Ahead of our back 2 back set ay The Sudbeat Showcase night for The Gallery at the Minstry Of Sound in London, two former journalists play both interviewer and interviewee. In a perfect world, all Q&A sessions would be as much fun as this!
Dave: Hi Matt, It’s been a long time since we last DJed together. Wasn’t it at Shindig in Newcastle 6 or 7 years ago? How’s things? Are you still loving DJing and producing just as much as you always did? Or has the digital age taken any shine off one of the best jobs in the world?
Matt: Yeah that was a long time ago – though we last crossed paths after the Renaissance gig you & Henry played at Village Underground a few years back; you returned to the hotel just as I was giving an extremely angry blonde stripper with a mascara-pencil beard her cab-fare home. There really was an innocent explanation but your best discrete thousand-yard stare was much appreciated So the job, yeah – still enjoying the actual time in the studio & the booth as much as ever, maybe more. Loving the industry a little less on the other hand; on the production side it seems that Silicone Valley has finally succeeded in turning us all into unpaid interns for previously salaried roles. A society where all the effort & love that goes into making music is held to be as good as valueless hurts my heart a bit.
Dave: I’m about to do the next Across Borders mix CD following in your footsteps after your Across Borders: London release earlier this year. I must admit, I’m finding it harder and harder to do these compilations, mainly due to licensing issues and the amount of time they take to complete. How did you find the process this time? Do physical Mix CDs still have their place today or are they a breed on the edge of extinction?
Matt: It was a big issue for me too before I accepted. I think I answered this quandary by turning all the constraints on their head; I didn’t worry about time, I didn’t worry about being bleeding-edge upfront, I didn’t worry about exclusives. I just made the mix that most captured what I wanted to say about music at that moment. I invested lots of effort into developing an artwork concept that complemented the music, which was as rewarding a process as the musical selection. The physical CD aspect was actually a late change of plan – Armada originally envisaged the mix as a digital release; although I gently urged them to reconsider (i.e. bombarded them with cheeky/begging/wheedling messages throughout the entire process) it was only once we got towards the end that it became unanimously agreed that this would have to be a physical release too. I guess that says something about the physical format today – for all sorts of reasons artists, labels & fans alike still want that object that they can play in their car or stick on the shelf alongside their other favourite music.
Dave: I saw a post of yours recently that said you’re sick of artists never speaking their minds anymore. How everyone is scared nowadays of upsetting someone. Which artists do you admire in regards to that? Who do you think never gives a fuck and always tells it like it is despite the consequences?
Matt: Well, first of all I’m as guilty as the next person – who wants to be bucking the trend when the big bucks are in trending? If you don’t bring something of mass appeal to the table you’re looking down the wrong end of a Facebook algorithm that’s already decided that you’re basically weird – and not in a good way, more in a ‘the kid everyone shunned at school’ way. Brash opinionated guys like Deadmau5 & Diplo cut through all the noise, but not because they have anything truly controversial to say; it’s all 90% music, music industry gossip & bitching – & Facebook LOVES that. it’s ruthlessly on topic, they’re behaving in the way the lowest common denominator expects a DJ to behave (no interests outside of DJing, no introspection). If you’re not riding that particular train then you better be hand-hearting & ’thank you (insert city), really felt the love last night’-ing because that’s the only other thing Facebook has deduced the aggregated fan-entity wants from us.
And maybe that’s the point – there could very well be a whole host of socially conscious, awakened, eloquent polymath musos out there but they’ll never pop up in our feed as long as one pop/EDM buffoon is slating another for forgetting to plug in the mixer during their 20 minute set at WonderValleyDaisyLand.
Dave: Culture Vulture time, tell us a few things that you have heard, seen or read that have particularly inspired you so far in 2015.
Matt: Petrels “Flailing Tomb” is a wonderful album, the latest offering from the insanely prolific Oli Barrett; it covers the monumental noisecore symphonies & intimate mogadon introspection that Petrels is known for while also setting out a full-on three part krautrock exploration that entirely won me over by the time it reached an unexpectedly ferocious climax that even Motorhead would be proud of. Just caught the full live band version of this last week featuring no fewer than three drummers – ROCK. Actually, come to mention it – at the same gig was a band called Mothers who were fantastic live. Get on them too – they used to be called Aeroplane Flies High if you want a look on youtube. I really never watch TV unless it’s old comedies with my kids, so I can verify that Father Ted & Flight Of The Conchords are still funny. I’ve got a few interesting books on the go – Tacitus “The Annals”, Alfred Lansing “Endurance” & I’m re-reading Robert Harris “Officer & A Spy” – all historical.
Dave: When was the last time you cried and why?
Matt: Last week I got a bit teary watching “Wreck-It Ralph” with my 5-year old daughter.
Dave: What do you do in moments of weakness?
Matt: Forget that it was all my own choices that lead me here.
Dave: In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?
Matt: There’s a Haruki Murakami quote about beliefs, which I think applies equally to philosophy & any judgement-based perception of the world -
“Most people are not looking for provable truths. As you said, truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost no one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning…If a certain belief—call it ‘Belief A’—makes the life of that man or this woman appear to be something of deep meaning, then for them Belief A is the truth. If Belief B makes their lives appear to be powerless and puny, then Belief B turns out to be a falsehood. The distinction is quite clear…It means nothing to them that Belief B might be logical or provable. Most people barely manage to preserve their sanity by denying and rejecting images of themselves as powerless and puny”
So the nearest thing I have to a philosophy is to keep in mind the ‘truth’ so eloquently stated in that quote; which also makes for a great circular Catch-22 mind game.
Basically I’m an upbeat nihilist
Matt: First time I played MOS I found myself standing in the street trying futilely to get back in about 7 minutes after I came off the main stage, & ended up being rescued by 90s ‘yoof’ tv icon Normski. What was your first/weirdest Ministry Of Sound experience (as either a dj or clubber)?
Dave: I can’t recall any quirky or crazy stories from the Ministry to be honest but I do remember my first time. It wasn’t long after it opened, David Morales was playing and the sound system was something else. It was the best the UK had seen at the time and remains mightily impressive to this day. The Ministry is such an institution now. As much of a tourist attraction for young people visiting London as Madame Tussauds is for waxwork enthusiasts or Tower Bridge is for people who like dungeons. Long may it continue.
Matt: If you were to head a particular ministry (real or imaginary & bearing in mind that Sound is already taken) what would you be Minister of? What would you do in your role?
Dave: Definitely football. Although I’d probably have to work on my corruption skills. First of all I’d find a very rich sugar daddy for Leeds United and then I’d basically make the rules up as I went along to ensure England held and won every World Cup from here on. And for half time entertainment at every game I’d throw Mr Blatter and his cronies to the lions for a little light hearted fun
Matt A long time ago in a galaxy far far away you edited iconic dance magazine Mixmag & I wrote for music-tech bible Future Music – was the writing ever its own passion for you or was it always subsidiary to the music dream?
Dave: I did really enjoy my time at Mixmag. I was Editor from ’88 to ’91 so they were really exciting times. Covering the cultural revolution that was going on back then was something I have fond memories of but to be honest, DJing was always my first love and I prefer writing songs to articles.
Matt: Do you think you’ll ever write the book(s) Dave Seaman’s got in him? What would it be about?
Dave: I would love to do a book. I’m pretty sure I could come up with a half decent memoir. There’s plenty of stories to tell. But having the time is my biggest problem with this. It’s a big undertaking and I struggle to keep on top of everything as it is. Maybe one day though, perhaps when I slow down a little on the touring, but I can’t see that happening anytime soon.
Matt: Who’s your favourite seaman (either historical or fictional)?
Dave: Captain Pugwash
Matt: Who’s your favourite Dave?
Dave: Well it’s definitely not Cameron. And Beckham and Dangerous ‘Roll Another Phat One’ Pearce don’t quite have the credentials to be real favourites. Dave Grohl seems like a very nice man, but I think I’ll go for Attenborough. He’s a Dave’s Dave if ever there was one!