Photo: Press (Lone)
It can be quite revealing how people use certain terms to talk about music and sound. From Welsh words to his own productions, Matt Cutler like it “lush,” apparently, and that also happens the word that first comes to mind when you hear a new Lone after a while. For about twelve years now, Cutler has been carving a niche for himself with a sound that is colourful, saturated, brimming with energy and highly emotive – in one word, lush. Having just launched his new label Ancient Astronauts, Cutler is currently working on his next album while traveling around the world after (re-)discovering his passion for DJing. Speaking of which, Lone’s contribution to our Groove podcast does not only comprise a few exclusives by the man himself, but also some of the classic rave material that has informed his sound from the very beginning. It’s a lush one, for sure.
2014’s Reality Testing was inspired by lucid dreaming, a topic that you still seem to be very interested in. Which role do dreams and/or the practice of lucid dreaming play in your daily life as a producer?
It’s a weird one for me, a constant fascination and indeed an endless well of inspiration for my tunes. I think all the music I’ve ever made is in some way an attempt to capture the feel and mood of my dreams… Some get close, some are nowhere near. What the fuck are dreams? Why aren’t we talking about this shit all the time – why wouldn’t you base your art around this stuff? It keeps me thinking. I had a dream last night that my mate Nathan Fake was staying at the house I grew up in and he was playing me his new track which was an ambient piece on cassette. As the track played, green smoke started to come out of the tape deck – the green smoke was the track… Fucking hell, what does it mean?
Your newest EP is in fact named after the Japanese proverb “見ぬが花” (“minu ga hana”), Not Seeing Is a Flower, which means that reality cannot compete with imagination. How did you come across this saying and what does it mean to you and in the context of your music?
It kind of ties in with the dream thing again I think. I read that quote a few years ago and it just seemed to sum up what I try to do in so many ways. Even down to the fact that the translation to English is kind of rough and doesn’t make total sense, it’s just so perfectly suited to my music. I always see people describe me as an “idiosyncratic producer” or something – I think there’s elements of my production style that doesn’t quite make sense to people and I like to reflect that in the track titles sometimes. In fact, there will be more of that in the future. Another good example of that would be “Backtail Was Heavy”.
Between 2017 and 2018, you released the four records that formed the Ambivert Tools series. As the title already suggests, these EPs were more dancefloor-oriented than your albums. What was the concept behind the series and why did you release it as a tetralogy? Potentially, you could have kept releasing all your club material under that name.
I’d done a solid run of three albums on R&S and wanted the next project to be something a bit different. That’s one side of it. Also, I’d just properly started to become obsessed with DJing, this was around the end of 2015. Up until that point I’d just been touring doing little Ableton live sets and stuff. Anyway, I got some CDJs and started to go out and do DJ sets. All of a sudden the music that was inspiring me was other people’s dancefloor material – before then I was kinda shut off from that stuff, it wasn’t massively interesting to what I was trying to. Now every time I sat down to write a track I was thinking about what I could add to my DJ shows so, naturally, I was writing material I could play out. The aim of the series was to cover as much ground as I could in terms of club material. I wanted to have tracks I could play in my sets at any time, on any line-up. I wanted there to be extroverted peak time tunes and introverted warmers… I guess I see myself as an “Ambivert” type of person. Sometimes kinda rowdy, other times totally shy and introverted. The tracks were symbolic of that.
This summer, you have launched the Ancient Astronauts imprint, which also serves as an outlet for your music while you are working on your next album. What made you go fully independent?
I just wanted to be able to make a track, get a buzz out of it and be able to drop it as quickly as possible without having to wait in a queue or anything. So I set that up. It’s cool because it just means if there’s ever a slow period between albums or anything i can just drop little ideas out of the sky through Ancient Astronauts whenever I feel like it, no stress.
You have recently written that the piece you are most proud of is “Hiraeth” from your last solo album, Levitate. Why this track, especially?
Okay. Loads of reasons really. Some a bit too personal to go in to. I guess… Well, here’s a thing. One of the biggest reasons I make music is to achieve a specific feeling. You know when you hear a track and it makes your whole body shiver? That thing. My favourite thing in the world. Well, the ultimate aim for me is to get that feeling from my own tracks. That is the main the reason I do this shit. When I was working on that tune it gave me the shivers to the point that I burst in to tears! Imagine that! The ultimate. I felt like I’d unlocked the highest bonus imaginable, amazing. So that’s the main reason. The word “Hiraeth” is a lush Welsh word that seemed so perfectly fitting at the time. My Nan was Welsh as well so that is a track for her!
Apparently, you like to put together playlists – your website still lists your “Ambivert Selections” and on Spotify, your playlist containing “influences and current inspirations” is about 100 tracks strong. There’s some rather surprising choices in there, Enya for example would be one artist that people love to hate. Why do you compile these playlists in the first place?
(laughs) Oh yeah. Enya, fucking hell. Look – I’m in no way a fan of Enya, okay!? Every track on that playlist means something quite specific to me though, that’s the ethos behind it. The tracks can be anything, no matter how shit or embarrasing or weird or whatever, as long as there is a proper, real connection there. The Enya tune is from a horror film called Sleepwalkers that I watched with my mate John and his mum when were around eight years old – way too young! Anyway, that tune is on it and I can remember John’s mum saying “this piece of music is really haunting” and even at the time that description really got me. I’d never thought of a piece of music as being “haunting” before. She was totally right though. So yeah, not a fan of Enya at all but that track is totally fucking haunting even now so that’s why it has it’s place in the playlist. The Fugees sampled it on “Ready Or Not” as well.
You were providing the occasional update about your forthcoming album, which apparently has the working title Alwaysinsideyourhead. What can you tell us about the album and how far have you progressed at this point?
Yeah, this new album is the one, basically. I’ve never been so excited about a bunch of material before – that has to be a good thing, right? There’s lush vocals. It sounds like it was made by ghosts in parts… There’s some really lush downtempo trip-hop stuff on there, there’s ambient pieces and there’s some kinda tribal, proggy, early trancey stuff too. It all ties together strangely well though. There’s a big emphasis on percussion. I’ve been recording a lot of my playing and that is sounding much better than I thought it would. You can hear some of that on “Glyphic” and “Abraxas” as well actually, all live percussion recordings. Neither of those tracks are going to end up on the album though. I like the idea of being a bit more open about the process this time. Why not, eh? I’m a bit older now, and not as guarded as I used to be. Life’s too short isn’t it. Like, back in the day I would have dodged this question completely. Yeah, it’s exciting though, really exciting. I really hope it can be released in 2020.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
Honestly, just wicked songs I’ve found recently that move me and stuff I’ve been playing in clubs over the last couple of months. There’s some exclusives in there from myself and a few friends, some really old trance stuff from 1993 and an Orbital B side I’ve had for about 20 years and never bothered to fully listen to until a few days ago! Mind-blowing!
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
You will be able to catch me across Europe and in the States a lot next year, hopefully another Japan trip, too. Just keeping an eye on my socials would probably be the best way to keep up. My plans as a producer and label owner are to: finish new album – that is top of the list – and just keep creating and releasing music that makes me and hopefully others “shiver”.
Stream: Lone – Groove Podcast 234
01. Speedy J – Symmetry
02. Bliss Inc. – Delusion
03. Angelo – Voltage
04. Unknown Artist – Fine Day (Dr. Breaks Remix)
05. Gabriola – Axiatonal
06. Hooverian Blur – Hand in the Fire
07. Lone – Dragonrush
08. AGT Rave Cru – Fusion Power
09. Shedbug – Aciidmuzik
10. ERP – Zrx
11. DJ Bone – Black Patterns (Len Faki Hardspace Remix)
12. Lone – Glyphic
13. L.O. – Hallò TV
14. Unknown Mobile – Felled Birch
15. Orbital – Are We Here (They Did It)
16. Kettama – Anniversary 33