“Do you want to be a decorator or a revolutionary?” 5 Minutes with Coldcut’s Matt Black

Jon More and Matt Black – aka Coldcut – are back! The grandmasters of UK cut ‘n’ paste and founders of the Ninja Tune rebel alliance return with a new cocktail of music, words and images that Black describes as “dissentertainment”.

Julie’s Bicycle was fortunate enough to grab 5 minutes with Matt Black to talk about their new EP, Only Heaven, released in November 2016 on Ninja Tune’s Ahead Of Our Time imprint. 

5 Minutes with Matt Black

Julie’s Bicycle: Summarise the EP in a sentence for someone who hasn't heard your music before.

Matt Black: Slamming beats plus beautiful streams of consciousness from guest vocalists.

JB: This is the first collection of material you're releasing in 10 years, and it happens to be at a time of profound turmoil in the world - was that by accident or by design? 

MB: That's a hard one. We released the music when we felt it was ready. But it has been a crazy year, and we did name one of the tracks Donald's Wig - in one way or another, we are always tuned in. It's always the right time for activism.

JB: What are you hoping people will take away from listening to the EP? 

MB: The music on the EP isn't as direct as some of our previous musical activist pieces like Timber, but it is calculated to make people think. Sometimes it's best not to have a particular agenda. We'd like people to feel that whilst the world is full of problems - which can seem a heavy weight that makes one just want to give up - there is always a way forward. Music is one of the things that makes life worth living.

JB: Has your attitude and approach to the relationship between music and politics changed over the past decade and is there anything you are consciously doing differently? 

MB: I think it was the poet Friedrich Schiller who said 'keep true to the dreams of your youth'. I think we're staying true to our beliefs, and in some ways that has helped keep us young. On the other hand, as I have gotten older, I've encountered a growing realisation that while the world is flawed, it is what we've got to work with. The idea that we're going to just burn it all up and start again isn't practical or even desirable. We must work with the reality of things, not "alternative facts".

JB: Do you have any advice to other artists thinking about engaging with politics or activism for the first time?

MB: Ask yourself if you want to be a decorator or a revolutionary.

JB: Anything else?

MB: Reading tips for 2017: subscribe to Positive News.

About Only Heaven

Coldcut’s first release in a decade, “Only Heaven” was released on Ninja Tune imprint Ahead of Our Time in November 2016. One Coldcut hallmark has been their skill at choosing collaborators, and the “Only Heaven” EP is no exception. First up, they recruited super producer Dave Taylor (Switch / With You.) to work with them. Best known for his stint as Major Lazer with Diplo, Taylor has also produced for M.I.A., Santigold, Beyoncé and many more. The new music here was recorded with him at the Woodshed Studios in Malibu, California. To keep the vibe sharp, Coldcut then brought in some UK vocal muscle in the form of Roots Manuva and Roses Gabor.


Coldcut. Photo © Hayley Louisa Brown.

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