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Matt Karmil

Having just released his debut album ‘—-‘ on Popnoname’s PNN imprint plus being commissioned for a remix of DAMH‘s ‘Black Night‘, Matt Karmil is surprisingly new to the scene. His debut record was released in 2013 and was born out of a chance meeting with Ada. After playing her some tracks, she asked what label he was releasing his music on. Matt hadn’t released a record before, so they shook hands and agreed to make his debut 12″ on IRR happen. Since then Matt Karmil has been harnessing his skills and finessing his looped based take on house and techno. We caught up with Matt to discover more about his musical heritage, new album and his involvement with Cologne.

Can you explain your approach to your mix for Inverted Audio? How it was made and what’s the reasoning behind your track selection?

CDJ’s – mainly from my own vinyl rips and then recorded to tape – when I record at home or on the radio, I find my mixes are often more subtle – and for this one I really let the harmony guide me.

Where are you originally from and what is your musical heritage? Did you grow up surrounded with music; have you worked in the industry, what are these so-called ‘departments of music’?

I’m from just outside Salisbury in the UK – the nearest point of interest would be Stonehenge – I did grow up with music, there was a piano in the house and some vinyls etc., but it wasn’t a particularly musical household, none of my family performed or anything and I didn’t play until I was 14 or so.

I’ve learned many different disciplines in music, from classical guitar to studio engineering and performing / musical direction, producing (bands and singers), songwriting etc., but somehow most of that feels very separate from my electronic music output. I guess there is a big difference between knowing how to do something, and knowing why.

When did you start making music? Was it purely for personal enjoyment, tranquility even?

I guess it’s been 20 years or so now! Wow – that’s quite a while. I started out with electric guitar, then classical guitar and ‎music theory, but even from the earliest days I was playing around with trackers, fast tracker 2, pro tracker and 4 track tape machines etc… The guitar was a total meditation and distraction from some pretty difficult stuff that was going on in my life around then. I don’t think I ever really considered doing anything else with my life.

Who or what was responsible for developing your interest in electronic music? 

As I mentioned above I was always super interested in electronic music – key moments would be hearing the early Mo Wax and Metalheadz records, and being exposed to avant-garde and music concrète from studying classical stuff.

I was playing vinyl and DJing a lot at the end of the 90’s and through the early 2000’s. Since spending time in Cologne, Jens-Uwe became a big influence on me, really giving me confidence to finish and present my pieces and experiments as ‘music’.

Last year you released your debut 12” on Ada’s IRR imprint. Can you tell how you met Ada and how she came to release a record on her label?

Jens-Uwe and Barnt invited me to play on a Cologne Tape session – I was on bass for that one, and Ada was there too – Jens-Uwe insisted that I play Ada a couple of my pieces – she loved it and asked what label I was normally releasing on – When I told her I had never released a piece of solo music she couldn’t believe it, she said she had a label and would love to release some stuff, so I shook hands with her right then and there – and she made it happen!

Which musicians and producers do you hang out with? Do you share ideas and techniques much with each other?

I guess I tend to hang out with friends who happen to be musicians and producers, rather than the other way round – Barnt, Neneh Cherry, Ada, Jens-Uwe and Axel Boman are all friends and we share a lot of music and ideas – they have all inspired and encouraged me in many different ways.

You recently released your debut album “—-” on Popnoname’s PNN imprint. How did you get involved with Jens-Uwe Beyer and what’s the reasoning behind the album title?

I think I talked a lot about Jens-Uwe and I hope it’s become clear what a positive and wonderful influence he has become in my life over the last few years. The album title – well… I hope and want it to be open to interpretation- but I will say it is four minus signs.

Can you explain your album writing process? Is the LP a random selection of tracks built over the past 2 years or was it composed over a shorter period of time?

It was composed quite quickly – the two tracks that have been around for a while longer are ‘Wow (And Flutter)‘ and ‘Holding‘ – all the tracks on the record have a lot of thought behind them, they were ‘harvested’ from a lot of tracks I made from about January and June 2013. Playing with my hardware samplers (I’m quite obsessive about the fidelity of different machines) tape machines. Until something grabs me as being worth investigating and repeating.

Are there any particular environments or places that you like to go visit or be in whilst you write music?

I have a studio in Cologne – it’s near enough to the city to be connected, but far enough away to feel free to be away from stuff.. For composing I have to feel at home and peaceful. I like forests – Scandinavia!

Your new album is heavily loop based. Tell me about your decision to employ this approach?

I discovered the Octatrack by Elektron a couple of years ago, and this has really had a big influence on my productions. It both informed and supported my ideas – I love the meditative feeling of loops, and finding a collection of sounds that draw you in and hold your attention – purity, no frills and the idea of emergent properties.

The artwork for the album is really stunning. Who’s responsible for it and why a picture of the moon?

Thanks! It fulfilled a long standing plan to work with my friend Nur. I love black and white – I’m colour blind – and when I saw the picture it just leaped out at me as the perfect visual reflection of the sounds and forms I had on the record. I’m so happy with the vinyl aesthetic – the moon looks fantastic on a 12”

Did you have a concept for the album? A route you wanted to explore?

It’s a pure and natural expression for me – I feel so lucky to have had it released and made into a physical reality, and am totally surprised by the reaction. I made around 40 pieces I guess at the time of writing, and I think the route and concept came in the assembly and sequencing of the record – deciding what would go on, and what would stay off, finding a strand and vibe that was continuous through the pieces, but also captured the attention and didn’t become monotonous. I also made a lot of arrangement edits right at the last minute, so the album really flowed the way that I wanted it to.

What’s next for you?

More of everything, but to try not and repeat myself. Learning MAX/ MSP and travel.

Will you be playing much this summer? Are you working on a live show or more of a DJ approach?

I love to do both – the live show is always a battle I think in electronic music, and I have put a huge amount of time into making a hardware show that can be spontaneous as possible. I’ve been DJing now for 15 years or so, and it’s something that I never tire of… I’d always like to do more of both and with looping and stuff, I think they start to become one and the same.

Can we expect a remix EP for the album?

That’s a nice idea – I haven’t had any remixes done as of yet – maybe I’ll reach out and see if it’s possible.

Finally, any words of wisdom?

I’m far from wise.

Matt Karmil’s album “—-” is out now on PNN, order a copy from Kompakt.

Discover more about Matt Karmil and PNN on Inverted Audio.

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