We’re going back a few years when I started out in the industry. Lucky I’ve got a good memory. Originally, I started out playing house parties around the neighborhood, but by the summer of 1982, I was in my freshman year at high school and was ready to make the next step. The only thing was I needed to was a new rig, which cost money. a lot of money. Sadly, this was money I didn’t have. Eventually, I managed to convince my mom to lend me $150, which was a lot of money back then, and I hired a room that was used for wedding receptions. I used the rest of the money to hire a DJ friend from high school who had a sound system. To promote the night, my mom photocopied flyers at her work and these were handed out in the neighborhood. When the night came, 300 kids paid $3 each and I scored $900. The next day, I bought a new rig,Technics SL-B2 turntables, a Clubman mixer and a pair of Cerwin Vega Speakers. Soon, I was playing all over the neighborhood and soon, some of of Chicago’s top clubs like the AKA, Club Flamingo, Coconuts, Limelight and the Paradise Club.
By 1985, I had released my first single ‘Rock The Nation’, which was a rap track. However, this was the only rap single I released, and found my sound at Sunset Records where I enjoyed the most successful period of my career and released ambitious and innovative music.
This included The Razz EP, which I produced with my good friend Ralphi Rosario. This was the start of a successful period for the label, when I co-produced Master Plan’s single “Electric Baile,” in 1986. The single featured the legendary house diva Pepper Gomez, and charted on Billboard and was just the latest success for me and the team at Sunset Records between 1985 and 1987 when I left the label.
By then, I’d recorded Bang The Box, which none of the guys at Sunset Records liked. Rather than risk our friendship, I resigned my position and founded AKA Dance Music and released Bang The Box, which sold over 50,000 copies. Incredibly, I was still only twenty-one, and now thirty-two years I’m still DJ-ing and producing.
Where are you located now and where are you originally from?
I’m still living in Plainfield, in the Windy City of Chicago, where I was born and brought up, and discovered music. I might have moved to a different part of the city, but my love of music remains.
Goals for 2019 and beyond?
I’ve already achieved a couple of goals already in 2019. One was to release my debut artist album Music Is My Life, on Wake Up! Music in the UK and Europe, where it was released to critical acclaim. Music Is My Life showcases my new sound, which Derek Anderson from Wake Up! Music christened Nu-House.
Not long after the release of Music Is My Life in the UK and Europe, Pepper Gomez, the founder of Wake Up! Music hit on the idea of having DJs remix tracks from the album. Pepper and Derek reached out to legends like Ralphi Rosario, John Morales and DJ Spinna plus Al Kent and Chicago’s very own DJ Lil Tal and Marcus Mixx. They were joined by Texan DJ That Dude Dom, and two new names James Flowers and Michael A Garza. To have such an amazingly talented lineup remixing my tracks was a humbling experience. The resultant album Wake Up! Music Remixes DJ Wall Of Sound Vol 1- Matt Warren’s Music Is My Life, was released on the ‘19th’ July 2019, and tracks from the album are being played on over 250 radio stations and in clubs in the America, Europe and the UK.
My other goal is to start work on the followup to Music Is My Life later in 2019. I’m lucky, as my studio Sound Solution Recording, is in my house, so I can make Nu-House without leaving my house.
What have been the specific challenges in your career so far? What have been the greatest achievements so far?
In the early days, going from playing around my neighborhood to getting gigs in the top clubs in Chicago like the AKA, Club Flamingo, Coconuts, Limelight and Paradise Club. Having established myself as a DJ, moving into production in 1984 was a big challenge. Within a couple of years I’d managed to make a name for myself at Sunset Records. Then when began to run AKA Music that was another challenge for me. While I’d worked at Sunset Records, AKA Dance Music was my own label which brought its own challenges and pressures. So did moving into remixing, which was something I enjoyed, and have done a lot of over the last thirty years. Recently, running my own studio has been the latest in a long line of challenges that I’ve experienced during my career.
Where can our readers catch up with you out there soon?
I’m hoping to be DJ-ing in and around Chicago over the next few months. I’ll be doing a radio interview for Chat and Spin Radio in the UK, and I hope some more media work. The best thing is to watch both Matt Warren and Wake Up! Music’s social media pages.
Please answer the following… “If my fans really knew me, they would know that… ”
Although I’m a DJ, I don’t have a turntable at home. That has probably shocked your readers. I don’t spin vinyl any more, and I’m a 21st Century DJ.
Having said that, I still love the soul, funk and disco that I grew-up listening to, and I’m a big soccer fan. My team is Partick Thistle FC, who play in the Scottish Championship. I’m hoping we can get promoted to the SPL during the 2019-2020. If the guys at Partick Thistle FC are reading this, contact Derek and he’ll sort y’all out with some CDs.
Who are your top inspirations?
Musically, there’s so many people who have inspired me over the years. When it comes to DJs, it’s got to be Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, John Morales and Larry Levan. When it comes to music, I like anything funky, soulful and capable of filling a dance floor. This includes Barry White, soul man number one Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield. Then there’s Brass Construction, Cymande, The Fatback Band, James Brown and Mandrill. In my younger days, I used to spin tracks by Candi Staton, Cerrone, Chic, John Davis and The Monster Orchesta, Loleata Holoway, Pleasure, Ripple and The Salsoul Orchestra. Those were the days when it was a case of just playing whatever it took to fill the dance floor. I usually succeeded and so did my friends like Ralphi Rosario who is still spinning, producing and remixing and has just signed to Wake Up! Music.
Having accomplished so much in your career, are there more dreams you hope to conquer?
There’s still parts of the world I’ve not DJ-ed in, so more overseas adventures in the future. I’d like to record the followup to Music is My Life, which would be another adventure in Nu-House.
Any words of wisdom for your fans out there?
If you want to make a career as a DJ there’s no shortcuts, and it’s a case of lots of time spent practicing. I remember when I started out, the days and nights I spent practicing mixing. This was like a musical apprenticeship for me, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then once you can mix, you’ve still got to know what record to play when. It’s a bit like taking the dancers on a musical journey.
For young producers I’d say to listen, listen, listen. Listen especially to those tracks and producers that have the sound you love. Then, take the time to figure out why these records work. Figure out what makes that record great. This is so important. Listening is part of any producer’s musical education, and they need to listen to thousands of records.
There are no short cuts and it’s a case of putting in the hours. Only go for greatness in your own work.
You Tube: WakeUp Music Group