You work under the artist name Matuss as a DJ and producer. For those who don’t know about you yet, would you please introduce yourself and your background.
Born in Ukraine, world citizen, live and breathe for music.
When did you start your career?
Early 2000, buying my first set of Numark turntables and practising on a floor, until I can’t feel my legs 😁
What was the initial starting point /influential event?
I was obsessed with electronic music ever since going out to the club for the first time at age of 12, so I knew all the names of tracks, who made what and such, had huge music database in my head. Given musical education, I got on board with one of my friends idea to try and become a liaison.
You were born in Ukraine, now you are living in NYC. When did you move?
Moved to US in 2005, many troubles later ended up in NY in 2012. Seemed like the only destination for me 🤗
Besides the music, you also worked as a cage fighter?
How did that happend, and how was it?
Yes. I got cut off the grant to go to University, because a few teachers were fed up with me. I had good knowledge, but worst behaviour, well, according to them. I don’t think it’s true … I do recognize authority with a reason. If I respect you, and you make sense, I can listen. If you’re telling me, you are right, just because you are older (smarter) – it’s not enough argument for me and I won’t take it. I need you to prove it. So they saw it as disrespect, you had to obey blindly, which is absolutely not an option for me and often it would turn even physical. I never liked bullies, ignorant people, people who just trip on power …no matter the age or position, I’ll fight you till the end and most likely I am going to win. Except this time I didn’t 🙈😂 My family was very poor, and it was out of question, that my education can be paid for. At that point of my life, I would rather die, than not have the possibility to educate myself further. I thought it’s the most important thing, and I don’t think that anymore, for the record. So I had to get a job to pay for University… but since I never looked for conventional choices, I ended up at this “Fight Club” sort of scenario, where I did fight people and was getting paid really good money for it. I became bread winner in my family overnight and took care of everything and everyone…which came with a price, that I am still paying 🤗
How was that?
If I had a way to start over, I would have this experience all over again. It’s hard to explain to someone, who haven’t gone through it, but I can try. Nothing else gives you this feeling, it’s one of a kind process. Starting from signing paperwork, where for a split second you do realize that you can actually die in a next couple of moments and sayonara 😁 Warm up and the moment you get in a ring is a mixed feeling, you do get some thoughts while going through automatic motions. After the sound of starting the fight, everything changes, I feel like Optimus Prime, hahah. Even if I got somewhat sympathetic towards the opponent, when I first saw them – that’s gone out of the window in a next few. By all means, I don’t think I am a violent person…but I’ll be lying, if I said I don’t enjoy landing punches. We all know what we are getting ourselves into by getting in a ring. I love the feeling, it’s amazing. There is so much adrenaline, that you don’t really feel pain, until afterwards. But it’s all well worth it. I was never scared of damaging my face or anything of that type, just never crossed my mind. I don’t think I am scared of anything, really, unless it’s cockroaches 🙈😂.
What else is important in your life, and we should know about you to understand where you are coming from, what you are up for and why you do things the way you do it?
Learning and experience as much as I can. Travelling is big part of it, every time you spend significant amount of time In a foreign country, you start seeing things from different perspective … lately I become more and more curious about things, that we can not touch, but only feel 🤗 . I am very much aware of the fact, that life is really short. I always choose to live to the fullest and that’s usually somewhat extreme, all in or nothing kind of. Balance is something, that’s always been a challenge. I would like to get as close as possible. I would like to think, I’ve come a long way after several dramatic events in my life, which made me want to be a better human. From absolute no trusting and wanting to hurt everyone on my way due to poverty, anger and simply witnessing people doing horrible things to other beings constantly – to really trying to treat others the way I want to be treated, with kindness and respect, hopefully. Monastery and faith had to do a lot with it. It’s not easy, everyone has their moments. I would like to continue improving and discovering. I’ve come to think that it’s very important to love and be loved, whereas before I would be like, pfff, that’s nonsense… I want to live on an island with no people and write music all the time 🙈.
You run the label Absence Seizure together with Abe Duque – how did you meet?
We met while working for a music production school named Dubspot, in New York … I would say in 2013? The label was started in 2015, it came kinda naturally, through conversation. Abe has always been a mentor to me and someone I respect deeply and look up to. So far we had 13 vinyl releases. The concept of a label was not to be attached to anything specific as genre or sound. Just release music, that we feel like putting out there. For me, it’s all feelings and emotions translated into a music piece and connected to artwork, which is black and white Rorschach. So everyone can see and hear their own thing in it and connect, hopefully. I got lost and moved to a different reality so many times, while listening/making/playing some music pieces – Absence Seizures reference makes perfect sense to me.
As one of the very rare labels left, you have the release policy of vinyl only. How do you see „the traditional world“, the „digital world“ and the future?
I prefer vinyl for myself, it’s a very different process and I enjoy it. From going to the store and selecting records, to getting it out of the bag and playing out, from watching master lacquer cut to getting a box of records under your door and playing it out. It’s quite magical. No way you can get same feelings from digital, you can’t touch it. I am all onboard with progress and advance technologies, but record on a shelf and record in the internet space are two completely different things to me and I would much rather have physical input into the world, it feels right. However, in a light of recent events and quarantine experience, we’ve decided to give a one time digital experience with Bandcamp a go.
You complied the tracks which are from you and Abe Duque. How did you select?
I always trust my inner feelings, when it comes to music. So I can’t really analyse it, it seems like it’s a natural process to me. I listen to a release, I pick one, I trust my decision and I see, if Abe feels the same.
Are there any special stories behind one or more tracks you like to share with us?
I will start with Lona. Abe had the Korg Electribe and I got fascinated by “made in USSR” tubes. So he suggested that I take it home to try out. I really don’t like borrowing gear or anything period, so I wasn’t sure – but Abe can be quite convincing 😁. At that time I worked several jobs in New York, and sometimes it would get so much to handle, that I would just go into “autopilot” mode. So it was one of those days and when I got home, eventually, I didn’t have the Korg with me. The first thought was that I left it on a train…so my face turned white and without saying a word, I just started climbing walls. My mom was freaking out, because she couldn’t understand, what’s happening to me 🙈😂 . I was like, “I knew, I shouldn’t take it!!!!” Anyhow, once I was able to locate it (hallelujah) I took it back to Abe, saying “never again”. He said, that now it is essential, that I make something with it. So I took it back again and on the same day, I came up with the bassline for Lona and eventually, it was all mostly done with that Korg Electribe. It is definitely one of my favourite tracks, hands down.
Then there was a “Saudade” story, that track went on a second release and is very special to me, and it is my mom’s favourite. Once I took her on a holiday in St. Petersburg, Florida. Of course, we went to Dali museum, where I obtained a really nice poster with “Three young surrealist women holding in their arms the skins of an orchestra”. So once we got on a plane, I kept thinking, that I have to make sure not to forget it in the overhead compartment. I get distracted very easily and have to put in effort, not to forget and loose things. I got so fixated on that poster, that I left my laptop under the seat, while landing. Of course, I had multiple projects there with no backup at all. 9 to be exact. We took a bus to Crown Heights from airport, and it was past midnight already, so halfway through the trip I realized that I left my laptop on a plane and my reaction was, well, the same when I realized about the Korg Electribe. I turn pale, painful and start looking for exit 🤷♀️ . Mom freaks out again too 🙈. It was too late to go back, and I couldn’t sleep till morning. First thing, I go back to airport and spend there next 3 days chasing flight attendants, going backwards on escalator, drawing all a lot of attention from police, etc. Fun times 😁 I never recovered it, my heart was broken in a million pieces.
But. I did have a wav file for one of the projects, and it was “Saudade”. At this point, I was just praying, that it would be good for mastering, and we don’t need changes. And it worked 🙌. I was super happy!!! It is absolutely special one for me, as well.
Most emotional thing I ever wrote is Menuet no.13, definitely. I find it very fascinating, how what you feel translates into a musical piece. I was absolutely at the lowest point for this one. I had this “brilliant idea” once to throw a party just for music, without announcing a line-up. It could work, probably, under other circumstances – when you have a big following already or known for such a thing, like “no name” party, which wasn’t my case. I decided to try anyway and signed up for a big bar guarantee. I did invest a lot of myself into this one, from hanging all the artwork, projections to selecting music, making sure everything is perfect, and I was very hopeful. At the end of a day, I had to pay that bar guarantee with my rent money, so I ended up crying all morning, followed by curling up on a couch for the next 3 days and balling my eyes out. I told Abe, I am done, and I don’t want to do this ever again. In fact, I don’t want to do anything ever again. Then I got on a plane in a very shitty mood already, I felt heartbroken and shuttered to pieces, plus comfort of “Spirit” (how ironic), plus crying babies background – I was about to explode. Thankfully, I had an iPad with Cubasis to mess with and headphones. So the only natural solution was to dive into that and disappear… this is how I came up with a main piano line for it, later that day taking to Bitwig to develop it. Every time I listen to it now, it tells me a story and explains perfectly, how I felt in that very moment. I wouldn’t be ever able to explain properly in words, it has so much power. Later on, I asked Abe to do a remix, and he said, he is not sure if he can make a match, to what it expresses (hope that makes sense). When he sent me the remix, I turned off the lights and just lay in bed, while listening. It was an absolute journey and couldn’t believe, how good it was – he brought it to the next level. I really think, it’s one of the best pieces I ever heard, period. Just listen to it, and you’ll see, what I am taking about 🙏 .
Wow. Thank you Matuss for sharing!
Our Sunday selection:
Matuss, Abe Duque – Absence Seizure Compilation (Absence Seizure, at. No. ASD01)
New York based imprint Absence Seizure delivers their first digital release, a compilation of favorites from the previously vinyl only catalogue.
The project highlights the versatility of the label, a mix of slow burning ambience; dark, hypnotic minimal; and raw, percussive, New York techno.
Kicking off the compilation is Ukranian born, New York based Matuss, with ‘Alien is my Boyfriend’. The wonky synth line and snappy hi-hats set the stage well for what’s to come. Next is ‘Saudade’, a deep and intoxicating groove that slowly develops into an afterhours jam. ‘Aladiss’ moves us into tribal territory, featuring a pounding kick, pulsating bassline and melancholy horns.
The fourth track, ‘Menuet No.13’, is a remix from label co-founder and legendary NYC techno producer, Abe Duque. It’s ominous, horror film-esque keys, are perfect for a dark, basement dance floor. Matuss’ ‘Acido’ is a slow burner worth waiting for, highlighted by distorted kicks and bubbling acid, it never fully reveals itself until the claps arrive four minutes in. About halfway through the compilation we take a break with ‘I hate Valentine’s Day’; a murky, dark, ambient soundscape, featuring low end drones and off-kilter percussion.
Aptly named ‘Tektango’ brings us up again, using snappy percussion and pulsating rhythms, highlighting Matuss’ ability to create a jam that is both funky and trippy. ‘Fairy Dust’ starts off slow using deep chords and a pulsating low end drive, and develops into a sci-fi like soundscape with swinging cymbals and a spaced out synth line. ‘Stranger Things’ contrasts dark ambiences alongside lush pads, slowly building into a groovy banger that leaves you wanting more.
Abe Duque’s ’11-27-2017’ is raw, New York techno at its finest, with squelching 303 lines, dreamy arpeggios and robust analogue drums. ’22 October’ is full of explosive, raw percussion; sonic ambient pads; and a bouncy bassline that make this the per- fect, peak time stomper for any party.
Rounding out the compilation are two more tracks from Matuss, ‘Travel High’ and ‘Continuum’. The former has a long build up; with thundering kicks, an old school style vocal sample, and groovy bongos. The final track is a fitting end, this deep, slow burning track evokes the sun rising at the end of a party.
Available for the first time digitally, Absence Seizure’s compilation is not to be missed. This is the best of modern, New York Techno!
Tracklist: Matuss, Abe Duque – Absence Seizure Compilation (Absence Seizure, at. No. ASD01)
01. Matuss – Alien Is My Boyfriend
02. Matuss – Saudade
03. Matuss – Aladiss
04. Matuss – Menuet No.13 (Abe Duque Remix)
05. Matuss – Acido
06. Matuss – I Hate Valentine‘s Day
07. Matuss – Tektango
08. Matuss – Fairy Dust
09. Matuss – Stranger Things
10. Abe Duque – 11-27-2016
11. Abe Duque – 22 October
12. Matuss – Travel High
13. Matuss – Continuum