Tuesday, September 05, 2006


interview with Matthew Peters, genius behind fresh style and cut up beats..check him out on adnoiseam.net

1)So Matthew, tell us about yourself. You are based in NewYork, what was it like for you growing up and what were your earliest musical influences? And what does the moniker mad e.p mean?

Well, I have been based in New York City for 2 1/2 years, but I grew up in Iowa City, IA. My earliest musical influences were from my parents' records that I started digging through by the time I was about 4 years old... I would repeatedly play the Temptations, the Commodores, Chuck Mangione, the Four Tops, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Village People. Soon after that I became very interested in classical music and started playing the cello at age 8 [which was also around the first time I ever heard hiphop]. Even though cello was my focus, I always listened to a wide variety of music- ranging from punk to industrial to disco to hiphop to jazz to folk to metal, etc etc etc. I studied and performed classically for 14 years, but then decided to explore ways to have creative input in music outside of my cello playing... I produced the Chicago Symphony radio broadcasts for a couple years, then started writing my own music about 4 1/2 years ago.

The name 'Mad EP' is just a derivation of my real name- Matthew Peters. Friends of mine have been calling me 'Matty' or 'Matty P' for quite sometime.... at one point I started re-spelling it as 'Mad-E' and 'Mad EP' and it just stuck.

2)How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your muzik? The structure of your songs are very collage like, with a great ambient and hiphop vibe. And the results of your collaborations with various other mcs and musicians is an explosive combinations of styles. How did these relationships come about?

Haha- I am not even sure how I would describe it to someone who *has* heard some of my work... Part of it comes from the fact that I really only started listening to electronic music after I started making it myself- so I am still new to a lot of sub-genre classifications, but that is ok because I tend to find labels restrictive anyway. Another problem with categorization is that I not only do I jump around from style to style to style, but by approaching it as an "outsider" to electronic music, I am very free with the forms and structures of the genres I use. Some people have described my music as "abstract breaks" as well as some other equally vague terms, but I think you are much closer for saying collages. I am fascinated with sample-based music- and even when I have live musicians play on my tracks- I still cut it up a bit and treat their sounds as samples to rearrange [and or destroy/deconstruct] as I please. I enjoy sewing individual microcosms of sound together to get a more textured, cumulative result.

The collaborative relationships I have developed stem from being a lifelong musician. The majority of my friends have always been musicians...so when I lived in Chicago and Montreal [as well as when I moved to New York], it was only natural to end up hanging out with musicians in all disciplines.

3)You are involved in another 'improvisational band' The Matthew Gimp project, tell us about that. Also, tell us about your other musical endevours and artistic projects that you have been working on.

Actually, it is the 'Manhattan Gimp Project'...and yes, it is my improvisational band in Chicago. There are three core members- Scott Lamberty- flute & saxophone, DJ Gimpy- recording engineer & modular analog synths, and myself on cello [as well as for additional post-prodcution], but we have had many talented guest artists sit in with us as well. It all started in January 1999, while I was finishing up my cello degree and I was invited to come over to a friend's house to jam. It was at the recording engineer's house, so from the first time we sat down, he recorded every note we have ever played [at this point, I believe we probably have 40-50 hours recorded]. What intrigued me about these musicians is that even the very first time we played [which was the first time I met Scott and the 3rd time meeting DJ Gimpy]...we were set up in separate rooms, connected only by headphones... and we were able to play off [as well as inspire] each other as if we had played together for years. It rivaled some of my best experiences playing chamber music as a classical cellist. Again, it is hard to describe the sound, but usually it has very lush soundscapes with equal helpings of tonality, atonality, and noise. I am glad Nicolas from Ad Noiseam was supportive of having me feature them on my album while I try to figure out how best to take the next step with the MGP. Of the 40-50 hours, I would say 5-10 of it is almost releasable "as is"...and another 15 hours or so would need very little editing. It would be great to release a full album of Manhattan Gimp material, but even more... I would like to look into film scoring with it. I think it would be perfect. However, I don't have many of the digital masters in New York...and naturally it will take a while for dubs to be made...so that is something for a little further down the road. I do still plan on occasionally inserting MGP tracks in my releases in the meantime.

The other primary musical project I have is 'Mad/EQ', a duo with the Chicago-based emcee, equivalANT [Walter Vandell Harris]. Walt is actually one of the few collaborators I work with that I didn't meet on my own- a record store we both knew well were quick to realize that we would make some great music together and set it up. I am very glad they did- besides being great to work with, he is one of my favorite emcees to listen to. Period. He has one of the most intense deliveries I have heard and his brilliantly drafted lyrics are almost entirely about overcoming obstacles and finding inner strength. His words are very powerful.

4)The names of your tracks are interesting, for example, "get with rats" and Scab removal techniques. The name of your new release is also titled "eating movies" what is the significance? Is there a message you try to convey through your music? Are you a movie fan? Tell us about your favourite movies.

Well, I am a movie fan, but that isn't what the CD is about. "Eating Movies" is a rough English translation of a Hebrew slang phrase a friend taught me once. Basically it refers to, for whatever reason [selective awareness, stress, alcohol/drugs, language barrier, etc], one misinterprets a series of events so completely, that it is as if their view of reality is total fiction. I used it as the title because most of the tracks on the album were either written while experiencing, or as a reaction to various "movies" in my life.

I wouldn't necessarily say there is a particular message I am trying to convey. My music definitely is personal and programmatic, if not purely autobiographical, and I have sometimes wondered if I am too obvious with my expressions. Motifs are thinly veiled, but I also try to leave enough room for other ideas. I may write a track for a specific reason, but once I let anyone else listen to it, that reason is no longer the sole interpretation of the music. I feel that I leave plenty of clues for people to figure out what story I am telling in each track... but again, that shouldn't stop them from finding their own stories in the music as well.

5)What inspired the artwork? It is a very interesting graff looking inspired piece. Are you into Graffitti and art? Tell us about the current state of the New York scene and about the art spaces and artists you like.

The artwork was from the imagination of Arnold Steiner [AS1]. I have been a big fan of his work on Schematic and other labels for a long time, so when it came time to talk about design ideas, I just stepped back and let him create. He had also commented on the collages of sound and that was the catalyst for his piece.

I do like graf art and New York certainly has a lot of nice pieces both as building murals and in galleries. I haven't been following many artists recently though and have mainly had to just enjoy work on the street. There is plenty of bad graf too- sloppy, ugly, eyesores.

6)How does your music translate live. What set up do u use when playing live and writing music. Tell us about your best show experience. Any chance of coming to play in asia?

That is something I am actually still trying to figure out- I have been playing a lot of shows, but I only started 8 months ago. Currently my live set up is just my laptop and a midi controller running Abelton Live. I am still learning it, but think it has endless possibilities... For the moment, I usually prep by deconstructing my songs into various-sized fragments and use them to remix my tracks with each other. Again, very similar to a collage.

I play very different sets- sometimes dark ambient, sometimes funkier breaks, sometimes hardcore- and enjoy them for different reasons. I have also had the fortune of working with a lot of very talented and dedicated promoters who each do their part to try to push the envelope in electronic music. But I would say the one that is the standout so far is the record release party for "When I'm 6" back in September, hosted by Dogs Blood Rising. I formed a trio with cellist Jun Jensen and marimbist/percussionist Simon Boyar- and we performed an extended 45 minute remix of the title track. Jun and Simon incredible musicians and performers- and it was an amazing experience to work with them. Their creativity and commitment to their art are limitless.

There is also a monthly event called the Psychasthenia Society which I have now played a couple times. It is a unique format- Jon Keith Brunelle takes frames from old 50's and 60's B-movies and writes his own stories to go along with the images. In between stories [or chapters of the same, if a longer story], he has electronic musicians play short, 20 minute sets while Daniel Vatsky improvises visuals using the original frames for a continued narrative. I think it is one of the more innovative monthly events I have ever seen, and I am always excited to play whenever Jon asks.

There are no current plans to perform in Asia, but if a few promoters arranged my travel and set up a few shows, I would be happy to play.

7)So did you come to be on Adnoiseam, a German label. Tell us about your involvement in the Indie scene and experience working with Indie labels. How do you feel about major labels?

I just sent Nicolas a demo. I have been sending out demos to various labels and musicians for a little while, getting various responses, but Nicolas replied right away and asked to hear more. In getting to know him, I was just very impressed with his professionalism and his artistic integrity. I really enjoy working with him.

I'm not quite sure what it means to be involved with the Indie scene...but it is just very exciting to be around a lot of people who put their money [and souls] where their mouths are and just do it by setting up and promoting shows, forming their own labels and online/mailorder distribution companies, and supporting each other in many other ways. Depending on your definition of "major", I have varying degrees of problems with various sizes of major labels. I think many of the biggest labels have shot themselves in the foot by no longer investing in artist development, and aiming for the debut album that will sell 4 million records. It is possible to do, but so much money goes into marketing instead of producing that you get $18 cds with only 2 or 3 digestible tracks by a fluff artist who will probably be forgotten in a few years... No wonder people download instead of buying records.

8)What does the underground mean to you? :)

Hmmmm... I don't know... These days there are so many micro-genres that it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. In experimental electronic music, it is a pretty big deal to sell 5,000 copies of a record... however, that isn't even a blip on the radar screen. Even 20,000 copies really isn't that much- especially if spread out over the entire globe. However, there are a number of underground hiphop artists who can easily sell double or triple that... so I prefer not to even look at it like that, as much as I consider the underground to be where many of the new ideas and inspirations orginate...where people are willing to take greater artistic chances and propel their art.

9)Tell us about living in New York and the state of mind of everyone after Sept 11. Tell us about your views on the Bush administration and your thoughts on the past election.

Well, I didn't move to New York until June 2002, 9 months after September 11, but the city was still suffering in many ways...emotionally, economically, etc. After living here for a couple of years, one thing I have noticed is that New Yorkers really don't want to be definied by that one day. In an election that was largely about terrorism, I think it was quite a statement that the three areas directly affetced by that attack [New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC] all voted overwhelmingly against Bush. Unfortunately this current administration has focused more on trying to keep people afraid rather than making true strides in making our country and the world safer. To say that 9/11 happened purely because terrorists hate freedom is propagandist- it isn't that simple. However, it is much easier to say "You're either with us or against us".

10)Are you into books & literature? If so tell us what you are reading and what has influenced your philosophy on life and your music.

I have to admit that I haven't been reading nearly as much as I used to, however, there are a few authors who have been and continue to be very influential. Kurt Vonnegut and Phillip Roth are two of my favorite fiction writers and Arthur Koestler's "Sleepwalkers" & "The Act of Creation" are two of my favorite non-fiction works. Also, when I need to reach deep inside, I often read selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance".

11)Bands or music on your current playlist

On Heavy-Rotation the past month:

-End "The Sounds Of Disaster" [Ipecac]
-Tom Waits "Alice" [Epitaph]
-Keith Fullerton Whitman "Antithesis" [Kranky]
-Velapene Screen "Medical Breaths" [Frozen Empire Media]
-Mothboy "The Fears" [Ad Noiseam]
-Greg Davis "Curling Pond Woods" [Carpark]

-Criterion "Wet Pain" [Broklyn Beats]
-Venetian Snares "Infolepsy" [Coredump]
-Edgey/Enduser/Subsektor "2% volume 1" [Reduced Phat]

...plus unreleased tracks or soon to be released tracks by Mathhead, Grandtheft, Terminal 11, Exillon, and Drop the Lime.

12)What is in store for the future with mad e.p? Do you have a day job outside of your music work?

I was working as a booking agent for a classical music management company, but corporate downsizing has left me unemployed. I've been taking this month off to finish up a few things and figure out what's next...

..as far as my own music, I have a lot of exciting projects already lined up- compilation appearances on both Invasion Wreck Chords and Puzzling Records in January, a split 7" with the Luxury Tax on Budget Cuts Music and an EP on Insides Music in February, remixes for End, Mochipet, Exillon, and Mothboy this spring, and a split release with Aaron Spectre and Mothboy [featuring mcs equivalANT & Akira the Don] on Reduced Phat in May. In addition to that, I am finishing up another full length and starting to record a lot of new tracks with equivalANT.