KC-based beatmaker, Dan Matic, repeatedly referred to his music as “obnoxious” throughout this interview recently conducted at his home in Westport KCMO. I think he meant it in a good way, but when I personally think of the word obnoxious to describe current, “gritty” beats, I think of the most popular dubstep tracks out that people who otherwise like trance can actually get into. With that being said, Dan Matic’s beats bang hard enough to jolt your average Tiesto fan out of their dreams of a new In Search of Sunrise mix with a horrified look on their face, perhaps peeping through the window curtains asking themselves, “What the hell was that?” Or perhaps those are exactly the kind of people who should just keep sleeping.
Sure, I went through a phase where I was loading up my hard-drive with dubstep tunes that I’d rather forget about. As I’ve mulled it over more lately, Murderbot may just be some kind of prophet as he titled one of his mixes from last year “A Farewell To Dubstep.” He saw that shit coming a mile away. Seriously, is it even cool to say that you listen to dubstep on 4/20/11? If Spider Bigger (KC) only knew what dubstep sounded like in 2011, he’d probably jump off a bridge. His old DJ partner, Daylight Robber, recently described the current dubstep sound to me as “a bunch of obnoxious noise” when I visited him at Zebedee’s RPM in Midtown a while back.
Dan Matic doesn’t make dubstep. But his tracks do go pretty damn tough (check his soundcloud HERE and drop a comment). Raw, unquantized, unrepetitive (gasp!) electronic beats generally at a hip hop tempo, with few live vocals in favor of well-executed sampled vocal chops only begin to describe his spacious sound. In this interview, the 27 year-old grimey-beat-guru speaks upon how he makes his own music, his friendship with Leonard DStroy, his opinion on what graffiti writers are listening to in 2011, the right situations to listen to dubstep and tons more. You can catch Dan Matic performing beats with Spinstyles and Lazer Sword this Thursday night at the Conspiracy Room of the Uptown Theater in KCMO.
Chris Mills: What drives you as an artist? What’s the root of your influence? What might happen in a given day to where you might get inspired to sit down and make a beat?
Dan Matic: Realistically, I just love to create. Whether I’m waking up or going to bed or whatever, I have all these ideas running through my head. And I just want to find a way, an avenue so I can just put them out there. No matter if I’m working on a print or if I’m working on some type of canvas or on a sound or whatever, I just love to create. I try to surround myself with people that are on the same level as me as far as wanting to create and have the same outlook on things that I do. That’s what pretty much drives me is my peers and myself and what’s inside of my head. I listen to things and I hear things that (make me) want to figure out how someone does something. Or if I hear a sound I’m like, how the fuck did they make that sound? That’ll motivate me to try to figure out how to make that sound or see if I can make that sound. If I hear someone doing it, I’m not trying to take their sound. I’m trying to incorporate the sound that they have cuz everyone has the same tools. I mean everyone’s gonna end up with something that might sound like somebody else’s, unless they’re doing something that’s brand new and no one does…I mean, I’m sorry, no one does something that’s brand new. So I just try to figure out a way that I can get that and incorporate it with what I’m already doing. And then when I do that it comes out as something that’s new to me, and might be new to my peers.
CM: A lot of your song titles are kind of bugged out. What’s the reasoning behind them?
DM: Whatever I’m doing at the time or thinking at the time, I try to incorporate that into my titles. I’m reading a lot of Sun Ra quotes and I read a lot of just crazy, out there books. I’ll see something from a book and I’ll see how that incorporates and falls into my life at the time and I’ll just name a beat after it. Or if I’m just out with my friends, kicking it and having a good time, and someone will say something crazy funny and I’m like, that’s the name of a track.
CM: What producers have you looked up to in the past who might have paved the way for your style a little bit?
DM: Of course, everyone always says J Dilla and of course, he’s dope. He’s one of my favs. The dude I’m really feeling right now is Jnerio Jarel . He goes under a bunch of different aliases like Dr. Who Dat. I like a lot of Samiyam. I like a lot of Fly Lo (Flying Lotus). I like a lot of Slum Gullion. Shit, Madlib. I like Lenny D. I like my peers, AL PD, Bmoody, J Schlock. Those are the current beat-makers that I like. And then there’s the shit that I was getting into in college and high school. The Timbalands and the motherfuckin Premiers and Pete Rocks and 9th Wonder. I think he’s one of the illest, the way that he chops his samples. No one can fuck with him. The list could just keep going on. This dude Sean Jackson, this dude from Connecticut, really dope producer. I got into him and Teebs. There’s a lot of people that do dope shit. Shafiq Husayn? That dude is really fuckin dope.
CM: Who is Footclan? When and how did the group form?
DM: Footclan consists of myself, Bmoody, J Schlock and AL PD. We always had talked about (this project), because we all met when we were in school. AL’s originally from Cleveland. James is from the Ozarks I believe, like the middle of Missouri. Patrick’s the only one from Kansas City and I’m from St. Louis. We all went to school together. Myself, AL and James both graduated at the same time. Moody graduated a year after us. We started making beats together and just geeking out, listening to other people’s beats and we just made beats in AL’s apartment, or in my old apartment. Then they moved away, got jobs. I got a job. Patrick got a job and got married. We just came up with the idea one day. Patrick and I were sitting around at my old place and we were like, Footclan all day. And we were watching Ninja Turtles. We just came up with this name and it just stuck. Since then we’ve just been putting music out there and people have been listening to it, and I guess accepting it and liking it because it‘s like your off-kilter hip hop with a little bit of glitch with a little bit of soul with a little bit of everything. It’s electronic…wonkyness. It just came to be like that. We’re just a bunch of friends that love to create together.
CM: How do you make your music, if you could use layman’s terms?
DM: I start with the record. I sample the record. Then from there, I build up around that and all these different layers of samples and stuff. Or I start from the synthesizer and from the synth I build up all around it. I usually start with one bass thing and that sparks an idea in my head and I just go with it. Or sometimes I have an idea and I go make that sound. A lot of times, I can’t find the actual sounds that I want on the record, so I have to either put the record through some type of filter and those effects so I can get those sounds or I just sit down and create the sound from scratch. Just using the synths and shit. Then from there I just make a beat.
CM: How would you describe your music to someone who’s making similar music? You can be as technical and wordy as you want…
DM: See, I was just gonna be real vague. Just heavy! Heavy, obnoxious bass music. That’s it. If I’m making electronic dancey shit, if I’m making hip hop shit, or whatever, it’s always gonna be heavy. I just always want heavy, bassy music. Rather than sample-based, synth-based, I just want bassy, bouncy music. With nice, strong drums, crispy snares, heavy bass and just ill vocal sample chops. I’m kinda getting into this 8-bit shit, too. I’ve been in that for a while. I used to sample a lot of my 8-bit sounds. Now I’m just making them on the synthesizers and keyboards that I have.
CM: What do you think is the best setting for someone to listen to your beats in? Is it headphone music? Is it driving music? Is it club music, or what?
DM: It all depends. If you’re listening to my solo album (Infinite Stares) I’d say listen to that in your headphones because it takes you on a trip. And if you’re listening to the Ampex Frequency shit, that’s like some party shit. If you’re listening to the Footclan Volume 1 shit, that’s a setting where you can just be sitting down with your peoples and just talking. It just all depends, I try to make music for all situations.
CM: Do you think there are elements of your music that would be better appreciated by the listener in headphones, subs or a DJ rig, for instance?
DM: I think when you’re listening to things in your headphones it’s more intimate. That would be some more of the laidback stuff that’s not as heavy or as obnoxious as the shit that I usually make. As long as your listening to it where you can hear everything because I like to put in a wide range of crazy little sounds here and there and I like to pan shit out weird and I like to have shit come in one time and then drop out. It’s about the speakers that you’re listening on and as long as they have a good range, I think it’s gonna work.
CM: Speaking of Lenny D, what do you think about the way that his musical direction has gone and how important do you think the live performance aspect of being able to knock out beats live to a crowd is? Do you see yourself getting more into the live performance side of music?
DM: I’m really good friends with (Lenny D). I guess back in like ‘07 or ‘08, I would always get these fuckin jump drives filled up with just crazy, progressive beats and I was getting them from him. I saw him progress. I was like, shit I want to progress also. So I started making the shit that I liked to listen to and I saw that he was building and making a lot of his sounds and I was like, fuck I’m gonna try that shit, too. So I did it, and I came up with my own little style. I think where he’s going with his music now is dope…as fuck. His live sets are dope. I remember, it was a day last summer he came over to my crib before he bought his (SP-404) and I had mine for like four months and he was like, what the fuck is this? And I’m like, that’s the shit right there. That’s the future. He fucked around with it for like 10 minutes and he’s like, I gotta get one. He went home and seriously within the next two weeks this motherfucker calls and he’s like, I got an SP. I’m like, son of a bitch! He got the version that’s better than mine. He just crushes shit. I think as far as live sets go, it’s way cooler to see people banging shit out on hardware, as opposed to having a laptop in front of them. You don’t know what the fuck the motherfucker’s doing behind the laptop. For all you know they could just be clicking that shit on the laptop one time, not twisting any knobs, not pushing no other buttons. Hardware sets are where it’s at in my opinion. I think people need to get up on that because everybody else is up on it already, or they’re getting up on it, so why should the motherfuckers in Kansas City not be up on it too? I’m doing a lot more shit live. When I make my beats, I make them live. I don’t loop shit. I don’t use quantization. If I make a beat that’s two minutes long, I play out the fuckin two minutes of everything, from the samples chops to the bassline to the drums to the high hats to the weird LFO sounds that you hear…I play all that shit out. If you can do that in your studio, why can’t you elevate that shit and take it out to the people? I’m trying to start up this Kansas City beat collective, kinda like the Footclan. It’s just all Kansas City cats that make progressive beats.
CM: You’ve got over 400 comments on your soundcloud page. I don’t think a lot of other producers in KC can say the same. How do you feel about that and where are all of these new listeners coming from?
DM: Most of them are from Europe. Or they’re from the fuckin coast. They’re just up on the same type of music that we’re doing because they’re on the same type of shit that people around the world are doing. I don’t understand why people in Kansas City aren’t up on it. I like dubstep and all that, but it’s like, damn what’s next? And this is the next thing. Anybody can make their lows wobble and womp. But how about trying to make little things in your mids and all that womp. You have to listen to that shit on big speakers, you have to be fucked up, it has to be late night. Nine out of ten times, if you’re with some female they’re gonna be like, why the fuck are you listening to this? This is not going anywhere. Once I heard progressive music and saw where it was going, I guess I jumped on the bandwagon back in like ‘07. I don’t really get on soundcloud that much. I don’t really follow that many people, but I have a bunch of people following me and I guess it’s all because of the shit that I’m doing in my studio and the time I take to craft these beats. I appreciate people taking the time to listen to my music. I don’t know what else to say, I’m just hyped on it.
CM: How did you and Bmoody collaborate on the MoodyMatic EP, Ampex Frequency?
DM: The way that me and Moody have been doing tracks together, it’s the same way we started. We would just meet up either at his house or my house. All the Bmoody tracks that we did on the Footclan shit, we made at his old spot using his equipment. All the shit on the Ampex Frequency was used on my equipment. All the shit that we did with the Footclan shit, we had two or three tracks that we did together. Either he would chop some samples or I would chop some samples, then the other one would do the drums or someone would come in and do the synth line and then after we got all the beats ready and all that, I ran them through my SP-404 and tweaked them out, glitched them out, whatever the fuck you wanna call it. And then we just put it out. For the most part, I did sample chops, Patrick did some drums, I would do some synths, he would lay some synths on top of it. I would add some vocal drops. He would add some actual drops and we would just make it together. I wouldn’t try to finish anything while he was there. We just have some crazy process while we make our shit.
CM: Do you care to talk about graffiti at all?
DM: Yeah, we can talk about it.
CM: I’m trying to not blanket all graffiti artists, but what do you think most graffiti writers were listening to 10-15 years ago and what do you think most of them are listening to now?
DM: Ten or fifteen years ago they were probably listening to hardcore and hip hop, for sure. When I say hardcore, I’m talking about hardcore metal, hardcore punk. And when I say hip hop, I’m talking about just straight, underground hip hop. Nowadays, they’re listening to progressive music. That’s a very vague statement when I say progressive music. But just anything that’s trying to push the barriers and the limits of what’s already been done. Anything from the Ras G to the Fly Los to the Sam I Ams to the PUDGEs to the Jnerio on down to all the garage punk bands that travel around and do shows for like two dollars and a case of PBR and shit like that. I listen to everything from garage punk to straight beat music, and everything in between. I used to write graffiti a lot, I just don’t do it that much anymore. I guess I outgrew it in the sense that…I’ll still go rock a wall. I just don’t want to go out and tag on people’s shit. I grew up. Even when I was going out tagging on people’s shit, I had rules about it. There’s rules that every graff writer has to follow. I guess I just got tired of living that lifestyle for a while. But I still go paint, and I still paint walls legally. I just don’t do that much illegal shit anymore. It’s not worth it.
CM: Anything else?
DM: Footclan, all day. Outerpeoples, all day. Be on the lookout for future shits and sounds that we create. That’s about it. Get your antennas up. Get them up in the air. The sounds are coming. And that’s about it.