Stryker Matthews is the latest signing to Skream's Disfigured Dubz imprint. Working out of New York, creating ethereal rhythmic beats, Stryker is the hitting the right spot with the right people. Lets get down to business...
Your single "Binary Skake"/ "Batty Koda" is about to drop on Skream's Disfigured Dubz label, receiving support from both BBC Radio 1 and Rinse FM in the UK. That's quite a statement for a breakthrough artist in dubstep/ 140 bpm music!? How did Skream first come into contact with your music?
Yeah! I've been really pleased and humbled by the response so far. Skream and I hooked up through a mutual friend and were hanging out after he had played a show here in New York when a couple of my tracks came on the speakers.
He asked about them and said that he wanted to put out "Binary Shake", just like that. It was mind blowing for me to have just met the dude and have him vibing on the tracks since he's been one of my favorite producers for quite a while. One of the things I really respect about him is that he's still willing to take chances with his production and the running of his label even though he's reached a pretty comfortable place in his career.
It would be easy for a guy like him to kick out a bunch of cookie cutter music without a lot of care and promote artists that everyone knows would sell tons of records, but he's still working at pushing things forward.
"He asked about them and said that he wanted to put out "Binary Shake", just like that."
You live in New York, a city with a wealth in music history and heritage equal to any other in the world, but you have also lived in Northern California and Southern California and have a rich musical background. How has this journey influenced you as an electronic producer? How has your life journey influenced your music?
Growing up in Southern California, I was playing music with my friends forming and reforming bands, swapping instruments and genres on a daily basis, it seemed like. We had a really broad palette of sounds we messed around with, which still influences me a lot now in keeping my mind open to new, weird stuff. I really fell into dance music kind of later in the game while I was living in the Bay Area after college, so San Francisco was really my first introduction to a proper club scene. I'm glad it was since it's got a pretty deep tradition and embraces lots of different sounds that you might not be able to hear played out in a lot of other cities.
Since moving to NYC its been really fun to see the difference in attitude and sound between here and California. There's lots of cool stuff coming out of both places at the moment, but I've definitely been enjoying the dark basement vibe here and there's lots of fresh artists taking lots of risks and doing some cool shit. A lot of people here feel like the city is in kind of a down period creatively, but I feel like there's a lot of cool things bubbling under the surface if you know where to look.
Both tracks on your latest single combine emotive chords with drum machine-esque percussion, in part combining deeply rhythmic beats with almost melancholic pad work. What if any feeling do you try to provoke in the listener?
I'm not really out to provoke a specific response, I want to make sounds that leave room for everyone to experience the tunes in their own way. That being said, I've always been partial to a bit more of a deeper personal vibe on the dancefloor versus a communal hands in the air kind of thing. I try to make music that is certainly dance floor focused, but is still something you can enjoy in some headphones on the train too.
"I want to make sounds that leave room for everyone to experience the tunes in their own way."
As well as your original tracks, it seems like you are also partial to a cheeky remix or two? Your bootleg mixes of M.I.A.'s "Caps Lock" and 2000F & J Kamata's "You Don't Know What Love Is" display the same richness in percussive elements, with an almost low tech sound. Where do you find influence for the rhythms in your tracks?
I like remixes as a chance to do something a little different, but it all comes back to rhythm for me in the end. I've always loved the percussion traditions from places like Africa and South America so I like things to skip a little more as opposed to a straight four four vibe and let the rhythm do a lot of the talking. I've always liked tracks that seem a little rougher for one reason or another and like things that are generally a little more raw and stripped back. Tracks that leave some space in the mix for you to appreciate what every sound there brings to the table in the overall context of things are really some of my favorites.
In the UK, a lot of what we see of the American scene is what has been collectively named somewhat amusingly as bro-step. As a US based artist there must be a sense of frustration that the music that you are part of is often misrepresented? Which artists do you feel truely represent the US sound?
Yeah that is definitely the case at times. Although, it's not something that I'm going to claim has been really negative or to be blamed on the artists making that music because overall I think its been a positive factor in dance music taking root over here and really is a "gateway drug" for a lot of American kids to get into deeper sounds.
One of the cool things I'm hearing in the US right now is kind of an appreciation for different regional traditions and influences in American club music, with younger producers taking a lot of classic dance sounds and flipping them. Detroit techno, acid house, and disco sounds getting flipped with newer styles like bmore, footwork or trap have made the DJ mixes and production out lately a lot less predictable, which is always a good thing.
A couple of labels to keep an eye out for that are pushing some really cool stuff are Body High, which is run by Samo Soundboy and Jerome from LOL Boys, and Fade to Mind, headed up by Kingdom. Both these labels are mostly centered on younger American producers and feature lots of new sounds coming out all over the US.
Stryker Matthews - "Binary Shake"/ "Batty Koda" is out on Disfigured Dubz 14.5.12