Multi-Instrumentalist and Producer re:tract is starting his year as he means to go on, building on his burgeoning reputation as one of the most eclectic producers around. After racking up national support from Mary Anne Hobbs at BBC 6 Music, Huw Stephens at BBC Introducing andJohn Kennedy at Radio X, re-tract’s sonic offerings are now being heard on a global scale. DMCWORLD checks in with the main man as he joins forces with vocalist Iora to release new single ‘Waiting’…
Hey Matt, congrats on the new release! For those that don’t know you, please tell us about re:tract, who and what is the project?
Hey! Thanks so much! re:tract is my solo music project. I produce electronic music mainly, although I also like to use instruments and play around with their sounds. I love combining found sounds, with real sounds, samples and live recordings. I’ve been writing and producing under re:tract for 5 or 6 years, initially it was for fun, writing more leftfield stuff and then it just sort of turned into a proper thing. I love producing and have so many plans for bigger and better productions, videos and shows. I try to bring a live element to all of my shows, I have an amazing band who help recreate the tracks on stage.
‘Waiting’ has a proper nod to breakbeat in there, was that your intention when producing it? How do your track ideas normally come about?
To be honest I never really have a specific idea in mind, I always just start playing with sounds or a little hook and go from there. Even when I do decide to aim for something it always tends to head in its own direction anyway. The drum groove in ‘Waiting” was actually one of the last things to get right. I’d been playing around with lots of different drum patterns and firing ideas back and forth to Iora. When I finally created that drum groove it just seemed to fit with the rest of the track. I then kind of built up the layers and somehow it ended up with a little breakbeat feel… Who knew?
It features some incredible vocals from Iora, and you’ve worked with Martha Phillips before too. How do you go about deciding who to collab with? Does it naturally fall into place, do you have a vision of how it should sound or is it a longer process?
No it’s usually more of a ‘lets give it a try and see what happens.’ I like vocals with individuality that aren’t necessarily mainstream. I also like to work with people who can write their own tracks, this really helps with the process. Martha and Iora both have their own projects, Martha has The Elephant Trees and Iora is a self-producing artist. We all happen to be friends and Manchester based, which I love, as I get to support the local scene a little too. I’d chatted to Iora about working together, after we’d both performed on a livestream for BBC introducing Manchester, as I really liked her voice. Usually I come up with a track idea and either head down a sample route or recorded vocal route. This one kinda turned out as both as I actually sampled Iora’s earlier demos for the chorus.
Poisonous Birds and BUMPY are on remixing responsibilities, what would you say their tracks have added to the single?
This is actually the first time I’ve had any remixes on my releases! Both remixes are amazing and both are so far apart stylistically. BUMPY’s remix is a hefty garage remix with a bit of a nod towards the old Armand Van Helden remixes back in the day. It has an amazing groove and I love how he’s used my samples. The Poisonous Birds remix is a little darker and leftfield with such stunning production. I’ve wanted to work with them for a little while now, mainly for their synthesis and vocal work. It’s incredible.
As well as ‘Waiting,’ there’s also the very chilled ‘Need You’ on the release – what was the reasoning behind adding that in there as an additional song?
Initially “Need You” was going to be put out as another single, I wrote it just after “Waiting” but I felt it wasn’t really strong enough as a stand alone single. It seemed like a nice compliment to “Waiting” and I’ve always been a fan of having b-sides on vinyl’s. so why not? It’s nice to put out a bit more music at the same time.
Could you recommend 3 artists that are producing similar sounds to yourself? Which electronica producers should people look out for?
One artist whose work I love at the moment is Blackboxx. His production and use of vocal samples is stunning. He always creates really beautiful records. Another artist in a similar vein is Catching Flies who I’ve been a fan of since his first EP. His album, “Silver Linings” is a master class. Also Canadian based producer “Tor” is a personal favourite… I’ve had his new single on repeat for weeks.
Finally, when we’re allowed – will you have any dates booked in?
I really hope so! I really miss gigs. I was trying to organize a headline show in Manchester before the pandemic hit and obviously everything got put on hold. That’s something I still really want to do when we can. I’ve also been chatting to a few guys who want to film a rooftop session somewhere in Manchester, hopefully when it’s not raining, which is something we may be able to release sooner rather than later.