Q&A with Matt Tolfrey, Playing Electric Pickle on Friday
On Monday we previewed the upcoming Friday night performance by Matt Tolfrey at Electric Pickle hosted by SAFE and with the date nearing, it's already clear that this is one booking highly anticipated by the local EDM cognoscenti. The talented British DJ/producer and Leftroom label owner has taken the London underground by storm in recent years. He's rocked dancefloors from Dubai to Detroit, and he's certainly no stranger to Miami, or the Electric Pickle, which he pretty much calls home whenever he plays in this city. We caught up with Tolfrey, who's already in town and looking forward to Friday's gig, and picked his brain a bit.
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
New Times:What can you tell us about the work that goes into managing your labels and their increasing success? What's the secret to keeping an independent label afloat during this era of digital distribution?
Matt Tolfrey: Two things really. Firstly, being honest, I had to take on a label manager. I used to run Leftroom completely solo, but I was getting too busy touring and working in the studio that the label really suffered. So I took on Leon Oakney who also runs Crosstown Rebels and Hot Natured and used to be the main man behind Derrick Carter's Classic label and Luke Solomon's Music For Freaks. He is a genius and keeps me on my toes, so the label has really taken a big step up over the last two months. The
second thing really comes down to working out how to sell music in the digital world, and realizing that something that sells well on vinyl might not sell well on digital and vice-versa.
What's it like juggling the multiple roles of label and A&R work, DJing and producing? When push come to shove, which is the most rewarding of these roles for your personally?
Leon really has taken a big label work load off me, so I would say I don't really do that side of things anymore. If I was forced to put the other three in order it would be DJing, A&R and then producing solo-wise. When working with Chris [Inxec] I would say DJing, producing (with Chris), and A&R. Working with Chris can be magical, exciting and very inspiring. For example when we get something right in the studio, it can involve me running around, shouting out random stuff 'cause I am so hyped up!
Juggling everything together I find rather easy as I am totally immersed in this industry -- I live and breath it. There is nothing better than during the week turning out a couple of hits in the studio, signing a new artist, buying some new tunes and swapping some with your crew, then testing all the stuff you have worked on and bought or obtained on the
London's underground EDM scene seems to be picking up significantly by all accounts, with some artists even hinting that it could surpass Berlin as an EDM capital in the new decade. Having hosted parties there for the last few years, including your Leftroom residency at T Bar, what's your take on the local scene's development?
The main scene that drives the London underground is the Sunday parties. The Fridays and Saturdays will always be busy, but it is the true clubber for me that makes it out on Sundays. Normally these parties have lesser-known DJs, and are smaller in comparison to somewhere like Fabric, but these parties regularly blow my mind. Two in particular in London at the moment which are really in full swing are Half Baked and Lo Kee, where I luckily get to play at from time to time. There is less expectation on a Sunday also, so I think DJs experiment more with different sounds, as a lot of people do not have the energy they did on Saturday.
What have been some of the highlights of 2010 for you, and what do you have one the agenda for the rest of the year?
The year started well bringing in the new year at Cocoon in London with Cassy. Since then it has been a roller coaster of fun, really. I have toured USA twice, done WMC, started a new party in Nottingham, England, in our own venue called the Wherehouse, played in Dubai and Berlin, played at Fabric and most recently at Old Miami in Detroit during DEMF which is probably one of the best parties I have ever been to or played at.
This year I am most looking forward to taking our Leftroom label showcase to Panorama Bar for the first time on July 30th, closing one of Glastonbury's dance tents on the Friday night for the first time, playing Cocoon in Frankfurt, Zoo Project in Ibiza, and then touring the USA again under our "Don't Be Leftout" banner in October. It is going to feature 2-4 Leftroom artists at each party, all over the country, with some interesting concepts and themes. This is then continuing through South America and Europe till the end of December.
Production-wise I would say I am most excited about (fingers crossed) Chris and I finishing our debut album by the end of the year, we are 4/5 tracks in at the moment and it is coming along very organically. Nothing is being forced and we're lucky to be working with some great vocalist and percussionists. Also our debut EP on Rekids is out in September, and the two tracks are looking to be big this summer in Ibiza and beyond. Let's see what happens...
You've played to Miami audiences before, during past WMCs and even at the Electric Pickle where you'll be returning on Friday. How do we compare to the crowds in London, Berlin and beyond?
I love playing at the Pickle -- I feel it has the crowd I can relate to the most in Miami. It would be where I would go if I lived here, for example. Saying that though, I think deep down, once everyone let's go a little, every crowd is the same. You just need to know how to get them ticking.
What do you have in store for us on Friday night?
I have just started using Traktor. Friday will be my 4th time using it. I was getting sent so much music 2-3 months ago that it was getting hard to keep up with it, forgetting to burn certain tracks, having to burn too many CDs, etc., so I decided to give Traktor a go. I have all my music organized in my own specific way, and I have found my DJing has already taken a step up. I use the vinyl controllers also, so in theory my mind already feels like I am playing more vinyl than ever before. I have a lot of new Leftroom material to test out and loads of new tracks I have collected on the road so far. Let's just say I don't normally record my sets, but I am going to be recording from start to end on Friday!