Ahead of tomorrow night’s Christmas knees up at Dalston Superstore, Matty J & Ben Terry took time to chat to ReviveHer head honcho & resident Bi-Bop. Talking all things Nuphonic, production, The Pool’s roster and musical ying & yang…
Hi guys, maybe we can begin with more info for our younger cohorts about the life of Nuphonic. Matty, how did you start there and what in short was Nuphonic all about?
Matty: Things started at Nuphonic just by calling them up and asking for work experience really. Nuphonic was Sav Remzi & Dave Hill’s label, which ran from 1995 to 2002. They had a great way of looking backwards and forwards at the same time, which just did something for me. Also sonically it really opened my ears. I felt they were one of the best in the business at that time, so to work with them, all be it towards the end of their rein was incredibly lucky.
For those who don’t know the label I strongly suggest a visit: Faze Action, Pepe Braddock, Groove Armada, Block 16, Bill Brewster, Fenomenon, Idjut Boys, Blaze, Fuzz Against Junk, Black Jazz Chronicles, Rainer Truby, Rollercone, Andrew Weatherall, Adam Goldstone, Justin Robertson, Subway, Ladyvip (Maurice Fulton), Playgroup, Tiny Trendies, DJ Harvey, David Mancuso, ESG, Cinematic Orchestra, Norman & Joey Jay, Femi Kuti, Jon Lucien, Fug, Roy Davis Jr… etc etc etc.
I think the biogs say the label was rooted in soul, in all its many forms, which is a nice summation. Nuphonic was also a production company, which continued until 2007 running events (London Xpress) an award winning XFM radio show, a DJ Agency and programming Festival arenas for various clients and brands. Sav & Dave also owned and ran a bar called The Bridge & Tunnel in Shoreditch. I think they had one of the first Funktion One systems in the country.
I worked for MRC and did all the promo side for TIRK. TIRK’s described as an imprint of Nuphonic, in what way was this established?
Matty: It was set up by Sav Remzi who was 50% of Nuphonic. We nagged him for a long time to do a label again after Nuphonic. Sav’s got amazing ears and knowledge of sound, he ran The Blue Note in Hoxton from 1993 – 1996 which was really a pre-curser to somewhere like Fabric. Trevor Jackson and Rob from Output always joked there should be a statue of him in the middle of Hoxton Square, and they are not wrong!
Are you still involved with TIRK today?
Matty: Yes we still run some events for them and DJ under the Tirk banner. We also have a few of the acts that release with them on the roster. Sav is still A&R for the label, but he sold the nuts and bolts of it to MRC around the time I left to set up the DJ Agency on my own.
After you left Nuphonic, you formed The Agency. Was this just the DJ agency side of Nuphonic, or your first independently managed agency? Was there any other musical activity in between?
Matty: At Nuphonic the agency there was called Nuphonic Agency, everyone refered to it as that, when I left I just dropped the Nuphonic bit. Then after a few years and a strange legal letter in the post that I won’t go into, I switched things up to The Pool.
Ali Warm was also at Nuphonic right? So did you basically take one part of the roster and he the other? Did anyone else we might recognize or have heard of work at Nuphonic?
Matty: Ali was at Nuphonic before me, I arrived just after he left to set-up Warm with Jazzanova and some of the Sonar Kollective crew I think. When I was at Nuphonic the bookers were James Hillard (Horse Meat Disco) and Billie Jean De Voil. James left to run HMD full time and around that time was mainly booking Optimo, Maurice Fulton and Mu. Then Billie went off to work with 55 DSL. So basically I kept the ship floating when they both left and then eventually set out on my own. Gavin Fraser was also at Nuphonic in those days & he went on to work for Dr Bob Jones at Chillifunk ,Harmless and I think he’s now at Ministry Of Sound.
Who were the big hitters back then at Nuphonic and what are your most favourable memories?
Matty: Billie booked Trevor Jackson for a long time so that was exciting, and also Black Strobe. She taught me a lot: We shared an office with Output & had some amazing times with those guys. That office was at the centre of the Shoreditch apex in those days. Personally I did a couple of bookings for Tom Findlay which was a good early learning curve.
We booked Carl Craig for a London Xpress which Ali warmed up at actually, along with Ross Allen whom I remember dropping Britney Spears! I was very close to Joey Jay for a good few years until he went to Africa, while Simon Haggis from Whistlebump I always felt was one of the best DJs of that time, his parties were out of this world. Him and the Strut crew of course were big influences.
Simon Lee from Faze Action was always a pleasure to work with. We used to book the Dance Music tents for V Festival which was always a serious giggle, driving a golf buggy with Adam Freeland ‘surfing’ on the roof comes to mind. Once we had the Scissor Sisters DJ in our tent (just before they were playing live on the main stage). They told the whole crowd to come over to our dance tent after the gig for a party. Fair to say it was beyond a roadblock!
I also booked Adam Goldstone at The Social which was amazing. I had to block the DJ booth while he played so nobody would disturb him, quite an honor.
Finally our TDK cross central session was also a highlight, how about this one for a line up: Carl Craig doing Detroit Experiment Live, Derrick May, Gilles, Unabombers, Idjuts, Richard Sen etc. The day before was Maurice, Greg, Joey Jay, Dr Bob, Johnny Chandler etc. Amazing times.
So, the Pool London is the latest agency. Still with the bulk of “The Agency’s” roster, who are the new additions to the roster and is there anyone else exciting lined up to join The Pool?
Matty: Its changed quite a bit since Nuphonic days. I bought Greg Wilson, Todd Terje and Rub N Tug in early on. Greg I heard in Liverpool as I used to DJ for the Chibuku Shake Shake crew up there a lot, then we hooked up again at The Loft in London. I gave some of his edits to Sav which went on to become the first Credit To The Edit release. Chibuku was set up by Will Jameson who came from the same town in Somerset as me. He was another mentor of mine & now runs a festival in Malawi called Lake Of Stars which is without doubt, the best festival on the planet.
He basically went to the furthest most beautiful but also poorest part of the world and threw a party. Not just for anyone that wanted to fly in, but also with the locals. He’s like Bob Geldof and Michael Eavis in one. And prior to that he moved Liverpool’s clubbing musical palette from Cream big room house to a much more eclectic approach. The Masque in those days was off the hook. He’s no Joke.
Where do you feel music heading in 2012?
Matty: Yikes. Into the hands of David Guetta!? I liked something said on the radio this year about it feeling like ‘year zero for music’. I do feel at the moment like everything is mashing up into itself like some post-post-modern apocalyptic vision of the future. But I’m sure that’s what the previous generation thought, it all goes round and round that’s the magic.
A lot of your artists have been flying the flag for timeless music such as ‘proper’ house and various assortments of disco and 4/4 beats for well over a decade. Do you feel the need to cash in on the latest DJ in the newest sub genre of music, like many smaller agencies have done this year?
Matty: Ouch. Appreciate the sentiment. Dance music moves fast and changes quickly with each new crowd getting into it, so you can’t blame bookers or promoters or labels for moving with the latest trends. Often it’s about survival in a business sense anyway. I do have a slightly different approach though I guess. Sometimes it bites me on the axs but 99% of the time it makes total sense. Either way I try to stick to my guns and if people feel the vibrations, great. I always felt if you’re working in music it’s your job to take risks. If I wanted to be a milkman I would have been one.
The engine that lies behind the surface of some of the names and faces you see on the line-ups year in year out can be quite brutal so you have to know where you’re coming from and where you’re going. I try to always make choices based on the music and then the people behind the music in that order, I feel that everything else follows that. In regards the musical style there is one Nuphonic track that sums it up best for me ‘The Art Of Being Inbetween’ by Fuzz Against Junk: the title kind of says it all, it’s a classic.
The most exciting news this year was to be taking dates for DJ Harvey. How did you get to represent the much anticipated return of the legend himself.
The Pool: If I told you I would have to kill you.
How has it been looking after Harvey. Has he caused any trouble yet? Can you enlighten us about any antics or crazy stories?
Matty: We got told off for talking too much on quiet coach of a train from Paris to Sete, does that count? I won’t mention the fight in the DJ booth in Pescara. No but seriously working with Harvey and Heidi is an honor. Harvey for me is one of the figureheads for this whole scene. I could go on for hours but to say he’s a musical hero of mine gives you the basics.
Can you shed any light on the much hyped UK debut of his return? Dates, potential promoters etc?
Matty: Top secret. But if you want him to come play for you in 2012 it’s safe to say, now is the time to write to us…
Is there any time or opportunity to see a Matty J / Ben Terry production make the light of day?
Matty: Crikey, well I played guitar and piano badly for a while as a kid. Not sure what Ben can play, but maybe. I did used to play in a band for a while, we didn’t last long… ‘baggy’ I think would describe us at that time.
Ben: Stranger things have happened (although not many) there are a few of my edits floating around actually, but they are really just things I’ve made to play out.
Have you had the chance or thought to learn off any of your amazing production talents of your roster over the years?
Ben: If we had the time I’m sure we could try to lock Terje or Greg in the studio for a masterclass, but unfortunately we haven’t managed it yet.
You’ve been DJing with Matty for over 5 years now, having taken in festivals and your own long running residency at The Social. Is there some unspoken symbiotic relationship and understanding between the music you play or do you feel that you differ musically in terms of DJing?
Matty: Ben is the bottom end I’m the mids and tops.
Ben: haha, yeah I do think playing together and especially back to back can take some getting used to, and its often harder than it looks, but I like the fact we play fairly different records and it avoids things getting too linear. One of my pet hates actually is DJ’s who seem afraid to deviate by more than a couple of bpm during the night!
Describe each other’s styles.
Matty: I’m erratic as hell, Ben is very disciplined. Yin and Yang.
Ben: I would say it’s the other way round, especially after a few wines…
And each other’s flaws?
Ben: far too numerous to mention, but we have fun.
How did you meet Matty and how have things changed since you met? You seemed to have formed a formidable agency and DJ partnership in a relatively short space of time.
Ben: I get asked that all the time, can’t actually remember the specifics! but I think it might have been at a party at AKA (when The End was still running) Found we had similar taste in fairly camp disco records, and the rest is history, albeit a bit hazy.
Who do you think has been putting out the most credible music in 2011. Do you have a favourite track from the year?
Ben: I like what I like, not sure it’s ever been ‘credible’. This year, I’m biased but Todd Terje – ‘Inspector Norse’ is mine. First heard it from some crappy macbook speakers in Ibiza, sounded immense, still does. Constantly being asked what it is when I’m playing it out.
Label of the year?
Matty J: Gerd Janson does it for me everytime.
Ben: Yeah Running Back are doing it right, L.I.E.S stuff is really interesting, and Golf Channel too, if you can find the bloody things.
Who should we look out for next year?
Ben: From the roster, definitely excited about Beautiful Swimmers in 2012. Also Tom & Bonar’s new stuff that i’ve heard is heavy & they will be everywhere next year i’d say…
Matty: PBR Streetgang and The KDMS are our latest signings, both ones to watch. Kathy Diamond from The KDMS is singing for us at Superstore, she’s a heavy talent. We’ve also just been asked to do some UK booking work for Tiago whom is making some incredible next level stuff.
Who is guaranteed to kill it every time from The Pool and why?
Ben: All of them. The quality control is set to 11!
Any forthcoming festivals or exciting gigs coming up for next year?
Matty: Robert Needham joined The Pool team this year from deepest Newport. He’s doing these DirtyTalk events in Bristol that are musically mind blowing. Harvey’s return to the UK, We Love in Ibiza and The Garden Festival in Croatia to name but a handful. On a personal tip I just got tickets for The Roses in Manchester, The Olympics will be an incredible time for London. Just sorting a little experiment for NYE as well.
Ben: couple of other things in the pipeline from further afield, which will hopefully come to light soon…
For any burgeoning kids out there who are looking to set up their own DJ agency, do you have any vital advice to give them?
The Pool: Don’t do it!
Finally 10 things you’re saying YES to at the moment?
The Pool: Xmas Radio Times, Fire, Dr Seuss, NYE, The Shortest Day, Miniature Daschunds, Inspector Norse, Caribbean January’s, Toddlers,
And 10 things you’re saying NO to at the moment?
The Pool: Gilles leaving Radio 1, Winter Flu, Austerity Measures, Christmas Shopping, Not being able to stop time, Toddlers, Mr Cameron, Tax Returns, Funky House under a new name, Broken PS3
Well thanks guys and we really look forward to the Pool Reviving the festivities down at Dalston Superstore this Friday. See you there!
TAGSDalston Superstore, Matty J & Ben Terry, Nuphonic, Output, ReviveHER, Sav Remzi, The Pool, Tirk