Published Jan 01, 2006"Challenging yourself is just so important from my perspective," says British musician, producer and DJ Matthew Herbert, a man who lives by his ideals. Known in underground dance music, theatre, and film score circles as Wishmountain, Radioboy, Doctor Rockit, and plain ol' Herbert, Matthew has been interested in absorbing and making "music that doesn't quite fit" since teendom. For him, challenge is inherent in creation.
Herbert has applied this thought consistently, whether playing piano in a big band at age 13 or, more recently, rebuilding his studio on stage, borrowing objects from his audience's pockets, and composing an entirely new piece of music before their eyes and ears. Matthew Herbert thrives on making and learning from mistakes, particularly if they can be applied to his subtle subversion of pop music.
To this end, Herbert has made public a self-generated manifesto, his long-standing adherence to ten personal production guidelines. Ultimately, his obsession is with creating original, new sounds, whether producing electronic, acoustic or vocal-based work.
"There's just no reason to sample other people any more," he states quietly. "It's so easy to be original that it just seems to me to be lazy to take stuff from the past. That's not to say that I don't think there's amazing music out there, and obviously hip-hop is an example of that, but it was a fairly logical thing for me to make the manifesto and I'm pleased that I've done it. If nothing else, I've had some really interesting debates about sampling with a lot of people."
That said, this classically trained musician does rate the sampler as his favoured instrument. Allow your imagination to listen to Herbert's latest offering, the incredibly emotional and musical Bodily Functions (K7!), and you shall hear the sounds of birth, death, blood, bones, laser eye surgery, mice at play, and yes, traditional instruments.
"For me making music, almost by its definition, is experimental," exclaims our maestro. "It's about bringing order to chaos, putting order to noise. To me, the literal translation of that would be not repeating myself, and that's very much at odds with modern society, with popular culture built upon repetition. Look at something like McDonald's, which isn't the most eaten food in the world because it tastes different every time. It's because you can predict what it will taste like. The process of creation should be the opposite of that; your goal as a musician should be trying to create something new, something where you've no idea what it's going to be each time you do it. That's my starting point."