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A Curious Calling: Matty Hall

Xanthi Barker chews the fat with the White Heat impressario

Written by . Published on November 7th 2011.

A Curious Calling: Matty Hall

WHITE Heat was started in 2003 as an antidote to the beeping world of dance music clubs. Now it too could be described as such a place – but only after midnight. Before then, the alcoholic womb of Madame Jojo’s plays host to some of the most interesting up-and-coming bands. The Horrors, Mystery Jets, Florence and the Machine all played here. More recently Yuck, History of Apple Pie and Miracle Fortress have sold the place out.

Matty Hall is the man responsible for this Tuesday night cacophony of haircuts, short shorts and one-person music encyclopedias. He now also hosts Friday night’s White Light at The Lexington as well as booking gigs there the rest of the week.

Every so often you click back in and go, “Hang on, what?” People are dressing like they were in 1979 again, which is funny, ‘cause they were doing that in 2003.

Even though it’s Tuesday, White Heat is always rammed. How does that happen?
It’s really easy, right – some time back in 2000, I started doing a website about clubs in London, reviews of bands and all that. I trundled along going to lots of clubs and meeting lots of people. Two years after that I started deejaying in someone else’s club with some friends. Two years after that, once we’d made lots of friends and worked out what we were doing, we opened our own. So all these people that wonder along, go to a club for a few months and think, “Oh, I could do this!” they need to put more effort in.

30493_400737385956_38824300956_4792914_3931456_N Do you work really hard?
Yes and no. In terms of completing tasks, no; in terms of constantly working, yes. I probably should have redone the website years ago, but I haven’t. But I have spent the whole time listening to new music and working out new stuff to DJ and finding new bands to book. It doesn’t move in a nice, linear line.

Has it changed a lot since the beginning?
We started off playing exactly the right music at the right time. We started in 2003 when there was loads of really cool music and in a time when you could get the bands that made the music to come and play. Mcklusky was the first show I ever booked. Death From Above 1979 played. Back then you could put the bands on and play their music later and the people from the bands would end up staying and dancing. Now it’s a bit more separate between the bands and the club. We play more dance music these days and the bands are still quite indie.

Why did you start playing more dance music?
When we started there was a club called Trash that had gone really dance-y. And we were like, “Oh I don’t like this dance stuff. We’re not gonna do that. We wanna play punk.” And then after a few years maybe, the bands that were making that kind of music weren’t as interesting anymore and we started playing more dancy stuff. And after that we looked at it and went “Ah! We’ve done exactly what we said we weren’t gonna do. We’ve done the thing that started us doing this.”

61548_434991765956_38824300956_5685070_1507467_N What’s it like seeing peoples’ style change?
It’s like that thing where you have a box and it’s got a ball in one corner and the ball slowly moves. Suddenly you realise it’s at the other corner and you didn’t see it move. It’s so gradual. But every so often you click back in and go, “Hang on, what?” People are dressing like they were in 1979 again, which is funny, ‘cause they were doing that in 2003.

And in between?
They went to Topshop. You quite often get people that are dressed really amazingly, and you talk to them, and they know nothing about music. And you get people that are wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and have made no effort and they know everything you’re playing. How people dress is a bit of a lie in terms of what they like.

How do you decide what bands to book?
Initially, we went through this box of 200 demos, sitting in the room above Infinity. We started listening to all of them, got about 30 in and started just looking at the press releases. After this whole box and a whole crate of beer we were absolutely hammered and had four demos that might be quite good. This was 2004 so people still mailed demos.

Then we wondered downstairs, elbowed our way to the front and there’s this ridiculous looking band – a guy sitting in the middle with this thing in front of him with pots and pans on it. They kick off and we stood there with our mouths hanging open. There was a whole bunch of people off to the side going “Yeah!”

That was the first time I saw Mystery Jets. Two hundred demos of bullshit and downstairs was one of the best bands I’ve ever seen playing one of their best gigs. Somewhere around then I decided not to take any more unsolicited demos.

271158_10150226040905957_38824300956_7669810_1557555_N What’s your favourite song?
‘McArthur Park’, the Donna Summer version. ‘Someone’s left their cake out in the rain.’ The bit at the end of the original used to come on with the screen advertising when you went to the cinema. It’s a ’60s instrumental.

Did you ever play in any bands yourself?
No. I have no musical ability whatsoever.

What did you do before?
I did an aerospace engineering degree then I did a website then I started a club. And now I am a pilot. That’s my new hobby.

To read about more curious callings, please click here

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