Matamoros craftfully layers multitimbral rythms that yield both mystical yet calculated electronic permutations beat by beat. Matamoros claims the machines create these danceable patterns all on their own, 6 different synthesizers & keyboards and all; however our electronic maestro redefines traditional house music. More than probing buttons and fidgeting with devices, his work on stage is analogous to masterfully conducting a modern jazz house quintet of polyphonic synths and programmed drum machines. It all fits perfectly together. Equally influenced by jazz, beats of conscious rap, hip hop, vibrant house, and feel-good pop, Matamoros commands his machines as if they were sentient musical entities.
To illustrate his exotic sound, Rick played a gorgeous rendition of the song Bachelorette from Bjork's 1996 follow-up masterpiece Post. Using a theremin to recreate Bjork's vocal melodies, Matamoros chooses the most adequate instrument to pay homage to the ethereal voice of the Icelandic singer. With luscious violin-like synths and vibrant realistic instrument samples transmitted, his music in injected with a subtle extract of dreamscape that creates an aura of unexplored sonic terrain by a single man armed with old-school beat makers, MIDI devices, and vintage keyboards. In his unreleased sample CD given to Indiemuck, 8 tracks of pure groovy dark house, sensual and organic waveforms, best if consumed after midnight.
"Outro" begins as a fanfare of spectral trumpets sporadically blooming above the chiming free-form jazz coming from an organ-sounding synth. It is a procession of music released as ultraviolet frequencies as in the song "Time Lapse" which loops us through interlapses of time. Being influenced by gangsta rap of olden times, Matamoros incorporates samples of vocal bits of an interrogation from the celebrated pop star Rihanna and a news anchor informing the public of Osama Bin Laden's death; an esoteric yet sophisticated way of infusing political consciousness into danceable songs.
I N T E R V I E W:
Indiemuck: Who are you and where are you from?
Matamoros: Well, I’m the Matamoros. I’m here from Laredo, and I play electronic music.
When did you start playing music? When did you decide that you wanted to make music?
I started doing this kind of stuff of this variety back in 2010, so it’s been about 8 years with this machine, with this particular set-up that you see. But I’ve been doing it for a while. I think I did my first electronic show in 1995 where I set up keyboards and stuff. Kind of like what these guys are doing, but one man band kinda thing. And just a couple of friends...here in Laredo, off Mines road, way back. That was a long time ago. But yeah I’ve been doing it since then.
Can you tell us a little bit about the equipment you use?
Yeah. Right now I’m using the AKAI MPC and its a standalone, the last standalone they made back in 2010. Now, they just released a new one. I think it’s called the AKAI X, MPC X, but this is the MPC 5000 or the 3500, but its got the 4x4 setup so the 4 pads by 4, so 16 pads that are velocity sensitive. I can set up a whole bunch of synths. On most of these songs, I had like 30 plus, that was the minimum. And then I had the other 16 channels of MIDI going out through one machine, and then 2 channels of MIDI going out to another machine. I also have over 40-50 different individual tracks going on up there.
How did you figure it out?
My dad and his brothers were musicians, so they would buy stuff back in 1987-1988. My dad bought an M1 Korg, so I kinda started learning about MIDI and sequencing back then. Even before that he had a DX7. That’s why I like to mention that stuff about the Yamaha. A big Yamaha fan. I used one of my dads synths. So, it’s kinda cool using your dad's stuff.
What genre do you belong to?
I think it’s like electronic. I wouldn’t really know the genre, because I may be outdated with my timing. I’m from the 90’s. But the, uh, dark something, because a lot of the instruments that I play, like the dark organ is one of the main instruments of the Matamoros. The Matamoros is really just like 5 or 6 instruments, it’s the drums; it’s a natural drum kit on the AKAI called natural drums, so it sounds really organic and natural. Then it’s got the dark organ, the funky bass, the dreamy vibe which is like a Fender Rhodes and what else? Maybe some bells. And that’s it. Those are core instruments of the Matamoros. Everything else I just add sound effects like the FM modulators, and crosstalk, all that. But that kind of electronic stuff, it’s just layer by layer. Back in the day, I used to listen to a lot of Skinny Puppy, and those older- from the 80’s, that kind of electronic [music], then just kind of moved on from there.
What are your major influences?
Well, back then like in [United H.S.] high school times, a lot of Skinny Puppy and stuff, but really right now right now I listen to Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Mikkel Eriksen, Tor Hermansen. Those guys are total pros. You probably know like Rihanna, Brittany Spears, Taylor Swift. The people that write their music. Max Martin, he’s the best, he has like 16 Grammy’s, don’t quote me, but he’s good. Those guys, the Norwegians, Tor Hermansen, Mikkel Eriksen, they’re called Stargate. They’re the Norwegians and write all the stuff. They all use a lot of this electronic stuff, like the AKAI, that’s how I got started. Kanye West, his first album, used what I got, the Roland Virtual Studio which I had a Roland Virtual Studio on stage, an AKAI, and a couple other synths. The DarkStar that I have, the Red Sound, that’s amazing, like it’s an 8-voice polyphonic, really really cool. I was doing the multipart, so I had one voice; I had like 6 parts on it, and another voice, I had 2 parts. It’s got 2 oscillators, 2 envelope filters, you name it. The attack, decay, sustain, release, ADSR. Old school.
Wow, that’s really cool. You also covered Bjork.
Yeah, yeah, well I had to have a lot of courage because I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I could do it!' And that’s when I pulled out the Yamaha. When I plugged in the Yamaha this morning, I knew that I could pull it off.
So why the theremin? I’ve never seen anyone play it live!
Well, because her voice sounds like ethereal, so a theremin is kind of from the olden times, right? Like the 1920’s. It was an orchestra instrument back in the olden times.
I love Clara Rockmore!
Yes, yes! And Leon Theremin, right? Because it's probably the closest sounding to a human voice, I think. You know, AKAI has really good sampling capabilities, so the sounds that they have are straight out of the real world. Somebody samples them, you know, that’s what we’ve got. That’s what I got. Paid a lot of money for that.
You said you’re old fashioned, but what about all this equipment that you use?!
The equipment is, if you keep up with it, like from the 70’s. I started out with analog synthesizers, so I had like an Alan R Pearlman which was the competition for the MOOG. The ARP was my first synthesizer, the ARP Omni, and with that one I would make a lot of low bass frequencies. Then it had beautiful violins and violas. I repaired it. [The capacitors] would break down, and [I'd] send it off to get repaired. Right now it’s broken but that’s kinda what got me into it. It was really easy to use. It had the ADSR, then you had the [Voltage Control Frequency]. Anyway, that’s what I had. I started with one of those. My dad got a DX7, the Yamaha, I started messing with that. And little by little you learn about MIDI, and that’s the old fashioned way. I’m all about the old school. That’s why I have that standalone MPC; I don’t have a computer. I don’t program on the computer. Everything gets programmed on that machine. So it’s got 64 tracks, you could do over a million notes at any given moment. If you want to see a super pro, look up this guy, his name is AraabMUZIK. That’s the guy I look to for the inspiration. He plays the MPC 2500, one of the few people out there to play the MPC. It’s a lost art. People don’t do that anymore. You got Eric B and Rakim, KRS-One, all these old school Hip Hop guys. It’s all MPC; it’s all it was. The first drum machine, the LinnDrum machine, he partnered with MPC in the early 80’s. AKAI, they were the cutting edge before you had Logic Pro, before you had Ableton. All that stuff that you guys have probably heard of.
All the new stuff that all the kids use nowadays to make music.
Back then, you really had to actually read a manual, you know? You couldn’t download an app. When you hear this stuff, that’s really me. There’s nothing there preset. So, come check out a show and see the Matamoros.