Three questions with Matthew Tavares, also known as Matty, a musician, songwriter, and producer. He is one of the founders and former member of the instrumental group BADBADNOTGOOD, and has helped pen songs for Post Malone, Rosalía, Camilla Cabello, Kendrick Lamar, and Kali Uchis.
Synth History: Top three synths of all time?
Matthew: Damn that’s a hard question to answer. I think most of my synth-playing life I would have said the Yamaha CS-60 because in BADBAD we used it on almost everything. I think I’ve over played it at this point though, but it definitely needs a shout out.
For me the top three are probably the least sexy answers I could think of: the Juno 106, the Moog Matriarch and then Ableton’s Sampler / Simpler. The 106 has always been my go to when I want to just “add synth” to something I’m working on without a particular sound or direction in my head. I’ve had the same one for a while now and while I can get bored of the Juno sound pretty easily, it always surprises me.
The Moog Matriarch is obviously a new addition. I’m not a huge monophonic / paraphonic guy but I really like the MonoPoly, although I find it can be really unpredictable sometimes. Maybe it’s just mine. I like the Matriarch because it has everything I like about the crazy polyphony of the MonoPoly while being reliable and I feel like I know what I’m getting when I approach it. Plus it doesn’t sound like other Moog’s to me, I find I can get really unique sounding patches on it.
Obviously the Ableton Sampler isn’t cool or rare or expensive but it’s such a staple in my sound that it needs a mention. People often ask me what synths I used on my record Déjàvu and like 90% of it is samples of other things (sometimes other synths), re-played on the sampler. It’s really simple but really really powerful. You can add polyphonic envelopes and stereoziation and get vibey pitch artifacts to anything. Sometimes I just sample a cool synth from a record and take it from there on the sampler. I know that it’s not true “synthesis” so I’m dodging the question a bit, but it’s in the same realm to me creatively.
Synth History: Analog or digital (or both?)
Matthew: Definitely both. Those two worlds are so ideologically charged that I try not to think about it. I used to lose my mind going on forums and reading manuals and looking at photos of recording sessions of records I liked. What a waste of time, reading angry people’s opinions on gear. Ogling gear to no end and no avail, really. Some of my favorite recordings of stuff I’ve done I’ve done on my iPhone microphone. I like to make things and create music so whatever is around and helps facilitate that.
Obviously I own and have owned some nice old synths but I try to avoid big mythologized things where I can. I don’t like Neve or Studer or ARP’s or big-ass modular systems or vintage tube mics. I don’t feel creative on them and owning stuff like that is just the Bentley or Gucci of the music world. I think people get so caught up in the status symbol they don’t even question whether it sounds good. It’s like “of course its better it cost $10,000 more dumbass”.
Synth History: Who are your biggest influences?
Matthew: John Coltrane, Carl Jung, Pharrell Williams & Sheryl Crow.
References: Synth History exclusive, Retro Synth Ads, Photo: CrazyUncleGino Wordpress.