Matty Tavares of BADBADNOTGOOD is enjoying some solo time
We were especially geeked when we landed an interview with Matty Tavares for our new September Style issue. The reason we were so excited is that Matty just happens to be the co-founder of our favorite experimental jazz/Hip-Hop band, BADBADNOTGOOD. Additionally, when it comes to Matty, the phrase “musical promiscuity” is a very good thing. He has lent his superior production and musical skills to an impressive array of artists including: Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt and the inimitable Ghostface Killah. In between his constant touring and production duties, he carved out enough time to release a stellar collection of dreamy mood-inducing, sonic gems that should see you through even the dreariest autumn afternoons. His new solo album is titled Déjàvu, and we feel its poignant combination of songwriting and instrumentation should land it on the shortlist of 2018’s best releases. See our interview with Matty below:
First off, how did it feel like making this solo Déjàvu record compared to your more recent group albums with BBNG—was it a completely different method or were there some similarities?
Well I felt guilty at first because the band was such a part of my identity and they are my brothers, so the thought of doing a solo project seemed like going against that. Obviously I got over it and then it was a very long process of making a bunch of different song ideas and production demos. The method was totally different to making a BADBAD record in terms of how I recorded and pieced everything together, but I remember feeling like certain parts of the process were similar (like how long it took do to the artwork and how to know when the record was fully finished).
The mood on the album is definitely mellow, atmospheric and lush—“vibe out” music for sure; Was this the intention when you were recording the album?
I didn’t have any grand intentions for the record sonically other than my natural inclination to make things sound like where my taste is at in the moment. While I was working on the record, I was obsessed with collecting and listening to Brazilian records so the vibe definitely rubbed off. Having Frank Dukes help out was huge in that too, he is definitely a master of the”vibe.”
We’ve had discussions in our office about how to describe the overall sound on the album. Popular choices were “dream pop” and “psychedelic rock,”—how would you describe it?
I never really know how, which is how I feel when people ask me to describe BBNG’s music. I normally just say “psychedelic jazz rock,” even though there is very little “jazz” sounding material on the record lol. I don’t know why thats what I go for.
One of the standout tracks on the album is definitely “Clear”—the sound is both expansive and earnest; what is the origin and story of that song?
The song is about the habit I had of looking to other people to make me feel better. Honestly I wrote a lot of the song in a stream of consciousness and then realized way later what the lyrics were pointing to, kind of when you reflect on an old dream you’ve had. The whole thing started off with a super short iPhone demo and then I brought it to Dukes, and he had the brilliant idea to make the “hook” of the song just the melody stacked on triple octave synths. It’s definitely what makes the song as effective as it is.
Another feature that truly comes through on this album is the exceptional arrangement of vocals, instrumentation, tempo changes, etc throughout the album; did it take long to get everything absolutely right on each song?
Yessss, it took sooo long. I went through some of the earlier versions of the songs the other day and realized just how many different incarnations some of the songs went through. “Polished” and “Butter” were especially hard to get just right, but listening to them now I forget about that. I remember specifically with “Verocai,” I just had this iPhone demo of me and Dukes working out the piano arrangement and I knew I really wanted it on the record but it was so incomplete. I kept on putting the iPhone demo into folders of what I thought should be on the record, but never recording it. I didn’t think it would make it and then one day I was super-inspired and rushed home and recorded the entire thing that day and then did all the string arrangements a couple days later. I sent it to Dukes thinking he would say it was too empty or something and he was just like “it’s done.”
You worked on Déjàvu with your longtime music collaborator/mentor, Frank Dukes. How did the collaboration process unfold, and what was the biggest influence he had on your record?
It really meant so much that he spent so much time working on the record with me. We started it right before he started blowing up and then as we progressed, he ended up working on these HUGE projects, but still always was there for me when I needed advice on something. I think the biggest influence he had on the record was just helping me keep things simple and tasteful. I wanted to make the record as honest as possible, and I think as a trained musician sometimes I can hide behind technique or weird chords or over-arranging as way to distract that listener from what I’m saying because I’m afraid.
Being that the songs on the album are more on the mellow side, how have the live performances been? Have the crowds and ambience been more intimate?
I’ve only played two shows and they’ve both been super intimate. There’s definitely a lot more energy in the live show because we jam on a few of the songs.
Since this is the September Style issue, we’d love to ask about your personal style; We imagine you’re on the road and in the studio a ton; what would you consider as your fave everyday uniform?
I don’t really think I have a uniform. I often will really like something for a couple months and wear it a lot then abandon it, but I really just try to dress how I feel. I don’t like name brands and I get most of my clothes from thrift stores. This summer, I’ve been wearing a ton of tank tops and jeans. Every so often I’ll try to wear something that would make me feel self-conscious to push past it, I just got a pair of leather pants I think are pretty sick.
What about when it’s time to dress up and look spiffy; what kind of attire do you prefer?
Honestly I almost never dress up. I notice there is a direct co-relation to how conscious I am getting dressed to how self conscious I feel when I wear it out in the world. There’s exceptions of course, like when I just get something I’m stoked to wear, but other than that, I find the best outfits come when I’m in a rush to get changed and I just throw shit on.
Lastly, how is the rest of the year looking for you? More touring, new recording sessions with BADBAD, any special production projects? Please fill us in.
I’m sure I’ll make more music with BADBAD at some point in the next few months and I’m constantly working on my own stuff and productions. I’m doing a bit of traveling and I’m going to be in London for all of September which should be fun. I don’t really tour anymore, as long as I’m making music, having intimate conversations and feeling inspired I’m happy.
Discover more Matty Tavares music here.
Follow Matty on IG here.