Officially released on vinyl on in February, Matthew Kyle’s Diner City Sound Volume 1 was a sensation for fans of disco. In fact, it was a sensation even before it was released. As the story goes, Matthew uploaded “Honey Sugar” to his Soundcloud page one day back in December, and it received about 1000 plays in the first 24 hours, and close to 10,000 that first month. Those numbers might not be much for the latest Dubstep sensation, but this was a shot out of the blue. Matthew Kyle (or MK, or NoRequests) wasn’t a household name, and this was Diner City Sound’s first release (originally in a limited edition of just 300 copies).
But you know what they say… Build and it, and they’ll come. Or in this case, listen. Matthew’s edits were slower than the usual House tempo (hovering around 100 bpm) – and unbelievably lush, with rich instrumentation and strong drums. They found an audience, and now the guy who started tinkering around when he was laid off from his job is following up with multiple releases forthcoming on Small World Disco, Audio Parallax and a second EP on the label he helped kick off with a bang, Diner City Sound.
In addition to an interview, Matthew also surprised me with an exclusive mix for 5 Magazine – recorded live, in one take. The mix is embedded below, with the playlist at the end of the interview. If you’re a fan of downtempo or disco (especially the slower, soulful stuff) or even acid jazz, you’ll love this. Enjoy!
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I know a ton of people from Houston in the House scene and oddly, none of them live in Houston anymore. Can you tell us a little of your background there and why you moved to New York?
My family moved to Houston when I was barely a year old and I grew up in and around the Houston area until I moved to NYC when I was 22. New York is where I live but Texas will always be my home.
I started DJing in 1999 after I graduated from high school. I bought some cheap decks, a mixer and some vinyl and spent the next six months holed up in my apartment teaching myself to spin. I was really into the Deep House scene and, oddly enough, Houston was a Mecca for House Music. Warehouse parties and proper raves introduced me to the culture and it definitely shaped who I am today.
The highlight for me came when I played at Hyperia, then did an afterhours gig at Sum at about 7am. I don’t even know if those clubs are still open. I remember going to Hyperia and hearing John Digweed play a six hour set in 2000 and it blew my mind. Although I wasn’t playing the same records, the vibe and atmosphere he created was something I wanted to achieve.
But after a while the gigs were becoming few and far between and my day job was becoming more and more lackluster. I decided to finally go back to college (my mom was quite pleased with that decision). I enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston. The move to NYC was primarily for a girl, although I managed to transfer to the Art Institute of NYC. Post-graduating, I’ve been here ever since.
I was reading that you were yet another victim of the Great Recession at your day job, and this lead directly to you experimenting with Ableton and getting involved in production a year ago.
I graduated with a degree in graphic design and bummed around for about a year working freelance until finally I landed what I thought was my dream design/studio job. Unfortunately after some time I started to realize being a professional designer is not what I had hoped. The longer I worked at my studio job the less and less creative I felt. Also, being a print designer, with print becoming less and less relevant, finding work was quite difficult.
So, honestly, being laid off was truly a blessing in disguise. After which I threw myself back into DJing full-time and making edits seemed like a way to make my DJ sets more personal and unique.
I never intended to release anything or even thought I would get released, it was just a way for me to be creative. Luckily I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and DJs seem to like what I do.
So you dropped “Honey Sugar” on your soundcloud page, and 10,000 plays later you had a hit. That lightning struck on soundcloud for something with a vinyl release was pretty funny. What’s the story behind this cut?
Honestly I don’t think it’s odd at all that a vinyl release would be popular on Soundcloud. For the vast majority of people, Soundcloud is the best way to promote their music. Without Soundcloud I would have never been discovered and would certainly not be releasing music as easily as I am now.
I was surprised at how well “Honey Sugar” was received though – close to 1,000 plays the first day I put it up. That track just blew up. I remember how it came about – one Saturday morning while I was making breakfast and listening to the R&B Classics channel on my TV. This song came on that had a sick drum break. I instantly fell in love with it, thinking it would make amazing sample material. I stopped what I was doing, bought the song, brought it into Ableton, and about an hour later I had “Honey Sugar”.
I’m still blown away by all the positive reviews and feedback, because for me it wasn’t a very difficult track to put together. It just flowed.
Disco edits are the new black (though yours fall a full 20 to 30 bpms slower than the majority). Are there any other underground cats that you listen to or feel inspired by?
My favorite tempo is anywhere between 90 to 100 bpm. I’m definitely a downtempo fanatic through and through. One producer who consistently impresses me is LTJ X-perience. His taste in source material is divine and his edits are the stuff of legend in my opinion. Anything he puts out I will buy in a heartbeat. He straddles the low tempo, but it’s still dancefloor friendly. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to speed up the tempo to move a crowd. Hopefully that philosophy will catch on one day.
I was reading that you’ve been a DJ for more than a decade. Are you working at any residencies? How often do you play out? As most of your releases have been on vinyl, do you find yourself in that weird situation of having to play some of your own cuts digitally due to a lack of tables?
I have residency at a bar called Tillmans where I play once a month here in NYC, so that is my constant gig. Then I’ll play a couple more gigs at various bars/lounges around the city. I usually play on average three times a month.
In regards to playing my vinyl releases, that’s really a non-issue for me for a couple of reasons, the first being that I don’t play my music that often when I DJ. But when I do, I usually play my new material, demos, and or unreleased edits, so those would be MP3s regardless. Once the vinyl comes out for one of my tracks, it’s already three or four months old, so I’ve moved on to newer things by then. If I ever play any of my material it’s to gauge the crowd’s reaction and to hear it on a big system. But since I have the digital masters for the vinyl, I can play them on any format and I don’t think that is a weird situation at all. You make do with what you have available.
Regarding your original productions, I was listening to your Untitled EP on Audio Parallax. How do they differ from the edits you release?
The making of an original production is still very much a learning process for me, the outcome of which I’m not completely satisfied with yet. I have a bit of a way to go in order be able to fully create the type of sound I want. It’s much easier to sample. But samples and originals differ only in technique. The tempo, the drums and percussion are the same, the original material just has chords and pads that I’ve created. Regardless of whether it’s an original or an edit, it’s going to have my signature mellow style, which is what matters most.
I notice a new Diner City Sound record added to your soundcloud page a few hours before I’m writing this. How much stuff do you have in the can, and what’s coming up?
I probably have over 100 tracks that I’ve made over the past year. Some of them are better than others and deserve a release. I’m very excited about my second EP with Diner City Sound because two of my personal favorites are finally going to see the light of day. “Do It Charlie” and “Midnight” on the A-Side are, in my opinion, stand-out tracks.
I also have a three-track EP coming out in the next couple months on Small World Disco. I’m so happy to be on that label because it’s run by LTJ X-Perience, and for him to want to support my music is high praise indeed. I have some remixes coming out as well followed by some more original material releases via Audio Parallax this month. I recently took a much needed break from production so most of what will be coming out is older material. I just now got back into producing after a two month hiatus. I needed some space and wanted to focus on DJing. Sometimes I need to clear my head so when I get back to it I can really focus in on my style, and hopefully let the music speak for itself.
01: – Blue States – Walkabout
02: – 78 Edits – I Don’t Care
03: – Good Parts – Turn Me Away
04: – Crazy Penis – 3 Play It Cool
05: – Seven Dub – Marsen
06: – Nel Oliver – Dream On (The Revenge Reekin’struction)
07: – Johnny Adams – Feel The Beat (The Revenge Reekin’struction)
08: – Chapter Three – Smurf Tek (The Revenge Reekin’struction)
09: – Benjamin Sun – Victoria Park
10: – Eddie C – Pains Inside
11: – Eddie C – Space Shuttle
12: – Poolside – Do You Believe? (Cosmic Kids Remix)
13: – Duff Disco – Just In