Growing up in Holland as a classically trained musician, Matthew Dekay today stands at the forefront of Berlin's deep house and techno scene.
With a back catalogue of releases on labels such as Innervisions, Cecille and Pooled and a label he co-runs with Lee Burridge (All Day I Dream), Dekay has decided to launch a label of his very own entitled Für Die Liebe.
We took five with the man ahead of a label launch party on the terrace at Oval Space, London, on Sunday 1st September featuring Matthew himself, Fritz Zander and YokoO to uncover a little more about the venture...
Little has been announced regarding the launch of your new label Für Die Liebe. Can you give us some information about this project. How did it come about?
Truth be told I was sick of the standard record label formula in every regard. There are a lot of things we are going to be doing differently at FDL but we want to keep them as a surprise for now. My main goal was to find extremely talented musicians to join forces and work together as part of a collective that would inspire me as much as we could each other.
What sort of sounds can we expect to hear from Für Die Liebe that might differ from your other label All Day I Dream?
FDL will be an extension of what I have been producing over the last few years with even more focus on the classical/ambient element.
What are your intentions for the imprint, do you see it as a platform for pushing your own music, or other artists who you support?
Both. I am trying to concentrate exclusively on a small group of musicians and really nurture their talent and creativity by providing a free and open community environment. I feel loyalty is paramount, meaning I don’t want to end up with 50 artists on the label all with a single track signed. It’s very important to me that this is a group project and everyone involved feels like they have total creative control to write and release music that they may not be able to do on other labels.
The phrase "Für Die Liebe" ('For The Love') was also the name of the track you produced with Lee Burridge last year. Does this phrase hold a certain sentiment with you, in terms of your passion for music and your motivation as an artist?
It is necessary for me to do all this for the ‘right’ reasons and yes, to me that means for the love. I have been tempted in the past to walk the other path and unfortunately in this industry it’s a constant battle between business and creativity. Everyone needs to make a living but a lot of people who choose the artistic road have been sucked dry by a trade where a lot of players are only in it for the money. The agencies, managers etc all turn it into a business for their own self interest with little regard to how it affects creative minds.
In order to stay motivated and inspired I’m trying to create an environment with FDL where the emphasis is on creating purely for the purpose of creating.
I realise more and more now after all my experiences how fragile the art of making music is and how easily it can be destroyed by external influences. I think it’s important to retain some sort of innocence and playfulness with this process. It’s something that we all have in us when we are children and the more you learn about life the harder it gets to find that place where nothing else matters and you can completely disappear.
You've also had releases on top German label Innervisions. Are you still in close association with Ame and Dixon and other artists from that imprint?
Yes very. Their ongoing event brand “Lost in A Moment” is named after a track I released on the label last year and I will be playing in Berlin at Berghain/Panorama Bar in October for their next club night.
Being classically trained, you have an extremely musical background which undoubtedly informs the high quality and intricacy to your productions. What is it that attracted you to electronic music?
First of all, the freedom. Playing classical music has a lot of restrictions due to the traditional nature of it. There is no room for mistakes and to me that is not very interesting. It’s also the technological aspect that attracted me to electronic music. I have a degree in electronics and felt it was the perfect fusion. I suppose another main reason is growing up in The Netherlands where it is a very important part of our country’s culture and because of that I was exposed to it quite early on in my life.
So what did you grow up listening to?
Interesting actually my Dad was a bass player and was always listening to everything from funk to country and whatever came in between.
I was obsessed with the band Level 42 for their funkiness, interesting chord structures and harmonies and their lead singer/ bass player Mark King was my idol growing up.
My mother was at the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum with a huge passion for Romanian and other Eastern European traditional folk music as well as classical favourites like Vivaldi and Beethoven. At the same time I was also curious about Synth artists like Vangelis and Mike Oldfield. I think this combination is a direct reflection of the music I make.
What is your favourite piece of studio equipment?
My beloved Amphion monitor speakers designed by Swiss audio guru Corrado Faccioni.
Do you prefer doing live sets or DJ sets, and what is it you prefer about either one?
Long DJ sets! I like to try and really tell a story with my music selection. I love playing with the dynamics to enhance the overall journey. It’s essential for me to be as close to the dance floor as possible to play the best I can and feel comfortable in the venue. The direct interaction with the crowd is what stimulates me the most.
Having established yourself over the years in Berlin, a leading city in techno and house and nightclub culture, how do you feel the scene has evolved, if at all, since you started out?
It’s really crazy in Berlin. There is nowhere else in the world like it when it comes to club culture. Underground is the mainstream here. A lot of the clubs don’t even have regulated closing times which means if you are booked to play the last set there is a chance it could be anywhere from 2 hours til the last people leave perhaps even 12 hours later! I feel like you can get away with playing music in Berlin you can’t anywhere else and that can become a problem for DJ’s that don’t play that much outside the bubble. The crowds are very open minded here even the tourists. They come here and listen to DJ’s they may never give an opportunity to in their home country just because they are in Berlin. I also really like the fact you can’t take photos in the clubs here. Everybody these days is so preoccupied with being on their phones all night sharing pictures online with people who are not even there with them it really distracts from just being in the moment and enjoying your night with the friends you actually came out with.
Many British producers (Blawan, Scuba) have moved to Berlin recently and developed a more industrial, techno-orientated sound. How do you feel about this, would you say that there is an authentic Berlin sound which cannot be recreated?
Absolutely yes. There is a very strong influence from the city itself, the audience the clubs here attract and the German sub culture which has always had an element of darkness associated with it.
It’s influenced my sound a lot too but in a different way. By being in Berlin I’ve really learned to strip it down more and apply the less-is-more approach when writing music.
Can you recommend any new artists who you are into at the moment?
Yes, for electronic music I would have to say Powel and Kjofol who are involved in the label and also NY based duo Bob Moses.Then for Sunday couch sessions I love listening to my most recent and the mesmerising voice of Stuart Warwick, and also the folky sounds of Norwegian singer Farao.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you following the launch of the label...any exciting releases in the works?
I’m just so happy to be back in the studio again recording a lot. I’m so grateful to be doing something with my life I truly love. I’m feeling very inspired at the moment and looking forward to many memorable moments with the people involved in this project and then being able to share what we create with the rest of the world.
words: Lauren Bush