We've had our eyes on Matt 'Deco' Rosenzeig for a few years now - check this feature mix he did for us back in 2011. We caught up with the Deceast Recordings label boss and general bass music badman on the eve of the release of his debut full length, TIMESCALES, out now on Deceast, to talk touring, location, and art...Take a look.
Percussion Lab: This album has a decidedly nostalgic vibe; given the state of dance music's popularity in the states, how important is it to highlight and honor where this culture comes from? As dance music becomes ever more mainstream, do you see any potential fallout from ignoring the past? Does EDM culture, which currently represents the mainstream dance sound, ignore or revere the past?
For me, the history of electronic music is both interesting and important. I try to honor my influences and where the culture comes from in my music. In the studio, I'm definitely influenced by electronic music from the 1990s like atmospheric drum & bass
and trip-hop. I also always keep a few classic tunes in rotation in my DJ sets, and I try to share my favorite old songs / producers / labels / etc via social media on a semi-regular basis.
As for how the past relates to what's going on in mainstream dance music right now, do I see potential fallout from ignoring the past? On a musical level, not really -- what's going on now seems to be successful partly because artists severed ties with the past and embraced a more pop sensibility rather than the underground, spotlight-shunning approach of past eras. I'm not too worried about that because there are plenty of people doing justice to the past outside of mainstream EDM. On a business and cultural level, I do think there's potential for fallout because things that grow this quickly have a tendency to be unsustainable unless they are managed well. I'm not sure how well the explosion is being managed right now, at least from a long-term perspective.
PL: Are you touring in support of the album, and if so, will there be a live component or will you be DJing? If yes, what's your touring setup?
Deco: I have a few dates lined up and I'm working on getting more booked for the remainder of the year and early 2014. When it comes to performing live I'm a DJ first and foremost. I love playing long sets and exploring a range of styles and BPMs in a given session. If anyone reading wants to work on doing a show in their city, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's see what's possible. Here are some upcoming dates:
I perform using Serato ScratchLIVE controlled via CDJs. I wish I could still reliably play vinyl at shows but over the last couple of years the chances for having working turntables set up properly has dropped to almost zero. It got to the point where I was showing up to gigs and discovering bent tonearms, missing ground wires, and non-isolated 1200s almost every time. I'm not a fan of having a laptop in the club but Serato gives me the ability to freestyle my sets in ways not possible with a book of CDs or a bag of records, so I run with it. I've played w/ the CDJ-2000s and used RekordBox to prep USB drives for use in the players, but I've had some reliability issues with the RekordBox software so I'm staying away for the time being.
PL: Do you prefer dj'ing or or producing? How do they influence each other?
Deco: I think I can honestly say that I love doing both pretty equally these days. I usually only play out a few times a month and I really enjoy DJing those gigs. I have the time between shows to have really fresh new music every time and spend time practicing mixes and getting to intimately know the tunes I play.
DJing and producing do have natural influence on one another for me. Sometimes I'll make music without a DJ in mind at all, something strictly for the listeners and not to be used as a tool in a performance. Other times I make music that is written with DJing in mind, and because of the arrangement with long intro's & outro's I don't think it would lend itself to a casual listener very well. DJing, and hearing the type of engineering that goes into DJ-oriented music, has definitely helped me step up my production standards big time.
What role does place - say, LA vs. Atlanta - play in your creativity? How important is physical proximity to a creative community? Aside from obvious connections like on 'Cali Trunk Rattle
,' is this record an 'LA' or 'West Coast' album?
Deco: Geography is a big part of my creativity, especially being in Los Angeles. There are both positive and negative aspects of being in LA and I try to bring some of that through on the record. 'Cali Trunk Rattle' is an upbeat celebration of the timeless West Coast / SoCal vibe for sure. On the flip side, a song like 'Carry Tears' was made at a time when I was feeling isolated and alienated in the crush of metro LA's 17 million inhabitants and the hyper-competitive electronic music community contained therein.
I still carry a lot of influences from coming of age in Atlanta but most of what I love about the city is in the past at this point. I just don't relate to most of the music the city is known for now. The Dungeon Family
era, Organized Noize Productions, the sound of Outkast albums like ATLiens
or Goodie Mob's Soul Food and Still Standing LPs -- that's the Atlanta sound I'm most inspired by.
Lastly, the influence London exerts on what I do can't be overstated. Most of what I make is traditionally considered UK music. I really enjoy filtering London / UK music through an American lens and trying to find the diasporic links connecting the two cultures.
In the end, Timescales is undoubtedly a West Coast album to me.
PL: What other producers and/or DJ's are you rating right now?
There are so many, with new names surfacing on an almost weekly basis. Locally, I think the next guy to break out of LA is going to be my buddy Mesck
-- he's a close collaborator on a lot of what I do with my label Deceast and he has completely nailed the dark, techy dubstep sound. Other people are finally taking notice and I think 2014 is going to be a big year for him. Elsewhere in the US, Deafblind
in Austin, TX is making fantastic sounds -- it's like Optical
started writing music at 140bpm. Outside of the US, the Innamind Recordings
crew are doing great things. We connected with them in LA on their recent tour of the States. Gantz, Thelem and Quantum Soul all have their own sound but they all fit together. Another UK crew to keep an eye on is Chord Marauders
, they are making really great, melodic bass music. Their guy B9 just released an awesome album and other artists like Geode and Congi are making music I really enjoy too. Lastly, one of my favorite albums this year was made by Author (Jack Sparrow & Ruckspin)
. It's called Forward Forever and it has been in heavy rotation with me since the Spring.
Outside of the music mentioned above that often makes it into my DJ sets, I love Calibre's new album Valentia
, released under his real name Dominick Martin.
PL: Does visual art inspire you or have any role in your creative process?
Deco: Big time. I've worked as a designer off and on since high school and I consider design to be one of those world-shaping forces that remains invisible a lot of the time. I try to make sure that any visual content associated with my music or the label matches up on an aesthetic level. A lot of the time it doesn't seem to boost interest or sales or anything, it's strictly because it's a fun part of the creative process for me. Mesck, who I mention above, is also a hardcore designer so we end up collaborating quite a bit on cover art, event flyers, and other design-oriented projects.
A sampling of my favorite recent discoveries in the design world:
- Matthew DiVito: By far the coolest animation / visual effects work I've seen lately. Check him out at http://mrdiv.tumblr.com
- Bot & Dolly: Their new technology is blowing minds, the demo video
sent my jaw straight to the floor.
PL: What's next on your plate?
I just wrapped a remix for my good friends Bro Safari and UFO! who released a collab album called Animal earlier this year. That should be seeing release sometime soon as a free download. I also contributed a track to the new SMOG City compilation on SMOG Records
which I believe is scheduled to drop in mid-November. I made a few new tracks before the album came out and once a good chunk of the album promo is done I'll be getting back in the studio to make sure I have lots of new material to play out in the coming months. I have a strong desire to do a new album in 2014 so hopefully I can get that project started in January / February when the days are short and I'm inclined to hermit-ize in the studio.
You can purchase TIMESCALES here