Multi-instrumentalist and sound designer Isaac Matus is fresh off the release of his newest instrumental EP, Dos Caminos. The artist, who resides in NYC, and who hails from Bogota, has been actively making genre-defying music with multimedia components for years. Linking with visual artist Eva Redamonti (who we interviewed on the site last summer), Matus has been able to sculpt a world for his music to live. Equal parts surreal and experimental, the three newest pieces (as part of his Dos Caminos EP) takes the listener on an audible journey hallucinatory and complex. With another four song EP released earlier this year known as Mutacion and plenty of material (solo and collaborative) lined up down the road, I spoke with Matus about his history with music, his roots, his creative process, and what he has planned for the rest of the year.
How long have you been working on your newest EP? Did you always see it as two singles and an interlude?
I started working on this EP around October, and to be honest, it was pretty much done by December, but I let it sit for a little bit and then got back to it around February, when I finished the last details with fresh ears. At first, it was two completely separate pieces (“In Between” and “Lo Que Somos”), but then I realized they worked well together so I decided to release both of them under the same "package". The interlude idea actually came during the mixing process and the conceptualization of the artwork. I felt like I was missing something to fully connect both tracks. "Dos Caminos" means "Two Paths" in Spanish, I though of the interlude as something that would connect those two paths, which is why it contains excerpts from both songs but somehow processed, stretched, etc.
How would you describe this EP to a stranger on the street?
Well, I would say it’s electronic with subtle Latin American influences. I guess some people would qualify it as IDM. I've always tried to incorporate elements from folkloric music from around the world into my music (especially Latin and Colombian), but I'm also constantly trying to discover what's the best and most elegant way to do it. I think that really interesting things can happen when you combine the electronic world with the "earthy" sound of traditional music, but when it becomes very obvious it can lose its interesting element.
What was the process like with the visual component and added animation? Was that entirely Eva's vision or was it collaborative?
It was definitely a collaborative process. I've been following Eva's work for a while so I was able to kind of reference from some of her past work and tell her what was on my mind based on that. I knew I wanted specific characteristics of each song represented in two "worlds", and I also knew I wanted some sort of animation component on them. Aside from that, it was all Eva. There's an upcoming video that uses part of Eva's animation as a main component but also counts with animations from another visual artist, Santiago Messier. Since he does a lot of audio reactive and more abstract work, he'll also be fully in charge of the interlude. In general, the idea of the animated video will be to present everything as one piece.
Your SoundCloud page dates back five years and covers various styles, from classical to sound design to acoustic to folkloric. Can you speak about your roots and your history with music?
I've always been fascinated with combining genres and trying different things, probably partly because my influences are super diverse. I also used my SoundCloud to throw anything that I did just for fun, or sound design demos. In terms of my history with music, I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, playing guitar in metal and punk bands. However, it was always inevitable to be surrounded by all sorts of Latin music over there, especially nowadays where a lot of people are into combining folkloric roots with modern jazz, rock, hip hop and a lot of different styles. So even when I was into those genres, I was already experimenting with putting together genres that tend to be very different from each other. It didn't always work [laughs]. A little before moving out of Colombia I became interested in traditional instruments from there, mainly percussion and a woodwind instrument called Gaita, which I kept practicing when I moved to the US. On the other side, I started learning about arranging, mostly for Latin jazz ensembles and small orchestras, but little by little I started to feel inclined towards the electronic music and more experimental sound design world. I got into modular synthesis, sampling, computer music, and somehow all those things started to interact with each other.
What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
For this year, I have a couple more singles coming out towards the end of the year. Some of them are also from my solo electronic project, some are from a band in which I play guitar and some releases with a few artists that I worked in the past as a producer or arranger. As I mentioned before, I'm always trying to combine some of my influences and kind of refine my voice through that exercise of constantly doing different stuff so that all those different aspects paint the complete picture, so in the end I'll be using everything I'm learning by working with people from different backgrounds, as well as my formal training in my own compositions.
Any final thoughts / added comments / words of wisdom?
We live in really interesting times to make music, we have an overwhelming amount of tools as well as a collective knowledge accumulated from the past. This idea is one of the things that "Dos Caminos" means to me: We are constantly reminded that in life we have to take one path against the other, but allows us to break that rule and combine between different techniques, concepts and countless ways to craft our work.