Podcast 656: Matthias
All-original spacey grooves, pressed to one-off dubplates.
Podcast 656: Matthias
All-original spacey grooves, pressed to one-off dubplates.
Matthias is the head of Superluminal, a small Berlin label where he’s put out almost all of his productions. He chooses to reveal only a few personal details, but this is what we do know: Matthias originates from Italy, but moved to London and then to Berlin in 2016, when he launched Superluminal and its accompanying party series. He’s been making his own records since 2010 and DJing since 2007, but the two go hand in hand: he only plays his own edits and original productions in his sets. On the odd occasion, you’ll hear some demos from friends, but generally if the music has been widely released, it isn’t eligible for play.
When Matthias does play out, he’ll press his records onto PVC dubplates because he “likes records too much.” For this, he’ll turn to Marco Pellegrino at Analog Cut Mastering Studio in Berlin, who worked with him on this podcast. Matthias chose the 11 or so tracks that he wanted to include and then approached Pellegrino, who pressed them tracks onto vinyl for the first time. Matthias then headed to his bedroom where he strung them together.
With a playtime of just under an hour, Matthias’ mix is full of the sort of deep, minimal groove you’d hear at Club der Visionäre as day turns to night. But this set of music is more wide-reaching than what we’ve heard him play before; it’s dark but playful, with some pumping basslines, electro beats, and spacey samples, making for a mix of midnight madness made of records you may never hear again.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I am aware this has been historically one of the toughest periods ever seen before, but I have been blessed by a unique dose of creativity and inspiration. I’ve spent most of my time in the studio, editing existing records, making music, and searching for new records. I finally also rebuilt all the acoustic treatment to make a perfect environment to play records and to record new music to play, hopefully in the near future.
02. It sounds like you’ve quite enjoyed lockdown.
Yes. The lockdown in Berlin has not been dramatic compared to other countries. In Italy, for example, for all my friends and family, it’s been a real nightmare. I obviously felt sad for all the clubs closing, and all our events and my gigs being cancelled, but these will come back. It’s been a special opportunity to think about how to define my artistic identity.
03. Can you talk briefly about how you got into music?
My grandfather was a contemporary musician. I started playing guitar when I was young, initially classic guitar and then electric guitar. I played in a punk rock band for a while in my hometown, but then my attention turned to the world of electronic dance music. I was around 16 when I began attending some local events, and this is when I finally got to hear the word “DJ,” even if I didn’t understand the essence of it. Immediately I felt deeply intrigued by all the knobs and instruments behind the booth, all controlled by a single figure responsible for people’s dreams.
04. You choose to press all your music onto vinyl before you play. What are your motivations for doing this?
I cannot imagine myself playing a different format, ever. I see a record as an instrument, and I enjoy the feeling of touching it, and the visual content of each record, not to mention the sound of it! I also think about the analog mechanical system behind turntables, which creates a real sense of swing while mixing records. This is not possible with a digital approach.
05. You moved to Berlin in 2016. What took you over there?
A lot of the music I like comes from Detroit and Chicago, and I’ve always seen Berlin as Detroit’s European counterpart. It’s the fulcrum of electronic dance music. I heard about its musical and artistic freedoms and I still believe it is hard to find anything similar elsewhere. I was also fascinated by Berlin’s past, and how that affected the people musically and anthropologically.
06. How do you find Berlin compares to London?
There are things I miss about London, but others I do not at all. Both cities have a huge musical background which fascinates me, although obviously the roots and the crowds are different. London has big issues in terms of events organisation, due to tremendous costs and rules to be followed, not to mention the amount of venues being closed by the government. I see Berlin as more supportive for clubs and venues, giving opportunity to small ventures to grow pure and strong. I personally do not like the competitiveness I’ve found in Berlin, with more than 20 crews doing more or less the same thing and everyone thinking they’re a pioneer. Nobody is a pioneer here; we still play tunes from 20 years ago!
07. Where and when did you record this mix?
I recorded this mix at home, which is where I’ve built my studio. I see the mix as a synthesis of what I’ve created during these hard times. Obviously I could not include all the tracks I’ve made, so I only chose the ones that represent me the most at the moment. It reflects the feelings I have had in the last few months.
08. What can we expect with it?
I would like you to not expect anything, rather just to listen with honesty without any critical approach. I think we should learn more how to listen without expectations and evaluations. I think that perhaps the mix leans towards a more clubby approach, because I simply miss playing music in clubs for people.
09. How did you go about choosing the tracks that you included?
I have a lot of unreleased material, but it is not always easy to include it in a mix because there are some tracks I just do not want to reveal. So I did not include them, because I prefer to play them only in clubs. Personally I have a specific story to tell with this recording, and only certain tracks are part of it. It does not mean they are better or worse, they just belong to this story.
10. What’s on your horizon this year?
I personally want to continue my own event, Superluminal X Discarded Gems, with my close friend Marco Pellegrino. The interruption caused by the pandemic made me sad. I spent the first month struggling to understand this break, and I suffered a lot even mentally because it meant a lot for me. I see that energy on the horizon and some glimpse of those morning lights we had there, so hopefully it will come back one day soon.
11. What are your long-term ambitions with music?
The most important thing for me is to work on my sound signature, and my identity. I’ve never cared so much about what others play and why; I believe in having your own sound and imprint. Of course I have my personal roots and inspirations but I believe in personal identity; sometimes it is easy to become trapped by others’ choices or taste, like being contaminated by the external world. We should not be afraid to develop our musical instincts, and sometimes we must question our choices in order to understand if they are spontaneous or absorbed from someone else just because they have a little bit more credit than us.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Introduction (Unreleased)
02. Matthias “Vanishing Forms” (Unreleased)
03. Matthias “Starving To Life” (Unreleased)
04. Matthias “Imagination” (Unreleased)
05. Matthias “Nikodemus” (Unreleased)
06. Matthias “Kalahari” (Unreleased)
07. Matthias “1991” (Unreleased)
08. Matthias “Detroit!?” (Unreleased)
09. Matthias “Placid” (Unreleased)
10. Matthias “Kissed By The Apocalypse” (Unreleased)
11. Matthias “Co Co Consciousness” (Unreleased)
10. Matthias “FM Train” (Unreleased)
11. Matthias “The Wisdom” (Unreleased)