Matt Mason from DMA’S talked to us about his views on performing live, his memories of being in Scotland, his dream collaborations, and much more. Thank you to Matt for the interview!
I watched an interview of yours where you said that, during your beginning days as a band you weren’t too keen on performing live. And we heard how amazing you guys sounded on the new Brixton record. Ever since you guys have grown as a band, do you think that that’s changed?
We never intended to be a live band. We never sat down and said “Oh we’ll never play live.” I think when you start a band, some people think they’re gonna play gigs in venues, get in the scene and have. Or you wanna make a great record. I think we chose the latter. We were kind of over gigs early on because the gigs we played back then sucked and no one was there. We had a negative idea of gigs back then. Playing gigs is what we look forward to now. Our attitudes changed now. Maybe because people come to our gigs now.
I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of travelling and performing in different venues. But What is your dream gig venue?
We played the Opera House recently which was pretty sick. When we were invited to play this gig on New Years there, it was broadcast only, because of COVID. We were just down there and no one else was allowed to go. It was just us. That was a once in a lifetime thing.
What’s one thing that you wish you could change about the music industry right now after we’ve seen how the pandemic has impacted musicians?
There’s heaps of collaborations coming out and heaps of songwriting happening. That’s one positive. There’s been a lot of Zoom songwriting sessions happening. It’s kind of difficult, though, because there’s a lag. So I think what needs to change is easier online music collaboration being possible over Zoom so that it doesn’t lag. Someone needs to figure that shit out.
Best memory of being in Scotland?
We were playing in Barrowlands in Glasgow. Our sound guy, Jeff, came to us and said “Bro have you tried Haggis?” Because we don’t get it in Australia. And he told us “Try this shit, man.” It was deep-fried Haggis. We went to the shop and bought loads. We all were surprised and were like “This is fucking amazing!” We all loved it. That’s my most fun memory in Scotland. We all eat it every time we go to Scotland.
Do you maybe have any favourite acts from Scotland?
I used to get down to Franz Ferdinand when I was a teenager. Gerry Cinnamon, too. He’s a friend of ours. I should look up some more local bands, though. It is like a second home.
Who do you think you would most like to collaborate with?
That’s a good question. I don’t know…myself? I spend most of my alone time making Hip-hop beats. It’s kinda what I do in my studio. Sampling and making beats and stuff. But Lil Baby is my favourite rapper at the moment. I’m gonna say Lil Baby.
What’s a few songs you listen to and think “God, I wish I wrote this?”
No songs. All the songs that I like, that we’ve put out, are songs that I didn’t write. I think that if you write a song there’s no element of mystery and when you write it that element of mystery is gone. So I’m gonna say no songs. If I wrote any songs I love, I’d hate them. I like that songs are written by other people.
If any artist could cover one DMA’S song of your choice, who do you think could do it justice?
Ah ok! So you know Lewis Capaldi? He shared our song ‘Silver’ on his Instagram and I thought if he sang that song it would blow my fucking mind. It would be so good. He’s Scottish as well so that ties in with the other question!
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting in the music industry?
Try and write a song every day. I don’t. But it’s good advice. Just try it. If you’re actually trying to make it big as a songwriter. Try and write one a day. There’s gotta be at least one amazing one in there. The hardest thing is having trouble making an album or a catalogue.
If you could have 3 musicians, dead or alive, headline a festival, who would they be and why?
Hmm ok. That’s such a hectic question. I might say MF Doom. I’d have Stéphane Grappelli and Roscoe Holcomb. It’s an interesting mix.
What qualities make a good musician to you?
You gotta make people emotional. It’s kinda corny. Happy or sad, doesn’t matter. All the best musicians make people emotional. Make them feel something.
What is one of your favourite songs you guys have released?
There’s a song called “Cobracaine” that I wrote when I was 18. It took a long time to come out. It’s personal and important to me because I loved that song and I waited for the perfect time to release it. I sat on it for about 10 years and then put it out. It was a big moment for me because of the decade of suspense.
What does your creative process look like when you’re recording or writing music with Johnny and Tommy?
We rely on voice memos a lot. We have heaps of them and when it comes time to record it’s always different. I recently took a sample of an old record and we built a song around that. Most common process is going through those 30 second voice memos and we try to piece them together. We match them up like a puzzle, I guess.