Song-writing sessions with Emeli Sandé, a collaboration with Jennifer Hudson and a top ten album – meet Matt Robson-Scott, one half of the house duo Gorgon City…
This article was first published on The Early Hour in 2016.
What do you do?
I’m a music producer and DJ.
Describe your sound to us…
The Gorgon City sound is house music with vocals – accessible house. We try and do underground stuff as well as the more commercial sounding stuff. It’s quite vocal-led.
Who listens to it?
In the UK, quite young crowds – aged 18 to 30s. In the US, it’s a bit older – 21 +. Our shows in the US are amazing; gig-wise we’ve spent more time there than here this year.
In fact, we’re about to announce a 20-date American tour. We’ve had tunes in the charts here, on Radio 1, so it’s not as new and exciting. But it’s fresh in America and people are just discovering it. The energy is really high.
Where did it all begin?
I first got a track signed to a label when I was 18, performing as The Equalisers. It was the beginning of making money from music. Then one of my tunes got used for an Orange advert the summer I finished uni, so it was really lucky timing, as I didn’t have to worry about getting a job.
WE’RE MAKING MUSIC FOR PEOPLE TO PARTY TO
Because I had that money, I decided to just carry on making music on my own, experimenting. Then I started working with [music manager] Henry Village. The breakbeat sound that I’d been part of with The Equalisers didn’t last very long, so I went off on my own, as RackNRuin.
About two and a half years ago, me and Kye [“Foamo” Gibbon] met – we had the same DJ agent – and decided to make a tune together for fun. It worked really well and we kept finishing tracks – lots of people do that in dance music, collaborate for one single or EP.
A track we did for Yasmin, called Real, got played on daytime radio and we were like: “we should probably do this more”. Then we decided to create a name for it: Gorgon City. We made loads of songs, then we signed a publishing deal with Sony and a record deal with Virgin EMI, half way through making our first album.
When did you see the first signs of success?
When we started getting the BBC Radio 1 support, daytime support, and then when we finished the album – we were like: wow, we’ve really done it.
We planned to make some underground tunes, put it out and see what happened. Suddenly we were playing on Top of the Pops and all these crazy shows – it was all quite surreal, as it happened very quickly. The label let us do our thing – left us to it – and we had a lot of fun making the album.
When me and Kye work together it’s really relaxed; we don’t stress out – it’s music, not an office job selling double-glazing – we’re making music for people to party to so we always remember that and make sure it always comes through in the music.
What’s an average week for Gorgon City?
We work in the studio pretty much every day, in Finsbury Park. Kye drives in from outside of London and I’m really lucky – I just walk, get the tube or cycle, then we work from 11am until 7pm.
HAVING AN OLDER BROTHER WAS HOW I FOUND OUT ABOUT SOUNDS QUITE EARLY ON
We do sessions with vocalists; write songs with different people. Then we have production days after we’ve written the songs. On Thursday or Friday, it’s back on the road.
Every weekend we work. We work seven days a week most weeks. We’ll get back from playing gigs on Sunday, wake up Monday and go straight back to the studio. It’s tiring but it’s fun.
We get to meet loads of people, go to crazy places we wouldn’t otherwise go to, see the world – and get paid. We don’t see friends or family, which is difficult, but now that we’ve got a band it’s much better – we’re like a crew, rather just being me and Kye.
I try to spend time off with my girlfriend. The constant travelling means when you have time off you want to stay in the same place for more than a day so often we go out for dinner, cinema, exhibitions – just normal stuff really.
I always call my mates when I get back to London. When I’m away they’re all meeting up, going out and I’m not really involved in that any more so sometimes it’s a bit weird when we meet up.
It’s one thing I don’t like about the job. But I’m lucky that friends I grew up with do the same job as me – Nick and Alfie [Dusky], Ruairi [DJ Klose One] – so I’m pretty lucky, as we’ll be at festivals and on the road together.
When we’re on tour, if we’re not on a bus – like when we’re in the US – we fly everywhere. So we arrive in the city, go to the hotel, sleep for an hour or two, get up, do a sound check, do the show, go to the hotel, leave to get on the plane and do it all again. That’s if it’s a live tour.
With DJing, you finish a show at 4/5am in a club, go straight to the airport – no sleep – get on a plane, fly to another city and do it all again; especially in Ibiza in the summer, where we play once a week. Set times are really late, as people go out at 2am.
Maverick Sabre. He’s Irish, lives in Stoke Newington and is a really interesting guy. He’s got really raw emotion when he sings. And MNEK is always great; he’s really young – 19 or 20 – and an amazing songwriter. He had his first top ten song when he was 14.
We always start it from scratch with the singer so that we don’t sound like we’ve stuck a vocalist on our track. We have simple ideas; chord progressions, and we’ll play them a loop, or a beat, and we’ll start from there and write it together.
They’ll come up with lyrics and melodies and we tell them what we like. We always try to write the song in a day then they leave and we produce the track. We didn’t know how to do it in the early days but tried this and it worked.
Tell us about the music of your childhood…
Mum and dad played music in the car and house when I was young. I’m a massive Michael Jackson fan. But my mum played punk – The Pogues, and I remember loving The Clash. That was when I was really young.
Having an older brother meant that before I was a teenager I was listening to newer punk and hiphop and that’s what made me want to get into dance music and DJing.
My brother was listening to a D&B tape pack and I was like “what’s this”, so having an older brother was how I found out about sounds quite early on. Before the internet you had to find stuff yourself.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
I did Spanish at uni so I’d probably be living in Spain. Unless I’d found a good job, working on radio or something, but everything I wanted to do always involved music. I can’t imagine not doing music, to be honest, because that’s all I really know.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I love Caribou’s album, also London Grammar, Jamie xx is incredible. And then lots of underground house music, as that’s what I DJ when I’m out, so I’m always doing lots of research.