Since 2013, the ROAM team has raised the bar for DC’s underground event circuit by bringing solid international headliners to unconventional spaces. Next month on May 20th, ROAM is headlined by the extraordinary techno producer Matrixxman. A favorite among the Blisspop writing team, Matrixxman has produced matte black cybernetic club tools for Spectral Sound, Delft, Unknown To The Unknown, and most recently Amsterdam powerhouse Dekmantel. Ahead of his appearance at ROAM, we got to chat with Matrixxman about the DC club scene of the 90’s, analog hardware, and his upcoming releases.
Thank you for talking with us! I wanted to start with a question about the DC area since you grew up in Arlington. Did you go out to electronic music events in DC during your teen years? Were there any standout DJs or spaces that you remember?
Yes. I used to frequent Buzz (among other parties) around DC during the mid to late 90s. I had an interest in drum & bass at the time and there was no lack of proper raves going on. My musical taste gradually shifted towards techno and house over time but it all basically started out with those first parties I went to. They were crucial experiences at an impressionable time in my life.
The first music I heard from you was as part of your project 5kinandbone5. How did this collaboration come about? There is a Virginia connection between you and your 5kinandbone5 partner Paavo Steinkamp, correct?
Although that particular project is suspended indefinitely in cryostasis, Paavo is one of my best friends on the planet. We developed a serious passion for music as we both started raving at the same time. Back in the day Buzz would have these crazy annual parties called “Supersting” and they were phenomenal. On one of those occasions we rolled our faces off and got so inspired that we made a pact to pursue music making earnestly. That was about 20 years ago.
One of your breakout release runs are the first two white label 12″‘s on Stamp Records. Were these recorded with the intention of them being a white label? What was your reaction to the attention these records received?
These were simply deep house explorations without any intention really. I don’t usually play house these days and even at the time those were made, neither Vin nor I would actually play that kind of stuff out in clubs. It’s too chill and would put most people to sleep if I’m honest. When I first started off in the states, I hadn’t seen a proper techno party ever because they weren’t terribly popular for many years. House was a nice point of entry as it was a more accessible scene initially but as soon as I discovered I could play full on techno parties in Europe, I set my sights on that and haven’t looked back since.
For me, a striking thing about your music is its ability to reference classic drum machine sounds but frame them in a very contemporary way. Can you walk us through some of the more vital instruments you use when you produce?
Thank you. I would say the most important instruments I have used are the Roland TR-909 and TR-808. The newer virtual analog stuff simply doesn’t hold up to the rawness of the original analog machines in my opinion. Although I get it; if you’re young and perhaps strapped for cash then the new gear options are much more appealing. For me personally however the old gear played an integral role in most of my tracks. To each their own, I suppose.
Finally, your latest release is the second installment in the Sector series for Dekmantel. What can we expect with the third Sector EP? Are you at work on music that will follow the end of the series?
I am wrapping up a bunch of new music, some of which is designated for the next Dekmantel release. You can expect the unexpected 😉 I also have other stuff coming out like an EP on Henning Baer’s label Manhigh in addition to a collaborative EP with my friend Setaoc Mass. There are a few other things on the horizon as well but I can’t discuss them just yet 🙂