One of the most enduring DJ/producer partnerships is winding down, and Matthew B, aka Bushwacka, has announced that he is going solo. Although he will still play some gigs with old mucker Layo, Matthew has effectively branched out on his own now with a new pseudonym – Just B
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I felt that a reinvention was important for myself on a personal level,” Matthew tells DJ Mag. “I’ve been DJing for 25 years, I’ve been making music for 20 years and I really felt it was time to set myself new goals and work with new people.
“Last year was a complete turnaround in terms of everything,” he continues. “Everyone I work with, everything I do — musically. I closed down my old studio and built a new one and completely re-kitted it, got a new manager, new agent, new name, going solo, new image, working with new labels. It was a big year of transition.”
He says that it's been a fantastic beginning since he started the new project, but why the name Just Be? “My best friend who now lives in Ibiza, I spoke to him in 2011 and told him I was in the process of reinventing myself,” Matthew informs. “I told him I had a whole new set of ideas and was trying to come up with a name. I said I wanted it to be two syllables, and pretty simple – would he go away and have a think about it. He turned round to me and said, ‘Why do you want me to go away and think about it? I’ve already got it!’”
The DJ/producer thought about his friend's suggestion for a short while, thinking ‘This really works’. “My original DJ name when I first started was Matthew B, then I became Bushwacka… Just Be was not Matthew B or Bushwacka, it was Just Be, and also – without wanting to sound too spiritual and hippy – it’s a way of describing the ethos of how I try to live my life. On a daily basis I fall down quite a lot with it, but I think it’s a pure, clear way of life.”
When we ask him if he's a Buddhist, he says he's not but has a certain affinity with the religion and even stayed with some Buddhist monks in the Japanese mountains a few years ago. When he started with Layo, he says, riding the success of peerless melancholic anthem 'Love Story', they were playing four or five hour sets that allowed them to go deep into the music. “Recently, everything’s changed though,” he says. “When you’re flying around the world to go and do a two-hour set somewhere… for me, as a performer on a personal level, you’d play for half an hour and then stop, and then another half an hour and then stop. It became very frustrating, from a creative point of view.”
Saying that trying different ways of playing together — back to back, three-on, three-off, or splitting the set in half — didn't really satisfy, he felt he needed to go solo. “I firmly believe that it’s a good thing to walk away from something on a high,” he says. “For me to be able to reach my potential and still enjoy what I’m doing, it was time to try something different.”
Following relatively low-key releases on Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical and Maison D'Etre towards the end of last year, new single 'After The Storm' — which comes with a cool video with a meaningful anti-discrimination message — is a tribal tech-house triumph. Also released on near-impeccable German imprint Get Physical, it could also have been written with Brazil in mind – a country that Matthew has visited on many occasions.
“I’ve been to Brazil 59 times now in the last 13 years,” he reveals, “and within those 59 times we’ve been all over the country. Layo met his wife, we’ve done amazing gigs and festivals, we’ve recorded musicians there, we’ve performed live there, we’ve made close friends there, we’ve seen some beautiful places, we’ve had amazing rock & roll times – lots and lots of fun. The friendliness of the people, that warm vibe, that special Brazilian magic, people who love to go out and have fun… it’s a really magic place.”
It's no surprise to hear that Matthew is off to Brazil again just after we talk to him, and he enthuses about how good the resident warm-up DJs have always been and that he thought about moving there but wasn't going to leave the UK permanently while his son was growing up in London.
After Brazil, he has shows at Watergate in Berlin and then the Miami WMC, and lots more releases and gigs as the year unfolds. “I’ve got a new single coming on Crosstown that we are holding back for the summer, cos it’s something special,” he teases.
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