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INTERVIEW: Chicago House Legend, Matt Warren

Q) Hi Matt, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks, I’m fine, and I’m really busy promoting my new single How Do I Love Thee and my most recent artist album Music Is My Life which is out now on Wake Up! Music. It’s great to speak to you all at Vents Magazine, and I hope that you’re all having a great day.

Q1) Can you talk to us more about your latest single “How Do I Love Thee”?

A1)  How Do I Love Thee is a cover of a Queen Latifah track that I always liked. It was popular with the DJs spinning in Chicago when it was released, and I played it a lot in my  sets. I wanted to do my version of that tune for my album Music Is My Life when I was recording for Wake Up! Music.  I really like how it turned out and Pepper Gomez really brought it when she recorded the vocals.   When we chose the second single to release, we all agreed that How Do I Thee Love Thee  was the perfect song.  We’ve been happy to be getting a lot of radio play in the UK and America.

Q2) Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

A2) How Do I Love Thee was written by Tania Maria and Dana Owens aka Queen Latifah, and recorded by Queen Latifah. It’s a great song, and  wish I had written it.

Q3) How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

A3) The video was filmed by one of Wake Up! Music’s team of videographers, Amy Nicole of Acronym. It was taped in Detroit, Michigan and features a number of Detroit Models.  It has a

few different settings and all the ladies represent their own type of beauty which makes it visually interesting for sure.  We were really happy to release this video on Valentine’s Day with all the Detroit lovelies.  It is a love song after all.  This was the second video that Acronym did for Wake Up! Music.  We were really happy with the other one done for our first single, Get On Up.  That video was shot in Chicago and you can see me in that one.  We’re really proud of our YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/c/wakeupmusicgroup where you can see and hear all of the songs that Wake Up! Music has released.

Q4) The single comes off your new album Music Is My Life – why taking so long on releasing this material?

A4) I recorded Music Is My Life in 2018 after reconnecting with Pepper Gomez in 2016. She was just starting her new label Wake Up! Music and using the producer name MyMy Lady G. She was about to record Elena Andujar’s Flamenco In Time album.  That album merged House and Flamenco and really was a first of its kind.  It has received critical acclaim on Wake Up! Music. I’m proud to have been part of that recording and producing process. After not working together for so long, Pepper and I clicked as usual and when the recording was complete, Pepper asked me if I would like to record a solo album? It didn’t take me long to answer yes, as I’d spent the best part of ten years working with other artists as a recording engineer, mixer, producer and remixing some of the biggest names in music. Even though I enjoyed this period, I was ready to record my debut artist album, which after a year’s work became Music Is My Life.

Q5) Did you come on board into this record with a whole clean mindset or did you draw inspiration from your previous work?

A5) When I began work on Music Is My Life, it had been around ten years since I had released anything but I was still  spending a lot of time working with other musicians and  always listening to new music. One thing that struck me was how different the music I was listening to was from the music I heard growing up. So when My My Lady G (aka Pepper Gomez), who owns Wake Up! Music, asked me to record my debut artist album with her,  I really wanted to give some of that old school feel to the album. I guess what I mean is to record “real music” with live instruments and arrangements, which are kind of a homage to all the music I grew up listening to. Having said that, I still used some electronic instruments and programmed beats which gives the album a ‘traditional’ house sound.  It’s a very strong and cool combination that we’ve been finding appeals to all age groups.  Music Is My Life also has a trio of divas, including the legendary house diva Pepper Gomez, Soul Diva Janis McGee and Flamenca, Elena Andujar.  Not doubt they add to the feel of the music, which Derek Anderson at Wake Up! Music christened Nu-House.

Q6) What’s the story behind the title?

A6) Coming up with an album title isn’t always easy. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I was going to name it.  But, when Pepper Gomez was recording Musica Es Mi Vida – which was mostly a free form jam for her, she said a line in the song in Spanish that translates into, “Music is life, please don’t forget that.”  When I heard that line and in thinking over the past four decades as an engineer, artist, producer, remixer and DJ,  I realized this was the perfect title for my new album.  With the title track  in Spanish, Musica Es Mi Vida, and the album title in English, Music Is My Life, was born and released in America in October, 2018 by Wake Up! Music.

Q7) How was the recording and writing process?

A7) The recording of Music Is My Life took a year, and I brought in my friends, the “real musicians” who were able to help me record an album like the ones I heard growing up. I had a blast making this album. I had a bunch of tunes and was lucky enough to work with Pepper Gomez who was supportive of me on the project for her label Wake Up! Music (www.wakeupmusicgroup.com). She wrote the lyrics to five of the tracks and co-produced the album using her aka MyMy Lady G. It was also lucky that I do have my own studio and that meant we didn’t have to always be worrying about the clock. I was quite happy to send the instrumental parts of the tunes to Pepper as she just hears the melody and the lyrics to whatever I write.  It really is an amazing process and partnership and I look forward to writing more hit songs with her.

In many ways, this might be my most important album for a lot of reasons including that I hadn’t recorded any of my own material for some years.  But, I think especially this record represents my journey in music and the birth of the Nu-House sound – Nu House, a term coined by Derek Anderson.  I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished including having Get On Up hit number 1 for two weeks in December of 2018 on the Digital Radio Tracker Indie charts.  We wanted people to feel the music, to want to get up, move around, and dance.  I think we’ve done that.  Lastly, for any art to survive it must keep evolving.  With our Nu House sound, I think we’ve done that and we’re going to keep doing it. I just saw a post on social media about all the countries where people have been listening to my album.  That is just the best!  Thank you, World!

Q8) Slightly but surely House has evolve since the heydays to the modern era – did you borrow from the modern sounds and try to blend it into this work?

A8) House music has constantly evolved since its birth in the early eighties, and over the last four decades, various subgenres happened, including deep house, acid house, italo house and the list goes on. This means that house music has stayed current musically, while other genres have not had that staying power. As Chicagoans we know how to keep adapting as the weather forces us to do that on a daily basis. Ha ha!  Our music will always reflect Chicago and our love of music and dance.

I think I really saw the need for house music to evolve when I took a chance and released Bang The Box, which was the first single on my new label AKA Dance Music. Bang The Box was the first hard house single, and was a game-changer musically, and is now regarded as a classic. So is my new album Music Is My Life, the first ever Nu-House album which was released to widespread critical acclaim by Wake Up! Music.

Q9) You brought some special guests – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

A9)  When I began recording Music Is My Life, I wanted  to record an album of “real music,” with live instruments and arrangements which are kind of a homage to all the music I grew up listening to. To do this, I brought in different musicians and vocalists I know. This includes bassists and guitarists. Then there’s Grammy nominated Ron Haynes’ horns which add great sound, especially on How Do I Love Thee, Catch Me If You Can and Musica Es Mi Vida. The final piece of the Nu-House sound are the vocals.  What would I do without my Divas!  With the help of this all-star cast, we were able to create the album I wanted to record. To do this, we combined the musical sounds of the past with the present and made the first ever Nu-House album, Music Is My Life, which is available on Wake Up! Music.

Q10) What did they brought up to the table?

A10) Every musician and vocalist played their part in the making of Music Is My Life, and were part of what was my team and vision. Without even one of the musicians or vocalists, for example without Pepper Gomez’s vocals, Janis McGee’s soulful voice on our hit Get On Up, the Flamenco World feel of Elena Anjuar’s vocals on La Rosa or Ron Haynes’ horns, we wouldn’t have ended up with my vision. Quite simply, Music Is My Life wouldn’t have been possible without such a talented, all-star team and I feel so lucky to call these people my friends.

Q11) What role does Chicago play in your music?

A11) I was born and have lived in the Windy City of Chicago all of my life, and there’s no doubt, my town, and the music that’s been made here, has influenced the music I’ve  worked on and released over the past four decades. This includes everything from soul, funk and jazz to pop and rock right through to the Chicago House I heard in the early eighties that transformed my life and career as a DJ and producer. Living in one of America’s musical capital’s has played a huge part in my career and influenced me and my music, and I’m sure my friends who are also DJ-producers would agree with me.  There’s no place like Chicago.

Q12) Where did you find the  inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

A12)  For Going Deeper and also for Bang the Box, you’ll notice that I basically focus on the word hook that fits into my music.  For other tunes, Pepper Gomez contributed the melodies and lyrics.  She’s a poet and sees the world in poetry.  I’ll send her the raw music and she “hears” the melody and the words just come to her.  Don’t ask me how she does it.  I think also I’ve had an influence on her as her lyrics are more trance-like these days – a little less wordy than some of her earlier recordings.  As for inspiration – I can sum that up with four letters – L-I-F-E.

Q13) Any plans to hit the road?

A13)You can catch me spinning in Chicago and I’m hoping to DJ outside of Chicago in the summer of 2019. I’ve had a number of TV appearances, too.  Hope you see those.  Meanwhile, buy a copy of Music Is My Life which has been released by Wake Up! Music.

Q14) What else is happening next in Matt Warren’s world?

A14) In the summer of 2019, Wake Up! Music’s DJ Wall Of Sound Volume Remixes, Volume 1: Matt Warren’s Music Is My Life, will be released.  We have amazing DJs remixing my tunes on this project. The record will be part of a new and exciting series of DJ Remixes from Wake Up! Music which is sure to become a favorite of DJs, dancers and music fans the world over.

Watch the Video for “How Do I Love Thee” by Matt Warren

Follow Matt Warren: 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0RXcrFRrzAy7d6JfpudE8p

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/WakeUpMusicGroup

Facebook: @wakeupmusicgrp

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wakeupmusicgrp

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wakeupmusicgrp/

Website: www.mattwarrenmusicismylife.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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