Mattias Fridell — 24/7 journey in musicLugemisaeg 11 min
Record label Processed will be kicking off with a new party series that aims to introduce artists both from Estonia and abroad. The first edition of the night takes place at club Ulme in Tallinn on October 17 and brings us a lineup consisting of Margus Löve alias 1DERL&, Mihkel Maripuu with his live act Compound Minerals, and Swedish DJ Mattias Fridell who will be visiting Estonia for the first time. Mattias Fridell is a producer and DJ whose music, released under labels such as AFFIN, Labrynth, and Naked Lunch, has been creating proper club vibes since 2000s. In addition to his own creation, he is also known as a talented remixer. Since Fridell does also mastering for other artists, there’s a great chance that his set will include unreleased pearls from some well-known techno producers. Margus Löve interviewed Mattias Fridell to jot down the path of his musical career.
Where are you based in Sweden?
I’m based in the southern part of Sweden, in the highlands. I’ve always felt more connected with the even deeper southern regions and the Danish scene then the scene in Stockholm.
Your first record came out in 2000. How would you describe your musical journey for the past 14 years? What inspired you to make music in the first place?
I have always considered myself lucky to be able to work with what I love the most. Hopefully it will continue this way! I have worked with tons of great people through the years and played in many countries for great audiences. It’s very tricky to summarize this journey up until now. I got interested in music since I grew up in a family where music was very important – we had many records and instruments everywhere. Developing my own taste in music began when the school started and I met friends to share my musical interest with. In our early teens we loved to shop records and discover new music. Jamming on my parents’ keyboard and record it all with cassette decks made me realise I want to make my own music. I met some new friends who shared that interest as well and it didn’t take long till we started making music together – on simple terms with simple means. At the same time I discovered the whole DJ-ing thing and I was equally sold. (Laughs) From there on it all became pretty clear to me I wanted to devote myself to DJ-ing and music full-time.
A couple of years later when me and some of my friends got access to computers, synths and other machines, we could start making electronic music with the proper type of gear for it. Up till then we basically just sampled stuff and reversed it on cassette decks, distorted keyboards and guitars via the phono connectors on a DJ mixer or via guitar fuzz boxes. Me and Alexander Johansson could make acid and similar music for days in a row. The step towards making techno wasn’t far away as you can imagine. After that it was all about techno with some wacky electronic experiments on the side for years.
Releasing our first record opened up quite a few more doors and we got requests from other labels. Around 2004, me and Alexander went our separate ways for some years, however, I kept on making music on full-scale. I signed much music solo, but finally got fed up with techno as well. For about 4 years I made it occasionally but explored many other genres instead. I developed several aliases and released music under them.
During 2009, I felt that techno was beginning to interest me again. I really hated the commercial side of minimal wave so I didn’t keep up with my old favorite artists that much at all and ended up making both techno and my own idea of minimal for a while, signed new label deals and started to feel it was all holding up well again.
2010 was extremely busy for me. I made new connections, hooked up with the old ones and made tons of music. I reconnected with Glenn Wilson whom I have always respected for all he has done for techno. He has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, both for his music and all his labels. So we started to talk about the current scene and I showed him some of my music. He dug some of it and soon after we connected big time, ended up making music together and started the label Tonal Path. Glenn also relaunched the legendary labels Compound and Punish and I was closely involved there.
2010 was a great year in many ways. Techno took many nice turns and it was truly interesting. While I enjoyed making that type of banging techno, I also slowly started to produce some slower and more reduced sounds in that genre. I kind of tried to re-establish and re-brand my sound as I felt a bit lost in all the different types of styles I made under my own name. My first EP for Gynoid Audio, which now is one of my main labels to work with, was released in March 2011. I also managed to hit the wall then because I was really stressed out and had to step back for 6 months to take some time to recover. At that time, I was only making music when I felt I had the strength for it. Last half of the year I still had to take it easy but was more eager to work on music again. I got more and more stuck in the reduced, dirty and slower type of sound, with more dub feel and groove to it. I felt I was pretty satisfied with the sound I was making.
The coming years I hooked up with some classic labels as well as new ones, made many remixes and EPs. It was really great that vinyl started to boom again! 2013, when I gave tons of gigs, made new records and remixes, was especially great for me and I’m still on that path.
Many producers start their own imprint at some point, what about you?
Yeah, I was also involved in starting an imprint, in fact everything started from that point. Me and a couple of others started up an association around 15 years ago. We threw some parties, had a studio and stuff like that. After a while we decided we should start a label, so we did. Since me and Alexander Johansson were the ones who focused on producing music the most, we developed some tracks for the first EP. Up to that point we were never truly satisfied with the material, but now we really had to learn to like the tracks and stop ourselves from changing and rejecting them. It was definitive with the label thing. After many errors, new experiences and economic issues we pressed the record and released it. It happened to be quite successful – many big Djs played it for example and for a while we got offers and requests to make tracks for other labels as well! We had more records coming on our own label but this was at the point where many distributors went bankrupt and all our forthcoming releases never happened.
Your discography is quite impressive! What takes more of your time, playing or making music? Also, do you have a dayjob?
I’ve been around for long enough to put out a lot of music I guess. This is what I love the most, so it’s natural. But yes, making music takes more time for sure, I am not really a gig machine, at least not compared to what I used to be back in the day. I have more freedom to choose gigs now, I do not have to jump on the crappy ones. (Laughs) As for a day job… Well depends on how you view it. I work 100% with music, so I guess that’s my day job. What I do the most is mastering music and that takes up most of my time. Producing and administrative stuff comes next.
What is the ethos behind your alias Consoless?
There is no sophisticated meaning behind Consoless, just another alias to give myself some freedom to create techno in a slightly different direction under another name then my own. I wanted to create an alias to focus on more monotonous, atmospheric but at the same time somewhat evolving techno. If I take too much time to work on a Consoless’s track or remix I have to strain myself and drop it since that wasn’t part of my original idea. I want the tracks to come fast when I work. They shouldn’t sound overproduced or avant-garde in any way, just simple and atmospheric. Oddly enough, Consoless has been released only digitally so far, even though there is four vinyl records worth of music ready under the moniker. They’re just extremely delayed.
Which festivals have you played this year? Which one do you actually prefer, playing at clubs or at festivals?
I played at some solid underground events throughout the summer. Graefenthal IV festival in the Netherlands is the one that I enjoyed the most I think. The whole location and scenery is really cool with a big monastery as its center of activity. During the days the festival stages are located around the monastery and at its backyard. During the night, people move inside and there you have a big chapel, random rooms and dungeons! Crazy. So yeah, good people, good friends, good location and scenery, great festival!
I’ve heard you also do mastering for other people, some of which are quite known figures in techno. This surely means you hear some great sounding tracks before anyone else?
Yeah. (Laughs) I guess it does mean that. It’s good to have the music even before the promos are out. As I mentioned before, mastering takes up most of my time when it comes to the music business. It’s a really niche kind of job and I really like it. I also enjoy giving feedback and suggestions to less experienced producers on their mixdowns to improve the overall fidelity in the end result. Some younger artists might have a wild expectation of what mastering can do to their music. They somehow think it can magically fix everything. Of course that is not true – mastering can only be as good as the delivered material allows. I am on my fourth year working with this professionally now, though I’ve mastered music for seven years altogether soon. I feel it was the best direction to go in terms of professional business. Must say I am very happy to be able to keep adding more and more well known profiles to my list of clients.
What’s your favourite equipment in the studio, do you use any analog gear these days?
Is it boring to say my favorite piece of equipment is my computer? (Laughs) It covers so much these days. Or maybe my speakers…? I’ve always been really bad at nailing only one favorite thing, be it with studio gear or with music. I suck at it as I view it all as a whole entity. Nothing is complete without the other parts. I must admit I truly hate computers though they are close to essential for music production today. The worst part about computers is that the hands-on feeling is lost.
What can we expect from you at Processed label night?
I always aim to play tracks with a certain ID or signature and build up a journey from start to the end. I play pretty hard stuff, but always blend hypnotic moods with groove and soul, constantly tossing between old school days of techno and modern vibes. Another thing is, I always include special loops and tools I made myself to every set, as well as special edits of tracks. That way I can always build further and develop the sets in unusual ways. I like to shake up things with something the crowd possibly didn’t expect, surprises are always welcome in my sets!
Is this going to be your first visit to Estonia (first gig at least I assume)?
Yes, it’s my first visit to Estonia and I’m really looking forward to it. Tallinn has always caught my eye and interest when I’ve seen photos and movie clips of it.