an interview with matt what

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Recently I had the opportunity to do a question and answer session with Matt Thibeault, aka Matt What, who is a mainstay of the Victoria DJ scene, and is also currently serving as the Coordinator and Technical Judge for the Hush DJ Competition. Lately he’s been taking things up a notch with his community oriented efforts and also adding some unique elements to his live performance, so naturally I wanted to find out a bit more about what he’s up to and his general outlook on music, competition, and what inspires his efforts:

Tell us a little bit about yourself – how long have you been DJing for and what is your general musical background?
Hi there. I’ve been DJing professionally for just under seven years. I say professionally as I perform quite regularly and am well paid for it, but it’s still a hobby in the sense that school and my day job take up more of my time.

My general musical background is pretty varied. The saxophone was my first instrument, but I never touch the bloody things anymore. I can bull[bleep] my way through piano and I’m a half decent bass player. I play guitar a lot. A lot. It’s my favourite for sure. I played in a few rock bands in high school and college, but when I started going to raves that all slipped away. Lately I’ve been wanting to get back into it and I think I’ve found a few people to start something up with. We’ll see.

What got you into DJing? Who has been your inspiration, and where do you draw influence from as a performer?
When I first started going to raves (this is in Vancouver in the late 90s) I had a really cool girlfriend who had a really cool little brother who had a pair of 1200s. I’d goof around on those and I picked it up pretty quick. I never really had any intention of playing out, but I ended up working at a shop with Kenzie Clarke and she introduced me to that side of it; namely, the boys from The Nomad Collective and Dizzy Productions. I’m pretty happy she did.

I don’t know if I could really pin point what I draw influence from on stage. I don’t really think much when I’m up there. I know that sounds weird, as I’m a very animated guy up there, but it’s true. I get stressed out and scared as all hell before I’m on stage (to the point of throwing up sometimes), but as soon as I put a record down my brain shuts down and I just go off.

Who are your favorite producers, and what do you like most about them?
I don’t really follow many producers. I follow a lot of bands and recording artists, but on the underground techno/house/breaks/whatever side of things there’s no one I really follow religiously. I find way too much emphasis is put on production techniques over song writing on that side of the musical world and haven’t found many guys that I really dig all the time. My record crates are a hodgepodge of so many different producers, few of which repeated more than once or twice.
You are heavily involved with the DJ competition at Hush Nightclub. Tell us about the DJ competition – where it’s been, and what is going on right now, and what the vision for the future of the competition is.
I love the Hush DJ Challenge. I’ve been talking about it at length for a few months now, so please forgive me if I’m of few words on the subject. All sorts of information can be found at the Hush website (HushNightClub.ca) as well as in Monday Mag and RaveVictoria.com. As to where it’s been… well for me, I’ve finished in just about every position you can over the years; finalist, semi finalist, and I’ve been taken out in my first round too. Now i’m running it, so I have a somewhat unique perspective. What I always loved about those first three years was how it rewarded the all around DJ. To win, you had to be a crowd pleaser, a turntablist, and a progressive mixer all at the same time. One thing I wanted to improve upon from that spirit was to really detail it out, on paper. There is a ridged marking scheme this year. I feel that taking some of the subjectivity out of the marking has really given it a lot more credibility. The future of the comp? Bright and long.
Who has been impressing you so far?
I think it would be inappropriate to discuss that while we’re still in the middle of it.
How do you see the DJ competition fitting into the scene, and what would you say the importance of it is?
Exposing new kids for sure. We live in a town where everyone and their dog DJs. It’s hard to get noticed in that kind of ocean of talent.
Returning to you as a performer, recently you did a combined performance with Fractal aka Thor Kell – how did that go and can you explain exactly what you guys did? How was it different than a regular gig for you?
Let me say this: I love Thor so much. That kid rules and that show was insane. Four 1200s, three CDJ 1000s, two mixers, and an electric guitar. When one of us was mixing, the other was dropping samples or scratching or rocking out big solos on the guitar. Total chaos. Favourite show I’ve ever played. We’re hoping to do it again in the near future. DJing with another person at the same time really adds a lot of energy to the performance. No better way to play.
Where can people see you DJ?
People can see me play at Hush, usually twice a month (Saturdays mostly, but sometimes Fridays). I play the occasional rave too. I’d like to play more.
Do you have any new mixes coming out soon that you’d like people to keep an eye out for?
Well, Thor and I recorded our set from Hush the other night. Not sure if I’ll do a full release of that, but we’ll see. I try to put out a solo mix once a year and I’m a bit past due on that right now. I put it off a lot as I hate recording. As soon as I figure out a name I’ll start laying it out. Have I mentioned that I hate recording?
Are there any sites that you’d like people to check out?

Thanks to Matt What for his time and also for sharing his thoughts!

4 thoughts on “an interview with matt what”

  1. What a guy. He once came out to watch me play a 3 hour set and didn’t miss a single minute of it. Also a really enjoyable sushi date. muah!

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