Starting out as one of Cape Town’s youngest circuit DJs at the budding age of 16, Matthew Loots immersed himself in the music industry and grew from DJing into an established music producer and beyond. From founding the live electronic act BangBang alongside co-producer Matt Prehn and vocalist Ruegroove to his vast experience in the live performance arena to even travelling across the country as a professional engineer for the nations top events have made for an incredible journey. We caught up with Loots, following his successful record release last month to find out more about the making of a music production genius.
MCBN: We’re excited to chat to an industry legend. You’ve definitely paid your dues as an artist in South Africa and abroad and have helped pave the way for the industry here over the years. Tell us about your first electronic music experience, where did your fire for the genre come from and how did you start DJing/producing?
MATT: My very first electronic music experience would be playing a cassette tape my mother returned from London with entitled “Bossdrum” by Mr C’s Iconic act ‘The Shamen’ – This is the first electronic sound that made me sit up and pay attention – I must have been around 10 or 11.
From there I continued exploring the sound and culture and evolved from there to my first professional DJ gig at the turn of the millennium NYE party at legendary club Detour. That place blew my mind – the energy of the crowd was insane and I have very fond memories of the clubs around that area where I gained a lot of experience behind the decks in my early days.
MCBN: You also have an instrumental background, tell us more about your early beginnings in bands as well as the evolution of your sound from the 90’s to today.
MATT: Well, I started playing classical guitar when I was about 12/13, and from there I bought an electric guitar and got into more of a ‘rocky’ sound, but at 16 I sold my guitar and amp for my first pair of decks – I didn’t really play again until I was 21. I was studying music production full-time and I realised how much I was missing out by not using my instrumentation in my productions and bought my first Bass guitar.
Little did I know that would be the beginning of a live act that would shape my next few years. I started producing with my production classmate Matt Prehn and the live funk sound was quite prominent in the sound we were making with a lot of live bass. We named this act Bang Bang. Soon after this,s we met Reuben John who, along with his girlfriend at the time Chevonne, became our vocalists and we formed a live act out of Bang Bang.
The four of us produced a lot of music. With this act, we went from students to releasing music through numerous labels and eventually were touring the country and spent a few years living in JHB to grow the act. Unfortunately,y it broke up towards the end of 2009. I still enjoy using bass and guitar on top of my funkier sets.
MCBN: Beyond electronic music, from what other genres/where else do you draw inspiration from or simply enjoy listening to?
MATT: I’m truly a music fan, I love most styles of music as long as the quality is up there. While genres are hard to define these days I love melody and interesting harmonies as well as funk influences and interesting production techniques. A few artists to name would be Bonobo, Maribou State, Oh Wonder, Jungle, Lemongrass, Penguin Orchestra.
MCBN: Your impressive music career has allowed you to play alongside some of the world’s top DJs, you must have some awesome performances highlights from all the years?
MATT: There have definitely been some highlights over the years… For me though the best highlights have been homegrown gigs. Playing the sunrise set at Fu-Cha gatherings in JHB as BangBang will always be a special memory from the live aspect as well as the regular live sessions we had a Sugar Sundays.
From the DJ perspective, nothing touches the secret parties I was resident at in the early 2000’s called Stylish Affair – amazing venue choices and an energy that I can’t explain. From abandoned bookstores, hospitals and a military base overlooking Llandudno, some special gigs.
MCBN: You’ve also released your original music on many international record labels, tell more about your favourite releases and perhaps some remixes you’re particularly proud of.
MATT: My discography is broken up into two – I had alot of releases under the BangBang Pseudonym with Matt Prehn. My favourites would have to be: BangBang – Prison of Attraction (Shrewd Music) BangBang – Susan Cries (Lost my dog + Oh So Coy). As for my solo work, Im quite proud of my latest EP as well as “Jaded” on Triplefire too.
MCBN: Earlier this year you released an EP titled Flashpoint on Triplefire Music that we featured here on MCBN – Tell us more about the process and inspiration behind the production? What galvanized the feeling behind Flashpoint?
MATT: I have been loving the percussive sound and interesting groove that local house has been pushing for a few years and this track started with a focus on groove and percussion and I ended up merging it with a darker progressive feel and aimed it more at the dancefloor.
MCBN: We see that the follow-up release of remixes for Flashpoint has received impressive feedback from international DJ’s, well done! Is it a difficult process to select someone to remix your work and how did working with Damian Yoko and Emmzet & Chulez come about?
MATT: I enjoy seeing what people do with my songs, It’s always interesting to see how different people internalise your sound and what comes out. Damian and Emmzet were introduced to me by label head Ryan Sullivan and I loved what they were making – Were were really happy with how their remixes came out! Great work guys!
MCBN: Damian Yoko’s remix of Flashpoint is one of our personal favourites and the global DJ support is impressive, what about each remix do you enjoy the most?
MATT: I like the way Damian got his lead synth to evolve and morph throughout the remix, breakdowns are really cool too. Emmzet and Chulez – I love what they did with the percussion in their track, has a great bounce in the groove and has a nice momentum to it.
MATT: Raw, Dark, Energy
MCBN: Lastly what are the three top South African tracks you are currently listening to?
MATT: DJ InviZAble & BCUC – ‘Mhlaba ne Zulu’ (I may be working on a remix for this at present) Sannie Fox’s ‘Sorrow’ and Mabuta – ‘Welcome to this world.’
Listen to Mathew Loots latest record release below featuring fellow Triplefire artists and click here to listen to the original Flashpoint album. Follow Matthew Loots and Triplefire Music for more information and bookings.
More on Matthew Loots: Mix of the Day: Matthew Loots Exclusive MyCityByNight Mix