Matt Barri‘s most recent single “I’m In Space When You’re Worlds Apart” is a testament to his versatile sound, which draws on a range of influences. Check out this exclusive interview to learn more about the inspiration behind his music and much more.
1 — First of all, how did your musical background shape your sound as an artist?
My background was really diverse, with influences ranging from the Beatles to New Wave acts like Devo, XTC, and Oingo Boingo. My family has a deep rooted history in Pop music and musical theater.
The Beatles’ influence is significant to me because my grandfather would always play their music in the car and tell me about how influential their songwriting was to him.
I grew up listening to KROQ and JACK FM and was fascinated by New Wave and Alt Rock artists and the energy they gave off.
There’s something really special about how their performances were so theatrical and dramatic, and how every artist was different from one another. The use of the dreamy synths and hard hitting drum beats definitely found its way into my own music habits.
I also like to tell stories with my music. That’s why Broadway music is such an influence, with its emphasis on storytelling. I did a lot of musical theater growing up and through high school.
2 — What makes “I’m In Space When You’re Worlds Apart” one of your best songs to date?
The dichotomy of super sad lyrics with upbeat EDM production is something that many ex-emo kids resonate with because it allows for a unique emotional release. The two elements create a cathartic experience and rollercoaster ride for myself and my listeners.
3 — Could you explain the connection between the pandemic and wildfires in Los Angeles and its lyrics?
The lyrics “they’re saying that the end is near” captures the feeling of existential dread that many people experienced during the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and LA wildfires. The line “in a rainstorm of ashes” is literally about walking around North Hollywood while ash and debris was raining down from the sky. Seeing the orange and red sky further illustrates the apocalyptic feeling that these events created for me.
4 — What mood or atmosphere were you trying to create with this particular tune?
The song was originally a ballad, just me and a piano, that I wrote for my songwriting final at ICON Collective. I wanted it to be sad as fuck and make my friends cry. During the bridge I added a spoken word goodbye to my friends since it was presented to everyone over zoom. It wasn’t until we were writing and recording the EP that I reworked the lyrics from the original ballad to the Electro-Pop/Future Bass production. To me, the bridge in IISWYWA expresses the same gut wrenching goodbye I said on my final, but sung instead of spoken word.
5 — Can you tell us about any challenges you faced while producing “I’m In Space When You’re Worlds Apart”?
The song was originally 150 BPM and felt more future bass-y, but to make the whole EP feel more cohesive, it was recommended by my friend and advisor, Seb, to slow it down to 130 which felt just right. I didnt even think to combine the lyrics from my final with this new Electro-Pop production until the day I was set to record it. I was standing in the booth looking through old lyrics I wrote and thought “damn this would fit perfectly”.
When I’m writing a song, I’m also producing it at the same time. Sometimes I sit down at a piano or with my guitar, but usually I do it all in Ableton. I’m writing melodies, drums, and making synths all at the same time so to me they’re kinda one and the same. DJing is just one medium of performance for me. I love DJing and curating a sound or vibe for an audience but I also want to expand my live performing. Last month, I sang live at my show at the Moroccan. Now I am in the process of building a live show where I can sing and perform my music. I would even love to form a band.
It’s hard to say which role I love the most because all of them allow me to express myself as an artist.
7 — How do you overcome creative blocks and keep the inspiration flowing?
Learning new things has always been the best way to overcome creative blocks. I love watching Youtube tutorials. There is an infinite well of knowledge out there. The same goes for new guitar tunings. Just doing things differently that are sometimes outside my comfort zone is usually how I can get through creative blocks.
Also, a lot of my inspiration comes from my life, love and loss.
8 — What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from your experiences as direct support for artists like Steve Aoki, Lil Jon, and Wooli?
When I opened up for Lil Jon, I was playing for 8,000 people. 7,990 more than I ever played to before. Things were going off and in the middle of one of the best drops, the entire rig went dead. An amp blew and everything shut down. The crowd was not happy and they started chanting. Once I realized that it wasn’t something that I did, I took a deep breath and let the house techs fix the problem. After 3 minutes of awkward silence, I was up and running again. What I learned was don’t panic or do anything that would change the mood of the moment. Let things resolve themselves and once they do hit him hard. I picked it up where I left off, and I had a great rest of the set.
The Steve Aoki set went much smoother. I really worked hard on making that set my own using a lot more of my own music, which was a little nerve racking for me. The crowd responded to my original music super well, and it definitely boosted my self esteem in playing out my own music.
The Wooli Show was once again different in that it was a much heavier, dubstep-centric. The challenge for me was to try and hold a crowd because I was playing After Wooli. Overall, it went great and the people who stuck around to the end of my set were so into the music. I learned how to adapt to a different audience.
9 — Can you give us a sneak peek into your upcoming debut EP, ‘The Only Way Out Is Up’?
It’s the first project with all my own vocals, lyrics, and production. It’s emotional, uplifting and hard hitting. It’s like if the albums Breakaway by Kelly Clarckson and Virtual Self by Virtual Self had a baby.
10 — Is there anything important that we haven’t touched on yet that you would like to share with our readers?
I’ve spent the past 4 years making all different kinds of music from Future Bass, to Drum n’ Bass, to Breakcore, to Pop Punk. This project is a culmination of all my previous endeavors combined, with my own topline. This year I’m only releasing music with this “MATT BARRI” sound I’ve developed. I’m putting my stake in the ground.
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Notaker’s Insights On His Debut Independent Album, ‘Echoes In Eternity’
In a candid interview, Notaker talks about the most important details behind his debut independent album, ‘Echoes In Eternity.‘ He offers his fans a glimpse into the inspiration and emotions that fueled its creation. Happy reading!
1 — In your words, how would you describe the sonic atmosphere of this new album, ‘Echoes In Eternity’?
I would describe it as otherworldly, outrun retro, or dimensional. Those are the kinds of ideas I really aimed at for this project.
2 — ‘Echoes In Eternity’ is an interesting album title. Can you share the story or concept behind choosing this name?
I’ve always liked the famous quote from Marcus Aurelius “What we do now echoes in eternity”. It parallels what I wanted to do with this album which was to make something timeless that I could look back on many years from now and feel proud to have created.
3 — How do you think this album engages listeners on an emotional level?
As it hasn’t been released yet I’m not quite sure. It certainly holds a lot of myself in the music and hopefully, those emotions that I felt creating the music will shine through to listeners when they hear the album.
4 — What steps did you take to connect and work with Danyka Nadeau and Eric Lumiere?
I knew Eric from a collaboration we created previously so it was very easy to reach back out to him and work again. Danyka and I met through her manager Daniel who thought we could create something awesome together, and he was very right. It was a true treat to work with both, they are amazing artists.
It’s much less confined to any parameter a label might impose upon my work. This is truly a raw and unfiltered look at my music. The most “me” thing I feel I’ve ever created.
6 — Is there any particular track in the album that holds a special meaning to you?
In a way they all are, it’s tough to choose. I think the “Illusion of Time” is very special as I got to make that with one of my friends Kyu who played the hand pan which I sampled for that song. Always great to create things with friends.
7 — How would you describe the evolution of your artistic style and sound as reflected in this album?
In a way it’s cyclical. Finding new things that sound nostalgic to me and then creating them in a new and interesting way. Hopefully, people can hear that in my sound, something new but also familiar.
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Öwnboss & Selva Dish On The Creation Of “RIOT” — Interview
Closing out the festival season with a bang, Brazilian talents Öwnboss and Selva team up on anthemic dance hit “RIOT” for their debut on the respected label Monstercat. Not only a mainstage monster, “RIOT” gears up to take on the virtual world as the official anthem in the latest Brazilian-themed season of the sports-based video game Rocket League.
We caught up with Öwnboss and Selva to go behind the scenes on the making of “RIOT.”
1 — First of all, how do you maintain a balance between staying true to your own unique style while collaborating and complementing each other’s musical style?
Selva: I think the fun part about collaborating is to mix things up and see what happens. That being said, presenting ideas with context, staying true to yourself, and respecting the collaborator’s input is the formula to create something interesting that you wouldn’t come up with yourself. For example, Öwnboss has his famous lead synth, but we never forced it in. The progression choices and the energy that builds up until the drop made that synth not only essential but also brought the power we needed for the drop!
Öwnboss: I would say that I don’t have much of that balance because I’d say I don’t follow only a single style, you know? My sound is what I like to play, what makes sense at the moment, and what makes me happy. Of course, “Move Your Body” is a track that defines me in a way and I’m very proud of it, but I always try to evolve and improve my productions, as happened here with Selva. “RIOT” had more than 10 versions that went through various musical styles, which speaks a lot to my trajectory as a producer as well. The final version was our favourite, and it brings a lot of who we are as musicians.
2 — “RIOT” is set to debut in Rocket League’s battle arenas. Is this the first time you have produced music for video games?
Öwnboss: That’s a good question because we didn’t really produce the song thinking about having it in a video game, but that’s exactly what happened in the end. I had the pleasure of having “Move Your Body” on the Formula 1 2022 soundtrack, I believe for the size the track has taken by playing on the stages worldwide. With “RIOT,” I think we were able to produce such an exciting, rebellious song…. almost like a generational anthem, that seeing it as a soundtrack for such an important and young game like Rocket League turns out to be a perfect fit. “RIOT” really has a feel of action and adrenaline.
Selva: Yes, for me it’s the first time. I still am getting used to hearing my kids across the house turning on Rocket League and hearing my song!
3 — What qualities do you like the most about the vocals on ‘RIOT’?
Selva: I think the vocals are the soul of this song. We built the song around it, and we worked really hard for the production to play the role of enhancing the power of those lyrics.
Öwnboss: I agree. I really like the contrast between the vocals of the children singing in a very high-pitched tone and Brian’s voice, more serious. I think it’s a very good balance since the sonorities complement each other. Another thing that catches me is this “battle anthem” vibe of hers, it feels half revolutionary, like… Pink Floyd. It had been a while since I’d received a vocal with this strength, and I believe that’s why this track became so important to us.
4 — Imagine you could incite a riot for change. What goal would you inspire people to stand up for?
Öwnboss: That’s a tough question to answer because the world needs a lot of change, so how do you choose the most important one? Or the most urgent. What comes first in my mind is a riot for people to be themselves, without being ashamed and without worrying about what others will think. Be yourself. I think it is a path of no return to freedom and happiness. Probably the world would be better and lighter if everyone could follow that.
Selva: Interesting question! I think once you create a song and put it out into the world, the meaning of it is no longer yours to choose. Everyone has a different life experience and people digest ideas and messages in a very singular way. At first, this song didn’t have a political angle, but it can absolutely have. I’d say: start a riot in your heart, soul, and mind.
5 — Öwnboss, your busy 2023 World Tour is currently underway. How does the release of “RIOT” fit into your tour’s momentum?
Öwnboss: The release of “RIOT” in the middle of my tour was very important because I was able to play the track on various stages around the world without it being released. People don’t know it, but the music captivates almost instantly, which makes it an important reinforcement for my sets. I see the audience eager to learn the lyrics. I can say “RIOT” certainly arrived at a good time.
Selva: I think of myself as a songwriter above anything, and I’m blessed enough to work with so many different accomplished and talented artists, including Öwnboss whom I have written a number of songs. “RIOT” is a special one for me, and it just felt right to represent this one by his side. I personally learned to trust my gut more than ever.
Öwnboss: RIOT is energetic, revolutionary, and catchy.
Selva: All revolutions start in the soul.
8 — Were there any specific elements that made the creation of this track particularly challenging?
Selva: The chorus. We knew the chorus was potent and strong, but it was challenging to “dose” it through the song. We did a bunch of versions in order to land one that we felt delivered the chorus without being repetitive and enhanced it.
Öwnboss: Yeah, the vocals, for sure. And the collaboration with a children’s choir, which is the “extra touch” and makes it different from anything that I’ve ever produced before.
9 — What specific role did you play while working on “RIOT”?
Öwnboss: The lyrics were written by Brian, so my main role was to help set the musicality of the track, creating a climax on the chorus and the revolutionary footprint we wanted for it. Then, another challenge of ours was to integrate the high-pitched voice of the children’s choir with the other elements of the track, so that it would be dense, dynamic and keep the rebellious tone.
Selva: As mentioned I was on the songwriting. I dove in on the production as well later on, but I’d say I mainly focused on melody and lyrics and let my main man Öwnboss do his thing and create the whole context and drop.
10 — If a future collaboration opportunity arises, what new things would you be interested in exploring?
Selva: I’d like to have another go at exploring a RIOT-like anthemic chorus again, maybe in a higher BPM.
Öwnboss: Each collaboration is the reflection of the moment that I’m living. After that everything changes, so I think it’s hard to answer this question. I will always explore what is true and meaningful to me in that moment, so my music can speak to others.
Exclusive Interview: Paul Mayson Delves Into His Debut Album ‘One Life’
Paul Mayson‘s first-ever album, ‘One Life,’ is like a special mix of his love for House music, blended with different kinds of sounds and cool collaborations from artists all over the world. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview!
1 — With the release of your debut album ‘One Life,’ what are your expectations for how listeners will connect with the music?
My goal was to showcase my story and my sound. And for it to be an uplifting, positive, and summery album. Hopefully, it feels like that! It’s a collection of songs made at the moment, to make you feel happy and free. It’s about embracing life, the good things and the bad. And about doing what makes you happy.
2 — You’ve teamed up with a diverse range of international artists on this material. Please let us know how these collaborations came to be.
It was really exciting taking elements from different genres, working with a group of great artists who come from very different backgrounds, and bringing all of these sounds and flavors together on one project. A lot of artists I meet myself, reach out to the people I’m interested in. I often travel abroad to work on music together and do sessions in London or LA. Sometimes collabs can also happen through the label or the publisher, but ultimately it’s great to have an artist-to-artist relationship.
3 – What compelled you to emphasize the themes of life, freedom, and diversity in this album?
I’m very passionate about House music culture and the way it started. Which was all about positivity and celebrating life together. I love that message and think the soulful, feel-good element of House music is what always really attracted me to the genre. And to music in general, including other genres like Soul and RnB.
A few of the songs (like “Tell Me How” and “I Want You”) were basically made during one big jam session. It’s me just trying out completely different sounds, textures, and rhythms and experimenting with live drums, guitars, and whatever I feel like. Letting go of any rules connected to dance music allows for a really fresh approach to the album songs.
6 – How does the artwork complement the album’s concept?
It emphasizes the feel-good element and the overall message of the album. Life is in front of you, it’s there for the taking. You’re in the hallway, step into the light and embrace life.
7 – Will there be another amazing music video like “Have It All,” dropping in the near future?
We released a really cool art piece and visualizer for the album which I’m very excited about!
8 – Given your ambition to push boundaries within the Dance genre, do you think the bunch of producers already out there could make it tough for you to really stand out?
I think individuality is key. Doing something you’re passionate about. Telling your own story. If you go into that process, the outcome will be unique. Not following trends and doing my own thing is what helps me stand out and allows me to be ahead and I try to keep pushing myself.
9 – Among your studio essentials, what’s the item that you consider the cornerstone of your setup?
Quite a lot of my work is digital. I carry my laptop around and can produce and write anywhere with it, whether it’s my home studio, the studio in Amsterdam, a hotel, or even an airport. That’s what makes it flexible and international! Just being able to work anywhere and get the creative process going. At home I also love my Adam A77x monitors and I also use a Prophet synth.