Subtempo Guest Mix 031
Matt emery is a UK composer and producer based in London and Surrey. His debut album 'Empire' was released in 2017 on Injazero Records receiving praise from the likes of BBC Radio 1, 6 Music, KEXP, XLR8R and Headphone Commute. Matt has since released a handful or EP's and Singles and produced remixes for Daigo Hanada, Hinako Omori, Sergio Diaz De Rojas and Ed Carlsen. His first headline show was a sold performance at St Pancras Old Church and has since performed at South Bank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall, Union Chapel being championed by Daylight Music and at Zorlu PSM in Istanbul as part of Neue! Step Festival with Peter Broderick and Nils Frahm.
Emery's music has been heard by millions across TV and Film. Working from his studio where he has composed custom score for short documentaries, Ads and Film Trailer's like the award winning 'Dawn Wall' and The Kindness Of Strangers'. His music has also been the soundtrack to companies such as Hugo Boss, GoPro, BBC and BT Sports.
Hi Matt. First of all, thanks for doing this mix and interview for us.
Hey Rocco, an absolute pleasure, thanks so much for having me.
I wanted to start by asking you about the mix. How, where, and when did you record it?
I compiled it all in my studio via Pro Tools but I have included birds singing at the beginning and end of the mix which I recorded on my long walks every weekend on Wimbledon Common.
Is there a theme for this mix?
I don’t know about the theme but you may notice when listening it’s a bit like a sandwich with a big filling of Electronica and Beats in the middle and the bread (first and final third) are a mix of emotional piano and orchestral based pieces.Matt Emery at a performance a while back at St Pancras Old Church in London. Photo Credit: Simon Weller.
It’s definitely a very emotive piece of music, with many moments and movements – cinematic. Tell me about how you went about selecting the tunes.
Yeah there’s a lot of emotive pieces in there, so I felt like it needed a small lift and change of pace in the middle. I’m always making playlists on my phone and normally keep monthly playlists of tracks I have purchased and discovered, so I scanned through those adding some of my favourite tracks from the last year along with some more nostalgic favourites such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Talkedemonic and Arcade Fire.
And you have recently released your ‘Spotlight Series: Cello’ EP on Injazero Records, congratulations! How’re you feeling about the release?
Thanks so much! Yeah really happy to be releasing it. This was a project I worked on from the start of the lockdown as I haven't been able to finish my second album with all the covid restrictions and not being able to have too many people all in the same room, so I wanted to work on something that I could record and release. It has been such a nice record to work on with 2 brilliant people; Fraser who is performing the whole EP and James Kenosha who produced it and who I’ve been working with for over a decade now on various projects. But it’s been really lovely to have some new music to put out to the world.
What does this EP symbolize for you as a composer? Why the spotlight on the cello?
I think for me this EP symbolises that you can write a whole record that you don’t actually have to perform on. Apart from a couple of bars of synth in ‘Battle Cry’ that I added, Fraser performs the whole record. I’ve loved the process of writing the music and then handing it over to be performed.London can be an extremely intense city, and perhaps that has something to do with the intensity of some of Matt's new music, but his catalogue draws on the reflective nature of the big metropolis as well. Photo Credit: Simon Weller.
I loved the idea of showcasing one instrument. I love the Cello and was an obvious go to instrument working with Fraser regularly both live and in the studio. I wrote the second track ‘Battle Cry’ a few years ago now for when Fraser and I perform live as a little showcase of his amazing playing and talent. From there I started writing a few more pieces all based around the cello but I liked the challenge of keeping it to one instrument and also delving into the versatility of the instrument.
The cover is also pretty intriguing. What’s the connection to the samurai culture?
I actually have the artwork as a big canvas on my studio wall and was really happy when I found out we could use it for the artwork for the EP. The whole EP follows the story of a Samurai Warrior going into battle and follows his journey from waiting to go into battle to his fateful death and rebirth into a new life in the closing track. So the EP subject and mood is quite intense in places which is why the titles are so dark.Daily walks keep this composer inspired. This is taken from the near by surroundings close to Matt's studio in Wimbledon.
And as I understand it, you composed all the music, and your friend and collaborator Fraser Bowles performed the pieces? Listening to this record, it definitely encapsulates an intensity of epic proportions. It holds you on your seat, like a good thriller. What sort of feelings were you trying to work through or convey here?
The whole EP serves a mini soundtrack and story of a Samurai going into battle as mentioned before. The opener Anxiety Mist kicks the EP off portraying warriors lined up ready to go into battle, and I tried to make that intense for a reason, it almost feels like it’s going to spiral out of control in places. I imagined warriors in a sea of mist and their hearts beating out of chests in anticipation. Battle Cry is frantic and quite aggressive which depicts a charge into battle. Raindrops and Blood Spurts is an image of the warriors fighting amongst the rain. Death Stare is like a slow motion intense duel with everything else fading other than the person locked in battle with. Bodies Become The Forest is a real sombre end of battle looking around at the sheer devastation left behind. And R For Rebirth ends on a lighter note bringing in new life. It’s probably not a record to put on at a party unless it’s the end of the night and you want people to leave..haha.
It’s very emotive… I guess strings will do that, especially the cello...
Yeah strings have the real power to cut deep, it also helps working with such a brilliant player as Fraser.The piano is Matt's first instrument, and perhaps his most beloved. There's plans to release future follow ups in this spotlight series that will focus on the piano. Photo Credit: Simon Weller.
If this is the spotlight on this particular instrument, will there be other spotlights on other instruments? I’ve loved your piano work for some time now, will there be a follow-up with a spotlight on our beloved instrument?
Thank you. Yes, it’s the start of an ongoing EP series. I have written towards quite a few more EP’s that focus on a variety of instruments and piano is definitely one of those.
I’m a big fan of Injazero and what they do. This is your 4th record with them. How did that connection come about? The founder is from Turkey, right?
Injazero has an amazing roster of artists. I think Siné discovered my track ‘Effervescent' via Fat Cat Records Demo page quite a few years back now when she was working there and she got in touch about working together and that must have been about 2016. We met up at Southbank Centre to chat and have released music together since then. And yes Siné is from Istanbul where I was over the moon to go and play at an Injazero showcase at Zorlu PSM at the end of 2019.
Besides composing you’ve also helped curate the lovely Contemplative Classical started by composer Michael Price and now directed by Mike Lazarev, who’s also behind the revered blog Headphone Commute. Are you still involved in some form?
Contemplative Classical has been an amazing hub and community for composers at all stages in their career. It was an amazing venture set up by Michael and I was so happy when Mike took the reins when Michael stood down. I’m still involved and run the Contemplative Podcast. The first series I got to chat some amazing composers such as Luke Howard, Joep Beving, Nainita Desai, Carly Paradis to name a few and we have a second series starting imminently, which kicks off with a chat with the lovely Hannah Peel.Some more snapshots from Matt Emery's daily walks.
You’ve been a key part of this resurgence of contemporary classical composers in London, along with Erased Tapes artists. The movement is so inspiring. Where do you see it presently at and evolving into?
That’s very kind, it’s nice to be considered amongst such inspiring artists. I think there is a wonderful community of artists worldwide writing new age classical-esque style music that seems to grow by the day. I think Spotify has probably had a big part to play in that especially with tracks revolving around the piano and the possibility of being included in playlists. I think people just need to keep pushing boundaries and breaking rules to make inspiring new music. I think there will always be an interest in something that sounds new or different. In this day and age it’s really hard to make something original or new sounding but I think that’s the key, to find your sound and keep adding, twisting, moulding and shaping it.
What else is brewing in the near future? Any collaborations or events that we should keep an eye out for that you’re involved with?
Hopefully there shall be some more new music this year. I’m working hard on the next Spotlight EP. I also have some Cello covers to look out for which will be something quite different. And I‘m reeeeally hoping to finish my second album.
Well, again, congrats on the beautiful new EP Matt! And thanks again for chatting with us about it and for sharing this interesting journey via your mix with us.
Thank you, big fan of Subtempo, it’s been an honour.
Matt Emery's 'Spotlight Series: Cello by Matt Emery' is his latest record, and is out now on Injazero. Support them by getting it here.
- Matt Emery – Anxiety Mist [Injazero]
- Ryuichi Sakamoto – Amore [Decca]
- Martin Grech - The Feeeling You Are Losing Everything [Self Release]
- Talkdemonic – Junesong [Tangled Up!]
- Robot Koch – Liquid [BMG]
- Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (continued) [Sony]
- Hannah Peel – Emergence In Nature [Sonde Music / Self Release]
- Kai Whiston – (Run It) [Lux]
- BPMoore – From All Who Came Before (Dominik Saltevski Remix) [Rhodium]
- Foam and Sand – Circle 14 [Trees and Cyborgs]
- Anna Phoebe – By The Sea [Self Released]
- Jim Perkins – Tribute [Lady Blunt]
- Ralph Heidel // Homo Ludos – Pictures (feat Josin) [Kryptox]
- Rutger Hoedemaekers – Not For That Hour, Not For That Place [130701/Fat Cat]
- Hania Rani – F Major [Gondwana]
- Matt Emery – Bodies Become The Forrest [Injazero]
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