where i play

Matthew Bur­nett

Exclaim! - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Erin Low­ers

YEARS BE­FORE TORONTO PRO­DUCER AND MU­SI­CIAN MATTHEW BUR­NETT started play­ing mu­sic, he was al­ready vib­ing out in the womb. “My very first in­ter­ac­tion with mu­sic hap­pened be­fore I was born,” he says with con­vic­tion. “My mom, when she was preg­nant with me, was tak­ing pi­ano lessons. She had an up­com­ing exam, and she said that ev­ery time she was prac­tic­ing, I would kick. That was an early in­di­ca­tion for her that, ‘This one is go­ing to be mu­si­cal.’”

A mother’s in­tu­ition is al­ways right; the 26-year old artist has worked with Drake and Eminem (with whom he won a Grammy for his co-pro­duc­tion on “Not Afraid”) and is cur­rently on tour with Daniel Cae­sar.

“I started pro­duc­ing when I was in grade 9. I started be­cause Fruity Loops was the new and cool thing. For me it was in­trigu­ing, be­cause I was re­ally based in live per­for­mance, so I was gig­ging a lot, play­ing in a band. [For] all those things, the life­span of that mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence is limited. So when Fruity Loops came into my life, it was like, ‘Wait a minute, I can make some­thing and ex­port it as an MP3… for­ever?”

Grow­ing up in a Chris­tian house­hold play­ing pi­ano and drums, Matthew’s mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing the way he pro­duces, is heav­ily rooted in gospel mu­sic. “It was a bless­ing and a curse,” he says. “I’d like to say that it sped up the process in terms of my ear de­vel­op­ing, and my ap­petite for mu­sic. It was a huge tool for me in terms of help­ing de­velop my craft, and trans­late what I was hear­ing and be able to ma­nip­u­late it my­self.” Iron­i­cally, to­day Matthew calls Coali­tion Mu­sic — a church-turned-mu­sic com­plex in Scar­bor­ough, ON — his mu­si­cal home.

With plaques hang­ing on the walls, sev­eral in­stru­ments lined up (in­clud­ing Fender five-string bass and jazz bass gui­tars, a Roland Juno-60 and a Moog SUB 37), soft­ware like Stere­osonic and Fad Fil­ter plugged into com­put­ers and a Nin­tendo 64 proudly placed in the cor­ner, the stu­dio space feels like home.

“When I first started mak­ing mu­sic, mak­ing beats, it was un­der Boi-1da. Our for­mula was [that] he would do the drums, and we would pro­duce the melody to­gether,” he says. “1da, to me, has one of the best tran­si­tional rhythms in the game, hands down. As a live player, for me, it’s a dif­fer­ent mind­set for how I’d ap­proach some­thing play­ing live ver­sus pro­duc­ing it — in my opin­ion, you can’t ap­proach them in the same way. 1da re­ally showed me that you could be creative — he showed me that your drums don’t have to sound like ev­ery­one else’s. You can use el­e­ments of your live ex­pe­ri­ence and just make it unique — find that happy medium and make it you,” he con­tin­ues.

“My best stuff comes to me in the shower,” Bur­nett says laugh­ing. “Some­times I have a drum groove in my head, and I’ll come out and record it, and then I’ll add the melody af­ter­wards. Some­times it’s a lead line or ac­tual chords, and af­ter­wards it’s a mat­ter of me say­ing, ‘Okay, what’s the drum line? What is this rhythm? What’s the en­ergy un­der these chords that I have?’ There’s no wrong or right way, I just feel like be­cause I can do both, why not?”

As for the Nin­tendo 64? “It’s ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary,” he con­firms. “When we were do­ing the Danny [Cae­sar] record, that was very in­stru­men­tal. I al­ways tell peo­ple that you need a break, you need an out­let, whether in the stu­dio or out­side. For me, it’s good be­cause we may be mak­ing some­thing, and in a mo­ment where we hit a bit of a road­block or just need to take a sec­ond and step back from it, take a breath and re-an­a­lyze what we’re do­ing, it’s per­fect for that.”

Re­cently, Bur­nett’s co-pro­duc­tion on Cae­sar’s “Get You” launched it to Gold sta­tus in North Amer­ica. “We all knew it was spe­cial from day one, and just to see it con­nect the way we had hoped, but didn’t know that it would, and sur­pass our ex­pec­ta­tions, was so hum­bling,” he says.

“Every­body wants to know what’s Toronto’s se­cret, like ‘You guys have the sauce over there,’” Bur­nett says. But for him, it’s sim­ple. “If you come to Toronto, you have no other choice but to sit in­side and make beats be­cause it’s cold as shit. That’s just what it is. You can hear it in our mu­sic son­i­cally, and even the way the drums hit, it’s very rigid and just rude. We have noth­ing else to do but stay in­side, work on mu­sic and do what we love.”

“If you come to Toronto, you have no other choice but to sit in­side and make beats be­cause it’s cold as shit.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.