TiD&B Interview: MatrixPosted by Lady V on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Fans of drum and bass who have been following the scene from the late-90s will be well acquainted with the name Metro Recordings. Headed up by Matrix, the label was home to some of his own earlier productions and also championed tunes from the likes of Optical, Cause4Concern and Fierce. Around 2005, output slowed down as Matrix concentrated his attentions on a variety of other projects, notably his successful collaboration with Futurebound. But now in 2012 and fifteen years after the imprint’s debut, Metro has returned, kick-starting it’s relaunch with a heavyweight release MTRR027 – Matrix and Chords ‘Hypnotize’/ Chords ‘Follow You’ which dropped last month. We had a chat with Metro’s main man Matrix, to find out more…
TiD&B: Metro is back – what inspired the relaunch of the label?
Matrix: Metro’s back simply because I have a lot of new music that I need to get out there. First and foremost, I set up Metro as a home for my own productions and in the last couple of years, I’ve been doing various things outside of drum and bass which didn’t fit the Metro mould – quite a lot of house productions on labels like Roger Sanchez’ Stealth Records and Anjunadeep – so Metro took a back seat for a while but it’s definitely back, leaner and meaner for 2012!
TiD&B: But over the last five years or so, you’ve still been putting out collaborative releases with Viper…
Matrix: Yes, as my D&B productions have mostly been collaborations with Futurebound, it was kind of natural for us to release that music as a joint Metro/Viper project and we’ll continue to do that with the next Matrix and Futurebound album and with the compilation series, ‘Worldwide’ which we started last year.
TiD&B: Are you looking to continue with the original Metro vibe that you became recognised for and really pushed in the late 90s, or does the relaunch signify a new sound and direction for the label?
Matrix: I’ll most definitely be drawing on some of those early Metro vibes but I’m always about trying to move forward and do things in a new way. My aim is to take the best from the early Metro stuff and put it together with what I’ve been doing more recently and create something different. Metro has always been about forward thinking electronic music that has a soul to it and doesn’t sound like it was made by a computer. That’s what I wanted to do when I started the label and is still my intention today.
TiD&B: Your first release of the year ‘Hypnotize’ is a collabo with Chords, who is still up-and-coming, how did you two hook up?
Matrix: Yes, Chords is pretty new on the scene. He had his first release last year on Hospital Records which was a remix of Cyantific’s ‘Don’t Follow’. He was actually a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition which is not your typical path into drum and bass! He’s seriously talented as a musician, not just on the technical production side of things and I think that’s really important – I think the best electronic music needs brilliant production but it also needs great musical ideas behind it and Chords has got both of those covered. You can certainly expect to hear more from him this year on Metro. There will be a single by him called ‘Video Soul’ coming out a bit later in the year and I’m going to get in the studio with him for another collaboration some time soon. Chords is definitely a name to watch.
Matrix & Chords ‘Hypnotize’
TiD&B: What else can we look forward to from Metro? Have you been wearing your A&R hat, scouting new talent recently?
Matrix: The next single is a collaboration between myself and InsideInfo called ‘Quattro’, along with a solo track from him called ‘Ice Beam’. ‘Quattro’ really captures some of the early Metro sound and has got a darker twist to it than a lot of my recent stuff – fans of the early Metro stuff are probably going to like this one.
Futurebound and I have also been working with a great new vocalist called Luke Bingham and our first track with him, called ‘All I Know’, will be coming out in the near future. It’s a good taster of what we’re doing on the new album. We’ve been starting our sets with it for the last couple of months and the reactions have been great so we can’t wait to get it out there and see what people think of it.
TiD&B: What’s it like working in the same industry as a sibling? Your brother is Optical and he’s repping strong with productions and of course Virus too – is there healthy competition between you two?
Matrix: Haha! Yeah we shared a studio for a good few years when we started out and we actually both released our first records in the same week. I guess we’ve always had some healthy brotherly competition but there’s definitely been a lot of occasions where he’s played me something new that he’s been working on and I’ve been in awe of it.
TiD&B: We also heard that the whole Metro back catalogue is now also available digitally – a lot of labels today opt to be strictly digital, will you be following suit or can we also expect vinyl releases too? From a label-head point-of-view and particularly as you began by distributing vinyl only, where do you stand on the vinyl vs. digital debate?
Matrix: Yes, all of our back catalogue is now available digitally, and we’re also releasing a 28-track compilation called ‘The Metro Collection’ which has all the best Metro tracks, past and present. As a DJ, I stopped playing vinyl about six years ago and I definitely prefer the flexibility of digital music. I’ll always have a certain nostalgia for vinyl and there was something really special about finally getting your hands on a record that you might have been hunting down for a few months, but for me, digital now makes so much more sense and also on a technical level, it actually sounds better in my opinion. Vinyl is always a compromise because you have a certain amount of distortion and other side effects, but with digital, the music sounds pretty much 100% the way we want it to when it leaves our studio.
TiD&B: Which 3 releases from the Metro back catalogue would you say were stand-out tracks in the label’s history?
Matrix & Fierce ‘Climate’ (2000)
This track came out in 2000 and it really encapsulates the early sound of Metro – a lot of techno influences but always with an organic quality to it as well. Minimal, quite dark and atmospheric. There was a bunch of us from West London all making stuff like this, including my brother Optical, Ed Rush, Trace, Ryme Tyme and Fierce and it was a really exciting time. There is also a Cause4Concern remix of ‘Climate’ which I still play all the time in my sets today.
Matrix & Danny J ‘Vertigo’ (2003)
In a way, this track was the start of a new direction for my productions and it laid the foundations for a lot of the music I’ve been making over the past five years or so because it was a fusion of big melodic elements and chord progressions with dancefloor energy and there wasn’t really much of that kind of thing going on in D&B at that point. Me and Danny J had been making some house records under the name Goldtrix and I think that had an influence on the Drum & Bass stuff that we were doing. I always like experimenting with different genres because I find it gives you a new angle on things when you come back and make D&B again.
Matrix & Futurebound feat. Louis Smith ‘Coast 2 Coast’ (2007)
This was one of the tracks that put me and Futurebound on the map as a duo and it was the start of a really great partnership that’s still going strong today. It got a lot of attention from people both in and outside the D&B scene with DJs like Annie Mac and Pete Tong playing it and it helped to set the tone for our first album ‘Universal Truth’. We’re currently working hard on the next Matrix and Futurebound album which will be coming out later this year.
TiD&B: And finally, being a just over a month into 2012 – where are you at with your New Year resolutions? Did you make any and have you stuck to them?
Matrix: More studio time and less smoking… so far so good!