Hello

Matt Lowe. Art of Music. No.1 

Before the interview please listen to Suisun musician Matt Lowe’s most recent work entitled “Gods Basement.”

Next to highway twelve, on the edge of Fairfield and Suisun City, Matt Lowe resides in a quiet neighborhood.  The land is flat. The sunlight hangs like a veil as the autumn clouds dissipate. The streets are clear of cars. In his apartment the living room is filled with recording and entertainment equipment, from a Playstation 3, a flat screen TV, and a shelf full of sitcoms and 90s movies to two monitor speakers, an Akai MPD Pad, and an I am T-Pain Mic Gold that auto-tunes. Then there is the white futon couch that ties the studio together. Mr. Lowe has two albums, one with his band Greyspace titled Random Images (2009) and a solo album titled Median (2012) Everyday Mr. Lowe works in parts on several projects. A hook one day, a bridge another day. His modesty goes unmatched. On the day of our interview he thanked me for being featured in the magazine, when in truth, he gave our magazine an air of professionalism. And when I realized I had lost my tape recorder, I asked,

Interviewer

Can we record on your microphone?

Mr. Lowe moved the condenser microphone closer to the dining table where we would have our interview. He plugged the microphone into what seemed to be an amplifier, then logged onto his MacBook, opened Logic Pro, and tested the voices in the program. Several minutes later he asked me to talk into the microphone. The quality of my voice on the monitor speakers was clear. Not an ounce of static was heard.

Interviewer

Thanks for letting us use your recording equipment.

Matt Lowe

No problem.

Interviewer

Why did you change your name to Mr. Rhythmic to Matt Lowe?

Matt Lowe

I changed my name from Matt Lowe to Mr. Rhythmic, first. My name is what my dad gave me, then I changed it into Mr. Rhythmic. When I was getting into battling, I thought it highlighted a certain quality I had. But when I got my band, they all knew me as a mutual friend by my name. They never knew me as Mr. Rhythmic. The only people who knew me as Mr. Rhythmic were people from a small battle scene. So it just naturally faded off once I got my band, since we were all just friends. People didn’t walk around calling me, Hey Mr. Rhythmic.

Interviewer

Have you ever heard people say there is no real rap name? Or that all rap names are corny.

Matt Lowe

No, I have never heard of that. But I can see that to an extent. Being a fan of rap, all the rappers that I like don’t use their real names. I sort of see it from both sides. Making up your own name is a little corny, I guess, but in the same breath, there’s something that represents you, and no one knows you better than you. So if you’re going to put a title on yourself or have a title, it might as well be something that defines you as opposed to something you were given before you have any idea of who you were.

Interviewer

I remember you once said Qwel was your favorite artist, that he can stop Copywrite.

Matt Lowe

I said that?

Interviewer

And I can see why. Him and Brother Ali . . .

Matt Lowe

For the people who don’t know, Qwel is one of the members of a Chicago-based rap group called Typical Cats. It’s a little-known group that have their own underground following. For you who don’t know, you should go check them out. At any rate, he’s the nasally sounding one of the group. So when I said that, that was about the time The Harvest came out, which is a project he did with Maker. So Qwel and Maker, The Harvest. The reason why I liked him: One, the Typical Cats album was when punchlines were huge in rap. He had a bunch of crazy punchlines on there. He had a bunch interesting stuff from the Typical Cats album—I’m-fucking-dope-and-you-suck-raps—but it was all fresh and really cool over jazz samples. Then when Qwel and Maker came out, he did these crazy rhyme schemes—super intricate rhyme schemes—and I liked it because he went in a different direction. It was a much more serious album, and it had religious overtones that I could relate to at the time. He wasn’t scared to do topics most rappers shied away from. People weren’t doing stuff about religion, especially about religion in “I’m a religious person.” Almost everybody denounced religion. I liked how he was fearless in taking a step in a different direction on top of incredible technical achievements. That’s why I liked him.

Interviewer

Going into technique, the West Coast seems to have an affinity for poly-syllables or poly-syllabic rhymes, that goes with The Saurus and all the way back to Scribble Jam and . . .

Matt Lowe

Whatever people are into, whether you are into a sport or an art form or anything, there are going to be certain things—if you’re deep into it—you’re going to care about a lot of things people are not going to care about. To me, poly-syllabic rhyme is just part of the art form. I don’t think a professional basketball player would say, People playing basketball at the local park are ruining basketball, the same way all rappers who are into poly-syllabic rhymes would say, People who use one-syllable rhymes are ruining rap. I don’t think that’s the case either.

Interviewer

Is form more important than content or just as important?

Matt Lowe

That depends on the listener. That depends on the audience you’re trying to target. It’s appropriate in certain cases. If I want to tell a story, the story is the focus. If I’m just doing a track, displaying what I can do, a narrative isn’t that important at all. The short answer: It’s not more important.

Interviewer

What do you care about more?

Matt Lowe

I try to put equal weight on them, but not equal weight all the time. On certain songs or certain parts of the verse, I want to display the form. Then I keep in the back of my mind the content to put out a positive message. They’re both important equally.

Interviewer

I watched your battle. You said Beavv had a good performance. Is it because his lines dropped easier because they were simpler rhymes?

Matt Lowe

We were in Stockton, and he had a lot of people who knew he was from Stockton. He has a good following over there. If you were there a handful of people thought he won live. I can’t take away from his stage presence. I don’t think his lines dropped better because they were simpler. I think maybe I was ill-rehearsed, and I could’ve delivered my lines better. When it got to the internet, people had their own way about it.

Interviewer

Before Median, you had the album Greyspace. I see a recurring theme in being in the middle. What’s your take on this theme?

Matt Lowe

Generally, the way I like to live my life is to see both sides of everything. I don’t like to approach things with an unwillingness to see things from an opposite perspective. So before I make a move or anything, I try to see what the opposite side might say about that. It keeps me balanced.

Interviewer

In your track, for example, “The Bell Curve” with Sapient from Sandpeople—and the bell curve stating who’s the best at something—maybe you’re saying we need to destroy that system. Or maybe I didn’t understand it.

Matt Lowe

There are the people in the middle, people in the extremes. The project is trying to reach across all those parts. I’m not trying to destroy where people are at. I do want to reach out to all sides, that there’s someone who will listen to all sides. It’s about reaching to everybody. If you’re extreme on one side or you’re extreme on the other side, the music is for you still.

Interviewer

You were a drummer in high school, and now you teach at various schools. How important are the drums in hiphop?

Matt Lowe

I wouldn’t say the drums aren’t particularly important to hiphop. It tends to be the trend right now, or has been the trend, but a lot of great hiphop songs don’t have drums.

Interviewer

Or when you produce, you said you have an easier time thinking in drums than in melody.

Matt Lowe

Yes. The reason for that is rap is closer to drums than it is to melody—because of the inherent rhythmic qualities. The pitches of it don’t matter as much. A lot of the best rappers take pitch into consideration, but they sort of pedal one note and maybe go from that to another note, here and there. They sort of stab in different directions. Generally speaking, the focus of it is on rhythm and what you say. The musical qualities that rap has are more rhythmic than it is melodic.

Interviewer

Battle rap is coming back since Scribble Jam. Would you ever use battle rap as a platform?

Matt Lowe

A lot of rappers have done it successfully. It’s a good way to reach a new audience. It’s a market a lot of people will see you from. I don’t find myself particularly interested in using it as a platform—not that because I don’t respect it. I enjoy battle rap a lot—my particular skill sets don’t lend itself to being a successful battler. That’s just the way it is. I can’t see myself being successful in that arena. I’ll still watch it, but I’m not looking to participate in it too much.

Interviewer

Any battle rappers you follow?

Matt Lowe

I follow Okwerdz because my band is based out in Stockton. We went on tour with Okwerdz for two weeks one summer. He sort of like the homey. He’s super talented. There was a handful I like to watch when Grind Time was having its heyday. But I don’t follow a particular battle MC too much. I just catch them when I can.

Interviewer

Normally it’s bad luck to talk about future projects. If you’re not worried about it, any new projects coming out?

Matt Lowe

We’re pretty much done with Greyspace’s next project called Blues in the Emerald City. I like the music we’re putting out. We’ve grown a lot as artists. We’ve learned a lot. We’re going in a lot of different directions musically. I started delving into more melodic things on Median, and it was cool my band let me do it on the band’s project, also. So we’re doing a lot more stuff on there.

Interviewer

It’s towards more jazz or hiphop?

Matt Lowe

It actually uses a lot of bluesy-type riffs.

John Tang, November 12, 2012

 

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John Tang

John Tang writes essays and fiction, and creates RPGs. He’s also the production manager for Brev Spread. You can reach him at Queries@brevspread.com


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