Photo: Jack Day (Matt Karmil)
Matt Karmil has been incredibly busy in the past three years. In fact, after kicking off his solo career in 2013, he has released seven EPs and three albums, two of which came out this year alone. Perhaps that’s both effective time management and the just right measure of spontaneity. After all, he recorded his contribution to the Groove podcast in bed one, mixing in tunes that arrived in his inbox the very day. Read our interview with Matt Karmil and listen to his mix below.
You have released four EPs last year and followed that up with two albums already this year, which made me wonder how you work as a producer. Do you already have a release in mind when you go into the studio or are your compositions rather based on improvisations, jamming and experimentation?
I let ideas float around for a long time. Some just in my head, some as sketches – there is a lot of jamming and improvisation, but then comes a strict and methodical part of the work flow, when i collect these different ideas together. I’ll then start to complete, edit and refine them. Sometimes it will take me a few attempts at an idea to really find a version I am happy with – and a lot of times I will sample, or layer my ideas together. I’ll try some elements of tunes in clubs, and mix different kinds of beats in with them, to see how people react or how they make me feel in different environments.
2014’s —- and this year’s ++++ seem to be linked, according to their titles. Could you explain the ideas behind both albums and how they are connected?
–—— and ++++ are certainly connected in some way, quite strictly adhering to a certain pallet of sounds and techniques – and very introspective and explorative, they are both very personal expressions of things that have happened to me in the last few years.
Idle Hands, on which you released IDLE033, described your music to be sitting between Dance music and Ambient, calling it “music for modern times”. Would you subscribe to that? And if so, what kind of music exactly do those modern times demand and why?
I’m not sure it’s my most futuristic record, but I guess i try to make music that sounds like it is made now. I think music and technology are so linked, for example the evolution of instruments, then obviously the ability to notate, then record – so it follows that the ubiquitous tools of Ableton and laptops have a big effect on music. Our access to music is so complete that I think we can produce very specialist, or niche music and it can still find an audience. For me sampling, and reflecting environments is very important – I think IDLE033 is my most “modern” record in terms of that, at least. There are lots of field recordings from traveling and different places that mean a lot to me.
Today marks the release of Joe Ashworth’s Lost EP, to which you have contributed a remix. What is your approach when you are doing a remix – generally speaking and in this specific case?
When I’m asked to do a remix I usually ask for the stems of individual elements straight away. I have to like the tune to start with, or at least understand where the people making it are coming from. I then usually scour through the individual elements and see if there js one that really grabs and resonates with me. I really try to interpret some melodic aspect from the original and make kind of a cover version. That was certainly the case with the Talaboman remix for example. In the case of “Lost” by Ashworth I was hooked in by the glassy psychedelic sounds. I knew immediately how I could get some of my vibe into it, whilst still clearly being his composition. If there isn’t enough of an idea for me to latch onto in a tune, I can’t really do a remix, as I find it a bit forced that way. It has to BE that tune still.
Your Groove mix also includes two remixes you have done, one for Neneh Cherry and the other one for the Japanese producer Lycoriscoris. How did both of them come about?
The Neneh mix came about as we have known each other for years. I totally fell in love with the tune “422” on her record, and am a big fan of RocketNumberNine too – When i heard it I knew immediately how I could work the melody into something that would work in my DJ sets, and also punctuate it with this small snippet of her vocal. I’m really very proud of that one and it was very well received by both her and Tom and Ben. The Lycoriscoris remix came about again through knowing Denis, who runs Kx. When i got the elements through I was blown away at all these tones. It took me a long time to get it into some kind of shape, simply because it was hard to chose from all these amazing sounds.
Was there a specific idea you had in mind for this mix?
Yes, indeed! Both from the tune selection, and the actual method I used, I wanted to make something very relaxed and natural. I stuck very strictly to basic repitching, as you can with a turntable and i think there is one loop in there too. Tune-wise, it’s stuff that grabbed me that morning and things I’ve been listening to on my travels recently. A lot of Swedish music, music from friends etc. Oh yes, and I got the Recloose record through while i was making it, and that one just had to go in, so good.
You have been pretty busy in the first half of this year. What can we expect from you in the second one?
There are quite a lot of remixes coming, I think maybe another 4 or 5 finished. I also have quite a lot of those unfinished and unrealised ideas floating around. I did a lot of work with other people recently, so will at least take 1 month where i’ll only work on my music.
Stream: Matt Karmil – Groove Podcast 58
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01. Baba Stiltz + MCFERRDOG – Lawd Forgive My Aches
02. Sei A – Never Wander
03. Neneh Cherry – 422 (Matt Karmil Remix)
04. Kornél Kovács – Sziv Utca
05. Champy – Cult
06. Recloose – On & On
07. Linkwood – Love Lost (Nummer Remix)
08. Hi and Saberhägen – Jardinez
09. Ike Release – Bijou
10. Fruits Of Warmer Climates – Enmetertre
11. Palmbomen II – Cindy Savalas
12. Lycoriscoris – In the Deep (Matt Karmil Version)