The debut single from Matt FX was born in lockdown. It comes after years of other gigs around the industry, including as a DJ, producer, music supervisor (Broad City), and TV host (In The Mix with Matt FX). Now the New York-based artist has embarked on an exciting solo music career, starting with “Vaquero,” which was inspired by a trip to Mexico where he spent time with some local cowboys. Their quiet fortitude gives Matt FX strength.
“Vaquero” is a bouncy tech house tune that mirrors its environment. Dry winds sweep aside crackling brush to reveal hooting owls, buzzing cicadas, and other anonymous murmurs of life. Each whisper in the background is its own glimmer of hope in times when such a feeling is lacking. Matt FX has been open about his own struggles during this period of uncertainty and creating the new song allowed him to reach catharsis. Grimy Goods connected with him over email to get to know more about the new song and the impact that the vaqueros had on him; read our interview below.
Words: Zoë Elaine
This is your artist debut, but you’re an industry veteran at this point. How did you know when to give your own songs your full attention amid the other projects you’ve worked on in the past?
MATT FX: Wow, industry vet? I certainly don’t feel like one.. In regards to my work as a music supervisor I would still consider myself an outlier to the community at large – most supervisors are juggling multiple projects at a time wheras I’m lucky to be working on a single show! I started giving my own stuff more focus a couple years back when I moved into an apartment with a bunch of other artists (Jachary, Bohan Phoenix, Granata, and M4itsralphtho among others).
To be completely honest I actually have a whole other project under a different name that I was originally going to release this year before quarantine started.. It’s shelved for the time being but I do hope to see it come out this year.
Just before isolation began en masse across the US, you returned from Mexico. Tell us about the trip.
MFX: That Mexico trip was such an incredible experience for me. A few hours after landing in CDMX I played a gig that definitely holds a ‘top 5’ spot in my head. The venue is called Departamento, in a neighborhood called Roma. I played from a little after midnight till 5:30 in the morning to a full crowd, about 300 people. It was one of the first times where I played a bunch of my original tracks within the set, and the energy was so electric; the following morning my girlfriend told me that the promoter told her mid-set that ‘he’s gonna break this place’.. Such a wild experience.
Later in the trip we took a daytrip out to Tepotzlan, a very mystical town known as both the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the mexican sun god, as well as the place where you are most likely to see a UFO in mexico. (coincidence? I think not!). It was here that we got to meet Jorge and his wife Haylee, who owned a horse ranch. I’d never ridden a horse before, but took to it pretty quickly. Riding through the bumpy trails and dusty ridges was easily one of my favorite parts of the whole trip, and taking in all the wisdom Jorge had to offer from years and years of being a Vaquero was something I will savor for many years to come.
Nature murmurs across “Vaquero,” bringing it to life. What draws you to these kinds of organic sounds?
MFX: I wanted the setting of the track to be unmistakable. Regardless of whether you want to take it as a metaphor, or take it literally, this is a piece of music about traversing the wilderness, and going thru the unknown.
You live in New York, one of the busiest cities in the world. How do you emulate the vaqueros you met in your day-to-day life, if at all?
MFX: I think one thing I’ve taken from them was the idea that your horse can feel your emotions almost better than you can, and for that reason it is important to remain calm and confident. I can’t always say that I do, but I try.
Revenue from “Vaquero” will be donated to Crisis Text Line—can you tell us a little about the organization and why you chose it?
MFX: Crisis Text Line is an international non for profit offering free 24/7 mental health support to those in need. In the grand scheme of things I actually think there are too many worthy organizations to count, in regards to where one could donate their money right now, but I wanted to personally focus on mental health, as that is something I have been personally struggling with. Our new reality has (understandably) created a lot of panic, fear, and anxiety.. I just want to do my part and help in any way I can.