Matt Tolfrey

As you may or may not be aware, every time we release an artist's CD on either of our ongoing mix series (fabric/FABRICLIVE) there happens a lot of behind the scenes conversations that are all part of the preparation. One of these is a tailor constructed artist biography that's written to give the press extra background information on the artist in question: where they were born, where they grew up, how they got into music, etc etc. In truth, these biographies often become quite enlightening documents in their own right and from now on, in the week before we release the mixes to the public, we'll be publishing the biographies here to give you, our faithful readership, the exact same additional insight.

Matt Tolfrey (fabric 81)

I was born on the Isle Of Wight and I moved to Bahrain in the Middle East with my family when I was 3 years old. Growing up there was great and so multi-cultural - I remember at one point all of the children in my class were from a different country. I then moved back to England to Worcester with my mother when I was 16, and then to university in Nottingham when I was 19. I lived there for 7 years and now I live in London.

My father’s from Sutton in Surrey and my mother is from a little village called Beckermet on the west coast of Cumbria. When my mother moved back to England with me, my father stayed in the Middle East to work and provide for the family. He only recently moved back home and he is currently trying to persuade my mother to let him build Westfield sports cars. But it was my actually my older brother Paul, who turned me onto electronic music without realising it. When he returned to Bahrain in 1993 he brought with him a lot of old rave tapes and I used to steal them and listen to them on my headphones. The ones that stand out in my mind the most are Sasha's Magic and a live recording of the Ratpack.

The first record I got given from my father was a 7 inch by The Piranhas called ‘Zambezi’. This is the earliest memory I have of playing a vinyl. When I was at school, I used to play the drums and bass in a lot of different bands. Every summer my family and I would come back to England to visit for two months and we would always stay with different family members. My cousin Anthony was a huge record collector, he had Technics and he was the first person to teach me how to mix. The problem was by the end of each summer I would have got the hang of mixing, but by the time I returned the following year, I’d be back at square one. Musically what shaped me the most was my move to Nottingham and a club named The Bomb. Nottingham is real ‘deep house’ to me, not what you see and hear on Beatport nowadays. I used to go to a lot of DiY parties but the residents at The Bomb on Saturday nights, Dave Congreve and Kelvin Andrews, were the two DJs that really inspired me. They introduced me to a lot of German record labels such as Pokerflat, Trapez and Playhouse and I would often be more excited about hearing them play, than the guests at the club.

When I was 17 I used to DJ at a bar in Worcester on a Sunday called Metro. A lot of people had been out from the Saturday night so it was interesting learning to play to people that were even still up dancing, or kicking back chilling out. While I was at university I used to DJ first at a venue called the Market Bar, then I finally got to play at the Bomb. I was asked to be a resident by one of my mentors James Baillie, but I only got to play there about five or six times as a resident before it unfortunately shut down. My next residency was then announced at a new club called Stealth that opened in 2004 and soon after that I moved to London.

"This is the mix I have been hoping to achieve my whole career."

I run Leftroom records, and have done since 2005. The first record I ever put out was with Craig Sylvester on Crosstown Records in 2005 and since then I have collaborated with a lot of different artists on labels such as Cocoon, Culprit, Phonica and Get Physical. Until recently all of my solo productions have featured on Leftroom, including my album Word Of Mouth in 2012 where I got to work with Marshall Jefferson, but in the last 8 months I’ve released on Brachtune, Visionquest’s sub-label and Of Unsound Mind, Skream’s new label.

The first time I ever went to fabric was March 17th 2001. I remember it so specifically as Sasha had had a car crash and had to cancel his gig there. Lee Burridge played the best breaks set I’ve ever heard in Room Two though, so it more than made up for it. I couldn’t get over the sound and how professionally the club was run. The first time I ever DJed at the club was at Tyrant on May 8th in 2004. Craig Richards had heard me play at The Bomb a few months prior and he then invited me to warm up in Room One. Since then I have been luckily enough to play at the club 3 or 4 times a year, in every room, at every time slot. This past birthday I played the first set in Room One on Saturday and the last set in Room Three on Monday back to back with Terry Francis - that was a long session! Judy, the booker at the club, is like a second mum to me and I can easily say that without fabric’s eleven years of support, I would not be where I am now.

This is the mix I have been hoping to achieve my whole career. I’ve listened to so many records that it’s hard to say where this mix started, but I’m very happy with how it’s turned out. I've basically tried to fit in eleven years of my experiences at fabric, but trust me it’s been hard as there have been so many. Music is so important to me that it’s hard to explain. When I’m down, I hide in it and when I’m up, I share it. There are records on here that I remember playing the first time I ever played at the club and there are records on here I can’t wait to play at the club again. It’s always hard to tell a full story when you’re restricted by the length of a CD, but by editing nearly all the tracks on the mix, I was able to fit it all in.

The most exciting thing that’s happening to me in 2015 is that I am going to be a father for the first time. I can’t wait to start a family and it’s already given me a new wave of creativity and motivation in my life. Music wise, I have a new live collaboration with jozif named Kerb Staller which I feel is my best work in the studio to date and I’m also collaborating with five of my favourite producers as part of Ten Years Of Leftroom in October.

fabric 81: Matt Tolfrey is out now.
Order your copy from fabric here.
Get this and every fabric release from just £5:

Matt Tolfrey launches fabric 81 in Room One on Saturday 25th April 2015.
For line-up and tickets go here.

Photography: Jimmy Mould

Saturday 25th April

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