The guest of our 36th Artist Mini mix needs no introduction. UK based producer mtbrd is one of the most soulful and groovy producers I've found in a while, so interviewing him was a really honour. Also, his mix is nothing short but happiness, which I bet you guys will enjoy. Tracklist can be found in the mini mix post.
Hey Mat! Thanks for being part of our mini mix / interview series. Could you share some random info about yourself?
My pleasure! Like you said, my name’s Mat and I’ve been making sample based beats under the moniker mtbrd for the past 4 or 5 years. A lot of people have been asking me how to pronounce mtbrd, and to be completely honest I don’t know.
How would you describe your mini mix in a sentence?
Bipolar, autumnal jazz-piano-based-beats.
How did you get into producing and what's your setup right now? Also, do you play any instruments and how important you think this is nowadays?
I got into production after messing around with Logic and Reason whilst studying music at college. I started making really terrible electronic music and trying to sound like Radiohead, and eventually started doing remixes for friends and bands I knew which ultimately led to making sample based beats.
My setup is pretty simple; a MacBook with Ableton, some really basic monitors and a Push 2.
I’ve played bass since I was 11 or 12, but I rarely incorporate it into my music.
I don’t think it’s necessarily important to be able to play an instrument in order to make music, but it helps. If you wanted to compose a piano concerto it would be a lot easier if you knew how to play the piano, but anyone with a good ear can scribble in a few notes on a midi piano roll and probably make something that resembles music.
I laughed a lot when I saw your twitter description. So, if you can't win friends with salad, how can you?
Good personal hygiene.
You recently released your album Smoovies. Loving the artwork and the vibe. How long did it take you recording it and where does the fruit motif comes from? Also, any interesting stories behind the track creation, like... how did that Flamingosis collab came about?
Smoovies is comprised of some of my favourite tracks from the past couple of years. I wanted to make something that reflected summer, hence the fruit theme with the artwork and the title Smoovies (as in fruit smoothies). Shoutout to Andrew Walker for doing such a great job with the artwork - he really nailed the 70’s aesthetic I was looking for.
As for the Flamingosis collab, we became aware of each other after we were both featured on one of the Keats Collective compilations a while back. He remixed one of my tunes and we began working on some tracks together which we never released. Fanfare was one of those tracks, and I ended up convincing him to let me put it on my album. Cool side-note about that one; the German Olympics team used it at the Rio Olympics this year.
I found your music thanks to Daily Bread's mini mix which opened with your beat "Phone Call". What's the story behind the beat? Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind fan, I assume?
Yeah, it’s a great film, and Jon Brion’s score is one of my favourites. My friends asked me to make some music for their wedding which ended up being a reworked version of Peer Pressure from the Eternal Sunshine score. Phone Call was something I made when I should have been working on that. It sat on my laptop for nearly 2 years before I uploaded it on SoundCloud and now I think it’s my most popular track on there.
I’m planning on doing a few more from the score, so keep an eye out for that.
Any tips for someone who just starts producing? Something you wish you knew 3/4 years ago.
Not my words, but I wish I had seen this quote from Ira Glass earlier:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
What's on your playlist right now? Any producers we should be checking out?
I don’t really do playlists. I like to listen to an album from start to finish, and it’s been a really great year for albums so far. Some of my favourites:
Anderson Paak - Malibu Explosions in the Sky - The Wilderness Samiyam - Animals Have Feelings Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best Kaytranada - 99.9%, 0.001% Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool James Blake - The Colour in Anything The Avalanches - Wildflower Letherette - EP3 Jordan Rakei - Cloak
Thanks for everything! Any last words of wisdom?
Cheers! Keep on keepin’ on.