Emerging during dubstep’s halcyon days of 2008, Phaeleh (aka. Matt Preston) has managed to transcend the genre that birthed him and develop a strong and devoted following all of his own. The Bristolian producer’s first album, ‘Fallen Light’, received praise for its deft combination of ambient textures and musicality with sub bass power, marking him out as one of the scene’s most versatile and interesting producers. With his recently released second album ‘Tides’ arriving at a time when dubstep is practically a dirty word, it’s no surprise to hear him experimenting even more. On the LP, you can hear him fulfilling the potential he hinted at on his debut and then some, with jazz, folk and electronica influences coming to the fore. To give us an insight on the music that inspired him, Matt compiled a long, sprawling mix that touches on everything from Tricky to Boards of Canada and LTJ Bukem with a healthy portion of Aphex Twin to boot – traversing 123 tracks in 80 minutes.
We caught up with Matt to talk about the new album, dream collaborations and the making of the amazing mix, which you can listen to below.
Your album came out a week ago, how pleased are you with the feedback so far?
I’ve been amazed with the positive responses so far. It’s quite a different album to my last one, and in some ways more challenging in terms of track listing and style. It was definitely an album I made for myself, and I think as a result of that I was slightly apprehensive how certain tracks would be received as it wasn’t just a collection of tracks emulating my more popular songs from the past
Was there a burden of extra pressure on this album compared to the debut?
As ‘Fallen Light’ was made so quickly, there was no time to really over think things in the process of making it, it was a lot of instinctive decisions in the moment, rather than something I had the time to reflect upon. I think because of that there was a lot of pressure from myself when it came to writing ‘Tides’. I’ve been writing for it since I finished ‘The Cold In You’ EP in 2011, and I’ve been especially focussed in the last year. I started just under 300 tracks working towards having an album, and maybe 50 of those I considered seriously. It was quite hard to stop writing and just pick the tracks for the album and try and get them to a stage where I was happy with them.
Dubstep plays a considerably reduced role on ‘Tides’ compared its prevalence in your earlier work. How much affinity do you still have for the genre?
I think it was a case of just wanting a more diverse album compared to my previous releases rather than having less dubstep specifically. I’ve always just written what I’m feeling at the time, and I think I’ll keep making stuff at that tempo as much as other tempos, but I’ve never really made anything consciously to fit a particular genre or style, I just think my dubstep got more well known as I knew more people to send it out to who played that style, and in turn the music I got sent back meant most of my sets had an emphasis on that kind of sound. I still think there are some great producers making stuff at that tempo, I just think as the initial excitement and flurry of ideas from the earlier days have passed, so it’s just a bit tougher to find things that inspire me as much.
Collaborations form a large part of ‘Tides’. If you could rope in any guest artist/vocalist to work with you, who would it be?
Maynard James Keenan, the singer from the band Tool. Their music had a huge influence on me growing up, and I can’t think of many vocalists that rival the emotional intensity he conveys in the music.
A word finally on the mix, which is quite frankly amazing. With so many tracks and moods throughout its hard to know where to begin, but just tell us briefly the idea behind it and how you put it together?
Thanks! I decided to put together the mix to showcase the sort of tracks and electronic artists which had a massive influence on me earlier on in my life, that I am as passionate and excited about today as I was back then. Essentially you can think of it like a desert island mix of 123 tracks which inspired me in some way, squeezed into 80 minutes.
The mix was made over 3 consecutive days, which involved 9 hours straight going through my old CD collection and picking out albums and tracks that I thought might work. As there were so many tracks and tempos to cover in a short space of time, I decided it would be more like a hip hop mix or sound montage. It’s definitely not like any mix I’ve done before!
I then spent the next 2 days in Ableton Live cutting up tracks and working on the order. For practical reasons I decided to work through tempo, rather than style or vibes, so you end up with quite an unpredictable mix, but I really like how it’s ended up as a result.