This week electro-swing.com proudly presents an exclusive mix plus interview with US Swing House kingpin, Matt Pruitt.
Owner of Cabbie Hat Recordings, co-owner of the house label Juiced Records and producing under the names of 4Peace, High Maintenance (with J Caprice) and now Soulmates (with girlfriend Camille) plus with remixes for the likes of Wattie Green and a role as the Traxsource chart compiler and jackin referral point it has been a very busy and in demand 2011 for Matt.
The year began with the set up of Cabbie Hat Recordings, Matt’s idea and vision for swing house releases. The label has grown and continued to grab the attention with a string of swing infused samplers showcasing the work of the talented swing house producers in USA.
As 4Peace and Soulmates Matt has released tracks via Cabbie this year. His swing house sound can be heard from over a few years now via Juiced Records, the label jointly run with J Caprice. Interestingly, as youll find out, it is their fault the phenomenon that is Wattie Green came to the attention of the world.
Rooted firmly in the swing house sound it is evident to us this has been fused to electroswing in Europe, whereas in USA it seems to be treated more as straight up house.
As Electro Swingers we know the scene is varied and encompassing. If you had to give it a name then Matt’s sounds and releases would be coined ‘Jackin’. To me though its simply outstanding!
Many thanks and continued success to Matt on all his projects, he never been to Europe so any promoters reading this, don’t think just book, as 2012 could take off and you read it here first ;)
Matt, what’s your take on Electro Swing?
You know what’s funny is that I’m not totally even sure what it is! lol! From the best I can tell, it’s a very progressive, multi-faceted, ever-evolving genre that seems to encompass a wide range of styles & tempos with the common themes being the use of old jazz/swing elements with at least some inclusion of electronica? It also “appears” to be largely a European phenomenon? I could be completely wrong about this, I’m not sure, so please pardon my ignorance. Most of the stuff that I hear that makes it over here is more of the peak time housier stuff like DJ Mibor which I like. It’s very “polished” and “big”. Very well produced. Having said that, some of what I’ve heard is a bit “too clean” or “too eccentric/abstract” for my tastes as I prefer things a little more raw and for my purposes, to rest comfortably within the funky confines of chicago style house music. A lot of it I wouldn’t neccessarily play, but I still dig it and would listen to it in my car, particularly some of the slower tempo stuff. Just had an electro-swing compilation go up on Traxsource this week and a few of the down tempo cuts made their way into my cart.
What’s happening with Electro Swing in USA?
That is a good question and you’ll have to pardon my ignorance again. I think I’ve seen an event or two promoted over on the West Coast but I’m not certain. This is what I was referring to in the first question. It appears to be largely a European movement and style. Either that or I’m just completely out of the loop. Over here, “swing house” and “electro swing” exists as two completely different entities with very few overlapping artists. If there are events going on over here, I don’t know about them. If there are, I wish I did. They look crazy fun!
Have you always had a love of jazz/swing music and if so where did this come from?
I wouldn’t say I’ve “always” had a love of jazz & swing, at least not in the beginning. I wasn’t that aware of it initially. I was a hip-hop fanatic first going back to about 1984 during my middle school years. Here I am this white kid from Texas. Grew up in the cowboy mecca of the South known as Fort Worth (also referred to as cowtown) and went to a huge high school that had 3000 students of who MAYBE five of them were African-American. Our freakin’ mascot was the confederate flag (not joking). I was like the only white kid in this massive all-white high school that was listening to hip-hop. All my friends would be sitting around in their pickup trucks listening to Country or Heavy Metal and here I come rolling up in my black convertible blaring Morris Day, Prince, Whodini, or Big Daddy Kane. My dad was a huge Blues fan and was always listening to B.B. King, Eric Clapton, & Ray Charles. That had to be what planted the seed. It wasn’t until later when I got interested in House Music around 1989 that my interest was piqued and I started working my way backward and my interest and research in jazz, swing, & blues really began to develop.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey through Juiced Records, 4Peace, High Maintenance and Cabbie?
Oh boy, I’ll keep this short as possible. Here’s the cliffs notes version.
Went off to college in 1988 and heard “electronica” for the first time at a fraternity rush party. Stuff like Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, Yazz, etc… I got wind of a record store in Dallas called Oaklawn Records and in October of 1989 when I walked through their doors for the first time, my life changed forever and I’ve been a DJ ever since.
No idea how I came up with the 4peace name. It wasn’t anything profound and has no deep meaning. It actually fits me better now than it did then as I’ve become increasingly interested and involved in humanitarian causes. To be honest, I didn’t really like it and have even tried to change it a few times but everyone still called me 4peace so I eventually just went with it. Under that name I became one of the more prominent & infamous DJ’s in DFW (due to my very outspoken and confrontational nature) and have performed at more raves and clubs around the region than I could possibly ever recall. I didn’t start producing until late in the game though.
In 2008 while surfing on myspace I ran across this cat named J. Caprice who I noticed had a few tracks on some labels I liked. It wasn’t until later I realized he literally lived less than a mile from me so we hooked up and started working on beats under the name High Maintenance. We did a swing house track called “The Shuffle” that got signed to Footwear that did really well. Then we did 3 more swing tracks that originally James Curd offered to sign to G-Swing but we were anxious new producers getting hounded by labels left & right who wanted the release. We weren’t in a contractual obligation yet so in a hasty decision, we pulled it and gave it to Germany’s Digi Funk who has said they’d put it out immediately. Looking back I wish we had waited it out as G-Swing was my favorite label of all time and I think we burned a bridge (sorry James). Having said that, Digi Funk did us right. One of the tracks on the EP, “Who’s The Man”, went crazy and became our signature track and is what really put us on the map. Even years later, people still bring it up in conversation & often play it if they see me walk into a club or join an internet radio chat room. From there, things just got crazier and we had more labels asking us for music than we could write. They all wanted the swing stuff too but we didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves so we held off and made an effort to diversify our sound.
Our label Juiced music came about after we realized how shady most labels are and decided we’d rather put our best stuff out on our own label to ensure we saw an honest return. The label has been a success and swing has played a big part in that. It all started when J Caprice happen to run across this completely unknown producer from Tennessee in a chat room on a swing music site. He sent us 12 tracks. I remember when we first listened to them our collective jaws hit the floor. This was swing like neither of us had heard it before. We knew we had something special and signed every single track. His name was Wattie Green. :) We really owe a lot to Wattie as it was the success of his early tracks that helped propel Juiced into the worldwide spotlight. Sometimes you just get lucky and find that golden ticket.
I established Cabbie Hat in 2011 and I’ll expound on it more in your next question.
Cabbie is the latest label and seems more dedicated to swing, was that the purpose of setting it up?
Cabbie Hat is solely my label and the sound is definitely more focused. I’ve always been deeply touched by music that was rooted in black culture and that of course includes but isn’t limited to Jazz, Swing, Blues, Funk, Hip-Hop, & RnB. You can feel the passion, the pain, the pride, the attitude, the realness, the soul, & the history that just exudes from every note and every vocal that you just don’t hear in most white rooted music. It’s these styles you’ll hear overwhelmingly & consistently on the label.
Any new names to the scene worth keeping an eye out for?
Well, most Jackin guys don’t just do swing house. Swing just happens to be one of the styles they occasionally weave into jackin. That said, Dan Warby is a new name who is doing some sick stuff with jazz & swing. He just had a release on J. Caprice’s label HARD. Expect to see something from him on Cabbie in the near future. Also have some swingin heat coming down the pipe from an artist called Stranger Danger. Of course anything in the jazz realm that guys like Wattie Green, Tommy Largo, Jeff Dougler & Balu, JR From Dallas, South Of Roosevelt, or Scrubfish touch is gold. If you haven’t checked into a cat named Precious Roy’s stuff, do yourself a favor and peep it. Guy’s a genius and molds jazz/swing with jack, minimal and techno. None of them are limited to this sound by any means but they all have a wonderful ear, understanding, education, & appreciation for the sound that shines through when they decide to undertake it. Lately I’ve really been keen on producers who are infusing a raw hip-hop vibe in their sound. Cats like Nick Jagger, Kid Enigma, & the mighty 1200 Warriors are really doin’ it for me right now.
Jackin swing seems big in US with Wattie Green, South Of Roosevelt, Jeff Dougler, yourself and so many more. What’s it in the water over there? :)
I wish it was big! lol! It is growing though. The number of producers and labels has nearly tripled since I started producing 4 years ago. I think that 90’s swing house movement that got so big for a minute really influenced a lot of cats. I know it did me. I own every single g-swing release on vinyl except #6 I think? Speaking for Wattie. That dude lives it! I’ve stayed with him twice over in Nashville and been privy to late night bluegrass jam sessions in his kitchen with his friends and roomates. That dude is so uber talented and can play so many instruments it’s retarded. It was really a pleasure working with him on the single “Digga Digga Do” that came out on Cabbie and we are at some point planning to follow that very successful collaboration up with a full EP. I’ll keep you informed on that. Jeff Dougler & Balu live in Canada so they don’t count! Haha! Just kidding. Those guys are also amazingly talented and put such a fresh spin on an old sound. The SOR cats from Chicago have deep roots in jazz so that all plays into it. One of the best things is that all the guys, in addition to being extremely talented, are really cool down to earth cats who are a pleasure to work with and be around. No fronts, no attitudes, just real salt of the earth people and I look forward every year when we all get to come together at the same time in South Beach for WMC! They all have a genuine appreciation and love for the music and will sit around for hours talking about it. Having said all this, Swing House seems to be a love it or loathe it kinda deal with most people. I’ve always said hating on Swing is like hating on a kitten. You may say you do but you really don’t. Behind close doors they both make you smile! Cats will often say they love jazz but don’t like swing? Swing is jazz, just in a more structured and danceable form. Swing is all about having fun and gettin’ high! It oozes style, exudes attitude, infuses humor & wit, and even has a dark side. Do I even need to mention how ridiculously danceable it is? What’s there not to like? If I owned an upright bass I think I’d sleep with it in my bed. Swing was the hip-hop of it’s day. It’s dancers were the original b-boys & b-girls! Cab Calloway was hands down the coolest mother fucker to ever walk the planet! No matter what you do in life you’ll never even come close to being as cool as him! They broke the mold when he passed and I keep a framed picture of him right above my studio monitors for inspiration. Jazz, Swing, Blues, Hip-Hop, etc.. are all from the same womb and very closely connected. I say to dislike one is to dislike them all.
Is the jackin sound played/suited more in house clubs or within the electro swing scene?
Definitely the house clubs, although I’m sure if there is an electro-swing scene here in the U.S., they might incorporate some of the jackin swing stuff but probably not so much the other way around. The clubs I go to and the internet radio stations I listen to, you don’t really ever hear anything that would be considered electro-swing, just straight up swing house. I have a feeling some of it may get played at the larger events & festivals, but those aren’t my scene so I couldn’t say.
You been to Europe?
Not yet. Had a couple sniffs but nothing ever materialized. I’m making my first trip overseas in December to perform alongside my beautiful & talented girlfriend Camille under our Soulmates production moniker at a couple of gigs in New Zealand (look for our first release under Soulmates on Cabbie Hat in December). Hopefully I’ll make it over to Europe one day. I’d love to throw down for a crowd that is salivating to hear some jazz & swing!
Keep on swingin ya’ll!!!