Gigamesh talks remixing, relocating, and his new EP
Photo by Benjamin Grimes
Gigamesh is on deck to be your next favorite producer, having already remixed the likes of Foster The People, Radiohead, Lykke Li, Estate and so many others. He's also the guy who's responsible for the ever-so-danceable Mike Posner hit "Cooler Than Me," and recently spent some time in Miami working with his other projects, DiscoTech and Señor Stereo.
In short, Matt Masurka is pretty much a club music whiz, his sunny, vocal dance music melding French disco flair with a little indie rock grit to peform the perfect dancefloor balancing act.
We profiled Matt in this week's issue of City Pages and offer up our full interview with him here. In it, he talks about the move, growing up in Waconia, shopping his EP to labels, and what will inevitably be his bright future in dance music.
Let's talk about your move back to Minneapolis. What's the real deal on that? Did you really miss this place or did you just hate Miami?
My reasons for moving down weren't that compelling to begin with. When I got there, everything was in a constant state of flux. We had just released a small album in the summer and the plan was to start touring off that and release more music right away. I was also doing my own remixes and trying to make some of my own music, and after a few months I realized I was biting off more than I could chew and not enough money was coming in. Mainly pop remixes. So after making that realization, I came back for Christmas and saw all my friends and a girl I'm currently dating so when I got back down there I got home sick.
That makes sense. Did you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to out there?
Yeah, I met a lot of good people and learned through meeting them. I met this dude named Chad Beats and he was an in-house producer for G-Unit for like 8 years. Now he's trying to break into pop, basically, so that's all he's making. But he has this huge hip-hop background. He found me on Twitter and found out I was living in Miami so we met up and worked on something. Since then, we've lost touch but I wouldn't be surprised if he found me again.
Where did you move back to in the city?
I was at my parents shortly and then moved to Uptown. I'm glad to be back. Except now it's getting cold!
What's special about MPLS as it relates to dance music?
There's a bigger variety going on and a lot more openmindedness to all forms of music. Down there, it was just a little too European (though I've not been to Europe!). It was a little too glossy and it's all about dance music there, and everything feeds into that. All the bands that aren't doing dance are part of a completely isolated scene. I'm sure there's every kind of genre happening there, but the local press concentrates so much on the beach and what's happening there.
I prefer Minneapolis because I don't think Miami has much of a scene that's into disco. Everything's driven by the DJs ... The stuff Peter plays at TML, for example, dictate that night. There isn't anything like that in Miami, everything is driven by the promoters. There's a lot of concern about getting people in the doors.
Do you have a residency here now?
I'm permanently part of Menergy but I told those guys when I joined that if I get booked out of town, I have to do that first.
Your sound is obviously influenced by French house, 80s, and disco -- at what point did you really start liking those sounds?
Like so many people did, I started with Daft Punk. Also back when MTV still played videos, I watched that show "Amp" and they would play Daft Punk all the time and had such cool videos. All the elctronic music videos then were really weird and interesting. The visual part hooked me first, but I bought Daft Punk's first album the year it came out and that was right when I started buying music. all my friends were really into grunge but I got really into electronic music, especially big beat. All the stuff that was big in the late 90s, like Fatboy Slim and Chemical Brothers -- still love them..
Where you ever a raver?
No, that was kind of before I was in high school. They were cracking down so much on it at that point. Plus I grew up near Waconia, 40 minutes outside of the city, so it was kind of inconvenient.
There's definitely that disco influence in your sound though. Do you really like disco or do you implement it because it's hot right now?
A little big of both. The main reason why I've centered on it lately is it's possible to listen to disco in almost any setting and it works (in the car, dinner parties, club nights, afterparties, etc). Also it's the basis of all modern dance music so it's really flexible (like rock being based on blues music). Also, dance fans have become burnt out on really extreme/heavy sounds and are probably more educated on the roots of what they're listening to.
Are your parents still together? What do they think of what you do?
Yep, they are. I think they finally understand it and they're proud when I can show them stuff that they understand like, "Here I am on Billboard," and things like that. They came out to Recess at the Varsity the last time I DJed there, and there were a ton of visuals going on that night and there was a really cool crowd. They hadn't seen me DJ since high school. My mom loved it. It takes her two drinks and then she's dancing all night.
Do you dance?
Yeah, it takes the right music, though.
How do you choose a remix project -- or does it choose you? What's been your favorite one to work on?
For the most part, they choose me. I think that's true for a lot of people. With Posner, I did a remix contest for a British singer and Wale did a verse on it. I didn't even win the contest, I think I came in 2nd or 3rd, but Wale was managed by Mike's manger, and he heard it, sent it to Mike. Mike liked it and they asked me to do the remix and it all developed from there. I got another remix for a band called Marching Band, and through that manager I got some more work. It all just snowballs.
If I worked really hard, I think I could shape the projects I'm doing more carefully. But at the moment, I'm more worried about working on my own music and if a project comes along that I'm interested in, i'll do it. I just did one for Katy B., and I hadn't heard her music but I respect what she's doing and it's not disco at all. I think people will like it.
How did you meet Mike Posner, then? Will you continue to work with him?
We met at South By Southwest two years ago so it was before it became a hit. But he had already toured the college circuit and had a lot of fans. We had dinner and talked a bit. I don't know if it's him or his manager, but their goal has always been to move on to the next step. I expected to get some calls from them after this but I haven't heard too much from them. But I haven't really sent any demos and and am concentrating on my own thing, too.
Tell me about the new self-titled album (out Oct. 18).
I had all the songs done in March and so I started working with my current manager, Travis, in January. He was the co-founder of IHeartComix, and I get the impression that he was more of the business end of that site. They hosted parties together and started the label based on that. He has tons of experience and he left IHC because he got an offer to work at Atlantic. So he has major label experience too. He is now managing artists. So we sent it out to a bunch of labels. A lot of them got back and were interested but the only ones that wanted to release it was Defected. They wanted to do a 360 deal and it was too much in their favor. The main thing that would have been a bad decision was that they wanted to be my publishing company. They wanted to give me a $10K advance, but according to Travis, because of the Posner single, I should wait a bit longer for something more in my favor.
Then, this other label called Xskimo wanted it, and I was super psyched. They sent over summary and we told them we were kind of in a rush, and we didn't hear back for months. So finally I told Travis he should just release it through the label he recently started, Our Label International. It's funny, I think two weeks ago he got an email from Xskimo asking, 'Hey, where are we at with that release?' Even though ti's kind of weird my manager is also releasing my album, I trust him. He's not making me sign anything where I'm obligated.
Did you have guests come on?
Yep. One was Amanda Love. She lives around here. And then a friend from Miami who happens to be a DJ and vocalist is on the main single, and then another girl from around here, Nicole Godiva, sang on another track.
So you weren't trying to grab anyone famous?
No, I don't have a whole lot of money for the project so I'm building from the ground up.
Do you consider yourself a house producer?
I've never been able to affiliate myself with one genre, so I always feel like I'm not capable of explaining the history of something.
So if someone were to ask you what you play, what do you say?
Dance music, or electronic.
Do you think you might ever do any off-the-wall genres, like dubstep or something?
Probably not, but I definitely could see myself going more in the direction of Caribou, Fourtet... More laid-back stuff.
Gigamesh's self-titled EP
At what point did you realize you could do this for a career?
In 2007 when I was doing pop remixes for DiscoTech. The first couple years were a struggle.
What kind of jobs did you have before?
Just random stuff. After college I worked for a company putting up advertising on the sides of freight trucks, which was kind of cool because we got to go around the country. Then I worked for my dad for a bit, but after a year of that I started doing music.
What's going on in the next several months?
I'll be touring more, hopefully overseas by January. I've never been to Europe but I'm hoping to go in March. I'm excited to go to Asia and Australia in January. In the meantime, I'm hoping to gig around the States and have another EP by next winter. I'd also like to work with some singers, too. When I was in LA the last time, I went to Warner Brothers and met Diplo's manager, who is also in A&R there. It was an honor to meet him because he used to be Rick Rubin's right hand man. He offered me a production deal and I think that means I will be working with more of the label's singers. I started working with this guy called Outta Sight -- total pop dude -- and I did one song that is going to be his first single.
So you just got back from LA last week and opened for Miami Horror, which we love.
Yeah, it was fun. The show was awesome. Overall, the trip was more about building connections. I played smaller gigs. I started working with The Agency Group, and they're kind of a smaller version of William Morris. They don't have many DJs on their roster so it will be a learning experience. Fortunately for me, I'm one of their first EDM artists so I'll hopefully get better attention. A lot of offers are coming in for booking because of the album.
Nice. So you'll have a lot of shows coming up. What makes a good gig?
Usually it doesn't matter the size of the room, as long as it's full. Or the dancefloor's full. My favorite gigs are where you know most of the people aren't concerned about being cool, they're just there to have fun. So they're laid back and not trying too hard. That's a big reason why I like Minneapolis.
IF YOU GO:
Gigamesh headlines Too Much Love at First Avenue on Saturday, October 8.
The Gigamesh EP release party is at Menergy on October 29.
LISTEN/DOWNLOAD (ed. note: Soundcloud seems to be down right now):
Our favorite Gigamesh remix:
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