Matt Edwards In The Studio
- Words: Brandon Ivers
In retrospect, 2001's "bastard pop" phenomenon was all about the triumph of wit over production prowess. However, as Radio Slave, Matt Edwards and Serge Santiago were among the few artists able to balance both. Their mash-up of Kylie Minogue and New Order ("Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head") became so popular that Kylie performed the remix at the 2002 Brit Awards–a move that legitimized mash-ups and scored Radio Slave more high-profile remix work.
Radio Slave parted ways in 2003, but Matt Edwards became a successful producer in his own right. Under the aliases Rekid and Quiet Village, he pushed forward a slower, atmospheric style of bassline house, its production so idiosyncratic that a few people tried (and failed) to come up with a new genre name for it. One such attempt, "smack house," was applied to the sludgy, deliberate pacing of Made in Menorcaa, an album made under Edwards' Rekid moniker. Thankfully, that name didn't stick, though the heavy reverberations of Menorca and Edwards' Rekids imprint–with releases like "My Bleep" and "Next Stop Chicago"–have certainly expanded house's boundaries exponentially. Here, the Brighton, U.K.-based remix master gives you a look behind the ones and zeroes.
XLR8R:What prompted you to start doing mash-ups and re-edits?
Matt Edwards: Mostly a frustration with the lack of good remixes out there. During the '90s, it became this thing where artists were hardly using any of the elements of the original song, and it got hard to tell what was and wasn't a remix. But there were so many records in the '80s that had these alternate mixes... People used to say we hardly changed the songs we remixed, but I'd rather work with the original parts of a song, EQ and effect those parts, and put it back together.
Was it hard transitioning from the mash-up mentality to original production?
No. When Serge and I were working together, he was doing the engineering and I picked up a lot. I realized around that time that I really liked the technical side of things, so I started learning how to use a few programs like [Fruity Loops] FL Studio, Acid, and Cubase. I had been into doing graphic stuff on PCs prior to producing, so I think getting into the technical part came more naturally.
Do you do most of your sequencing in software?
I've never even used MIDI! I've always stuck to audio, taking bits from all sorts of things in software...like, one part will be done in FL Studio, and I'll export that out and arrange it with Cubase. It's a little more manageable; you can control the fades of individual [drum] sounds with so much more precision that way. I also use a program called Buzz, which is this freeware synthesizer. It has all these generators that let you load up drum machines or effects–you can get amazing sounds from it.
What do you like most about FL Studio?
That you can throw in so many sounds from the side browser and within minutes have a groove going! Also, for me, it's the quickest way to see if a sample-based loop track will work. A lot of people shake their heads in disbelief when I tell them I use FL Studio, but one look at what you can do [with it] and they're like, "Fuck! That's so cool!"
Does arranging in audio ever get cumbersome?
It's not difficult when you're working with audio to rearrange what you've done and add and subtract elements to build different mixes, et cetera. I have all my [parts] on individual tracks, so I can run new EQ and different effects over them, or cut them up differently and place them elsewhere. I use the Waves plug-ins a lot for that sort of thing, the [Renaissance] reverb especially.
How do you approach quality control when you do a remix?
If the DJs are playing it–guys like Villalobos and François K–I think that's one way you know it's good. But I usually make several different versions of a track, and send all those versions off to labels or artists when I'm done. I might send seven versions, but the label might only take three of the mixes, for example.
What's the most important thing in your studio, aside from your computer?
That would have to be my monitors. You just can't make a good track if you can't hear what you're doing. I've got some Dynaudio monitors that are fantastic–the BM5As, I think they're called. They're amazing–such a clear sound. I really don't understand that school of thought where you should use crap monitors...you might as well enjoy what you're doing, right?
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