With a science fiction-channelling name like Gigamesh, you’d be forgiven to mistake this Minneapolis-based producer for someone who belongs in the Warp or Ninja Tunes lineup. But really, Matthew Thomas Masurka is more inclined towards the nu disco and indie dance side of things, such as that of the multiplatinum selling track he produced for Mike Posner (‘Cooler Than Me’). While he has released 3 EPs under his name with OurLabel and Kitsuné, Matthew is more famously known for his remixes of big acts the likes of Foster the People, Katy B, and obscurer ones such as Theophilus London. As we spoke to the towering ‘80s revivalist (we’re Asians, c’mon) before his set at Oscar Wise’s Sunset Disco Party, he revealed he’s not one to be pigeonholed as just a ‘remix guy’ or ‘that DJ’, his affinity for sci-fi, thoughts on being a producer versus a DJ, and inadvertently slipped in his dislike of the dubstep scene in his hometown.
The name Gigamesh is in reference to A Perfect Vacuum. Since you chose a sci-fi name as your DJ alias, does science fiction influence your music at all?
A little bit. I think initially I was planning on it to have a noticeable connection, but I just naturally ended up creating stuff that’s a little bit more like nu disco, indie dance, pop sorta stuff. So now it’s more like a loose connection – I mainly chose it because I thought it was a cool sounding word. If you read that part of the book, it had this ancient-meets-future vibe to it, I liked that aspect as well.
That kinda relates to why you’re bringing an ‘80s sound to your music. Speaking of which, it’s funny that the ‘80s revival is lasting longer than the actual decade…
(Laughs) That’s a good point. I think it’s because there’s a whole generation of bedroom producers that figured out you can make this stuff with just a laptop and maybe some external equipment. I think that’s true with so many other genres as well like early house music has been going through a revival kinda off and on for the past 5 to 10 years. All the genres that are electronic-related that came before are coming back getting mixed with different things, I think it’s all good, I like that there’s not a clear trend that’s happening anymore.
You identify yourself as more of a producer, but you have to DJ to get your name out there. Do you feel this sort of undermine who you are as a DJ as people tend to relate DJs as just song selectors?
I’m not conflicted about it or anything. It used to be more so in that I had to explain to people, “No, I make music, I’m not just a DJ.” But now there are so many DJs who are dabbling in production and producers who have to DJ to support their craft that the two comingled and are the same thing, I guess.
When we think of Minneapolis, we think of Prince, not so much on the dance scene there. Educate us.
It’s alright, it’s not a big city. There’s definitely a little underground techno scene, like a handful of people that know each other and one guy that’s internationally known and tours. And there’s a huge dubstep scene that’s kinda annoying, and then there’s me. That’s pretty much it in terms of producers. I don’t play there too often, I used to regularly, but now it’s more for special events. I love the city, that’s where I grew up – I have family and friends – and it’s cheap to live there.
Does the city influence your music?
When I was starting out I was trying to make music that I can play in smaller rooms. It’s evolved beyond that, but earlier tonight when I was talking to the opening DJs, they were saying that they had to go through their set list to make sure they won’t play any of my stuff tonight. I hear that a lot from opening DJs because a lot of the stuff I made is made for earlier in the night. I think that stems from being in a city where you kinda have to please all crowds. There’s not enough population to support really specific audience.
It’s amusing that you were annoyed by the dubstep scene in your city. This calls for an elaboration!
Well, I don’t know what it’s like in Asia but in the US there’s a pretty specific type of person who is into dubstep. They’re usually really young – like what the rave scene used to be in the ‘90s with kids who just want to get thrashed and do drugs, and just rage. It’s not really like dance culture, it’s heavy metal culture evolved – heavy metal and rave music blended together and created that. But I’ve met dubstep producers, they’re all nice people, I have nothing against them (laughs). I actually kinda like trap a little bit, there’s some good stuff made by those producers and there’s a lot of crossovers between those two. I don’t necessarily hate it, I just avoid it.
You’ve done a lot of remixes. For a lot of producers, it’s a way to get themselves known by more people. Do you operate the same way?
A little bit. But then I also realised that, even now that I have an audience when touring, the well-known songs are the ones that do the best sometimes because I might be playing to a crowd where 25% to 50% know my music but everyone else is just curious, so when they hear something they recognise, they’ll be the ones dancing. Now I still make bootlegged remixes because it’s fun to add those things to my set.
Would that endanger yourself to being pigeonholed as ‘that remix guy’?
Yeah, I worry about that. But I’m working on new music and I’m feeling good about it. I’m just kinda trying to take my time because I’m still shaping my sound and trying to find my voice and stuff.
Gigamesh played at Oscar Wise’s Sunset Disco Party, Mai Bar, Aloft KL on Sunday 10 November ’13.