Interview with dark synth trio Matte Blvck

After years of performing in bands such as Julien K, The New Division, Moving Units and collaborating with heavy hitters such as DJ Ten and Timecop1983, Matte Blvck emerges from a dark unexplored corner of the San Diego underground to deliver their debut I’m Waving, Not Drowning. Inspired by the elements of the bands they have worked with and moving beyond them, Matte Blvck delivers a soundtrack of sinister pleasures for an uncertain world as if it was everyone’s last night on Earth.

Despite playing together for years, Alex, Bidi and Daniel had never collaborated on their own music. Thus, they made the decision in 2019 to combine years of production and performance experience with their diverse range influences to produce a fresh brand of mechanical tinged dance music. I’m Waving, Not Drowning captures the band’s affinity for dark synthwave while complimenting it with epic, gritty industrial anthems and unabashedly embracing their love of underground techno.

The record was mostly written and produced during the global shutdown due to Covid-19, and has spawned an introverted yet relatable sound that captures the feeling not just of the band, but of life in general. The band understood that if they created an album in isolation that touched on topics such as pain, panic and suffering they should also ultimately make it hopeful. To them, the title I’m Waving, Not Drowning isn’t the end, but is in fact, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Matte Blvck’s latest track, ‘Bare’ is out now with a stunning visualizer courtesy of visual artists Lake Hills and Alex Casillas

Where would you say your musical journey began? What is your earliest musical memory?

I was 9 years old singing in front of my family in Mexico, still to this day I’m forced to perform at family gatherings.

What led you to create the kind of music you produce today?

Aside from producing, I’ve spent most of my life as a professional drummer. I took a gig in 2018 with a rock band “Julien K” formerly known as the “Orgy”. We were supporting Bush and Stone Temple Pilots and I remember a moment while sitting on that drum throne and playing in front 20 thousand people that I really needed to focus on my production and songwriting. It was very clear to me that I wanted to get off the drum seat and build something new from scratch. During those long hours on the road, I wrote a lot of the content that’s featured on our album “I’m Waving, not drowning “.

What are the key pieces of gear/software that you are using to define your sound?

I’m currently working off Ableton and I track with a modded Apollo Quad Interface. I’ve accumulated literally thousands of samples over the years that have been passed on by my producer friends and sound designers.  Here’s all my go-to plugins, Output’s (Substance, Analog Strings, Portal), Vahalla (shimmer, vintage), Sound Toys (echo boy jr, Decapitator, Devil loc)  Fab Filters (Pro Q3, Saturn “Massive)“CLA Vocals and Nectar”  Maag 4, and all of UADs rad software. 

Please share some insight into ‘Bare’. How did it come together?

‘Bare’ is a journey of self-discovery gone horribly wrong. It’s about opening yourself up and looking within only to find that amongst the beauty of one’s soul could lie a horrible monster within.

Thus, in order to find the path to enlightenment, you must confront and learn to understand that evil inside you. You either embrace that monster and become something motivated completely by evil, or you tackle it head-on knowing that by acknowledging and fighting that demon every day, you can become a better person. ‘Bare’ cuts deep into me because I know I walk that fine line each and every day.

Are you much concerned about how your music is received? How do you manage the balance of creative intent with public reception?

I’m not concerned with public reception and it’s never interfered with the creative process of this project. In the past, I have gone down a rabbit hole and perpetual hell of constantly doubting the content. Every single song on this album came from an organic place, I squeezed in everything I personally love in music. It’s the first time I have stuck to my guns without allowing any external influences to leek in. There’s always someone wanting to give their opinion on how music is digested nowadays. Now that that the content is out it’s up to the public to decide what it means to them.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Expect a cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Stripped’ out September 11th, followed by another single ‘Monumental’. Our full-length album I’m Waving, Not Drowning is set to release this fall. 

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