DJ Ron Slomowicz (RS): Where are you actually based now?
Matt Darey (MD): I live in London, It’s kind of just on the outskirts of London where the countryside starts, but I must say last year I think I spent only two months there. The rest of the time I’m traveling. I spent five months of last year here in the States.
RS: Were you a producer first, or a DJ first?
Matt Darey: I’m a producer first. In fact, I never wanted to be a DJ. I used to work in the studio during the week and I wanted to go out and party on the weekends and I didn’t realize that you could go out and party and be a DJ as well. It would have been like working on the weekends and working during the week, which you have to do now anyway.
RS: Were you trained formally as a musician?
Matt Darey: No, everyone else in my family was. I am the only exception. Actually, that’s a lie. I learned to play the violin when I was 7 or 8 and won a competition for it in the area of the UK where I was. I gave it up because I just wasn’t interested in classical music. My father’s classically trained. My oldest brother is a Grand Pianist. My other brother did several wind instruments; he was grade A. My mother played the piano. Then there is me, I just wanted to make pop music. I didn’t get around to it until I was 13-14. I made a band at school, friends from the class kind of thing. Then two of us went on to make hit records, independently.
RS: You’re earliest records you had several different pseudonyms, what was the logic behind that?
Matt Darey: Yeah, I think just the legality of signing one act to one label and another act to another label, just give a different name. That was pretty much the main reason. I guess different sounds, maybe, but it was more about wanting to sign one record to Hooj Choons and another with Ministry of Sound, you have to call them a different name.
RS: How did you start DJing with your music? When did that start?
Matt Darey: There was a company called Tel Star and they were one of the biggest compilation companies and they were making this album called Euphoria. It was a series in the UK and it was exported and the guy rang me up and he said, “Like a quarter of the tracks that we going to put on the next album are probably going to be yours, productions or remixes. So, would you like to mix the album?” I was like, “well, I’m not a DJ.” So I went into the studio, did the key-mixing thing because it was all I could think of musically, not being a DJ. I did it in a really round about way using CD’s. That album sold a lot of copies, did another one, sold even more. Then this guy Steve James said, “Come DJ at my birthday party. I’ll give you a crash course.” So, he came around on a Saturday and he taught me how to DJ in 3 or 4 hours. Then that night I went to play his party, played for like 40 minutes. He said,” It’s just my birthday party, no one will know.” We were driving to the gig and it was announced on BBC radio one, “Matt Darey’s debut gig.” I was like, “Oh, no fucking way, you’re kidding.” I mean, I DJed for four hours, so you know, I was clutching at straws, but that made me sort of get my shit together and made me become a DJ. Like I said, I wanted to before and I never had so much fun in my life.
RS: One thing you are really known for is your podcasts and your radio shows. How did you make the move into radio?
Matt Darey: Again, it was this Euphoria compilation. The business guys behind it said, “You should do a radio show for us, Euphoria.” I was like, “ok.” So, Ministry of Sound had bought the rights to the compilation by then, so I went into Ministry Radio Studios and did a live set for about six weeks. Then we had the bombings in London, the underground and the buses. So I said,”Fuck it, I’m not going into London anymore.” So, I did one show from home then I thought that this really isn’t me. I want to do something of my own. I wanted to be able to play any Genre. I don’t want to be labeled as Trance because I wasn’t hearing any trance, and I’ve been through phases where I am totally anti Trance and then a bit of Trance, a bit of House, whatever. So I just made up a name that wasn’t pigeon holed; Nocturnal. It seemed like a good name. I could never be just about a Genre. I was always flexible. So, I started off and did the first show on Ministry of Sound. Then I got one phone call from a radio station. Radio stations listen to what each one is playing and crossed into different countries and now we have pretty much every station that does a specialist syndicated show.
RS: Do you find that your radio show gets you a lot more bookings and gigs around the world?
Matt Darey: Yeah, and the beauty of it is when you play in a market and you have the radio station there and it is a significant station and people actually listen to it, I can go in there and I am not limited at all because in the show I play all different Genres; that means I can go anywhere and there is a certain percentage of people who listened to the Nocturnal show religiously and they’ll go with me, and the rest of the room will follow the people who are Nocturnal fans, who really carry the rest of the room and everyone goes with it. It’s really refreshing.