I didn’t realise that Bristol had an effect on my sound …until after I left.
“I grew up in Knowle, south of the river. It’s very much not what people think of when they think of Bristol…the Bristol music scene.” From the early days of knocking around in Knowle, to destroying dancefloors worldwide, Matt Walker is the new Bristol-boy-done-good. He could be seen as a figurehead for the city’s house revival; another bullet point on the Southwest’s Wikipedia page, but is it really fair to stick him with the ‘local’ label?
Now based in London and preparing for the release of his debut album, Bashmore has gone global. “I didn’t realise that Bristol had an effect on my sound …until after I left. It’s only when I look back I think, yeah, it had a huge impact”
With such a melting-pot of music to indulge in, the city has always been a catalyst for inspiration, but Matt shares the sentiment of another lauded, local musician: “To be honest, I find it frustrating – almost – when people start talking about a ‘Bristol sound’, especially when people are on about a Bristol house sound. Nah, I’m not having that. It’s not so much a sound, but a collection of, you know, really dedicated and interesting artists, who all happen to be in one place.”
That very sense of community is what makes Bristol’s creative scene so alluring. It’s a hotbed of inventiveness whose rewards have been reaped by many an artist. “That’s something I never really felt a part of if I’m completely honest. That incredibly diverse, wonderful mish-mash of things going on… I’ve always felt quite separate from that. I grew up separately.”
There’s nothing wrong with copying someone else…as long as you don’t get too good at it. When people f*ck up and get it wrong, that’s when it sounds good.
While being south of the river might have prevented him from getting into the thick of it, influence comes in many forms. From MJ and The Brothers Johnson on his dad’s side, to his brother’s NWA tapes and Prodigy CDs, Matt had firm foundations. Perhaps a lack of nepotism has its own advantages. There is a quiet sincerity to Walker that transcends his ‘big room hits’, painting him as quite the virtuoso. “It’s just about being an artist, digging deep and going back to music that is real to you. Making that your thing, putting your own twist on it, you know?”
The Bashmore ‘twist’ is evident in all of his work, from his first release with Dirtybird, ‘Um Bongo’s Revenge’ to the forthcoming LP, everything has that ‘Julio sheen’. “I’ve always said there’s nothing wrong with copying someone else…as long as you don’t get too good at it. When people f*ck up and get it wrong, that’s when it sounds good.”
That ‘Battle For Middle You’ was the result of Matt trying (and failing) to play the theme from The Lord of The Rings is now part of folklore, so there’s definitely some truth in the sentiment.
2011 seems so far away now and much has changed in the land of Bashmore. You can chart his development; from the uproar at the release of ‘Duccy’ to the insane success of ‘Au Seve’, all has been leading up to this moment. ‘Knockin’ Boots’ has been an album three and a half years in the making. The production process has had its ups and downs, but it couldn’t have happened any other way. “It was definitely a labour of love, but I think it took so long because I wouldn’t be able to release something I wasn’t happy with… really those three and a half years were spent building relationships with new artists, to feature on the album.” Artists like Seven Davis Jr, Bixby and J’Danna. “I’ve basically just made a load of really talented, amazing friends. Everyone I managed to get on the album is just so dope at what they do”
The talent is obviously not all outsourced, but there’s always room for improvement. “If I was good enough on guitar…I’d definitely take it to the stage more. You know, perform with Jessie [Ware] or something. That’d be cool.”
From Knowle to now, the rise of Bashmore has been remarkable. Where once there was a timid man, trying to get ginger acquaintances to fill in on the decks, there now stands a grounded dance music behemoth, one whose album is set to take the world by storm.
Aside from developing his label, Broadwalk, Matt’s future is simple: “As long as I can keep making music and carry on doing my thing, that’s the ten year plan. That’s the lifelong plan.”
‘Knockin’ Boots’ is out on 7th August via Broadwalk Records.
Check out ‘Knockin’ Boots’ right here: