Long-time Pacha Ibiza resident DJ and house music producer Matt Caseli is back after an extended break in 2020. With a renewed sense of purpose and a super fresh sound, he’s just dropped new single, ‘No Sound, No Sex’ on Deep Tech Los Angeles Records, following a stint of releases on Great Stuff, Toolroom and Simma Black to name a few. Currently living in Cairns, Australia, Caseli is one of few DJs lucky enough to be playing in clubs again. Here he gives an insight into what clubland currently looks like, how lockdown influenced his latest production, plus he takes a trip down memory to share some of the most random moments from Pacha’s Funky Room from over the years…
Hi Matt welcome to DMC World. Let’s set the scene – where are you in the world and what did you have for breakfast?
I’m currently in Cairns, tropical north Aussieland. Breakfast, well that’s now called Vegemite not Marmite!
Tell us about your new release on DTLA and how you came to sign to the label.
I’ve been following the label and Redux Saints’ releases for a while now, playing out releases a lot in around Australia and Asia. My old pal Stimpy from Concrete Promo hit me up for some demos as he’s handling DTLA’s promo. Third lucky demo in and boom, ‘No Sound No Sex’ was on board!
What prompted you to take an extended break from producing in 2020?
Primarily the fact all clubs were closed around the world from March onwards due to the dreaded COVID. I had a release around August 2020 and it got lost in the wind as general track sales had dramatically dropped. So, I thought it was better to take a pause and put more focus into the production side of things, building up more of an arsenal for when better times come.
Did producing in lockdown change your sound or do you think it was always going to evolve regardless of the circumstances?
To be honest, lockdown has defo helped put a new perspective and thinking into my music. I’d spend a lot more time on the initial concept, arrangements and main hook ideas so they’d really grab people. Then having that extra lockdown time to keep squeezing an extra 10% of goodness into tracks instead of rush releasing them for the sake of having a release! As for evolving, yeah, I’ve put a lot more focus into underground sounds as opposed to some of the more mainstream house or cover versions I had released in the past.
We hear you’re sitting on an album’s worth of new material. What labels do you have lined up to release it?
Yeah, the tracks have stacked up! I’m really happy with the results as I’m now getting more interest from bigger labels. Next up is a double A side single or double A EP – however you like to call these things lol – titled Def Jam / Dub Power. That’s coming out on the hugely successful Top 10 label Club Sweat owned by the Yolanda Be Cool boys. I met them on a messy night in Ibiza back in 2011 and about 50 demos later, two suddenly stuck to their tea towels! That’s out Feb 26th. Then I have two more EP’s coming on Low Steppa’s Simma Black label, singles on Stashed Music, Enormous Tunes, Freakin909 and hopefully a lot more in the making.
You’re out DJing again as clubs have started to open. Where are you playing?
Due to the international flight restrictions, it’s just been in my hometown of Cairns Australia for the moment. I do play a lot in Bali as we have our DJ agency Deck Duty based there for 3 years now. We were hoping to skip over for Christmas 2020, but it’s way too technical with flights. To give you an idea of how crazy logistics are right now, first I would’ve had to fly downwards Australia to Brisbane, then up to Singapore or Bangkok… From there, back down again to Jakarta, then across east and finally enter Bali as a ‘Domestic’ traveller! Basically 3 days later, landing looking like a crusty yoyo with god knows how many COVID swobs stuck up my nose! So yeah, just keeping it local for now until travel restrictions are lifted, and all is safe as it’s just not worth the risk. We’ve been incredibly lucky here due to the extreme heat and tough border controls with zero cases, so it’s better to stick on that way for now.
What is the club experience like nowadays? Are the clubbers socially distanced? Is the atmosphere different?
We have a tech house night in Cairns every Monday which has been running 6 years now, aimed at our international hospitality workers. It used to draw insane numbers of around 800 to 900 peeps each week, with a big European and South American crowd plus our faithful locals. But obviously a lot of those workers had to return home last year, so the night closed for a few months. Then it re-opened in September with strict restrictions of 200 peeps only with the 1.5-meter rule and NO dancing. But since January, we’re allowed capacity again with some small dance floor spacing, but generally its back to full hands-in-the-air, let’s-have-it business!
Our city is experiencing a lot of Aussie tourism now so we’re back to the numbers again and plenty of tech bangers on the decks as opposed to the more chilled music we had to play in the NO dancing days. The people just go bananas now as they were starved of dancing for 6 months – perfect for a DJ! Let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit soon.
Has the experience from a DJs perspective changed?
As I mentioned it only really changed with the NO dancing rule and having to play more easy head-nodding house music and strictly no techno! The funniest thing I had one night was a dance floor full of people on stools hoping around fist pumping, I nearly wet my pants! Good effort though. If anything, having the dance floor returned to normal has been better than ever. I can only imagine looking at that scenario, when the big clubs do finally open again, they are gonna go off big time. And I’m sure all the DJ’s who haven’t played out for a year or so will be on top gagging form too!
Most people will have caught a Matt Caseli set at some point in their life what with your Pacha Ibiza residency for over 15 years, plus regular world tours. What are some of your best memories from Pacha?
OMG that’s a hard one. I’ve clocked up a lot of good memories and funny nights over 15 years. I think throughout my residency I notched up over 1,500 sets in the Funky Room! A few moments would be Jamiroquai dancing on my shoulders wearing an Indian headdress covered in Christmas lights. Moloko singing to me in the DJ booth dressed as a fairy angel. The actor Don Johnson ‘Mr Miami Vice’ going off like John Travolta (great guy by the way) to some incredible ‘one more song’ moments! The management got so pissed with us doing five ‘one more songs’ that they installed a booth cut-off switch in their office – bastardos!
But there is one funny story that sticks in my mind always, which I’ll give you the PG version of here! We had a new young resident DJ start called Willy Graff and on one of his first nights, two strippers from the local gentleman’s establishment turned up on the dance floor. So, I stuck on this really sexy house number called ‘Peter Gunn’ by Bobby D’Ambrosio, which the girls started going off too. Next minute they have their legs up on the booth getting up to mischief, then suddenly one of them throws their panties at Willy’s face, basically showing him what they had for dinner! I was on the floor in stitches. The poor lad didn’t know where to look. My fault with the song choice I suppose!
When was the last time you went clubbing as an actual clubber? Where did you go and who was playing?
It’s been a while since I clubbed myself, but a memorable night out was with M.A.N.D.Y at Jenja Club, Bali a few years back. The boys know how to rock a club and play a lot of unique fresh tunes, it’s always a pleasure to see them. And no, I wasn’t Shazaming each track – I just don’t understand people with their bloody phones out on dance floors – enough with that nonsense! Dance floors were made for dancing didn’t ya know?
What’s working well for you in the clubs at the moment?
There are a lot of good tracks around right now so it’s hard to choose just three, but these ones come to mind which defo put the hairs up:
Dennis Cruz ‘Five’
Vintage Culture ‘It Is What It Is’
Horse Meat Disco ‘Love If You Need It’ – I always love a bit of disco!
Your talent agency Deck Duty is based in Bali, but you’re originally from Bournemouth, UK. When did you pack up shop and what attracted you to Bali?
Wow, that was a long time ago. I left Bournemouth for London back in 1993 to work as a tea boy / record producer for Baby D’s label, Production House Records. Then the Ibiza move came in 1997. Fast forward some years at a night in Pacha and I met the guys who owned Ku De Ta and DeJa Vu clubs from Bali. I got invited to first play there around 2004-ish. Bali has always been a big party destination especially for the global traveling clubber. I’ve been a regular playing there ever since, it’s like my second home. Then three years ago, I bumped into an old German friend and we decided to set up the Deck Duty agency for international guests touring around Asia. Let’s hope we can get back on track with that soon with less of the logistical jaunts I mentioned before. Many of our roster DJ’s are gagging to get over. I’m hoping to bring Martin Ikin and Cloonee out to Bali later this year if all goes well. Fingers and toes crossed!
What’s your favourite club to play anywhere in the world, and why?
One of my faves is Hospital Club in Khabarovsk, Russia. It’s a long way to go over on the Japan side of the country, but it’s defo worth it. It has a great layout, décor, amazing DJ booth, sound system, good up-for-it crowd and one of the biggest glitter balls I’ve ever seen. Plus let’s not forget the amazing dancers and decent looking chicks! Hope my wife doesn’t read this! Plus there’s a great little afterhours club directly behind.
Another fave was the old Club Q in Zurich. I held a winter residency there for some years and the club was off the chain. It had the best DJ box ever where you could get 20 people inside for your own private party. It’s the club where the Swedish House Mafia played before they were Them. I remember warming up once for David Guetta as he was just having his first big hit record ‘Just A Little More Love’.
Some honorable mentions in Asia would be the massive Jungle Experience Festival in Koh Phangan, Ce La Vi in Singapore and from my second home, Bali, would be the Jungle Pool Club (below).
If you were a talent booker at a festival – and budget wasn’t an issue – who would your top three headline acts of all time be, dead or alive?
Michael Jackson, Frankie Knuckles and David Guetta, but it would have to be as his more underground Jack Back guise. I loved his Jack set at the Toolroom ADE party. He always has a good crowd-pleasing presence on the decks. A proper DJ in my books!