There’s so much music being made right now. Like a bottomless pit, it takes some tackling.
Unfortunately though at times if feels more like a stagnant pool, as swathes of average, disposable sounds rise to the surface, often resulting in quality productions becoming near-inaudible. Then someone comes along and creates an album so wonderfully captivating there’s no chance they won’t make an impact.
That happened a couple of months ago when Paper Recordings dropped Real Love Tastes Like This onto the Plain & Simple welcome mat. We took a listen, and immediately became besotted by the hip-hop inspired, house-leaning electronica on the disc. Then someone mentioned the fact that Mathias Stubo, A.K.A. Proviant Audio and the mind behind said album, was actually an 18-year-old Norwegian in the midst of finishing high school.
The hardworking scholar juggles maths and English with sequencing and programming, which is no mean feat. But, despite such pressures, he still manages to come up with one of the first classics of this newish decade. Understandably we couldn’t wait to speak with the wunderkind, who explained how he already has another one and a half LPs finished, even though his debut has only just arrived. While basking in his reflected glory we asked a few more questions, now here’s the whole transcription…
P&S: Hi Mathias, how are you today?
PA: “I’m fine, thanks.”
Where abouts are you at the moment then?
“I’m in the studio, in Norway. It’s close to where I grew up, and around an hour from Oslo.”
And life’s good there right now?
“It’s good, yeah, pretty quiet- there are very few people here, probably around 2-3,000 in this town. So it’s very quiet, with big forests- really peaceful.”
And you’re still at college, is that right?
“High school, actually…”
Oh, OK. So how does that balance out with your music?
“It’s difficult. I often work all night, so I don’t get much sleep, and I’m 18-years old, so it’s the last year for me. It has been really hard combining homework with producing. I’m not sure how, but it works and I’m managing so far.”
Your exams will clash with the album launch then… how are preparations going for the new release?
“Everything is going really well. I’m also working on another album now too- I don’t really stop.”
How long did the first LP take?
“About a year. I started in early 2010, and was pretty much finished that August, spending the next half year or so just getting everything ready. We recorded it here.”
It’s an incredibly diverse album, did you have any ideas or plans when you started putting it together?
“No, both my parents are jazz musicians, so I grew up with a lot of fusion type stuff. I guess that has formed part of who I am today. I have played in an orchestra, and also drums in a jazz band, whatever- it has all influenced me.”
In terms of dance and electronic music, what inspires you then?
“I listen to a lot of St Germain, and also a lot of Stone’s Throw stuff- Jay Dilla, Madlib- they are huge influences on me. I don’t listen to a lot of house music that much, more hip-hop really.”
The album falls between the two genres though, did you surprise yourself?
“No, I just did it without really thinking.”
Were you making tracks, which then comprised an LP, or creating an album from scratch?
“I always wanted to make an album that sums up all my feelings and inspirations, and this is really me as a 16 and 17-year-old, everything that happens around me influences what I do. It sounds like where I was at during that time.”
You began producing at a very, very young age, how were you introduced to sequencing?
“I remember when I was about eight I got an Atari machine with a Roland module, and some synths. I don’t know why I got hooked into that style of composing music, but at some point I started being in the studio for four or five hours a day, and it evolved from there.”
Apart from the many years, how much came before the Proviant Audio project?
“I haven’t released too much before this. A couple of net label EPs, and I did my first official remix when I was 14. So not a lot, but it was important for me to spend a lot of time in the studio, perfecting what I was making. So rather than just releasing loads, it has been a case of putting things out that are as good as I can do.”
A remix at 14… what was that?
“A Norwegian artist called Blame the Funkstar, on a Canadian label, that was the first and it was quite well received. After that I decided to go all in and do something longer.”
In terms of Paper, the label has a history of working with Norwegian artists. What’s your own story?
“Well, like you say they have released a few people from here. It’s a pretty small country, and I know almost all the guys who have been on the label anyway. So it was quite natural for me to send in an email and check if they were interested. I had heard that they were taking stuff so I asked if they wanted to do something, they liked my sound and said yes.”
The other album then, what’s all that about?
“Well, I have one album under my real name, Mathias Stubo, which is coming out on BBE soon. Then there’s a second Proviant Audio album which is about 40 per cent done. The BBE stuff is a lot darker, and introverted, I think, so it sounds quite different to the Paper work.”
What was the decision to make that distinction based on?
“I don’t know… The Mathias Stubo album was made in Autumn, and like I said everything that happens around me effects the music, so I guess that’s why it sounds darker.”
Finally then, what’s coming up in the next few months? Any live dates?
“Yeah, I do a lot of live shows in Norway, and we’re about to try and figure out some gigs outside of Norway. I also do a lot of remixes now, and have a few coming up, including one for Jaga Jazzist on Ninja Tune, and a couple for some Norwegian bands. I’m also producing for other artists too, and then there’s also school…”
No plans to take a break when you’ve finished the exams then?
“No, I never take breaks.”
Real Love Tastes Like This is out now on Paper Recordings. See what we thought of the album here.