WHP FEATURE 004
It’s taken a while- ten years, six albums, and a couple of handfuls of EPs to be precise- but finally it’s happened: Matt ‘Lone’ Cutler has fallen in love with DJing. Having delivered his latest album Levitate for R&S earlier this year, the producer has followed its release with a moment he describes as ‘like a light came on’. After years spent wondering if DJing was merely a necessary evil to be overcome, he suddenly found himself enamoured with a new generation of house producers; artists crafting house oddities with weird textures, sparkling, incandescent melodies, and lurching, lolloping rhythms- a palette that Cutler himself has honed for years, but this time with added dancefloor kick.
Enthused with a newfound love for these club ready tracks, he now all he wants to do is play the music he’s discovering, along with his own work that it’s been inspiring, to the world. In light of this, and in advance of his forthcoming Warehouse Project shows, we sat down with Cutler to talk about what the present has and what the future holds; the return of his record label Magicwire, how he’s been learning how to write a DJ tool that works as a proper track, and why one day he may just drop a jungle set…When we arranged this interview you mentioned that you’d spoken a lot about the album and instead you wanted to talk about DJing – this is pretty unique, for a lot of producers DJing is a secondary thing.
Well this is the thing; it always had been a secondary thing for me. I had no intention of being a DJ at all when I was growing up. I just wanted to make music. Then I started releasing stuff and I started getting booked to play gigs. It was crazy really, I was practically learning in clubs. I was playing on laptops with Traktor, and literally learning at gigs.There’s a lot of space for things to go wrong there…
Yeah, for sure, it was really hard. Gigs were really hit and miss for a long time at the start. I’ve only started to enjoy them over the last couple of years, before that they were terrifying! Sometimes I’d pull it off, but more often than not it’d be terrible. But for the last 4 to 6 months I’ve thrown myself way more into DJing. It may not seem like much, but I just got CDjs in my flat, so I’m mixing all the time now for fun. Before I go to play gigs, I’m playing on these decks, and I’m getting more and more excited by it. And now that I’ve finished the last album, it’s influencing the way I’m writing new tunes as well. It’s guiding where I’m going next.
I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of jungle tracks. Before I put any music out, when I was 16 to 19 or 20 I was making hundreds of crazy amen tracks. I’ve got tonnes of them.
When you’re saying that getting into the DJing is affecting you’re production, does that mean you’re writing tunes with longer intro passages to help mixing them? That sort of thing?
Yeah, but more I’ll be doing a mix and I’ll spot a gap in the mix where I can make something for myself and I’ll put it in their – I’m kind of tailor-making stuff to play out. So will there be tracks that you’re making now that are only ever to be played out, and that probably won’t get a full release?
Well I’m definitely going to round out some of them and release them, but there will be tonnes that will never see the light of day, or will only ever be on mixtapes. But you’ll just have to come see me play to hear for yourself. Ha! The word DJ Tool is a bit lame, but are you now making tracks that exist as something that works best when played to the dancefloor, without necessarily also being suited to home listening?
The thing is, I’ve always wanted to bridge the gap between something being a tool and something that you’d listen to at home. It’s near enough impossible, but I think I’m getting closer. Now I’m more interested in the ‘tool’ aspect of it. Before, when I made dancefloor tunes, my whole thing was, ‘I don’t care if you can’t mix it, I want to be able to listen to it at home’ – now I’m paying a lot more attention to whether my tracks can be picked up by DJs, and whether I can play them out myself. But I always want to make music that can be played in both environments. So now you’re getting more into it have you also found yourself listening more to other people’s music to include in your set?
Yeah, that’s basically down to us bringing back my label Magicwire. In the last year we bought a guy Sami on board and he’s been working at it non-stop. The whole things growing and growing; we bought three things out this year, and that was after a three year gap of putting out nothing. We’re really on it – the music I’m hearing from seeking out new artists is really inspiring me, it’s taking me in this much more dancefloor based direction.Was there a particular track that inspired you to bring back Magicwire?
We’d always wanted to bring it back, but I’d been too busy with touring and releasing albums. Then when I was touring America I heard some tracks by this guy called Lance Neptune. I met up with him and really liked his music, we decided to put that out, and from there Sami came on-board. R&S decided to back us, so we’re a sub-label of them now, which has left me and my manager Sean, who I started the label with, to just get on with the fun part of finding great music to put out - which is house music, there’s really a lot of good house music that I want to put out there.What was it about the Lance Neptune track particularly that made you decide to kick the label off again?
Well to be honest that’s the least dancefloor out of all of the new things we’ve released. He was just a dude who could write melodies really well, and melodies are always my thing. Since then we’ve discovered all this really beautiful house music, tracks that are full of amazing chords and melodies but that still work in a club. I think a light came on with me then and I’ve just been buying more and more of it – and even making more and more of it. Are there any DJs you particularly admire?
Well, I don’t pay too much attention to what other DJs are doing, in the same way I never paid too much attention to what other producers were doing Hence the name Lone?
Yeah, that’s the most obvious explanation for my name. That’s why I took it really. So you never had a dancefloor epiphany when you were younger?
When I was really, really young the first music I was listening to was rave tapes, and I remember hearing mixes by people like Grooverider, or early hardcore tapes, and just loving how thrown together and chaotic they were. But I’ve never been a total geek about certain DJs, I guess I was always more of a geek about producers.When you first started the hardcore elements to your sound were so apparent – and there were the breakbeats there in tracks like Pineapple Crush. Now breakbeats are flavour of the month again, do you feel like moving on?
Well my last album was full of breakbeats, but that’s kind of why I’m done talking about it. I’m seeing a lot of people talking about what I’ve done as part of a ‘rave revival’- which is bollocks. My earliest stuff was ‘ravey’, and what I was doing then was referencing old stuff, it’s not like I was inventing something from scratch, but it’s also not like I’ve all of a sudden started trying to bring back this rave scene. It’s something I’ve been obsessed with since I was 9 years old…! But yeah breakbeats are everywhere, and hardcore stabs are everywhere, more than they ever have been. I dunno. I kinda wanna move on a little bit I think. Mainly out of boredom. I’ll run with a particular style for a certain amount of time and then I’ll be done. By the time one of my records come out people don’t realise that I’ve already moved on to a different project. I wanna be as original as I can be; when I’m making stuff I’m genuinely never copying anyone, and if it comes across that I am then I want to move away from it. So when you’re DJing, is there an extreme edge of your sound that you’d like to go to, but rarely get a chance to get to?
Yeah, totally man! I either wanna do a straight 90s hip hop set, which I don’t get to do very often, or a jungle set. I don’t think I’ve ever really done a jungle set at a gig, I’ve only done them at house parties. What kind of hip hop artists would you be dropping?
Oh, some Gang Starr, Madlib, a chunk of Dilla instrumentals, as much Wu Tang as I could get away with, Tribe Called Quest, all the golden era stuff. And what about the jungle?
Krome and Time spring to mind. And Remarc, definitely. And hardcore as well, all the pre-jungle stuff like Acen, or tracks from the Reinforced label.I feel like you could play Reinforced stuff now – the Manix tracks would fit in your set pretty well…
Yeah that does get in there occasionally, if I’m on late enough or if I can get fast enough. But a full amen jungle set I don’t think I’ve ever done it. It’s just the craziest music ever made, the nuttiest drum patterns ever – you have to lose you’re shit to it really.Have you ever considered making any full on jungle tracks?
I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of jungle tracks. Before I put any music out, when I was 16 to 19 or 20 I was making hundreds of crazy amen tracks. I’ve got tonnes of them. Ha! Would you release them?
I think I will eventually. Some of them are pretty ropey, it was a long time ago, but I’d like it if some of them got heard. Having said that, my last album had some jungle stuff on there – it never goes full rinse out, but it’s there. And so to finish up, what’s your favourite track to play out right now?
A release we put on our label by Bruce Trail, there’s a track on their called Bridgework, just a really nice house track. It’s getting a good response already – to me it’s a huge track. And I’ve got a bunch of stuff that I’ve just finished that’s crying to be played out. I played the first of them a couple of weeks ago and it got a really good response, so I’m really keen to play the rest...
Lone plays twice across the WHP16 series. 28th October on the Ninja Tune show, and also warming up for Moderat live at the Albert Hall.