Takuya Matsumoto is starting to make himself known for a truly unique take on house music. Full of personality, his tracks combine a natural sense of groove with eccentric arrangement and production. After several years away from making music, Matsumoto has re-emerged with success, putting out releases with Clone sub-label Royal Oak, Meda Fury and, most recently, for Fina Records (Places of Colour EP). Despite this, there is relatively little press about the producer, whose popularity has spread thanks to word of mouth, and the occasional star DJ playing his records. With that in mind we didn’t waste the chance to quiz Matsumoto about his creative world.
Drafting Under The Stars was released in 2010 and we then had a three-year wait for your next release, and since then weve had five! Why the sudden surge of releases?
Actually, I had been depressed from a broken heart for a year from autumn of 2011. I threw all equipment away and I had never been making music at all. After I got over it, I started making tracks again with only Ableton LIVE and uploaded many tracks on Soundcloud. At that time, Move D played ‘Jump Rope Music’ everywhere and I gradually became known. Then some labels such as Meda Fury contacted me.
The wonderful tumbling keyboard lines on ‘Seasons’ – were these played live? Do you have any traditional piano training?
I’ve never taken proper piano training. When I was a student, I played keyboard for a band that played hard rock like Bon Jovi. I learned how to play keyboard by myself so that I could play in this band.
What other musical upbringing have you had to bring you up to this point?
I sometimes play Bossa nova with classical guitar. Its complicated and beautiful chord progressions inspire me.
Thanks for taking a photo of your studio. Would you mind talking us through your current studio set-up, both as a general space and what equipment you’ve got?
I only use Ableton Live9 suite on Sony Vaio and some plug-in. No hardware synth and outboard. My favorite plug-ins are Arturia ProphetV, Mini V, Native Instruments Kontakt.
Recently, I’ve got WAVES SSL Channel. It’s a great channel strip. I especially love its curve of lo-mid which can make every snare sound fatter.
You have to throw out every piece of tech you own apart from one – what do you keep?
It may not be suitable for ‘tech’, but I’d keep the classical guitar, because it’s able to do many things by itself… if I practice hard. Even better, it needs no electricity.
Is there a piece of tech you bought with high hopes but ended up gathering dust?
JoMoX AirBase 99 drum module! I bought it without sound check around ten years ago.
When I listened to the sound at my studio for the first time, I immediately realized that the sound would never fit in my tracks. I felt it had too wild a sound for me.
Is there a part of your set-up that holds more sentimental value than practical use?
MC-303 which Kouji, IERO’s owner, gave me 15 years ago. I can’t throw it away whatever happens.
Do you have any rituals you go through before you head into the studio? Do you like to have a particular context or destination in mind before you make music?
Whenever I start to make track, I have no destination. I drink a cup of coffee and just do trial and error.
Are there any places you go to reset your mental hardware, in between studio time?
I stroll in the neighborhood so that refreshes. I’ve done it this way for a long time.
Do you play out live much in Japan? If so, how does your live set-up vary from your studio one?
Since I released Drafting Under The Stars, I’ve played live only three times. I brought all my studio gear to the club. I used to have a 61-key keyboard so it was very hard to carry it by train.
I often find your music inhabits a wonderful emotional space, managing to convey ambiguous melancholy feelings. Is this something you set out to do when making music?
Difficult question…probably I do it unconsciously. At least, I think all my tracks should reflect my mind in some way.
Looking specifically at some of your songs now, many of your tracks use unusual instrumentation for dance music, for example the accordion on ‘Jump Rope Music’ and the steel drums from ‘Rain Flower’. How are these recorded or sampled?
Why I used unusual instrument like that is simply because I heard them in the tracks by my favorite producers, like Herbert. However, I think that approach is slightly different.
By the way, I arranged and programed both tracks, rather than sampling others.
‘NY NY’ has a lovely sample from Pat Metheny’s ‘Midwestern Night’s Dream’, do you draw inspiration from jazz in your music?
Yes, always. Actually, I’ve been wanting to make more jazzy stuff but in the end I always come out with strange things. Honestly, I wish I could create great tracks like Wayne Shorter or Bill Evans.
‘Galactic Dance’ was the most dancefloor ready production we’ve heard from you yet, do you plan to go further down this route in the future?
I think that Clone Royal Oak, which released ‘Galactic Dance’, strictly focuses on the dancefloor. Label boss, Serge, himself gave me advice to focus on the beat. Therefore, if it’s realized, my next release from Clone Royal Oak must be more danceable.
What’s some new music you’re into at the moment? Are there any young producers local to you we should keep an eye out for?
Recently, I often listen to the LA beat scene music and post-dub step influenced music such as Lapalux and Jamie XX. They are too amazing and I’ve been always shocked when I listened new track. Regarding to local artist, I think that Sai is going to be one of most important deep house producer in Japan. His new 12′ will be released December.
We miss not having you in Europe! Do you have any plans to tour over here soon?
At this moment, I have regular work so it is difficult to go to Europe. However, if there are some requests, perhaps I will go to Europe in the next summer holiday.
And finally, do you have any plans for releases in the new year?
Yes. I’m working for some release right now. One of this may be my first album!