Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Matthew. Let’s start with your excellent new single for Black Wattle – Two Steps Forward EP. What does the title signify and how did your relationship with the label come about?
Thanks so much for having me and for the kind words on the EP. I first heard of Black Wattle through one of their previous releases from Liam Ebbs. A beautiful EP titled A Child’s Guide To Groove that came out a few years ago. I am a big fan of Liam and label co-owner – Thomas Gray’s music and I had Black Wattle in mind when I finished this EP, as I felt the aesthetics matched, and I wanted to release the music on an Aus-centric label. The name sort of comes from a dance that people have told me I often do when I’m playing bass – the â€˜two step’. I like the idea of two stepping my way through life!
The music is an extraordinary fusion of jazz and electronic sounds. Can you tell us about your main influences from within those spheres of music?
A lot of local music influenced the sound of the EP. Some of those include: Andras, Thomas Gray & Liam Ebbs, Albrecht La’Brooy, Stephen Magnusson, Christopher Hale. Also from abroad, all of the music coming out of the Melody As Truth label.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the EP.? Including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use when creating music?
I wrote the music primarily as solo electric bass compositions, I think I had about six of them. I then got together with long time collaborators and friends Joshua Kelly and Joel Trigg to record them in a trio context. I like to use Logic when I’m working at home on the stems and I only slightly produced the two tunes on the B-side, working with some field recordings and my small Korg synth. The A-side tunes are built from samples from the recording session. I was enjoying playing with piano loops and pairing those with some beats I had made on a 90’s Korg drum machine – the ES Mk2. Another catalyst for the sound on the A-side was finding the rhythmic elements that naturally occur in small loops from people talking in field recordings.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
I’d have to say the bass guitar! I am forever in debt to my beautiful 1973 Fender P bass for connecting me with people, paying my rent and helping me to express my inner most feelings through my hands – into this low frequency, magical plank of wood with strings.
How has Covid-19 affected the area where you live? Has the situation caused you to work in different ways?
Covid 19 struck just as I was leaving for France at the beginning of March which is where I have been for the last two months. I had tours planned in the US and UK which were cancelled which is a bummer! I just recently returned to Melbourne and one of the biggest differences is I have no gigs which means no income, and not as much connection with other artists and musicians. It has definitely taken some adjusting, but I’ve been able to settle into working on some new music from home – getting deep into some new concepts. The miracle of the web has enabled some great cross-continental collaborations that are in the works at the moment.
Tell us about the Zeitgeist Freedom Exchange and your role within it. How would you describe the nature of forthcoming album: ZFEX Vol.II (due May 2020)? And how important is musicianship to you in today’s digital/ programmed world?
ZFEX is a project spearheaded by drummer Ziggy Zeitgeist which begun a few years back when Zig started exploring the concepts and textures he was hearing at clubs and festivals within his own drumming. ZFEX Vol.II came out on April 3 and is due for a repress soon! We had a great time making it in the summer of 18/19 and it continues to explore the same ideas presented in Vol.I – hopefully deeper and further down the well of jazz/dance cross pollination.
Musicianship is important today as it was in any other climate throughout history. For me, musicianship isn’t just about getting your hands onto a physical instrument, but approaching whatever your chosen form of expression is in a deep and considered manner. I hear incredible displays of musicianship from producers riding a 303 from their studio, DJ’s curating a journey in the club or bands thrashing the Tote system on a Saturday night.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you start with a single note or does it come from something you have heard or seen?
Always from music that I have heard. Before beginning a new record I will usually take a period of a few months to listen to large amounts of music which really inspires me and helps me to conceptualise the vibe of something new. The new music I’m making may have its origins in artists or records that i’m inspired by but during the course of producing it it usually forms a character of its own (I hope!).
Outside of music which writers, artists etc do you most admire?
I’ve been checking out some incredible visual artists. They include: Delta Venus, Edan_s and Agueb Art. Check them out on Instagram! Delta Venus created the amazing artwork used for the cover of this EP and Edan is one of the busiest designers on the scene at the moment with his vintage sci-fi aesthetic.
And finally. Can you tell us about forthcoming projects you are/ will be working on?
Later this year I will be releasing a record in collaboration with Charlie Perry. The music is ambient, bass-guitar centric and includes some incredible poetry from Charlie and other Melbourne-based wordsmiths.