Like every young talented dj, Neuroxyde searched for an opening to play in his city Clubs and within a very short time, he became well-known and loved by the clubbing crowd. His attraction to the electronic grooves led him to meeting Andrea Prezioso, who became his mentor for a few years and saw him release his first production in 1997.
From this point on, Neuroxyde was clear in his mind that this would be his destination and up until 2002, when he set up his first professional studio, he was playing gigs and producing music all over Italy
With his collaborators – Valentina Dante, David Jones and Aqua Diva – he administrated different well know Italian labels of the last few years, moving from different styles and genres and reaching the top of the sales charts in Europe.
In 2007 having won the silver disk in France for selling over 100.000 singles and more than 400.000 records worldwide, he launched his own label, Starlight Music. In a very short time it became one of the most respected labels around, boasting of collaborations with artists of worldwide fame such as Shara Nelson of Massive Attack, Dubfire and D.O.N.S. to name a few.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Matt grew up listening to his parents wide-ranging 45s and the stellar sounds of ‘Motor City’ Motown before, perhaps inevitably, experiencing ‘dance’ during the early 1990s.
After moving to Lexington, Kentucky in his early teens, Matt was introduced to the midwest rave scene. “Lexington was stifling but the influences of Chicago and Detroit were always coming through” Matt recalls. “You really felt on your own there; I mean Kentucky is better known for horses than art. But it still had more going on than you’d think.”
Indeed, it wasn’t long before Matt – buoyed by the Midwest scene’s sizzling fusion of techno, house and drum & bass – was hosting parties for up to 1,500 people featuring major House DJs such as Onionz, Halo, Johnny Fiasco, Terrance Parker, Traxx, and Kevin Yost. He also hosted Kentucky’s first and only electronic music radio show, Through The Vibe, on local station WRFL.
It was a good, hard-graft grounding for what was to follow. “You had to work extra-specially hard to make yourself heard” Matt elaborates. “You had to build things up, because there was not much going on.”
By the turn of the century Matt had widened his repertoire to include writing and producing. Friendship with fellow music-maker Joel Hopper – now producer for ‘Southern’ rappers Nappy Roots – led to the formation of the stirring live act, Deep House Souldiers. The pair had met randomly at a gig, but would go ahead to release killer tracks This Is Why We Dance, Live It Up, In My Bag, and Far Away.
When Ben Watt licensed This Is Why… for the very first compilation on his cult Buzzin’ Fly label (Buzzin’ Fly Vol. 1) international acclaim beckoned and blossomed.
Matt moved to Denver, Colorado in 2003, just as Deep House Souldiers began their march. Several other opportunities opened up – everything from major underground club nights to electrifying gigs with jazz-funk bands. Matthew hooked up with friends and started two of the city’s most loved underground events Community, a deep afterhours dance affair, and Afroblu, an afro-beat & soul-driven gathering. Meanwhile, he was jammin’ with Know, a snappy live collective co-created alongside bass-player Casey Sidwell and taking him well beyond the boundaries of four-to-the-floor.
“In Denver I involved myself in all sorts of soulful music, set up nights, a label [Limestone Recordings], a band, and just fell deeper into music. I had the freedom to make the music I wanted to make and places to perform.”
Limestone might have shut shop after only a handful of releases but Matthew was already working elsewhere with several prominent Denver musicians, producing alongside dancefloor dons Chez Damier, Jay Tripwire and Aaron Ross, and handing quality beats to key house labels Seasons, Drop, Nordic Trax and Soul Heaven. On top of that, he was touring all over Europe and the States.
It was 2008 before Matt relocated to London. “The move made sense on both a personal and career level” he says. “I’d worked before with Toni Economides and he introduced me to Oli [Lazarus] and Papa Records.”
Oli was soon asking if Matthew wanted to work on something for the label: “It was a no brainer – I’d been a Papa fan for years; the label’s mix of soulful, organic and dancefloor flavours summed up everything I was into.”
And now you can revel in Matthew Bandy’s delicious Papa debut, Something Between Here And There. Featuring the vocals of Renn and gospel-infused Kentucky native, Adrianne Archie, the EP has been some time in the making. It delivers a fresh and beautifully appointed blend of the man’s key influences today – not least the neighbouring cities of his childhood, Detroit and Chicago. “I’m really pleased with the release. It’s got a nice balance of soul and grit – there’s one instrumental, and two vocal pieces.”
In the shorter term, he’s getting involved with Papa and Reel People Music’s new East London club night Messages. “There’s a lot of product and events being pushed at people in the scene today” Matt states. “Technology had made everything immediately accessible to people and you can go mad trying to root out the quality among the rubbish. But it is still there, and I think creative set-ups like Papa and Reel People will always stand out.”
“Our keyboardist Pete Kuzma suggested the name” opens Oli Lazarus, shining light on how he, Kuzma and studio magician Tony Economides came together as deep ‘n’ distinguished soul-house trio The Realm. “Pete’s from Philly; it’s an American thing, they like these thoughtful, conceptual titles don’t they?”
But joking aside, The Realm was actually a pretty good shout. For as both Economides and Lazarus will testify, the outfit’s material has, over the years, roamed far and wide and right now is continuing to shift artistic goalposts. The Realm is a wide open space, a blank and rewritable canvas, a dancefloor without boundaries. Maybe Kuzma was on to something….
The origins of the group stretch as far back as 2004 and a snappy debut release, One Chance, featuring V on slick vocal form and neat keys from Mark de Clive-Lowe. “We’d all worked together on various tracks and projects,” Lazarus explains, “and The Realm just seemed to fall smoothly into place.”
Indeed, One Chance generated enough interest and creative momentum to spawn further deep ‘n’ unique house ‘tuneage’ a number of years later – namely One Step (featuring Darien, 2008) Time (featuring Incognito vocalist Tony Momrelle, 2009) Take You There (featuring Momrelle, 2009) and I’ll Let It (featuring Choklate, 2010)
“Our output has been pretty sporadic over the last four or five years” Lazarus admits. “But with that has come plenty of flexibility. We’ve been able to work tracks exactly how and when we want to and I think we’re at the point now where we’re ready to properly put The Realm on the map. What with the launch of Reel People Music late last year, Papa Records is taking a deeper steer and that complements a change of direction for The Realm. It’s the perfect opportunity to make a new and louder noise.”
As far as Economides is concerned, The Realm’s current stirrings feel like a totally new enterprise. “We all do” he corrects. “There’s a lot more we want to do and, as such, we’ve got that buzz you get with making new music… with new people.”
The boys have always described The Realm as an opportunity to make music for the dancefloor whilst keeping the organic feel ‘n’ flow evoked by Reel People. The Realm’s releases have a deeper, four-to-the-floor bent and yet Economides insists that there has never been, and will never be, a specific direction: “There’s never been a specific consensus on our sound… we didn’t want anything to end up sounding contrived. But it is house music, house with plenty of depth, range and creativity.”
The Realm’s latest single I’ll Let It has only just landed. Featuring smooth, Seattle-born chanteuse Choklate, I’ll Let It is an engaging percussive groove bolstered by funky bass, deft keys and, of course, those sublime tonsils. House legends Tony Humphries, Jon Cutler and Tedd Patterson are all over it.
“We’ve got a great dynamic going on, and it feels like release by release we’re really maturing our ideas and our talents” Oli says. “Our first record was born out of a random recording session for something else and that organic, casual flow has never really gone away. We’ve always got individual projects going on and time remains tight but none of us wants to waste this relationship.
Economides, studio mixer, engineer, producer, programmer and writer extraodinaire, has worked with everyone from Phil Asher and Sandy Rivera to Nathan Haines and Terry Callier, via Baaba Maal and Bebel Gilberto. Lazarus, of course, is the man behind jazz-funked stars Reel People and the Reel People Music and Papa Records stables. Kuzma was formerly director of (and keyboardist for) Jill Scott’s super-tight live band, as well as key production support to Musiq Soulchild, Common and Jazzy Jeff. Theirs is most definitely a relationship not to waste but then what next for the intrepid, hugely experienced trio?
“We’re looking at a couple of new Realm tracks for this side of Christmas, and to keep building our profile through next year and beyond” Lazarus teases. “We’re aware of the interest some of those deeper and tech-driven house records are getting now and there’s no reason why we can’t bend that vibe into our soulful blueprint. There’s a lot of cool singers and fantastic musicians getting involved, some from the Reel People side of things, some not. It’s an exciting time for all of us.”
The Realm… coming to a speaker near you soon….