ERA 95 is the alter ego of 25 year old Matt Roberts, a Midlands based house producer and DJ. Although Era 95 is a new alias, Matt has spent 8 years DJ playing on underground stages across the Midlands, and releasing music under various different guises. Along with the establishing ERA 95 and a new musical direction, he’s launching a label, Lost Treasure Records, which is where he’ll be releasing most of his music over the coming months including Piano Groove – a devastatingly brilliant, raw house cut that will be the debut release on the label. Ahead of its release – and before he becomes way too busy for his own good – we caught up with him for a chat about his journey to get to this point…
For our DMCWORLD readers who may be newcomers to your music, please tell us who is Era 95?
Era 95 is my alter ego centered around my love for feel good dance music and rave culture. This artist concept has been my main musical focus for the last 3 or so years, with me spending a considerable amount of time behind closed doors nailing down my branding, signature sound and career visions. My ultimate goal for the Era 95 alias is to share exquisitely composed records with the world which injects some well needed positive vibes to music lovers internationally.
We like to get to know people through the music they love, so in that spirit – what are your top three albums of all time, and can you give us a few words on each?
This is an absolute whopper of a question! I’ve had to think really hard before narrowing it down to just three as my taste in music has forever been pretty eclectic but i wanted to talk about some old influences on me. These go in order from newest to oldest!
1) Disclosure – Settle (2013)- This album for me really sparks my imagination alight with the incredibly impressive synth work, melodic content and wonderful production quality we have come to expect from the Disclosure brothers over the years. This really was one of my all time favourites around the time that it came out and today I will still go back to some of the records on this album for mixdown references as their products are SUPER clean.
2) Ska Mania (1995) – This compilation of Ska hits really is a nostalgic one for me. It’s something that me and my dad used to rinse weekly when I was younger. The instrumentation involved with the Ska sound really captured me from a young age. In my early days I used to play the drums as well, so you’d catch me jamming along to all the hits on my kit with the HI-FI blasting behind me.
3) Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam (1989) – What can i say about this album! This absolute classic album really is something that programmed the classic hardware house sound into me during those early days. Tonnes of 808 drums, iconic hardware synths and just all out VIBES for the time of its release. I think some of the records on this album still bang today even by modern standards to be honest! I’ll occasionally wack some of these tracks in a set if it’s suitable for a bit of nostalgia for the well seasoned heads!
We know it’s a tough question, but could you describe the music you make in a single sentence?
I’ll give it a good go and I’ll try to be creative with it. I’d like to think that my music could be defined as:
Deliciously Danceable Selects, Powered By Groove n Feelin’…
What inspired you to start this project?
I had spent the best part of my teenage years exploring different genres, picking up key production techniques from different corners of the musical spectrum and decided to save my personal favourite genre until last to master! My love for house music was always cemented in me from a young age due to my father’s taste in music and as I began to mature, play different stages to different types of crowds and experience the many wonders of different music scenes, I just found my heart to be totally owned by House music and its culture. That deep seeded hunger for groove, swing and feeling really came alive once I reached my twenties and now I feel like I’ve really found my home and comfort zone as an artist making dance music full time.
Can you tell us about your past work in music before Era 95?
Absolutely! It’s always nice to have the opportunity to expose my rich history in music as on the surface level, I have appeared to be rather quiet in the last few years whilst I was perfecting my craft and focusing on my vision.
I actually began my DJ career at 17 by securing a local residency at an eastern european bar in Leicester and then just slowly worked my way through the ranks within my city to build relations with key local promoters and this is really where the dedication for a lifelong career in music was born. This was also one of the main drivers for me moving to greater london for two years to study a music degree with an esteemed music university whilst growing my network.
I’ve worked within the music sector for almost all of my adult life within many different areas of this vastly satisfying industry. I’ve done everything from working in music retail at the infamous Andertons music store as their in house DJ / Production specialist which involved me being brand ambassadors for huge companies like, Native Instruments, Denon & Akai. I have worked within the music royalty game as well, contributing over 2.6 Million pounds in revenue for PPL and PRS members as an account manager for public performance licensing. I have also graced a number of music scenes as a DJ and producer over the years which has seen me performing and making genres like drum and bass, UKG and even the original deep dubstep sound (just to name a few).
Around 2016, I was involved in a duo called Sugar N Shake with my best pal Adam Guitart (now known as rising house star “Zurra”), which saw us perform all over the UK in a number of high profile venues. Our sound was centered around the emerging bass house & breaks kind of vibes with releases on “Broken Syndicate” and a number of ties to other awesome labels like Saucy Records.
Over the years I’ve dabbled in various studios as a freelance engineer as well, mixing down records, hosting production & DJ lessons and have even developed sample packs for small independent businesses too.
Finally, I have been known to organise and promote local events which is something I’m really keen to explore on a much bigger scale with my new label Lost Treasure Records.
I think personally, I’ve always just wanted to be a player in the industry and seek enjoyment from all of the many opportunities that being a musician can present to you. I’m super excited to give something back to a sector that has been my whole life and more!
As someone who’s been involved in a local scene, how do you think smaller clubs and venues will survive the effects of coronavirus?
I’m really worried that with the recent lack of income for clubs and promoters that this will substantially affect the ability for smaller venues to bring the artists that they want to their local crowds. I think it’s a problem that the wider industry as a whole needs to address. Especially booking agents with regards to fees etc. i know that a lot of artists are so hungry to get back to playing to their fans but have also taken a hit financially too, so i think It’s about everybody within the music community coming together to ensure that venues can still achieve those nights, the artists can still get the pleasure of performing in intimate scenarios and that everybody can continue to earn a living from doing something that they love.
Do you feel like there’s pressure for artists to fit neatly in a genre box within dance music? Or are the boundaries loser than that?
i do feel like there can sometimes be an air of elitism within dance music culture. I certainly know that a few scenes tend to keep themselves worlds apart (like House & DNB) so I feel like this can be a point of dilemma for artists. Especially if they want to display their versatility as a composer under one branding / name. I think this pressure originates from a marketing / targeting perspective though as we often know it can be difficult to grow your fan base as a multi genre artist (hence why a lot of creators have a number of aliases to express their art in different forms) but i suppose this is all entirely subjective. As long as you have the tenacity to shake off other people’s opinions, i’d like to say the boundaries are purely set by yourself with respect to fitting in the box!
Piano Groove is an out and out banger! Were you looking to emulate any particular records or artists when you made it?
Thanks very much! I massively appreciate that. I tend to write with a fair amount of freedom and opt to stay away from intentionally trying to sound too much like other records or artists, but as we know, everything you listen to is constantly programming your subconscious so there may have been some influences here and there from some other artists I tend to listen to regularly! I did however want to keep an element of authenticity with this track and pay some respect and homage to a more traditional sound hence why I selected the main motif of the track to be centered around the modulated piano stab married with the 303 bassline rolling away underneath.
Who would be your dream artist to drop it in one of their sets?
I would love it if someone like Michael Bibi was to give this a spin! That would certainly put a big smile on my face.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years time, i would ideally love to be in a position where i have cemented myself firmly as a prolific artist and would love for my label Lost Treasure Records to be known as a strong reputable brand for high quality dance records and parties within the house community. I think touring is also something that’s massively integral to a great long lasting music career, so i’d hope for maybe at least a world tour under my belt within five years?! Who knows, aim high and work hard is my mindset!
What else do you have coming up this year that we should be looking out for?
I have a further two Era 95 releases scheduled for Lost Treasure Records after Piano Groove drops, which will show diversity in my style serving up a range of energies for specific times in the dance. My next release “Coast Side” (scheduled for release in August) demonstrates my more peak time weaponry, showing off an array of G vocals, other worldly sound design and a high impact drums to bassline ratio. The follow up record is called “Anti Isolation Dub” which takes a peek into the more minimal kind of territory! It is definitely worth keeping an eye out for some of the other artists that I’m getting on board with the label as well. I really believe in the guys in my network and can’t wait to share their talents with the world also, so it’ll be really exciting to develop Lost Treasure further with the remaining months of 2020. I’m also super excited to host some label events if we manage to get the green light from the government by the end of this year so it’s well worth keeping an eye out on our Instagram page if you love a good party!
Thanks very much for the opportunity to have a chat with you today.