GREY:MATTER is a direct extension of London-based, Grey Area Bookings – Artist Booking & Management Agency.
Launched in 2015, GREY:MATTER is an expression of the vision shared by Grey Area bookings. A night that resides away from the beaten path, in the shadows of where musical sincerity is found. An ever evolving series of events; agency-showcases, live shows, label nights, album tours – exploring the subterranean depths of Techno, Ambient and Electronica.
GREY:MATTER stands for something. It is a social experiment. Our contribution to the movement. A community. Following an amazing last party of 2015, hosting Stephan Bodzin‘s album tour, GREY:MATTER return to Bloc for another first time promotion, this time welcoming Italian duo Hunter/Game to their first Live Audio/Visual performance in the UK, alongside fellow Just This contributor, Pisetzky, and our full roster for what will be our longest running party to date.
“the journey has been as fruitful, as it has been experimental.”
How has it been in the first year of GREY:MATTER doing events? What was good, what was bad, what was part of a learning curve?
Unsurprisingly, its been a massively defining time for us. With GREY:MATTER being in its first year, the journey has been as fruitful, as it has been experimental. The night is our chance express the vision of the collective behind it, so its hugely rewarding to see that vision manifest into something tangible, something you can feel, hear and almost touch. Part of the enjoyment is actually in the learning curve of what we are doing – growth and progression comes from the challenges faced, as it is through necessity that we evolve.
How did you find a venue, what were you looking for, what made Bloc on Autumn Street right for you?
Finding the right venue was paramount to us. Being based in London, we were aware of most of the venues and spaces on offer, however we had quite a particular image in our minds of what we were looking for. Firstly, we wanted to feel like we knew the venue and had an understanding of how it ticked and what dynamic it had in its bones. The system, production, staff, history and character were all key elements for us, and with Bloc having a raw industrial feel, alongside a kicking system, we knew from the off that this was somewhere that we could feel at home.
Do you add any of your own gear, sound systems, decoration, visuals, production or whatever for your events?
Bloc comes with a lot of what we needed, but yes, we have at times added to the in-house production with visuals for example. For us, this is done on a party to party basis, as we aim to keep the night versatile and maintain a synergy with the artists’ that are programmed.
You have a couple of UK debutants at the next event also, right? Can you tell us why you signed them and how you came across them?
Yes, and this is something we are very excited for. We made two new signings at the agency last year, Essen-based, Someone outside, and Italian duo, Mathame. There are always a few key factors we look at when bringing new artists’ onto our roster, but at the heart of this is the sound of the music they are producing and playing. They of course both have their own sounds and approaches to production, but they also naturally fall within the collective musical plane we find ourselves connecting on. They came on our radar from being sent their music, and we knew they were artists worth paying attention to. It would not be unheard of for other agencies to sign almost entirely off the back of booking interest, as this could be a wise business move, but we see this as a lack of sincerity towards the relationship.
Mathame only use hardware in their production and self-built their own modular synthesiser. The sound they create is dark, often haunting and experimental techno that maintains an emotive quality. Their productions seem to evoke a feeling of intricacy, whilst still retaining a clean touch. 2015 was a strong year of releases for them, with their productions signed to Connaiseur Recordings, Souvenir Music and most recently on Vaal’s label, Baastard.
Similarly, Someone Outside has also covered a lot of ground in the last year, with a string of well received releases, such as his “Underworld” EP on Dubspeeka’s, Skeleton label and securing sets in some well regarded clubs, Heinz Gaul, Cologne, The Sugar Factory, Amsterdam and Arena Club, Berlin. His sound edges towards a darker shade of techno and has a certain fluidity in its composition – his latest podcast for our own series perfectly encapsulates where he is right now musically.
Who A&Rs acts for the night, what are they looking for?
A & R is headed up by myself and partner, Nick. As Grey Area is such a tight family, there’s a collective knowledge amongst ourselves and our own artists’ that feeds who we may pay attention to. Programming decisions can become almost instinctive, if you feel in tune with the direction certain artists are taking their music, but there are always a few factors that need to be considered. Wherever possible, we aim to bring something new to London, whether that be a UK debut, or hosting an event for an artists release, or album tour. As much as we’re happy to book revered names, we feel its also important for us to be responsible for booking new and emerging artists who are just breaking out.
Do you have any residents and how important are they to the party? What is their role, do you think?
Yes, our residents are made up from our roster and are the cornerstone of GREY:MATTER. They play an extremely important role in the dynamic of the night and hold a local following which we value highly. The way we see it, without them, there is no GREY:MATTER. The night was not set up with the attention of simply booking big names that inevitably attract big crowds, but rather, to provide a home for our own artists that enables them to grow organically and be billed with artists they’re interested in playing with.
What highlights have GREY:MATTER got coming up that you want to shout about?
For sure, there are exciting times ahead and we are confident in the programming we’ve worked on for dates throughout 2016. We’ll be returning to Bloc on April 9th with a line up that we are particularly excited about, and looking further ahead, GREY:MATTER’s 1st birthday will see us taking things to The Steelyard in July for what will be our biggest party to date. After the birthday, we have some interesting collaborations we are working on with another London promoter, more news on this will follow soon.
Tell us about theAgency arm – what sort of family have you got, how long have you been going, what sort of acts do you sign?
Grey Area is the beating heart of all our efforts. It is home to the collective. There are 10 members in the immediate family, including myself and partner, with 7 aliases making up the roster – so as you can see, its a tight affair. The agency focuses on Artist Booking & Management and was launched at the end of 2014. Alongside the immediate family, there a many close friends that bring their own talent and expertise to the table in support of the vision we share at the agency. We have a deep, deep love for the music and this is the glue that keeps us together. In our opinion, its a saturated scene out there, so in terms of who we sign, this is usually based on originality, creativity and importantly, whether or not that artist/act fits with the path we find ourselves walking.
And what are the key things to get right as an agency, what is your role, what is important, why do artists need you?
There are always going to be core elements of how an agency should operate, but we see our main responsibility as creating an environment for our artists’ that enables them to solely focus on their music. We represent the artists we sign, so feel it is vital for this representation to be done in such a way that is respectful to the artists’, their image and sounds. For lack of a better word, they are all underground artists’, that will grow through our support and their own talent. It’s our job to build bridges, but ones that lead to destinations where our sentiments are mirrored.
Tell us about your party with Hunter/Game – why that booking? Have you already got a relationship? Why should people come?
We’ve known of Hunter/Game for some years now and have always been fans of their productions. Over the last couple of years, they’ve begun to push a darker sound that sits more firmly within Techno, although still retaining melodic qualities. This darker shade of theirs is something that resinates with us. This particular booking however, was also about hosting their first Live Audio/Visual performance in the UK – so we’re flying in their Production Tech to help coordinate the visual aspect of their set. The date of the party happens to fall the day after the release of their debut album “Adaptation” on Kompakt Records, so we knew their new live set would be based around the content of the album. We also have Pisetzky joining us who has collaborated with Hunter/Game in the past, is also part of the ‘Just This’ movement and shares the same home town of Milan, so feel they will have a special dynamic when playing together.
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