Mat Zo revels in return to Anjunabeats, ‘Illusion of Depth’ [Interview]

Since exploding onto the scene with his 2013 debut album Damage Control, Mat Zo has built a reputation as one of electronic music’s brightest and most versatile producers. Originating in the trance space, the Grammy-nominated artist diversified his sonic craft early on, releasing under moniker MRSA on the distinguished Hospital Records while steadily outputting on Anjunabeats, before venturing off into the corners of drum ‘n’ bass experimentalism with the creation of his label Mad Zoo. For some time, Zo has zeroed in on his imprint’s success, releasing sophomore LP Self Assemble in 2016 and a flurry of EPs, as well as spearheading A&R efforts with compilations like This is MAD ZOO and its successor, This is MAD TOO. For the UK artist, consistent expeditions into new sounds have been a highly frequented path. As Zo has advanced his 14-years-and-counting career, his evolution has never ceased to reflect an ever-expanding vault of electronic material. Similarly, Anjunabeats has mirrored that trajectory in its development, harboring boundary-pushing acts like Spencer Brown, Andrew Bayer, and Gabriel & Dresden. Now, Zo takes a momentary sojourn as he revisits familiar ground in his coveted Anjuna return, Illusion of Depth. Through the course of the album, the Grammy-nominated producer fleshes out ideas, tied loosely by genres and confined by no definitions: he crafts worldly vocal chops amongst progressive structures in “Fly While You’re Still Free,” juxtaposes exotic percussions with atmospheric dusk in trance-inspired “Petrushka,” and dabbles with electro-rock hybridization in “Bruxism.” Meanwhile, the presence of collaborator and vocalist Olan takes an unmistakable role in the otherwise nearly feature-free record. With the Atlanta songwriter appearing on singles, “Colours” and “Problems,” as well as intimate ballad production “Paralysis,” the album possesses both range and unifying threads. In celebration of Illusion of Depth, Dancing Astronaut discussed Zo’s vision for the album, the role of drum ‘n’ bass in staying fresh, and blurring the lines between electronic and rock. Read the full interview below. Congratulations on releasing Illusion of Depth. How does it feel now that you’ve delivered your third studio album? Anjunabeats housed your debut album Damage Control and there’s been a long-time relationship between you and the label. Why did it make sense to return to Anjuna for this album?You’re constantly evolving your sound and this album is no exception. What vision did you have in mind when you first conceived the album? Illusion of Depth feels both familiar and new. How are you able to balance exercising your idiosyncratic touch with expansion into new sonic territories and concepts?There’s a ton of influences across the album, notably rock stylizations. Are there any hidden inspirations you embedded that might not be as obvious to listeners?Adding onto the previous question, the album contains a refreshing amount of non-electronic influences. Which artists or bands served as your primary inspirations during the creative process?How did you and Olan first start working together? “Paralysis” is a huge stand-out track in both tonality and production. Can you tell me how that song came about? You’ve been extremely active in the virtual events space with Mad Zoo. Why has that been important for you to work on in the past few months? Did you learn anything new from those experiences?Featured image: @ndkimagesTags: , , ,
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