Diggers Directory: Amichay Matyas

Born and bred in Tel-Aviv, Amichay Matyas has been actively involved in the city’s music scene for almost 20 years. Growing up at a time where vinyl was the only medium available, this original route into music has stuck with him over time, becoming something of an obsession. As a DJ he explores a wide breadth of sounds from early electronics and disco, to dub, jazz and obscurities; something he put into practice at one of Tel-Aviv’s most infamous night clubs, The Block, where he held a decade long residency until one year ago.

In 2017 he started his own label Bauhaus Records, alongside friend Yogo, which pays homage to their home city, and mirrors Amichay’s approach to DJing and collecting with the releases coming in all sounds and moods.

Alongside a vinyl-only mix that drifts through boogie, jazz, electronics and dub, we chat to him about his relationship with records, two decades of digging and the scene in his stomping ground of Tel-Aviv.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

I can definitely say that records that ran in the family had a significant influence in shaping my passion for doing. First, it was my father’s record collection which was pretty small with only about 60 records, but they and the turntable, were always accessible, and in the living room so I could always go, put a record on and listen to something. Even though it was always the same stuff, I absolutely loved the experience. Later, when my older brother started collecting records and also CDs in his teenage years, I got exposed to a lot of stuff that directly influenced some of the records that I play today. It was a weird but beautiful mixture of rock, drum & bass, jazz, Israeli music and later came house and techno.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

I guess people like us just can’t seem to help it. When I started, this was pretty much the only format available, then came CDs and then digital, but it’s what I know and what I’m the most used to. I just feel comfortable and actually a lot of ‘comfort’ with this medium. Also, nowadays when most of the stuff is available on files, I feel like I have a much better chance of finding something I don’t know and would love, rather than scrolling down a list on a screen with the chance of my eyes taking me to artists or labels that I already know.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

So, my collection has about 10,000 records which are divided into about 2,000, which are in my apartment and are used when I play out, record or rip stuff, and the rest are at my parent’s house in storage. I refresh about once a month, take stuff from them and bring some stuff back.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

As for digging destinations, I would say Red Light Records and Love Vinyl are currently my favourite places as the scope of finds there proves itself to be best and widest. The UK and US are also great options for digging. Tel-Aviv can also be quite surprising if you know where and when to go. I will always go to a record shop anywhere I go but flea markets are really where it’s at for me.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

Digging is definitely a ’social’ experience in a way. Two weeks ago I dug with Danilo MCDE for two days in Paris and he put me on so much good stuff that I didn’t know. Over the years, he’s the one that pretty much pushed me to go to those flea markets, “corner forgotten” dirty crates in thrift stores and just places where you might think there are some records to find, but not necessarily the ones you wanted. Well, they are! Thanks D!

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

I can’t really say that. There’s one which I was after for a very long time and I found two copies of it on Discogs about a year ago for $25 each. Recently the price went mental and people were asking $3,000 for it. It’s Claude J – Find Your Light.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

Both experiences work for me. Usually when I dig alone I actually tend to spend more time in the process, diving deep and spending a good 3-4 hours doing it. My Bauhaus Records label partner Yogo is one of my favourite people to dig with also.

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

I would pretty much always go for the artists and labels that I don’t know first. After that, I would always ask the staff for what’s what. Trust your record shop, they know what’s in stock, what’s good and what works best for you.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

It always plays an enormous part. For instance, disco covers from the 70s and 80s have a very significant appearance that repeats itself over many of the genre’s records, same goes for obscure free jazz or even 90s house. Knowing these aesthetics really helps when going through massive piles of records that you don’t know. I suggest taking the time and learning to master this.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

I was planning to record something with a certain idea in mind but then began and took it to a whole other direction which eventually represented many of the stuff I’m currently feeling. There’s a little bit of everything there I guess; a bit of boogie, electronics, jazzy material and some world music. It finishes with one special dub cut that’s going to be released on my label next month.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

Awzon – “Paradise Island” is a particular one I love so much! It reminds me a little bit of Seawind, Shakatak and Flora Purim all at once.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

Volcov is definitely one that I admire and look up to. I just appreciate how thoughtful each record selection is. Mark Grusane is another one. Mark has been in the game for decades, owning a legendary record shop in Chicago, selling and trading for many years. What I love about Mark is that no matter how far out, strange and unique his records are, they’re always so tight!

And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

There are a whole bunch of talents in Tel-Aviv that are really investing their time in learning music, records and widening their collection with great stuff. People such as Danny Vak, Dena G, Oska, Olsvanger, MYKI, Amitz, Lily Haz, Omri Cohen, Yoav Sa’ar and many more. Sorry if I forgot any others! I love and appreciate you all!

You hail from Tel-Aviv, what’s special about the city in terms of music?

Much like any other place, Tel-Aviv pretty much developed it’s own unique sound. Israeli culture is extremely diverse and so is its music scene. For decades we were and still one of the world’s main exporters of Trance, which may come as a surprise to some, but it’s very much linked to many youngsters visiting the coasts of Goa or full moon parties in their teens. When you look back we’ve had some roots in disco as well! In the early 80s Richard Long, the legendary New-York club sound engineer who did Paradise Garage and Studio 54 built a sound system in the city. Grace Jones performed at the club’s opening night, so stuff was happening.

Who – promoters, venues, artists – are doing great things in the city?

Alphabet club sets a very high standard for house and techno. It’s really one of the only places that aren’t focusing on huge aerial trains of big name DJs but managed to build a devoted community around the club. So is Romano who were pioneers in manifesting the ’selectors’ genre. They invested in a hi-end sound system and it is really one of the rooms that I enjoy playing at the most. Low ceilings, perfect acoustics and a bozak. Lastly, I have to give props to The Block club where I was a resident for many years until about a year ago. It has had an enormous effect on me personally, and was the first place who had me rubbing shoulders with the likes of DJ Harvey, Theo Parrish, Larry Heard, Louie Vega and many of these legends whom I stay in great relations with.

In 2017 you launched your own imprint Bauhaus Records as a platform to share music from your city. How is the label going? What have you got coming up?

The label is now doing better than ever and we have some very good stuff expected ahead. We’re re-issuing the first and only reggae/dub album that’s been produced in Israel out in a few weeks time. A masterpiece and a holy grail. Then we have another killer female power reggae 12” single. After that, an experimental electronic piece that we’ve been after for year, some forgotten tapes of lost house and techno jams from a local hero and much much more.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

Definitely! The 1986 forgotten reggae and dub record I mentioned we’re reissuing on Bauhaus Records. It’s called Avi Matos – Lokeach et hayom leat, which translates to ’taking my day slowly’. It’s the first one of the genre to be recorded in Israel at the time and it’s really become a sought after record in the past couple of years. We’ve managed to track down the artist back to Cambodia, his current place of residence, get the rights for the album and let me tell you, he’s living the real rastafari life!

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