Setting standards in the music industry ever since they first collaborated in 2005, Matrix & Futurebound possess one of the most impressive track records in Drum and Bass history. We may have found ourselves in a post-truth world, but we like to believe facts still matter: We’re talking over 20 million combined Spotify streams, one critically acclaimed album, ‘Universal Truth’, and multiple consecutive Top 40 UK tracks with a back catalogue including hits such as ‘All I Know’, ‘Magnetic Eyes’, ‘Don’t Look Back’ and the legendary Silver certified ‘Control’ – which reached #7 on the UK’s Top 40 singles chart.
From remixing for the likes of Emeli Sande, Tinie Tempah, Jess Glynne, Eric Prydz and Birdy, to playing Creamfields, Brixton Academy, Secret Garden Party, M&F have picked up extensive support from across the board. This has included huge support from daytime and specialist radio including Radio 1 with extensive play from Annie Mac and many others. This also culminated in a highly successful Live Lounge appearance at Maida Vale last December where the pair performed Emeli Sande’s ‘Breathing Underwater’.
And, if their latest single, ‘Light Us Up‘ featuring Calum Scott, is anything to go by, the duo is headed for the top of the charts once more. So, we’re calling off the search – our summer jam for 2017 is here.
Prior to teaming up in 2007, both members enjoyed success in their own right. Matrix (Jamie Quinn) first broke through with the techno-infused ‘Sleepwalk’ album on Virus Recordings before crashing into the charts at #6 with ‘It’s Love (Trippin’)’ under his house pseudonym GoldTrix. Meanwhile, Futurebound (Brendan Collins) built his reputation on labels such as Moving Shadow, Infrared and Timeless before launching the influential Viper Recordings in 2004 that has gone from strength to strength.
Hot off the release of ‘Light Us Up’, we asked Matrix & Futurebound about honing their skills in the club scenes of Liverpool and London, their dream collaborations, and signature sounds.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
MATRIX: I’m a Londoner who’s been making Drum & Bass and some other stuff for as long as I can remember. I first met Brendan when we were both playing at a club in Belgium many years ago. We hit it off straight away and we both had similar ideas about where we wanted to go with our music. We wanted to take the energy and rawness of Drum & Bass music and fuse it with a lot of melodic elements and vocals and give it a real epic feel.
Futurebound: Liverpool is my hometown and like Jamie I’ve fell into this scene from school and haven’t left it since.
When we first hooked up Drum & Bass was in a very segregated state and we wanted to bridge the gap between strong melodic hooks and banging basslines. Not long after we started working together we felt there was a hype building around the sound we’d been creating and before we knew it we had enough material to drop an album which is what we did and ‘Universal Truth‘ was born.
Let’s start from the beginning – how did you both first encounter music?
MATRIX: My earliest memories of music are what my mum and dad used to play. It was a combination of Miles Davis and Philip Glass from my mum plus Bob Marley and Irish folk music from my dad. Somehow that sent me down the path of producing Drum & Bass so figure that one out.
Futurebound: Coming across my mum & dads ‘Grease‘ soundtrack LP. Maybe it was a hot looking Olivia Newton John on the cover that drew me in.
Who was most influential in shaping your musical tastes?
MATRIX: Fabio & Grooverider were definitely very important. For me (and a lot of others), they are the godfathers of Drum & Bass and I’d see them DJing all over the place when I was first getting into this music. Hearing them play my records on their radio show when I first started out was mind blowing and when Grooverider released a single from me on his label, Prototype Recordings, I think it really helped put me on the map.
Futurebound: As a kid I was obsessed with the trio of Micky Finn, Carl Cox & Sasha. Each one had special qualities. Micky Finn for dropping ultra fresh dubplates, Carl Cox for his energy in mixing and Sasha for his epic blending of records in key. I remember thinking I want to take a bit of each one of those qualities.
Do you remember your first albums?
MATRIX: Adamski, ‘Live and Direct’ on 12” vinyl of course. Such a classic album from the acid house rave era. A friend of my older brother played it to me and I was 100% hooked instantly. It was amongst the first proper dance music records that I discovered and opened my eyes to the whole world of underground electronic music.
Is there a way that growing up in London & Liverpool shaped how you each relate to music?
MATRIX: Yeah, you could say that. Ed Rush, Fierce, Trace, Nico, Dom & Roland, and of course my brother Matt, (aka Optical)…. all those guys were from my part of West London and we were all doing that early Neurofunk sound at the time. Being around that crew of people definitely shaped my sound in the beginning. There were also a few seminal club nights such as Blue Note and Speed that I used to go to all the time where you could hear whatever was at the cutting edge of Drum & Bass.
Futurebound: Luckily for me I cut my teeth in Clubland at one of the UK”s most legendary club nights ‘Quadrant Park’ in Liverpool. I went on the opening night and lived in that place every Thursday, Friday & Saturday, it was the best 12 months of my life. Andy Carrol, Mike Knowler & James Barton (Cream C.E.O) were the guys who broke all the new music in Liverpool in those days and I’m still yet to witness an atmosphere like it which says a lot considering I’ve been around the world many times DJ’ing.
Being in the North of England meant I had to work that bit harder to break through in Drum & Bass, but I liked that. Who wants an easy path!
Has music helped connect you (to others, to places) in a global world?
Futurebound: Yeah massively, From Tokyo to Perth, London to L.A we’ve made so many great friendships in our time doing this as a career. We get a kick out of our music engaging with non D’n’B heads and opening their minds to this great genre, whether it be us DJing or our productions, it’s always great to bring new people over to D’n’B.
We’ve definitely formed a close connection with the Japanese & Australasian market over the years.
Do you play any musical instruments? Are there any instruments you wish you could play or want to learn to play?
MATRIX: I played violin and saxophone when I was a kid but I guess now my main instrument is the mouse!
Futurebound: I’d always loved music growing up but I never came from a musical family and didn’t play anything as a kid but as soon as I experienced club culture in the early ’90s it literally was life changing for me and my path in life was laid out overnight.
If your lives didn’t turn to music, what were your plan Bs ?
MATRIX: I’ve never really had a plan B but I do love cooking so probably something involving that.
Futurebound: I’m not sure about Matrix’s plan B here, he’s cooked for me once in 12 years of working together. It was rather good though I have to admit.
Re: my plan B I’m a one trick pony I know nothing other than music, but my dad’s a property surveyor so maybe I could see myself getting into that game if it came down to it.
You latest single, Light Us Up, makes us think of never-ending summers! Would you say that you have a signature sound or does each project have its own DNA?
MATRIX: I think every good producer has a signature sound even without consciously trying to do that. From your sonic style, to the types of melodies you write, there does tend to be a common thread. I guess our sound is epic, musical and energetic. We like our records to work in a club environment but also to work outside of that world too.
Futurebound: Writing one style of track has never appealed to us. We love switching it up from making club tracks to more vocal friendly tracks but you can hear our sound and vibes in everything we do.
You’ve collaborated with an enviable laundry list of the UK’s top music stars. Who’s still on your wish list?
MATRIX: Really we’re just as happy working with someone completely unknown as someone with a high profile, but I would love to do a record Florence Welch.
Futurebound: I’d love to make a drum & bass track with Pink Floyd, that would be a dream come true.
Are there musicians past or present that influence your music?
MATRIX: Far too many to mention but I used to be slightly obsessed with Photek when I first started making music. Just his style of producing drums was the perfect combination of art and science and I used to spend a very long time trying to get my head around how he did that. I’ve also always been a massive fan of Eric Prydz and he’s definitely influenced me over the years. He has this incredible way of taking a simple melody idea but somehow making it grow into something immense. It was great for us to be asked to remix one of his records, ‘Liberate’ which came out a couple of years ago.
What songs (past or present) do you wish you’d written yourselves?
MATRIX: Brian Eno – ‘An Ending (Ascent)’. It’s not actually a song but it’s an amazingly beautiful piece of music. To write something so minimal yet so powerful is very special.
Futurebound: Brooklyn Funk essentials – ‘Change The Track‘. This for me is the early roots of jungle. Growing up in the ’80s I loved electro and the combination of break beats and hip hop raps in this killed me at the time. An absolute gem written by NYC’s Lenny Dee & Victor Simonelli.
How do you discover new or old music? Do you have a favourite record shop or website?
Futurebound: Fortunately labels and artists hit us up with new music so we get a lot of music upfront, but for finding older tracks it’s always good to scan through YouTube for any old DJ mixes.
What are your most recent (old or new) musical discovery/ies?
MATRIX: Right now, I’m generally loving anything from Dimension or Culture Shock. Both of them are bringing a new flavour to the Drum & Bass scene and that is one of the things this music has always been about -constantly moving forward and reinventing. ‘Generator’ by Dimension is permanently in our sets at the moment.
What are your karaoke jams? If you have one, what’s your favourite line, verse, or chorus?
MATRIX: Sorry, but it wouldn’t be fair to inflict our singing voices on the public.
What are your go-to tunes for: (Please tell us why you chose each track!)
– Getting out of bed and seizing the day?
Tears For Fears – ‘Everybody wants to rule the world‘
– Hitting the gym/spin class/going for a run/being active?
Sub Focus – Rock it
Can you share some of the best experiences you’ve had so far through music?
MATRIX: It’s hard to say because there’s been a LOT of highlights over the years but seeing that our passion for music has allowed us to travel around the world is mind boggling really. We did a tour in China a while back and that stands out as a pretty special experience just because it’s somewhere you never would have dreamed to be playing when you first set foot in a rave many years ago.
Futurebound: Yeah as Jamie says there’s been some unbelievable moments, too many to mention really.
What should we look out for from Matrix & Futurebound in 2017?
Futurebound: We’re just writing & finishing a whole new batch of music and working with some great vocalists. Expect some new club bangers dropping from us in the near future, too.
‘Light Us Up’ Featuring Calum Scott is out now.
Photography courtesy of Matrix & Futurebound