Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of talking to serial badman, Twwth, also know as Matti Pentikäinen, formerly known as Teeth.
Born, bred and producing out of Helsinki, the Signal Life label head is set to release his eagerly anticipated ‘Thousand Million’ EP on the aforementioned later this month. An intriguing blend of grime, techno and R’n’B, the EP’s artillery has already seen light through Visionist’s FACT mix, Radio 1 airplay, Kiss FM and a number of blogs.
The EP marks the start of the next chapter in the Signal Life series, with releases 1-5 concluded by the excellent Dada Spines compilation back in December, featuring the likes of Kowton, Desto, Last Japan and Twwth himself.
The dynamic mash up of style and taste laid out in his ‘Thousand Million’ will no doubt click nicely with purveyors of multiple genres. It’s also gratifying talking to someone about an area of the world you’re not overly familiar with and how that person has taken as much influence from within as they have without, for which Matti is a great representative of the Finnish capital.
Alongside geography, we chatted about his label, his live sets and his future plans – I have to say I’m looking forward to the next set of releases to come out of SF and the audiovisual dynamic he mentions. Enjoy.
Also we have an exclusive stream of the forthcoming ‘Thousand Million’ EP below, for your listening pleasure before its release next Monday 27th January…
Boy You Down With It
Twwth! How’s it do? Could you tell us a little about yourself for those that don’t know?
What’s up! A rapper turned producer from Helsinki.
How was New Years and Christmas? Make any resolutions?
The festive season was easy, after the deadline mayhem of finishing a movie soundtrack just before the holidays. Played a ”private installation” in the lakeside Finnish backwoods on NYE. As for resolutions: the less you make, the more you keep.
So, the first thing I wanted to ask you was how you’ve developed your sound? Through which influences, locations, time periods etc?
In a nutshell: from Project Blowed West Coast rap to Memphis underground to Berlin dub techno to ambient to raw stripped techno to 2step to grime to dubstep to raw techno with drum machines to ambient. All of this rolled in a mixture of the minute.
On first hearing the Thousand Million EP, I would have presumed you were straight out of South London!
Nope! Helsinki. Grime was huge here predating dubstep (which was gargantuan in Helsinki with Tes La Rok, Clouds, Desto, Llate, etc), with people like Jammer & Logan Sama playing some of their first abroad shows in Helsinki. My two cents has basically been a cross breed of that energy with the techno & Memphis rap influences. Got a lot of good friends in South London though, getting emotional.
Are you happy with the EP? Strong start for the second series I’d say (‘Boy You Down Wit It’ kills it btw)
Thank you! I am. Thinking of it as a mission statement for Signal Life #6-#10. Going for longer coherence with the EP’s this time around. I’m also sitting on top of so much stuff in this same vein, that I consider the EP also as a bottle opener. Pop & the bubbly pours.
Boy you Down Wit it is a groove thing, a tools track with an off-the-hook arrangement, and more parts than just one. Always more parts than just one.
What’s the music scene like in Helsinki? Have you noticed a change or progression in recent years?
Brilliant, but mostly, for the international audience, sitting comfortably behind a veil of secrecy, at the same time unintentionally and intentionally. Finns are a weird breed. Shitloads of very current and noteworthy stuff happens, but a lot of artists have no problem sitting and waiting for the audience to find them, 90’s pre-internet style. We are releasing a couple of the forthcoming Signal Life releases to tackle this issue.
The club scene has been very dope, thanks to a couple of nightlife dons responsible for the best clubs & festivals. Over the previous two years I ran a warehouse/unorthodox venue club night called Disco Dislocated, which clicked pretty well with what people want here: raw, come-as-you-are, honest raves.
Obviously you run your label, Signal Life, out of Helsinki with Desto. How’s business? Good to see the first series (#1-5) went down well!
Business is good. Series #1-#5 just finished, filled with music from some of my favorite artists, and the visual credo established, we’re in a pretty fruitful situation. I have strong audiovisual ambitions for Signal Life, balancing on the borderlines of a label & a creative agency.
Would you say the Dada Spines compilation, that came off the back of the first series, aptly represents the label’s musical disposition?
Dada Spines sums up the idea of #1-#5. The artists include past & future collaborators, so it gives a feeling of what we’ve done and a whiff of where we’re going. But it’s also a thank you to all the people who’ve bought the first series, that’s why we give it to them for free.
Future plans with Signal Life?
Obviously, series #6-#10, opened up with the Thousand Million EP. There’s another secret code in the next five releases that will open another exclusive release for the vinyl owners in the end of the series, the same way Dada Spines came after #1-#5.
I’ve heard you play a pretty mean live show? What does it involve and could I ask your opinion on what you believe a ‘live’ set to be nowadays?
Yeah, at the time of Shawty, 2011-ish, I used to play an all Ableton-set, that I considered more a live-PA thing. For the past two years my live set has revolved around a mixture of hardware & computer, pretty much a varying setup of drum machines, a Max MSP step sequencer & samples. I believe in working in the moment, with only a few prearranged parts. DJ sets are for playing tunes after tunes, live sets are for playing versions of them as the moment presents. To me live is all about a percussive vortex. Physical stuff.
And finally, you’ve worked with the likes of Oneman, Kowton, Las, French Fries and Last Japan in recent years, is there anyone out there you’ve got plans to work with or would like to?
I have forthcoming collaborative releases scheduled with Vladislav Delay & project called TED-X with the Renaissance Man boys. Also I have a compiled list of my favorite rappers, beginning to tick one by one this year.
The ‘Thousand Million’ EP is out January 27th on Signal Life, pre-order it here.