Sometimes it feels like the gulf in hierarchy between those DJs at the top and bottom of the food chain is as vast as it’s ever been. And, for a sizeable number of those fat cats sitting pretty atop the pinnacle of Dance music stardom, a rise through the ranks is reward for investing in a potent concoction of cunning PR tactics and lucky breaks, with a sizeable helping of hubris.
Of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with success – it should be championed and nurtured for the wellbeing of the industry – but it’s always refreshing to focus on those humble individuals who see past the glittery echelons and who prefer to remain loyal stalwarts of underground culture instead.
Matt Pond is one of those guys who’s picked substance over style; modest and demure on the outside, you only have to scratch the surface to realise he’s a seasoned professional who’s been doing the business for decades – just ask Jane Fitz. Having been a resident at one of Brighton’s longest running House nights, Fluid Groove back in the 90s, Matt founded small specialist record store Audio Lounge before turning his hand to production. After managing the infamous Hedonizm Records, one of Brighton’s longest running Dance music specialists, in 2006 he curated his most well known venture to date – DeepSystems, a radio show/underground party hybrid which has played host to the likes of Boo Williams and Glenn Underground. If you relish getting stuck into a treasure chest of underground treats, you need to plug yourself into Brighton FM every other Friday. It’s gold.
Matt recently delved deep into the archives to record a new mix for us, so we took the opportunity to chat with him about Brighton, Glastonbury, Free Rotation and more…
So often the DJs we talk to inhabit big cities across Europe – London, Berlin, Paris – but you’ve been a mainstay in Brighton since the late 90s. Did you deliberately choose to avoid the bright lights of the capital or did the move to Sussex just happen?
Yes, it just happened. I was living in Wolverhampton before and needed to get away. I had some friends living down here so just packed up and headed south. I’ve never looked back.
How would you describe Brighton’s nightlife and how has it changed since the early years of Fluid Groove?
It’s hard for me to answer that question, as I really haven’t been out in the clubs in Brighton for some time! Over the years I’ve just moved away from the club scene here. I guess that comes with age. The nights people were putting on became less and less appealing. That said, there’s this new place called Patterns, which has opened recently, and they have been booking some cool artists, which is really promising. Also, some good friends have launched a radio station called 1brightonFM and they are really supporting local DJs from Brighton. There’s a really good buzz about it and I’m happy to be doing a show there too.
What happened to Audio Lounge, the record store you founded around the same time?
Audio Lounge shut down around 2003 I think. A friend and I decided to set it up but, to be honest, neither of us had a clue what we were doing so it didn’t last very long. But around the same time Audio Lounge closed, Hedonizm Records opened and I was manager there for about six years.
Tell us about your relationship with Jane Fitz. Have you guys known each other long?
I’ve known Jane for quite some time now. About 12 years ago, she invited Owen Jay and myself to come and play at her mid-week night at Plastic People. It was a strange night as the club was evacuated half way through due to a gas leak on the street outside! But yeah, we’ve been good mates ever since and we’ve played many gigs together. She’s always telling promoters about me and putting my name out there for which I’m very grateful. It’s also amazing to see how busy she is right now – and rightly so!
You founded DeepSystems almost a decade ago now. What was the label born out of?
Around the time I joined BitterSuite (BitterSuite was founded about a year previously by Jon Gray and Dom Thompson), I thought it would be cool to get a small digital label going to give us a platform from which to release our music. Actually, Andy Compton from Peng set us up and helped us out from the start. We initially published four releases and later we licensed them all to Swedish Brandy Records to make two albums – BitterSuite Archives, Part 1 and 2. After that ran its course I became a little disillusioned with the whole digital download thing and decided to pull all the music offline. Fast-forward to this year, and James at Juno Records gave me an opportunity to set up a vinyl label through them and we did the first release earlier this year (SYSTEMS001).
What we can we expect to hear from the label?
Again, this label has been set up primarily to give us a platform to release our own music and collaborations. So most, if not all music will come from BitterSuite and our friends. As I mentioned earlier, we released the first EP this year, which features music from Tales Ov Rossi (Jon Gray and Dan Rogers) and BitterSuite (A John Gray solo production). SYSTEMS002 will follow later this year with more music from us.
And what made you want to take things up a notch by launching underground parties alongside the label?
Putting on parties is something I’ve naturally done for years now. When Fluid Groove died I just got so sick of the whole club experience; the restrictions, the atmosphere and the music were all getting more and more bland. I wanted to start something that wasn’t a club night, in a venue that felt like a proper underground party rather than some glitzy bar, and also to give me a chance to play the music I really wanted to play. Together, with help from a few friends, we put on some truly memorable parties.
During your time as a promoter, which bookings have you been most proud of and why?
Well, I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing guest DJs at DeepSystems over the years. There really have been so many but Boo Williams, Glenn Underground, Anthony Nicholson, DJ Deep, Volcov and Trinidadian Deep have all been highlights.
Where’s your favourite place to dig for records in Brighton?
One Stop Records on Trafalgar Street – they have just moved in to Rare Kind on the 2nd floor. Go check them out!
You’ve played at both Glastonbury and Free Rotation. How were those experiences and how did they compare against each other?
Well Glastonbury is just another world. I’m very fortunate to have played at Block 9 for the last four or five years now. It’s totally crazy. I’m pretty sure there isn’t anywhere else on this planet like it. Freero is the opposite end of the spectrum – it’s a super mellow, small party. Playing at (and going to) both parties have been real highlights for me over the years.
Untapped and ultimately exclusive, is Free Rotation the best small festival in the UK right now?
It’s a great party, run by some great people but I’ve missed the last 2 years so I’ve gotta make up for it in 2016. But yeah, it’s fantastic and highly recommended. Also, another small festival that deserves a mention is Field Maneuvers, happening in September. Jane and Jade Seatle curate their own ‘Field Moves’ tent there and last year it was great. I’ll be playing at that again this year.
If you had to pick just five DeepSystems classics which ones would you choose?
You can catch Matt headlining at Field Maneuvers next month. Listen to his bi-monthly show on Brighton FM here.
Words: Henry Cruickshank
- FP Oner- In The Mist Of Sunrise
- Jose Rico- Who Stolen
- Universo- Amazones
- The Persuader- Djurgårdsbron
- Aybee- The Pursuit
- Patrice Scott- Distr5th
- Victor Casimir- Trackin Funk
- Khanya Balani, Mikki Afflick, Nkuli Dube – Casual People *Seed In The City 808 Dub
- Trinidadian Deep- Island Juju Rockas
- SAT- Feral
- Dan Mela & Louie B- Re-Troit
- Soul Supply- Simple Things
- Jovonn- Love Begins
- Kai Alce feat. Rico- Take A Chance
- Arnold Jarvis- Life Goes On *MAW Dub