Nick Newhouse Debut and Interview with Mat Zo

Mat Zo is a pillar of dance music. For more than a decade, he’s bewildered listeners with some of the best production work, full of ingenious layers of intricate sound and charging emotion. This — of course — has carried over to his live sets that are miraculous experiences, bringing a divine-like connection over the crowd and subverting any expectation of a DJ Show. Annecodatly speaking, Mat Zo belongs in a tier of electronic artists that only a handful of acts will and can ever reach. Of course, with a decade of incendiary work, he had the foresight to start his own label, Mad Zoo, to bring forward some of the most dynamic and exciting young acts in the genre including today’s release from Nick Newhouse.

While “Even Heat/Overfalls” is Nick’s debut, it’s evident from the word “go” that he has a veteran-like ability to weave threads of sounds to build a magical sonic atmosphere that has transportive qualities, the kind that slithers through earbuds and sends listeners to a fantastical land not found on this planet. Both tracks on the EP are very good and show an artist that is unafraid of being his exact self, ignoring any need to follow what’s buzzy or hot in the current electronic landscape. That’s not to say this sound isn’t contemporary, but more so, pointing out how exciting and original his sound on the EP is.

On “Even Heat”, Nick creates an absolutely beautiful melodic groove that pirouettes around the brain intoxicating each cell and calling the body to move in unison with the beat. He layers on top a chilled-out vocal that has Alt-RnB quailities and blends perfectly with the sonic landscape to form a fantastic song. “Even Heat” is a sleeper heat and most certainly a song that listeners will come back to often. I know I will.

The second track on the EP is “Overfalls”. It falls a similar style and path as “Even heat”, but brings a darker sound, one with a bit more spice and bite within its builds and beat. He even brings forward a heavy and intoxicating guitar line that adds the right amount of intrigue. For a debut, Nick Newhouse unleashes an enthralling sound that sets him up for future success and a soon-to-be sprawling fanbase across the globe.

With the debut release, we decided to have some fun and asked Mat Zo, the label boss, to interview the debutant and vice versa, have Nick pick the mind of Mat Zo. without further adieu, here is their conversation.

Mat’s Interview of Nick

How long have you been producing, and how has your style changed over the years? Have you had other aliases?

NN: I’ve been producing for about 10 years but I was busy with college during those earlier years so it took a while for me to reach to the point where I wasn’t making beginner mistakes. My first alias is called Baircave and, originally, I was listening to a lot of Mord Fustang, Madeon, and Disclosure and wanted to emulate artists like them as I tried to find my own sound. I’ll still release music occasionally as Baircave when I’m in a fun, more nostalgic mood. House music (Progressive, Electro, Deep) will always hold a special place in my heart even as I move further from that sound artistically.

What was the process of storyboarding the video like? Did you already have a story in mind beforehand or did you let the story develop organically as it came along? 

NN: New York has been my home for 7+ years now and in that time I’ve witnessed just about every Subway Creature™ you can imagine. While I love living here, it’s inherently so unnatural — there’s an underlying push and pull between New York and the surrounding natural world. We all inevitably “return home” from city life and I wanted to create a short narrative that explored that concept through the lens of one character getting lost in song & dance. The story developed pretty organically from there but it was helpful to storyboard with my lead animator, Mike Carfora, who is local to New York as well. 

In Even Heat I hear a lot of Royksopp, Trentmoller and other Scandinavian electronica acts from the early 00s. Did those acts inspire you at all? Who are your main influences for this track and your music in general? 

NN: I actually don’t know if I’ve heard Royksopp or Trentmoller! I need to dive into their discographies and compare! Originally, ‘Even Heat’ stemmed from a remix competition I entered for Moe Shop’s song, ‘Love Taste’. I wrote much of that remix in a park at like 3 AM before the deadline and I generally love making music while sleep deprived. My biggest musical influences (currently) are probably Baths, Blank Banshee, and Tennyson but if I’m being real, Jolly Roger Bay from Super Mario 64 was the most influential. It juxtaposed the most beautiful, healing ambience with a terrifying, thalassophobic experience. Subnautica is the only other game I know that strikes that same balance. 

What was your most recent eureka moment when it comes to producing?

NN: I don’t know if this was that recent, but once I internalized the fact that the only real rule is “If it sounds good, it is good” I started to make much better music. You can run 5 EQs in a row with a 12db bass boost through a distortion pedal as long as the result sounds cool. I think at first I was restricted by outdated modes of thinking about production/mixing. Oh, and I would encourage producers to not fall into the trap of making music intended primarily for other producers. Impressing your peers is cool and all but, in theory, they should only be a small fraction of your audience. 

What would your live show look like if you had an infinite budget and time?

NN: This’ll sound conceited, but I want the whole thing to be underwater. I’d either develop high fidelity, synchronized headphones that work up to 100 feet underwater or use a synchronized swimmer underwater speaker system. It would essentially be an installation where you can snorkel or scuba and the music evolves as time progresses and as you explore your environment. If possible, maybe we can throw in a domesticated whale, octopus, or giant eel but maybe wild animals would be more immersive…you did say the budget was infinite, right?

Nick’s Interview of Mat

It seems like creators (across artistic mediums) are more successful in engaging their audience when their art is thematically very consistent. As a producer who loves to create many different genres of music, how has your audience reacted to the switch-ups? Have you found that making a variety of genres has been helpful or hurtful in expanding your fanbase?

MZ: I think it’s been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s probably limited me in many ways, but I would not get the variety of work I do now if I had been more thematically consistent. I would’ve never been happy with sticking to one sound, and maybe it limits me in scale but it gives me a wider scope.

How has music discovery changed throughout the course of your career? Do you feel like it’s more or less difficult for new artists to break out nowadays?

MZ: It was definitely easier to be noticed before the big EDM explosion in the early 2010s. In the 00s dance music was an older person’s game, so anyone who was young and showed a bit of promise was noticed immediately. It’s been said a million times but nowadays the scene is so saturated and it’s way harder to be noticed, which makes it all the more impressive when a breakthrough artist makes waves. That said, it’s never been easier to learn how to produce. Before youtube, if you wanted to teach yourself how to produce you were at the mercy of people on forums who probably knew less than you do. There is so much great content on youtube that I wish I had when I was starting out.

Live electronic music has become increasingly visual-oriented. Do you usually team up with visual artists to create assets for your shows? What do you recommend to newer artists as they begin to think about performing live?

MZ: One of my biggest regrets is not investing more into my live show earlier on. I have worked with artists to develop a liveshow fairly recently, but I would recommend anyone starting out to put effort and thought into how they want to be presented visually.

For a long time producers were battling one another to make the loudest, brightest, bassiest music they could. What do you feel like the fall out was from all of that? Or do you feel like we’re still in the middle of it?
MZ: It seems like that wave broke a few years ago, and now we’re riding the tail end of it. But of course everything is circular, so I bet eventually super loud OTT mixdowns will be a thing again in the future. I personally still mix with loudness in mind, and I believe getting a loud mix while retaining dynamics and clarity is an artform. Only when dynamics is sacrificed for loudness does it become an issue.

If you had to pick a favorite song of yours, which would it be and why? Least favorite? 

MZ: I don’t have a favourite track of mine, but there were some tracks I made around 2008 to get out of a contract I’m not a fan of, and probably most of my other productions from around that time. I just wasn’t experienced enough to make something I’d be proud of now. I guess more recently, I did a remix of brainbug – nightmare that completely obliterated a classic. I’m definitely not so proud of that.

Splice General




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