In his decade-long career, Matt Cutler, aka Lone, has proved himself to be quite the musical chameleon. From his 2008 debut hip-hop and Boards of Canada-inspired LP ‘Lemurian’ to the glittering melody-drenched numbers on his 2012 R&S release ‘Galaxy Garden’, to his latest explorations of maximal breaks and frenetic rave nostalgia on last year’s ‘Levitate’ and this summer’s ‘Ambivert Tools’ EPs, Cutler’s work may be diverse but it consistently holds the capacity to get the dancefloor moving.
And the dancefloor is the place for Cutler’s music. Keeping up a heavy touring schedule as a live act – most recently with drummer Chris Boot and AV artist Konx-om-Pax – Cutler has also spent the last ten years honing his DJ skills to a fine art. A Lone DJ set traverses the breadth of his varied influences, while keeping up momentum, dropping in everything from Kashif to Aphex Twin and Radiohead.
Extending this esoteric selection-process out of the club-space and into your headphones and hi-fis, Cutler has just recorded his first mix CD for the prestigious DJ-Kicks series, including a stack of his own new productions in the process. We spoke to him about his approach to DJing, the unexpected benefits of growing up around music you hate, and the necessities of carving out your own scene.
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How influential was your family’s record collection growing up?
To be honest, I always hated pretty much anything they were listening to! They loved music but it was never super important in our house. My parents loved disco but that used to drive me mental; their Motown-type records were about the only ones I could get along with.
If anything, it influenced me to get into other things; all the shite put me on a totally different track musically! Having said that, my older sister loved house – she always used to play Renaissance compilations, Prodigy, Altern-8 and older rave tapes – that totally inspired me.
What first drew you to making music and DJing?
Just hearing the music that moved me: old rave/hardcore and breakbeat. That stuff that blew my tiny mind and made me want to work out how people were putting these tracks and mixes together and have a go myself. Having something to listen to that’s all my own is the greatest reward for the hard work and it’s the only real motivation for still doing it today.
What was the scene like in Nottingham growing up? Was there anyone there making the kind of music you were?
I grew up in a shit little village on the outskirts of the city so there was really no one doing music other than a few friends of mine from school. We influenced each other but never had anyone to communicate with to expand on what we were doing outside our little group. By the time I was making ‘Lemurian’, I’d moved to the city and was hanging out with a few new heads and going to clubs.
But, in terms of the music I was making, there was really only me and my mate Tom who makes stuff as Keaver & Brause (we also made an album together as Kona Triangle). So, a scene of two really!
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Having something to listen to that’s all my own is the greatest reward...
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What’s your approach to DJing?
I tend to have different sections, or ideas of sections worked out in my head and then apply them based on the time of my set, the vibe of the room, the size of the room, etc. I’ve learnt that unless you’ve played at a certain place before you can never totally know what to expect, so planning everything out can lead to a bit of a head-fuck! It’s best to have as many angles covered as possible and to expect the unexpected.
What is the role of the DJ, in your opinion?
To make people move, in every sense of the word. You want to expose people to new ideas in real time, since it’s an immediate art form; people want to feel something right there and then.
What’s your ideal slot to DJ?
Typically, two hours in a dark room with a serious sound-system to around 2-300 people at around 1 am; that’s probably where I feel most comfortable DJing. Having said that, I played on a beach in France this summer in the early evening as the sun was going down and that’s a setting I want to DJ in a whole lot more.
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I wanted to create something that I’d put on at an after-party...
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What was your approach to making this DJ-Kicks mix?
It totally differs from what I’d normally play out in a mix. I wanted to create something that I’d put on at an after-party; something you can drift in and out of. It was inspired by listening to John Peel and Mary Anne Hobbs on the radio when I was a kid also. You’d hear such great contrasts of music in their shows and I always found that so beautiful, perfect for listening to in the dark.
I recently discovered archive recordings of Autechre’s Disengage radio shows and they totally inspired me as well. I mainly wanted to paint a picture of what’s informed what I’ve been putting out throughout my career, and include as much of my music in there too.
What other mix CDs have been influential to you?
Blech II mixed by PC and Strictly Kev for Warp Records. I still play that all the time!
'Levitate' and the 'Ambivert Tools' EPs both play with rave nostalgia and the intensity of the club-space; with your next LP are you looking to keep things in a similar dance-focused vein, or take it in another direction?
I have a ton of really strange and beautiful music stacked up which definitely isn’t club friendly but I really want it to see the light of day. It’s comparable to ‘Galaxy Garden’ or parts of ‘Levitate’ – it’s ridiculously colourful, not rave-influenced in any way. It’ll be a while off but I’m itching to put some of that stuff out.
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'DJ-Kicks - Lone' is out now.
Words: Ammar Kalia
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