The name firstly has been used by DJ Matt Hesselworth to promote parties at the London based club Corsica Studios. In 2013 he launched the label Tief Music and so far he released tracks from UK duo Sisterhood, South African one-off project Prophets of the South, German producer Johannes Volk and London beatsmith, Mr Beatnick to name a few. The label itself has still close ties to Corsica Studios, where they held label nights. For Carhartt WIP Radio, Tief chief Matt Hesselworth has prepared a mix featuring a selection of older material along with unreleased remixes from Efdemin, Tin Man and Linkwood, as well as some upcoming releases from his label. To gain a deeper insight we had an extensive talk with Hesselworth about his label, his love for music and much more.
(Matt Hesselworth, photo: Roberta Schmidt)
Hi Matt, can you introduce yourself and your label Tief Music a bit to our readers? And what do you do for it on a day-to-day basis?
Matt Hesselworth: My name is Matt and for the last five years I have run a London-based club night named Tief, which for the last two years has also been a label, imaginatively named Tief music. I work a day job (also in music) and so cannot commit too much time to the label but fortunately have help from Harry Benson (of Sisterhood) to run the day to day tasks that you undertake running a label. It's also not really my intention to try and flood the shelves of record stores with our releases but to just release a slow but steady stream of quality records which means to some extent I can take my time with it.
Any role models, inspirations, or benchmarks for Tief Music when it was launched in 2013?
Matt Hesselworth: I suppose labels that don't necessarily stick to a specific sound but have some common thread running through the feel and quality of the music it releases.
If you could describe the sound of your label in one sentence, what would it be?
Matt Hesselworth: Pleasing to your ears whilst making your head nod, toe tap, body wiggle or fist pump and in some way emotionally stirring.
What does the label’s name stand for?
Matt Hesselworth: Always slightly embarrassed with this question, but the word 'Tief' means 'deep' in German - or so I am told :) It is kind of a nod to German nightlife as I (like so many others) was spending a lot of time in Berlin over the time of the club night/label's inception as my girlfriend lived there at the time.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you would like to see on Tief once?
Matt Hesselworth: Ooooh yes.. Although I am slowly but surely working my way through that list, be it with original releases or remixes. Juju & Jordash are two of my favourite producers and we got that notch on our bedpost with our first release - and what a notch it is! It is however as important to me to discover, support and release artists that may not have released before and whom people probably haven't heard of so far as it is to release established artists.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do ?
Matt Hesselworth: I guess it's freedom to release what you like vs financial pressures that is the main challenge. Financially, each release needs to aim to at least break even. I know it is not all about money (and if it was then I would be in the wrong business) but to run a label consistently the cash flow needs to be there and this needs to be considered.
And what do you want to accomplish with the music you release?
Matt Hesselworth: I just want to hear and play the music in clubs and see positive reactions from people listening. And I want Tief to be a label that serves as a platform that nurtures upcoming artists.
How important is vinyl for Tief and the non-musical components of releases, i.e. packaging and album art?
Matt Hesselworth: Releasing music on vinyl is a bit of a must for me - I (like a lot of other DJs) play and buy a lot of vinyl and so much prefer it when I can play music on turntables in a club. As well as this, I think it shows the artist that you really care and have confidence in the music to invest in it.
Can you name us an artist or track from the past you wish you would have signed to your label?
Matt Hesselworth: Mr Beatnick: Sun Goddess (Don't Be Afraid 2012) - wow, a stone cold classic!
What are your biggest musical influences?
Matt Hesselworth: There are so many, I listen to and collect a lot of Afro music, a lot of disco, psyche, reggae, funk as well as electronic and house so its not easy to pick a specific influence.
What was the biggest Tief Music hit so far?
Matt Hesselworth: Ooh, well I guess in terms of the calibre of support and recognition it would have to be Glare by Johannes Volk. The likes of Dixon, Mano Le Tough, DVS1, Midland, Agoria etc. were playing it - in that respect it was a real hit. We thought about getting the track remixed but then agreed it was better left alone - it really is one of those pieces of music that doesn't need to be touched.
Which of the records you released are you most proud of?
Matt Hesselworth: I think the first release was one of my proudest, the originals and Arttu version were really great and a good way to kick things off - but its the Juju & Jordash remix that really melts me. I have to say its one of my favourite pieces of music from them and they are some of my favourite producers, so to have released that was and is a bit of an honour.
Another highlight was the Prophets Of The South track Ek Maak Julle Dance.
This release slipped under the radar a bit, but for me its a pretty unique and incredibly 'dance floor' record which I still love as much today and still play from time to time. It encapsulates some really amazing African rhythms and sounds and doesn't sound particularly close to any other music that I am aware of - I am really proud of this one.
What is coming up on the label?
Matt Hesselworth: So we have the next few in the pipeline, one from Bristol's Samuel which we are really excited for (with a rework from Linkwood), then there is a two tracker from New Zealand native Jon Sable (who also works at Climpsons coffee house on Broadway Market which sells the best salted macadamia nut chocolate brownies!) which will include reworks from Mount Liberation Unlimited and Nu Guinea - a remix package that is got my knees trembling already. This is a slight step away from previous releases as its pretty sample based, but the tracks are amazing so I don’t care (I put two of them in the mix so you can have a honk).
Then after that another amazing release from Johannes Volk (which includes an Efdemin remix) and then the 10th release will be a various artists EP from friends and family who we know personally and may have worked on the label before; (a couple we cant announce just yet) but there are originals from Francis Inferno Orchestra, Amir Alexander, DJ October and a truly anthemic remix from Tin Man.
After that, we are looking to step up the frequency of our release somewhat and will be releasing more EPs and possibly LPs from artists that we believe in, mostly friends and family.
Are you cautious about being put into a box and do you see yourself as part of any scene?
Matt Hesselworth: Ultimately, our rule is to release music that we love would play and buy ourselves and that we really believe in. Whether that fits in to a trend or not is kind of irrelevant to us. The thought process when choosing or releasing the music isn't 'will this sell loads' and 'is this cool at the moment'. Therefore, we aren't and aren't as likely to ever become a 'hypey' label that shifts thousands of copies and to be honest this is not our goal. We want to develop artists and develop relationships with them in the process, DJ with them and keep our family growing in the right ways.
Your label is linked to the London based club Corsica Studios? Can you tell us a bit about that relation?
Matt Hesselworth: Well Tief started as a club night at Corsica around five years ago, before that I had been working with and at Corsica for some time helping with bookings, promoting and DJing as a resident there. Corsica Studios really is one of my favourite clubs in the world. Over the past seven-eight years I have developed an already strong relationship with the club and its owners Adrian and Amanda. It has a really unique and family orientated feel to it, which makes it perfect to house Tief in my mind. Corsica also has a very accepting and musical crowd, which isn't often easy to come across in London sometimes.
How do you see the contemporary club scene in London? What is good and what is bad about clubbing in UK’s capital?
Matt Hesselworth: I would say the main thing that is a positive and negative (depending on what way you look at it) is the amount of clubs and club nights on every weekend. Of course, its great to have the choice of going to see Villalobos at Fabric or Steffi at Dance Tunnel or Pépé Bradock at Corsica Studios or Ben Klock at Village Underground etc. etc., but sometimes the amount of competition means that clubs are pressured into booking bigger more established artists which a) means DJ fees increase (as essentially clubs end up bidding against each other) and b) that people are less likely to 'take risks' and book more creative, sometimes musically interesting line ups - through fear of underselling and losing money.
(Matt Hesselworth, photo: Roberta Schmidt)
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Tief Music Radio show?
Matt Hesselworth: Well I wanted to give a nod to as many of the artists we have worked with as possible, so I picked a handful of remixes from the back catalogue (as they kill two birds with one stone - lol) and then added a couple of forthcoming tracks that have not yet been heard including two from Jon Sable, one from Samuel, one from Amir Alexander and remixes/ versions from Tin Man and Efdemin. A few of these are unmastered, so please allow the fuzzyness and slightly uneven levels! It is far from the most fluid or coherent mix you will ever here, that’s for sure, but I think it gives a good taste of the variation and diversity of our releases past, present and future.
Who inspires you?
Matt Hesselworth: Hmm, as a DJ, label runner and personality I can safely say Gerd Janson is an inspiration. He always leaves dance floors with smiles on their faces and releases some seriously influential music, not confined by a sound or even a genre. My tastes are very eclectic and I get bored listening to or playing the same 'sound' for too long. I am not one of those people who like to be locked in to a groove for too long, maybe its a short attention span thing, but I always enjoy being kept on my toes and get excited by a good 'curve-ball'. Another inspiring person who springs to mind is Esa Mervin Granger, maybe the most positive person I know and one of the most musically inquisitive and talented artist, too. After meeting him in Cape Town a few years ago, I have learnt a lot about music from him. Its great to have people like that around you, even if you only see them from time to time their positive energy really does rub off on you.
You also DJ under the alias Hesseltime. Can you remember where you first started DJing and the kind of music you were playing?
Matt Hesselworth: I know its pretty cliché, but I inherited a lot of reggae, disco and more 'roots' records from my parents and got some turntables to play them, this was a good 15 years ago now. My first gigs were playing soul, funk, disco, reggae, hip-hop, drum and bass, broken beat and dance hall at bars and house parties over 10 years ago. My first London club gig was about 10 years ago now, at Herbal - I was playing old school hip hop, I remember being pretty terrified.
Can you name us three records to start a party? And three to finish one?
Matt Hesselworth: Sure, for the earlier hours (depending on the time and place of course):
The Doors: Ghost Song (Elektra 1995) or Riders of the Storm (Elektra 1971)
STL: Vintage Hunter (Something 2010)
Move D: Sur Un Bateau Avec Eric (Uzuri 2011)
And to finish:
Bryan Ferry: Don’t Stop the Dance (EG 1985)
Mount Liberation Unlimited: Clinton Spaceman Funk (Junk Yard Connections 2014)
Fatima Yamaha: What’s A Girl To Do (D1 Recordings 2012)
What track gets currently the most rewinds when you play?
Matt Hesselworth: Off the top of my head:
Bent Boys: Walk The Night (Matra/J.C. Records 1984)
Bunny Mack: Let Me Love You (Rokel 1979)
Johnick: The Captain (TNT Records 1996)
Dharma: Plastic Doll (System Music 1982)
Yazoo: Don’t Go (Mute 1982)
What are your favourite places to play/ hang out in?
Matt Hesselworth: Gottwood festival has to be up there, I just got back last week, its such an idyllic setting - I can't recommend it enough! Fabric is pretty exceptional in terms of DJ booths and monitoring, one or two mixes in and you feel totally relaxed and at home.
What was the last record you bought?
Matt Hesselworth: Hmmm, it was Kyle Hall: Get Down. I missed it first time around, then missed the repress so had to buy from Discogs.
Do you have any idols when it comes to music?
Matt Hesselworth: Musicians and singer/songwriters, I would say Fela Kuti is up there, as a political activist and musician. Jim Davidson is another, and Sun Ra of course. Within contemporary electronic music, Pépé Bradock is of course on a whole other level. DJ-wise, Hunee, Tama Sumo, Mr Ties and Volcov - I look up to all of them.
Please recommend two artists to our readers that you feel deserve their attention.
Matt Hesselworth: Linkwood - as a recording artist and as a DJ. Masterful, textured and beautiful productions, which are rivalled by few in my opinion. Arnaldo - one of my favourite DJs around, those who have seen him will know!
What old albums you rediscovered lately and what makes them special?
Matt Hesselworth: Funny you should ask that, I recently found a stack of old CDs at the back of my wardrobe, in there were a few albums I had put aside for safe keeping. Air: Moon Safari (Source 1998) is a true true classic and an album that I can listen to from start to finish again and again.
Cinematic Orchestra: Live at Royal Albert Hall (Ninja Tune 2008), what a knicker-fizzer! And I recently listened to DJ Shadow: Entroducing (Mo Wax 1996) all the way through - I know its an obvious choice, but in terms of ground breaking albums its definitely up there.
If you could spend a night partying with any of your icons, who would it be?
Matt Hesselworth: Axel Boman, for the straight up lolz!
When do you feel most at peace?
Matt Hesselworth: Asleep, in bed. I love my sleep. We recently got a king-sized duvet too, so my feet no longer stick out the bottom, it is amazing!
What are some of your favourite places to hang out in London and why?
Matt Hesselworth: I must be getting older but I am more and more enjoying time at my flat. I live with my lovely girlfriend and dog and recently we have been making the most of lazy evenings in. Out and about, Hackney Wick is really nice, plenty of places to relax by the canal and get food, listen to music - there are some really great day parties there. The Paperworks in Elephant and Castle is also up there, such an incredible space (run by Adrian and Amanda of Corsica Studios), but, London being London and things changing so quickly, the venue is set to close next weekend due to redevelopments - it will be sorely missed!
Tief Music discography