Mat the Alien: Extraterrestrial versatility

Monday 08th, December 2014 / 18:02
By Paul Rodgers
EDM veteran Mat the Alien talks continual evolution. Photo: Mike Barry

EDM veteran Mat the Alien talks continual evolution.
Photo: Mike Barry

CALGARY — Mat the Alien, who sometimes goes by his human name, Mat Andrew, is one of Canada’s most renowned and diverse DJs. He incorporates scratching and technical mixing into sets that encompass a wide variety of bass-heavy beats.

Mat’s extraterrestrial talents stem from a deep background of musical immersion, from growing up in England, browsing the racks at his dad’s indie record shop Vibes Records, playing drums in a rock band and then discovering acid house back in ‘88. Driven by a love of snowboarding, Mat first landed in Canada in 1995 and made a home in Whistler, B.C.

Whistler is also home to Maxx Fish, an infamous live music venue where Mat and his partner in crime The Librarian have been running weekly residency for the past five years. Mat says, “We get a mix of Japanese kids and English kids and skiers and snowboarders, it’s always a fun crowd.”

After coming off of a busy festival season, playing at music festivals such as Shambhala and Bass Coast, Mat keeps himself busy with the Whistler residency, mountain biking in the summer, snowboarding in the winter, regular tours and producing music. As Mat says, “There’s just not enough hours in the day.”

Mat has experimented with a live video element in his DJ sets, but his upcoming leg of the tour will not feature it as he has experienced some technical complications such as his computer crashing or overheating, and feels that it can be limiting to the music that he plays.

“I found video sets fun, but then [my performance is] just less spontaneous and you have to work it out and it’s harder to throw a bunch of new tracks in. I don’t want to just have visuals over the tracks I want it actually to be videos to them,” says Mat, indicating that he would prefer to either do a fully music-based set, or a complete audio-visual experience.

Video elements or not, Mat’s live sets are a sight to behold. There is always something different, and always wildly entertaining, which his wide fan base can attest to. He also maintains a healthy relationship with his fans with an avid social media presence.

“It can take up a lot of time, but I really enjoy Instagram because I just like taking pictures everywhere I go. Facebook’s obviously got its flaws and advantages, but it’s really cool for people to contact you and comment on stuff and just feel like its a bit more interactive. I like talking to people,” says Mat, who also will never turn down a photo with a fan, usually making his classic alien face.

It’s evident following his Instagram posts that he has a keen eye for photography.

“’I’ve got the G12 Canon, so the odd pictures with that, but then I went over the handlebars on my bike at Burning Man and landed on my leg on it and got a massive Charlie-horse and it never worked after that. So mostly all [pictures are taken] with my iPhone.”

Like his live sets, Mat’s musical production is versatile and cannot be pinned down to one sub-genre of bass music.

“I put an album out and that was a mix of some clubby stuff but then some stuff more that you make, like you get home after you’ve had a weekend at the club and just try and make something a bit more chill or different,” he says.

In a constantly evolving scene like EDM, versatility is crucial. Genre trends come and go, different styles rise and fall, but the music as a whole still draws massive crowds. Dubstep, for instance, became insanely popular around 2008, but was so over-commercialized it lost its underground appeal and faded out of the limelight again. Speaking of his early days of DJing, he says “There wasn’t drum and bass, there wasn’t dubstep so if you weren’t open-minded you would never have found those things or got into them. I always try and accept new styles, but just within a realm of what fits into what I like.”

So while music fads change, at its core the scene is healthy.

“Even though dubstep has gone out of the mainstream, the music’s actually better than it’s ever been,” states Mat. His performance and latest album Alienated Vol 1, on his label Really Good Recordings, are a testament to that.

Mat has made a name for himself within Canada and internationally over a long and steady career. He continues to hone his skills, both in the studio and on the road.

“I don’t really see that you could ever get bored of it,” he says. “Because it’s just endless, the possibilities… and the amount that you can learn the more you dig into music, the more it branches out.”

You can catch Mat the Alien at TEN Nightclub on December 12th.

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