Exclusive Interview With: Human Life
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Human Life, aka Matthew Wasley and Founder/Head Gari of Gari Safari. Having been invited to the last Gari Safari at The Standard in Los Angeles, I could not have been any more excited to learn about Matthew and his musical origins. Take some time to read about this fascinating artist and the intriguing beginnings of Human Life.
Hi Matthew! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for me. Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself and give us a little background information about how Human Life was formed?
Hi! Im Matthew and I make music under the name Human Life. I live in LA and have been working on this project for about 6 years. I’ve been making music in bands and on my own since I was 12 (I think I still have a recording from my first band, we played all Nirvana covers ha). Once I got to college, I wanted to start a new band but I just couldn’t find the right people, so I started focusing on electronic music after my friend Ali brought me to see him DJ. He was the resident at Avalon, the biggest club there at the time and even though I’d been listening to a bit of house music since I was a kid, I hadn’t ever seen a real club on that scale until I was 18. Fast forward a few years and I was living in LA around 2007 and there was a sort of awakening with new electronic sounds and it inspired me to work on new music which became Human Life
Where did the name Human Life originate from?
I starting making this new music with friends first and once it seemed like something that could be released I started brainstorming ideas for a name. I was coming up with hundreds of potentials but nothing seemed to be quite right. Then I started thinking about the concept of the project and I realized what I wanted to do was something that spoke to the way the music was always being pulled back and forth between real organic instruments/vocals vs synths, drum machines and computers. Also the way society in general is being integrated, and some may even say infiltrated by computers; and technology is a common theme in the project. As soon as I saw the name Human Life on paper it just felt right.
How has Human Life changed over these past few years? And what direction do you see it going now?
It’s definitely developed and morphed through the years, which is what I’ve always had in mind when I began. As a kid, I always loved artists like the Beatles who were brave enough to change their sound as they progressed through their career. Specifically for Human Life, it started out mostly as a “song” based project without tailoring the music to dancefloor all that much. The more I’ve DJ’d over the years, the more I’ve moved toward making music that I can play in my sets and that works in the clubs. There are still some things that are made more to be listened to at home, but in general I’m thinking about how it will sound on the dancelfoor now. In addition to being focused more on a club vibe, it has also moved towards more of a techno & tech-house direction in the past few years. Within those genres, Im always trying to do my own thing and not just the hot sound of the moment, but in terms of the grooves, definitely those styles have influenced the current sound a lot.
What has been one of your favorite collabs thus far? And why?
It’s hard to choose, I’ve had some great ones with friends like Adana Twins, Sante and also a new collab on Joyce Muniz‘s new album which is out in a few weeks. But overall it has to be Anabel Englund. I just think she’s got a certain magic about her and she really brings an idea to life. I love also that when we write, we are both singers, so I try to challenge her to make everything great and she does the same. Our track “El Diablo” has to be one of my favorites that we’ve done together. We have a new collab as well that we made with our whole crew that I can’t wait to let everyone hear. Anabel is at the absolute top of her game right now and it shows!
Congratulations on your success with Gari Safari, and on your amazing closing set there as well. Tell us, what comes next?
Thanks! For anyone who hasn’t heard of Gari Safari, its an event series started by myself, Anabel Englund and our friends Matt Ossentjuk & Mont Blvck (Anabel’s bother Jackson and our friend Diego Cuevas’s project). We started the party to be able to put together elements we weren’t seeing in the same place all that often. This means both Live acts and DJ sets, as well as more accessible music and really unapologetic underground techno and house. In addition to ourselves we’ve had our friends play too like Jesse Perez, Harvard Bass, Jozif, TACHES, Porkchop from Desert Hearts & more. The last element is a safari theme, everyone dresses up and it really sets the tone for the event. We don’t want people standing in the corner, we want you losing your inhibitions and having fun on the dancefloor! This year has really been the awakening for Gari Safari, we brought it to LA, San Diego, New York, Denver and the latest one was Saturday Oct 15th, in San Francisco. In 2017 we are going to be taking things to the next level with more locations and some even bigger events in the places we’ve played before as well as hopefully taking things international! We also have something really amazing in the works that I can’t announce yet which I think everyones gonna love and it involves lots of new music from the whole crew.
How do you prepare for your sets? And what can fans expect from your next event/Gari Safari?
I can’t wait as well! I never plan my sets but I always spend time preparing at least 4 or 5 different paths I could take depending on the vibe. Gari Safari’s a bit easier to know what I’ll play than a gig on my own because we get to set the vibe from the beginning of the night. I’d say expect some of my favorite current vibe which I can only describe as sort of tribal techno with a hint of disco for good measure. Also I’ll be dropping some new tunes including my latest release. Human Life & Matt Ossentjuk feat Jackson Englund – 0.22, which has some killer remixes including one from Culprit/Moda Black hero Javier Orduna.
Where do you look to for inspiration now? And are there certain tracks that you just love to play on repeat or always include in your sets?
It’s funny I was just telling my friend this yesterday… before every gig I prepare like 30-50 new tracks and then I end up playing just a few. Once something works I tend to go back to it if its not being played by lots of DJs. My favorite stuff to play is what you won’t hear everyone else playing and certain tunes do tend to become signatures in my sets.
Out of the many up and coming artists you work with, who would you recommend for us to keep an eye out for?
Well to keep it close to home Mont Blvck and Matt Ossentjuk from our Gari crew are coming in hot! I wouldn’t work with these guys so much if I didnt really believe in them.
Also someone I don’t know personally who’s blowing me away is Bjarki. He’s on Nina Kravitz label and all his tracks are really different and engaging. Been playing out quite a few as staples in my sets.
Lastly, if you could collab with any artist today, who would it be and why?
In terms of living artists it would definitely be Chaka Khan! Her voice is absolute magic and I think she deserves to have something really futuristic made that can be played on the dancefloor. Chaka if your reading this, get at me! 😉
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us Matthew!
Also, be sure to check out his new EP below!
He is going to be playing at Music Is 4 Lovers at Blonde Bar this Thursday in San Diego alongside Adana Twins, and resident DJ, Jimbo James.
In addition! Catch him at Pismocean Festival this weekend, from the 4th till the 6th. The lineup is not to be scoffed at! Check it out below!
Instagram: @humanlifedjs / https://www.instagram.com/humanlifedjs/
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