The Bahrain-born DJ and performer talks to Time Out about playing in Dubai and his place in the Arab music world.
Bahrain-born and London-living DJ Matt Tolfrey talks about ‘off-centre house’ and his upcoming Plus Minus Session.
You’re very much into minimal house and techno – what appeals to you about that sound? They’re just part of the music I’m playing right now – I’ve recently got very much into disco and house music too. But for a time minimal house was my main weapon in my sets. It really appealed to me at the time because it was such a fresh and artistic way of looking at music; growing up in the Middle East and then England, I had never heard music like this, so I obviously became very drawn to it.
What can we expect on the night? I will be playing a bit of everything really. My style is definitely more geared towards funky sounds; I am yet to fully find my dark side. But you will be hearing vocals, bleeps, drum rolls, break beats, techno and what I think are the best bits of everything.
How do you structure your sets? I never pre-plan anything, I am always fully loaded with enough music for me to go off on an tangent. I do generally find that I build up through the night in pace and sound, but I am trying to be a bit more unpredictable nowadays.
You also run Leftroom records in the UK – what was your aim when you launched it? I started Leftroom to distribute the music that I was receiving from so many talented producers at the time. I didn’t expect it to go so far in only two-and-a-half years, though; we now have Leftroom which is mainly for UK-based artists, Leftroom Limited for bigger crossover tracks, and Leftout for up-and-coming producers that we believe in and have not featured on too many other labels.
What’s your absolute favourite club track right now, and why? We have a bomb of a record called ‘Down Seq’ which is about to drop on Leftroom Limited in the summer. It has been a top secret track for about six months now, with no one knowing what label it was actually on, but it is being played by every DJ on the planet. I signed this record on first listen as it has a relentless groove and the two breakdowns and drops in the track work wonders on the dance floor. Some say it is very simple, but I think that most of the time the best tracks are made when the producers go back to basics and made sure they are done right!
Most of the Leftroom music is ‘off-centre house’; what is that? Off-centre house is the kind of house music that is not so obvious. It comes at you from all angles, whether it is funky, trippy, dark, with vocals, or without. Basically the music is just full of moments that are very unexpected.
How has Leftroom developed? I am very happy how the brand as a whole has progressed so far. We have put out two CDs, one being my debut mix CD called Don’t Be Leftout and also Marc Ashken’s debut album, which is entitled Have You Seen My Dancing Shoes? Additionally, all three of the labels are going strong and we are gearing up for a very successful summer. All I need to do now is decide how we’re gonna tackle autumn and winter!
Matt Tolfrey plays Plus Minus Sessions, Thursday May 15, 10pm-3am, Dhs100 standard, Dhs60 for ladies and Face card holders.