of stuff might we hope to hear in a Matt Masters set today?
Deep vibes with rolling basslines to keep those bums shaking on the dancefloor.
WWD: You recently played in South Africa. How was that experience for you?
Ah it was amazing. I have a great following out there and the crowd always delivers. Everyone is so kind and friendly at the gigs and give such amazing vibes, positivity and support. It’s everything a DJ could want.
WWD: How long have you been visiting SA?
I think this was my 5th tour out there now. It’s not only the support from the fans but the country is beautiful. On my previous tour I took my wife and we travelled along the garden route which was stunning. This time I brought my wife and son. We love walking and have a backpack that he can sit in, so we walked up Table Mountain in Cape Town and did some other challenging walks too. We visited Franschhoek again for 5 days which is one of the wine regions outside of Cape Town and then went to Johannesburg for the last few days. We have actually been considering the possibility of buying a home, just window shopping though! In addition to the SA artists I mentioned above, people like Kid Fonque, Chronical Deep, Beats By Hand… basically anyone signed to Kid’s Stay True Sounds label are all doing the business!
WWD: How long have you been working with Freerange records?
I think it’s been 20 years this year as I started a short while after I finished University. It was around the time they released Switch – Get Your Dub on. I was playing the track out at some of my early morning and after party sets and it was going off when I played it. I had to see what the label was all about. I went to meet Tom and Jamie in the office and started working part time helping to pack up promo vinyl’s and send them out to the DJ’s. It was then all about making contacts with DJ mags and press writers to help with the promotion of upcoming tracks. Oh… and waiting by the fax machine for hours for the DJ faxes to come through! This was all way before email promos had started to fill up DJ’s inboxes. I moved to Ibiza to DJ for a summer and when I came back, they asked me to work for them on a permanent basis. In terms of releases, I have produced several remixes for the label and some collaborations with the likes of Pezzner and Jimpster too.
WWD: The Worlds Collide EP. Can you talk us through the EP a little?
It’s two original tracks and a remix by the South African producer SculpturedMusic. The title track is a nice moody groover that goes a bit crazy with the fizzing stuttering synths over rolling beats. Snippets of large piano drop through the track to give it that atmospheric feel and help to break the track up. The flip side is a funkier affair. Funky guitar riffs and double bass with some floating vocals. Two totally contrasting tracks for different moments on the dancefloor. SculpturedMusic strips it back to the beats and drums and slows things right down with his signature SA sound. I am so pleased with how the EP has come to fruition and hope people enjoy it.
WWD: What other projects are you working on that you can share?
I have a summer groove I am currently working on. It has a nice vocalist friend of mine singing on it. I am currently in the arrangement phase working on the verses and chorus to get everything sitting tightly. Think beach vibes with a nice cocktail in hand. In addition to this, I have a few ideas I started towards the end of last year, so looking to focus on two or three of those over the coming months to get another EP together. I would love to make another album but finding the time to do so is a struggle with me. Never say never though…
WWD: What are your next ambitions as an artist?
Finish more music. And then some more. And more after that! I want to make people happy with the music I make so as long as that continues, I’ll keep making the tunes and playing them out.
WWD: Thanks for talking with us!
Thank You 🙂
Release Date: January 27th, 2023. Buy Here