I don’t want this to be a diary entry. I don’t really want to start writing about an artist whose music me and him both agreed to release together in the first person narrative either, but there’s really no other way. I’ve written before (and been quoted) about how listening to a pool of tracks at one time can really make certain tracks pop out and tower over the rest and it’s a theory that Rinse FM DJ and journalist Blackdown seems to share as he revealed his preference for listening to demos as one long iPod playlist this morning on twitter. Well, it happened to me when I was in the office late, listening to tunes loud.
Wattville’s music is sleek. It’s bare, it’s beautifully percussive and it just provokes movement. From the first time I heard ‘Clan’ I was sold. I love drums. I love weird polyrhythms. I love stupid pompous tuned sounds. I love heavy kick drums and to tell you the truth, I’ve never really gotten over that first Joe record on Hessle Audio; so naturally I found a lot to love in Wattville’s music.
On Monday we put out our record label’s first 12”. It features three of Matt Evans’ original productions under the Wattville moniker: ‘Clan’ is just layer tribal drums, ‘Etching’ is a tooly, almost Teeth like roller and ‘We Jostle’ is the fusion of that atmosphere and percussion with a nagging melody running through it. New York based trio Archie Pelago (SR Mix # 121) kindly handed in an instrumental overdub version of ‘Clan’ to complete the project with them counterbalancing the drive of the drum work with what Boomkat describe as ‘Ethiopian jazz style horns’. We wanted something a bit different to close out the EP, a version that took the original stems somewhere completely different and we got exactly that. The whole thing sounds incredible at full volume.
To mark the release we’re throwing a launch party in north London with Braiden and West Norwood Cassette Library on 12th July, we’re giving away a test pressing of the record on our facebook page and we’re publishing you this, the 136th mix in our ongoing series. Just ready in time for your weekend listening…
Sonic Router: Let’s start with an introduction. Who are you? Where are you? How did you come to be there? What made you want to make music in the first place?
Wattville: My name is Matthew Evans; I’m 19 originally from Birmingham now living in London. I’m back in Birmingham for the summer mainly because I find it too hard to write anything in London, as although the inspiration there is constant, I find it so much easier to write back home.
I guess the main reason I started writing electronic music is that I had been DJing since I was 13 and never got anywhere. After speaking to my cousin he told me if I wanted gigs I had to produce so I started too. I started a couple of projects but Wattville has been the project that I for once felt comfortable in and really began to understand craft.
What are you using to make it? Can you describe your ‘studio’?
Because I’m constantly between places, different bits of my studio are dotted up and down the UK, but my essentials are a pair of handmade monitors which are superb, a good soundcard, an Akai MPD, a Jen SX 2000, a Jen Organ, a couple of Yamaha Synths and an old Casio. Also a little handheld recorder used for field recordings and the found sounds part of my work.
You have a few distinct sides to your music, different projects etc but how did you get into electronic music in the first place?
I think I more fell into it and then released I was I had fully emerged myself. I have always loved records like ‘Kid A’ etc but from around 16 onwards it started to dominate my record collection a little more. I still don’t really know why I love it so much.
What’s it like where you live? In terms of the environment outside of music… does it help you to create?
I’m at a time in my life where I never seem to be in one place for longer than a few days. I’m either at my flat in London, or back at my original home in Birmingham, or staying with a variety of friends across the UK. But when I moved to London it changed my music in such a vast way, but a way in which I have only noticed since I have sat back and listened to my work made in London. It’s work that has a lot more pace and energy, and after going to all the shows around London I began to write music that I wanted to hear in these clubs. Equally living on my own in London meant I could make music as loud as I wanted, using my monitors for the first time like a scaled down club sound system. This meant my experimentation with the lower frequencies had an openness I had never had before.
I’m currently in a flat in Elephant & Castle that has a cultural richness that I had only been a part of up until the age of about eight, when I lived on Wattville Road in Handsworth, Birmingham. It holds a real affinity to E&C as a place. When I was a kid my dad was training to be a vicar and we attended a predominantly Afro-Caribbean church where we’d have meals afterwards, and they would put on all this incredible ethnic music that I used to love at that age. The day I got to E&C I walked around the markets and that same rhythm was all I heard. It felt, in a weird way, like a home from home like somehow I had gone full circle.
So you’re constantly be travelling from city to city? How do you find the constant movement?
Yeah, I used to really hate it, but now if I’m in a place for longer than a couple of weeks I can’t take it. I write different music everywhere. Most of the We Jostle EP was written in my girlfriends flat in Sheffield or on the train to see her. I have now also only just realised that when I’m making a track I get properly into it, like physically kind of going for it. Took me a while to figure why people kept looking at me on trains weird.
Can you give readers an idea of what they can expect from the We Jostle EP?
If you want something with no pretence that fun to dance too and unexpected in a dance then I guess that’s what it is. If you can listen to it stood still I think I’ve failed in my mission statement. Conceptually it was a record for movement. I think also people don’t have enough faith in the power of percussion alone; tracks often get inundated with pads and fillers. Like the tracks aren’t stripped back because there was none of that stuff in the first place and I never intended too. I also hate being able to guess a chord progression or melody, structurally I like knowing where something is going otherwise it wouldn’t be dance music, but often progressions are so obvious that some electronic music sounds so close to a pop record that’s it’s a little uncomfortable. And I realise that on tracks like ‘Clan’ the melody is pretty weird and even if you hate that, I don’t think on a first listen you could say ‘I know where this is going’.
What else have you got coming up?
I’m doing a few shows around the UK and finalising the follow up record. I’m just feeling really good about this project and its output. Writing and then playing the shows is when I feel really content.
Tell us a bit about the mix…
The mix in broad terms is just all music I fully love. There’s nothing in there I don’t listen to a lot. Also when figuring a track list I didn’t want it all to be tropical, percussive rhythms as yes parts of the EP are like that, but it’s only a part of what I do. I also think a lot of the tracks in there are not as transient as some electronic music can be, like a lot of them I wouldn’t be able to date. I think that’s important in a mix.
Traditionally we ask mixers for some wise words. Do you have any wordly wisdom for our readers?
Someone said to me not too long ago ‘If music be the food of love, eat on’. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time.
DOWNLOAD: Wattville – Sonic Router Mix #136
Nicolas Jaar – Variations [Circus]
Floating Points – Myrtle Avenue [Eglo Records]
Burial & Four Tet – Moth [Text]
Objekt – Cactus [Hessle Audio]
Bassjackers & Apster – Klambu [Sneakerz Musik]
Tessela – Darlene, Please [2nd Drop]
French Fries & Bambounou – Hugz [Clek Clek Boom
French Fries - Yo Vogue [Clek Clek Boom]
Wattville – We Jostle [Sonic Router Records]
Batida – Ka Heueh (feat. Ngongo) [Soundway Records]
Wattville – Clan [Sonic Router Records]
Batida – Bazuka (Quem Me Rusgou) [Soundway Records]
Joe – Level Crossing [Hessle Audio]
Mount Kimbie – Carbonated [Hotflush]
Bwana – Baby Let me finish [Somethinksounds]
Objekt – The Goose That Got Away [Objekt]
Wattville – Etching [Sonic Router Records]
Dark Sky – Reflex [Pictures Music]
Ramadanman – Bass Drums [Soul Jazz Records]
Loefah – Rufage [DMZ]
J-Sweet – Road Angel
Digital Mystikz – Haunted [DMZ]
Wattville’s We Jostle EP is out on Monday through Sonic Router Records.
Order the vinyl directly from us here and get the digital files free.
Photo: Will Baker