Matthias Heilbronn - Inside The Track '5 Bags Of Herb (The Healing Of The Nation)'
New York resident Matthias Heilbronn is one of the world’s best-known DJ/Producers. He’s produced and remixed internationally known hits throughout his career for the likes of Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Musiq Soulchild, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Beyonce, Solange, Michelle Williams and Donna Summer. He’s also earned a string of awards for his DJing, production, remixing and editing. Matthias’ DJing takes him around the globe to clubs like Ministry of Sound, Fabric, The End, Hard Times, The Southport Weekender, Pacha, Es Paradis, Space, Lux, Pacha, Vaticano, Zouk & Cocoon in Germany. He plays in the true spirit of house, taking dance floors on an eclectic musical journey through a wide spectrum of sounds and genres.
With ‘Matthias Heilbronn’ latest release out now on Traxsource. We sat down with him to get an in-depth look ‘Inside The Track’ and more with this Exclusive interview.
1) Congratulations on your new release. How is it being received in your sets? & How are other club DJs responding to the release?
I dropped a quick video edit of a two minute version this week and the response has been fantastic.
I also played it the other day at my residency in Brooklyn at KBH and it was a banger! Other than that, I have been keeping it on the DL, haven’t dropped it in any other sets and have not given it out.
2) Tell us more about the track. What was the main inspiration behind it and what prompted the musical direction on this?
I like to experiment with different styles, musically and electronically and I didn’t go into the studio with a plan. Normally, I let the vibe take me somewhere. I get inspired by so many different things. The “legalize Ganja” debate has been on the table, and I was reading about it and came across this interview with Bob Marley. It made a lot of sense to me, what he was saying, so I took some sound bites and dropped it into Logic. I have a long running love for Reggae and have a huge collection of tunes. I have DJ’ed Reggae for years and have done my share of Reggae/Dub influenced tracks. Joeski and I just released a Dub track last month:
Some more reggae influenced work I have done:
My other love is jazz and one of the tracks that my dad use to always play at home was “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. Once I played the stabs, I heard “Take Five” over it. After I played the Piano, I started hearing The Doors and it all took on a life of it’s own. Like a lot of my tracks, it’s kind of a collage of different things I hear and add, and there you have it. It became one of those tracks that you don’t get tired of hearing and I really wanted this to sound strong, on any system you hear it on. Bill Klatt, Todd Terry’s engineer helped me master it, and I’m very excited to see how people will respond. Obviously, I don’t think I reinvented the wheel, it’s just a really good dance record and I hope people can connect to it, and maybe laugh a little on the way. Especially when they see the video ; )
3) Production wise, what is it about the track that makes it work?
Some very familiar melodies out of context that work together really well, tight drums and a message that touches an ever current discussion. I love working with effects, drops and build ups, and I think it really worked on this track.
4) What is the one machine, program, sound, drum machine, technique that characterizes your sound?
Logic is my machine and I try to use it to full capacity. The plug ins are a tool and I sometimes work with certain things more than other, but never for a long time. I just got back into NI “Massive”, on my last productions I used Rob Papen’s “Albino 3” a lot, but I think it’s more about the effects and automation that I run the sounds through, that define my sound. There is not one effect unit that is used for a specific sound. I will run drums through a wah wah or a piano through a guitar amp if something cools comes out of it.
5) What is the one piece of kit that you simply cannot do without?
I could not live without a delay of sorts or a reverb unit. Call me boring, but I love Logic’s Space Designer.
6) Any advice for your fans on how to make it in today’s fast paced game?
Listen, listen and listen more. I get inspiration from everywhere, other DJ’s, producers, music blasting out of cars on the street, musicians playing in the subway and to no small part from listening to all kinds of music at home. Music is your teacher and there is so much to explore. Listen to what makes other songs work, what the engineering added to a song, what arrangement made a song work and why. Then get on to your production, draw from what you’ve heard and A/B your song to other stuff that you like. Play your track in the studio, in the car, on headphones, from a shitty boom box. Play it at low volume and see what’s too loud and what’s not loud enough, than blast it on a big system and see if anything is not in place. Let it sit and come back to it, and see if you still like it, if not, chances are nobody else will, so move on to the next production.
If you can’t play it yourself, hire a musician. There is a lot of talent out there and plenty of musicians that need the work. Most likely, you are not a multi talented musician, don’t pretend you are. Music is an art. Treat it like that and respect and leave it to the real guys to play the s%^, that only they can. While I play keys to some extent, there are plenty of times that I will bring in James Preston or Albert Menendez to add their magic to my production. It’s just beautiful to watch them and it makes such a big difference.
Find the right balance between working on a project too long and not enough. Approach every production as if you would still have to physically pay for the studio, the mastering, the pressing and cover art. Then put yourself into the shoes of your fans and imagine they would have to buy it on vinyl for $15 on import. If you think it’s all worth it, put it out, if not, finish it, or move on to the next project. Just because you don’t have any overhead, doesn’t mean you should put out every project you started. You’ll lose credibility and you’ll annoy the crap out of anybody that tries to listen to the weekly’s new releases