He’s been quiet for longer than a hot minute, but if his mix for us here at FatKidOnFire is anything to go by, Matty G‘s back, raring to go and is once again a force to be reckoned with.
About damn time.
Having joined forces with longtime collaborator J:Kenzo for his first release on Artikal Music, Matty G’s tune on Artikal first ever Compilation (out today – buy it here) is a welcome addition to the producer’s back catalogue. Going by the length of our interview with the Santa Cruz musician, he’s got a lot to get off his chest but he’s back on the vibe and will be bringing that West Coast heat we’ve all been missing…
Mr. G, how are you sir? I’m doing great. Thanks for taking out the time to chat with me.
Any time! Having first interviewed you during our MakeItGood x FKOF run of features back in 2010 (I think you were the 10th artist we talked to!), can you give us a
brief overview of what you’ve been up to since? Wow, so much has happened since then! 2010 was a big year. I went on my second US tour with Dub Police and made a couple trips to London that year. The last trip of 2010 involved a tour where we hit five or so cities, which was great. I got to see a lot of England that I hadn’t visited before. The best part of that trip was playing Mosh at club Paradiso in Amsterdam. I can confidently say that was the best show I’ve ever played. Absolutely incredible. The crowd was massive, as was the sound system. I was so nervous my hands were shaking like a leaf when I got up to play haha! I did one of the best sets I ever played though. When I’m feeling down, I watch some of the footage on YouTube from that night – it’s a great and quick way to cheer me up. It was nuts! People were moshing like crazy!
Between 2010 and 2012, I was doing really well as far as gigs were going. I had an agent that was getting me regular bookings – which was nice. I was terrible with the business end of things, so finally having some decent representation was great. At the same time, a lot of my shows were across the country, which started to take a toll on me as far as travel was concerned. I’ve always worked a day job, so not having a bit of time to recover after a 6 hour flight and a crazy weekend started to take its toll.
In 2011, I released what I feel to date is my best work, the Back To The Bay EP on Dub Police. I’m really proud of that EP. The production quality was the best work I had done yet from a technical standpoint. Creatively, I think it did a great job of showcasing the extreme split in my style. I’ve always done deeper darker tunes, but also love making really mellow RnB style stuff, and this release was a great example of that.
I had the opportunity to contribute to the overall concept of the album by providing the direction for the cover art and collaborating on the video concept. My good friend Aaron Meister directed the video and he did an excellent job, as did photographer Jeremy Conant on the cover art. It was a tribute to the Bay so we hit up Eugene’s (Co-Producer on Back to the Bay) barbershop, my Uncle’s body shop, my other Uncle’s firehouse, a homie’s restaurant, and a bunch of other spots. I always like using my opportunities to thank people, or give them props, and so we got as many people as possible who were influential to the Bay Area scene involved, and did little shots of them in the video.
Despite all of the good stuff that was happening in my career, I made the conscious decision to take a step back from music at the end of 2012. I wanted to develop areas of my personal life and professional career, and my level of involvement with music did not afford me the time to do that. I also realised I was putting a lot of energy into something I didn’t fully enjoy anymore. Many of the shows I was playing did not encompass any of the elements that initially attracted me to the scene. The music, and the environments it was being played in, were increasingly something I did not enjoy, and I began to loose inspiration.
Ironically, as soon as I stepped out, the music and the scene started going back to what I used to enjoy haha! Crowds are slimming down, and deeper, darker music seems to be at the forefront of the scene again! If only I had hung on for one more year. After about an 18 month break, J:Kenzo and I released a collaboration track called SC Connection on Dub Police in 2013. We dug working together and went on to produce another tune entitled Flatline – that one’s out now on the Artikal Music UK compilation, so (yeah, yeah) I’m still about haha!
I’ll always make music though, and to be honest it’s more enjoyable now than it has ever been. I can make whatever I want at whatever tempo because I don’t have an obligation to make anything else. It’s just like when I first started producing… Raw creativity. When I do make a 140 beat, the ideas I had working on other stuff translate and cross over, just like they did back in the day, which makes the 140 stuff more interesting and original.
So yeah, sorry, that’s not very brief… But for four years’ worth of stuff it ain’t that long either haha!
The majority of our UK fanbase may have heard you through the anthemic 50,000 Watts (and, of course, Loefah’s remix) or West Coast Rocks (and the Caspa remix). Your sound seems to mix US/ UK in terms of adding an almost hip-hop-esque flavour to 140. Is that an accurate representation of what you’re going for? Yeah I’d say that’s accurate. I’ve always been a dub head, and a lot of my earlier work reflects that. However, tunes like 50,000 Watts and West Coast Rocks obviously have a hip-hop component to them. Around the time those came out, I had made a conscious decision to not incorporate reggae influences into my music anymore. Even though I was participating in a scene that originated in London, I wanted my music to reflect as much of America as possible. So for my deeper, darker tunes, I leaned towards more of a hip-hop influence. For my more mellow tunes, I incorporated an RnB style.
However, regardless of what I wanted to do stylistically, my technical capabilities were very limited until 2009 when I got a computer that could actually handle MIDI. Until then I was on an old iMac G3 running OS9, so I didn’t have the processing power to do much. That limited my production to mostly using samples, a lot of which came from scratch records. That in itself gave my tunes a hip-hop vibe.
What’s your production set up like at the moment? Fully digital or are there a few bits of analogue kit you can’t live without? My setup is pretty much wholly digital. Although it’s light years ahead of the G3 I mentioned earlier, I’m still using an iMac from 2009. For me it’s fine, but I know a lot of producers have got to get that new Mac when it comes out each year! I could do with a bit more processing power, but I get by with what I have.
I’m probably still the only one in the world who uses Digital Performer for my DAW though! I have a few go-to soft-synths I like using. Minimonsta by Gforce is my favourite. It’s a Mini Moog emulator and is pretty dope, especially for that g-funk vibe. I also use a few bits from Native Instruments, and have always done my subs with Absynth. I have a Micro Korg that is pretty dope. I mainly use it for a MIDI controller, but have used it by itself on a few tracks. I also have a Roland JP8000 that I bust out every once in awhile.
When Nick Argon moved to Miami to study watch making, I bought his Mackie HR824 monitors from him. That changed my world. I can’t believe I waited so long to get monitors. I wish I could go back to 2006 and slap myself. All of my tunes up until then were made on some massive Sansui SP-2000 speakers that were probably made in the 70s. I eventually learned how to do a half-way decent mix on them… I think Turf Warz and My 808 were the last tunes I mixed down on them and they were decent, but I can’t help but wonder if my earlier tunes would have been better with a proper set of monitors.
My advice to anyone asking about production equipment is to invest in a good sound card/audio interface and some proper monitors FIRST! Without those, you are just wasting your money on everything else. Also, something I try and practice in my life whenever I need to buy something is to research and wait. Don’t buy something cheap and put off getting the decent equipment until later. Wait a while, save up your dough, do your research and buy the right thing the first time.
In terms of what’s happening Stateside with bass music/ dubstep, how’s the sound and scene evolved since you started getting involved? Nick Argon got you onto dubstep, right? How is California for bass music? It’s been a real trip seeing how the sound and scene evolved over the years. Yeah, Nick Argon turned me on to dubstep in 2004-2005. His brother was a big grime head, but when more instrumental tracks started coming out he turned Nick onto those, which Nick then passed on to me. When I started producing around that time, I always thought there was this unspoken competition to make the most banging tune with the fewest elements involved. I would send Nick tracks, and he’d tell me to take this or that out of it and strip it down. That kind of sound was representative of the environment it was being played in. Dark, low key, no frills bars and clubs.
Looking back, I can’t believe how quickly the sound evolved and developed from something that was once confined to those grimey hole in the wall bars and clubs, into main arena stadium size shows. The sound and scene I loved was really only around for a couple of years before things started to change. For me, Rusko’s Cockney Thug really marked the beginning of a stylistic split. However, despite the divisions that began to form around that time with the music, I would have traded that era for anything that was to come in the years to follow. Cockney Thug seems tame in comparison to what came after as far as massively popular aspects of the scene were concerned. The music and the venues continued to evolve together, until (for me) it was completely over stimulating. You had these super loud tunes with an emphasis on mid range basslines performed in huge clubs with massive light shows, half naked girls dancing on stage, pyrotechnics and the works. I am not knocking it, it just wasn’t for me.
The US played a big part in the explosion and mainstream popularity of dubstep, but the fire that burns hot burns fast. In a relatively short amount of time, the “popular” more aggressive sound has seemed to lose momentum. Trends have shifted a bit, and trap seemed to take off for a while. I’m not sure what’s hot at the minute, but the massive light show, go go dancer, fireworks shows are still happening, just not necessarily with dubstep. That said, the deeper, darker, small crowd sound events seem to be doing well for themselves. Many of the club nights in the States that started early on like Smog, Gritsy, and Sub.mission are still around, doing things regularly, and they continue to support a number of the original UK bad bwoys as well as old and new US talent. I think dubstep helped foster and develop an interest in a lot of people for bass music over here and a lot of different styles and genres have come out of that.
So regardless of the interest people have in dubstep, there are a lot of people going out to hear bass music in general.
We’ve worked with a few of of the US crew over the past 18 months but, from your point of view, who’s making the most standabout 140 on your side of the pond? I’m not fully up on what’s going on at the moment, but from the bits I’ve caught now and again on the internet, I’d have to say EshOne. One track in particular, Scrap Nights, blew my mind. I’ve always been a fan of tribal percussion, and he nailed it on that tune. Very original track, as well as his overall style… and originality goes a long way. That and being co-signed by the right people. When Kenzo is dropping some beats, you check and see who they are haha.
In terms of new material, we’ve not had any releases from you for a while now. What have you been working on? Anything you can share?! Yeah, it’s kind of funny, my last two releases have been collabs with J:Kenzo. Maybe I’ll just do a tune with him every couple of years haha! I haven’t released a solo joint in a while, but I’ve definitely been making some music. As I said earlier, since stepping back from the scene, I’ve had the freedom to make all kinds of music. I’ve made a lot of hip-hop, a lot of slow beats between 112 and 120 bpm that still have that Matty G sound I’m known for, and then I’ve just made some real unexpected stuff that just happened while being creative and seeing where things take me. The thing I’ve been making a lot of that will surprise a lot of people is old 50’s style rock n roll and doo-wop. People that are close to me know I grew up on all of that, and listen to that along with soul and RnB more than anything. But for people that know me for 50,000 Watts, that might seem a bit odd!
There are a few older unreleased tunes, as well as some new bits I’ve finished on the mix, that virtually no one has heard, so there’s a little taste of what I’ve been up to in there. I was going to end my mix with a few of my slow 112 style tunes but didn’t feel like they were ready yet. If you’re really up for it and want to hear what I’ve been up to, check in with me in a couple months and I’ll put something together for you. It’ll give me something to work towards!
Haha deal! You’ve worked with J:Kenzo on and off for a good few years now – dating back to Tekno Bass back in 2008. How did the relationship come about? I’ve been in contact with Jay almost since I started in the scene. I had a release or two out when he first got in touch. I believe he had just started producing and sent me some tunes. I actually went digging through my closet recently and found an old CD he had given me. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how I got hold of that. I think he must have mailed it to me because I don’t think we actually met in person until well after I received it! Anyways, as with a lot of my early work, the ideas were there, but the technical skills needed to be honed in. When I heard Nick Argon drop Tekno Bass during our radio show, I knew he had gotten those skills down. I was jealous man! Like I said, a lot of my early tunes used samples off of scratch records, and his use of the echoed out “Bass” sample got me going. I was like damn, why didn’t I think of that! Nice use of the 808 kit as well which was right up my alley. He started to take off from there and had some really great tunes come out on Argon. We’ve always shared a little bit in common as far as our styles are concerned, so collaborating with him was really easy.
Your next release sees you join the Artikal Music imprint with a tune on their newly released Compilation. This is your first release with the label right? Yeah, this will be my first time working with Artikal, and I have to say, I’m with good company. The tunes that are coming out on this label are incredible, and the compilation is sick! I honestly can’t say enough good things about the label and the artists involved… So much talent.
Your release on the compilation is the collaboration with J:Kenzo – Flatline. What’s the track like for those who haven’t heard it? I think this tune has some characteristics that Jay and I are known for, but is also quite a bit different than what people may expect from us. I’d say it’s got a cinematic feel to it with dancefloor sensibilities. There’s the odd scratch record sample, a little b-boy flavor courtesy of the Oberheim DX clap in the classic Krush Groove style, and an echoey square wave bassline. That pretty much sums it up! This was the first collaboration I’ve ever done sending parts back and forth over the internet, so that was a trip. I was a bit nervous since we use different programs and all that, so I didn’t know how it was going to work out. Jay was here visiting when we made SC Connection, and the creative process was a lot different. We were able to bounce ideas off each other on the spot, and it ended up taking a day or so. With Flatline, the process was a bit longer, but it ended up being really easy going and a lot of fun.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together? Since I haven’t been as visible in the scene for the last couple years, I wanted to include a number of my tunes both new and old to remind people where I came from and show them where I’m at. I threw in an old favorite of mine entitled Down the Ave by Chango. This tune has a sample that was taken from the DJ Screw mix 3 ‘N the Mornin’ Part II. Although Chopped n Screwed is a Houston thing, it really had a big influence on my style. I learned about DJ Screw and Michael Watts around the same time I started producing dubstep. The slowed down versions of hip-hop songs really got me going and gave me a lot of ideas for incorporating a hip hop style into the slower tempo of dubstep. My first release For the Smokers is evidence of that.
I also included a lot of new and unreleased material of mine including G-Rated, Slow Motion, Wasps, Bass Frequency, and a West Coast Rocks VIP I did a while back. Ugene and I had done another collaboration after Back to the Bay entitled Bust It, and I threw that in there as well. Probably the most recent tune (one I did only a couple months ago) is a remix of a tune by Kruxx from Houston entitled 5th Street. He’s another great up and coming producer and has a wicked style. He sent me a bunch of dope grime flavored jams, as well as some more “Southern” style beats, and I really picked up on this 5th Street tune. He gave the green light to remix it, which I really appreciated the opportunity to do.
Other than that, I added some new favorites like Flowdan’s Ambush, J:Kenzo’s Straight Defeat that features Collinjah (out now on the Artikal compilation), and The Prophecy which is a collaboration between J:Kenzo and The Others. Straight Defeat is an absolute monster, and really reminds me of some of the early techstep tunes I used to dig back in the day. When Alex first played me The Prophecy, I almost fell out of my chair. Such a great blend of Jay’s and his styles, and the production is incredible. That tune knocks like no other. To finish things off, my mix wouldn’t be complete without a Loefah tune, so I drew for his remix of 3rd Choice by Vex’d which is a personal favourite of mine.
Release or dub, US or otherwise, what’s been your favorite tune this year? That’s really hard to say man. There have been so many good tunes, and the Artikal compilation is full of ’em! I’ll pick a few that really caught my ear earlier this year though. I’m not sure how long it was on dub, but as far as tunes released this year, Thelem‘s Shottaz has got to be in the top running. That’s one of those tunes where you hear it at home, and you’re like “Yeah that’s a sick tune.” Once I played it at the club though and felt the impact of the bass on the system, it was a totally different song. That tune is straight nasty.
Sound Control’s Electrocution Dub is wicked as well. What a dark, twisted take on a reggae stepper’s drum riddim! I already big’d up The Prophecy by The Others and J:Kenzo, but I can’t say enough about that tune. I hope it gets a release soon. Again, EshOne’s Scrap Nights is a banger as well. Was really taken by that tune when I heard it.
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck with the release! First up, thanks to Wil and FatKidOnFire for not forgetting about me and still having an interest in what I have to say. It means a lot. The UK has always been good to me, and has always given me a place in dubstep’s history. I can’t express how thankful I am to get to tell a bit of my story every once in awhile, so thanks again.
Always a big thanks and shout out to the fans, and people who have supported me throughout the years. To all the folks that have come up and shook my hand at a show, and keep bugging me to get back in the scene, I love y’all.
Always got love for Nick Argon who gave me so many first opportunities. We would not be having this conversation if it wasn’t for him. Shout out to my good friends LB and Konfusion always giving my tunes tons of play on their Heavy Traffic radio show on Sub FM. Huge shout out to Whistla and Sub FM! The first man to give my tunes a spin on the radio. Argon Radio on Sub FM really helped us get out there back in the day, so thanks for that opportunity. Much love to Dub Police for all the help in the past and continued support… “Just when I though I was out, they pull me back in” haha!
Much love to J:Kenzo and all the Artikal fam. Really honored to be a part of this compilation. This is going to be one for the history books!
Big up to Suraj and all the Gritsy posse out in Houston! They’re always draggin’ me back into the game as well haha. Thanks for still booking me after all these years! H-Town, my home away from home.
Much love to my brotha’s from other motha’s Gary Caspa, Gary J, and naughty man Alex. Real homies for life, it’s just a damn shame they live on the other side of the world.
Thanks to all the listeners who voted me in at number 40 on the Rinse 20 Dubstep Takeover show. Hearing that gave me a big smile!
Big up Jody, Zagg, Stridah (for letting me borrow some CDJs!) and all the local Santa Cruz posse and DJs. Big up to all the Santa Cruz fans as well! Y’all keep surprising me with killer turnouts every time I play. Thanks for all the love.
Love and respect to my family for believing in me and supporting me all these years. A big shout out to my sister and brother-in-law Big Nate, who just called as I was finishing this up.
To anyone I forgot, sorry, but you know I love ya anyway.
Click to DOWNLOAD (133MB)
- Matty G – Bitter Love [Argon Records]
- Chango – Down The Ave [dub]
- Matty G – Last B Boy [Argon Records]
- Matty G – G-Rated [dub]
- Matty G – West Coast Rocks VIP [dub]
- Matty G & Konfusion – Styles and Styles [Steps In Time]
- Matty G – Slow Motion [dub]
- Kruxx – 5th Street (Matty G remix) [dub]
- Matty G & Ugene – Bust It [dub]
- Flowdan – Ambush (produced by Footsie) [Hyperdub]
- Matty G – Bass Frequency [dub]
- J:Kenzo & Matty G – SC Connection [Dub Police]
- Matty G – 50,000 Watts VIP [Argon Records]
- Matty G – Wasps [dub]
- J:Kenzo & Matty G – Flatline [Artikal Music]
- Human Resource – Dominator (Matty G remix) [War]
- Matty G – Jam Like a Tek [Dub Police]
- J:Kenzo ft. Collinjah – Straight Defeat [Artikal Musik]
- Matty G – Turf Warz [Dub Police]
- Vex’d – 3rd Choice (Loefah remix) [Planet Mu]
- The Others & J:Kenzo – The Prophecy [dub]