The 256th episode of our 12 Questions segment features producer Matt Cahill.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I am 35 and I live in Sydney, Australia. I have been DJing for 18 years now I have been messing around with production for a few years but I have only started to really take it seriously and focus solely on that over the last 2 years
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I first remember electronic music making an impact on me when I heard The Shamen’s album ‘Boss Drum’. Before that I was listening to bands like Guns and Roses so It was quite a jarring contrast but I think the pads and synths really got to me. I never played any instruments growing up but I always felt musical so DJing felt like a natural thing to do. Like many I was particularly inspired by Sasha and Digweed’s Northern Exposure album, the whole ‘journey’ of that mix blew me away and it opened my eyes to what you could create as a DJ.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
It was and still is sometimes difficult, I often find that it’s 1 step forward 2 steps back. There is a lot of self doubt and frustration but perseverance is key. In the beginning I watched countless tutorials which are helpful but I feel the best way to learn is to actually be creating and experimenting. The beauty of electronic music is that there is not really right or wrong way to make it.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
For me starting a track and getting a ‘vibe’ comes very easily, the biggest problem I often face is learning when to kill off a track if it’s not working, I think I need to be more ruthless ha. Also the mixdown process can be quite overwhelming, you know the end is close but it’s probably the most most tedious and less creative part of the production process. Fresh air and coffee often help with creative block, that and also knowing when to step away from the studio and not force it.
5. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
I work as a digital designer during the day and spend my evenings and weekends on production. It can be hard to get motivated creatively If I have been busy at work but I always aim to focus on music for at least a few hours a day during the week and a lot more on weekends. Other than that I am quite into cycling so I spend a lot of time riding/building bikes.
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
I like a lot of downtempo/acoustic stuff, artists like Nils Frahm, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Clint Mansell and Gustavo Santaolalla. I guess they all have a similar melancholic undertone that probably influences me deeper down.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
Guns n Roses – Use Your Illusion I was the first cassette I ever bought. The last physical CD was Joris Voorn’s Balance 014 mix (which I still love!)
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I used to work in a record shop (back in the vinyl days) It was such a good job, you got to listen to music all day long and keep all the best white labels and promos to yourself
9. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
‘Huminal’ out of NL should be much bigger than they are. Their productions and vibe are so so tight. I also think ‘Gab Rhome’ should be much bigger than he is, every track he has produced is so unique and perfect!
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
Apart from acts I just mentioned, Chymera, Guy Manztur, Aparde, Gidge are just some of the acts that I never tire of listening too, I have also been really feeling the stuff Mind Against have been putting out lately too. Other than that I mainly get inspired by movies, experiences and as cliched as it sounds, the world around us.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
Take influence from as many sounds and genres as you can, no matter how small. Once you translate them into your own work you will have the beginnings of a unique sound.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Man, this is such a tough question but there is a good chance it would be James Holden’s remix of Nathan Fake – When the Sky Was Pink
Matt’s remixes of Terje Saether feat. Malin Pettersen ‘Too Late’ are out now on Sound Avenue, you can purchase the release: here