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Matthew Jones (Warp, Disciples, Ndeya)
E-mail interview
Jon Hassell, London, Outsiders, Kiosk Radio

London calling. Souvenirs From Imaginary Cities proudly presents a guest mix by Matthew Jones.

Matthew, who works for the legendary Warp Records, centered his mix around his own label Disciples, an archive label dedicated to releasing collections of music that have not existed before, "because we love the mistakes, the outtakes, the demos and the tentative tremors".

Matthew also set up the Ndeya imprint with Jon Hassell in 2018, securing a home for the music of the pioneering fourth world musician. Since Hassell's unfortunate passing away in 2021, Matthew has been working with his estate to try and ensure that his legacy is well looked after.

1. Where and when were you born and raised?
I grew up in Leicester in the 80s and early 90s. It's a post-industrial city in the centre of the UK. I left in 1995 for London and have been here ever since.

2. What music did you grow up with?
My mum and dad were pretty into music, but mainly MOR and country and show tunes and stuff like that. The same 10 or 20 tapes seemed to be in constant rotation and are consequently burned into my brain, also whatever was getting played on Radio 2 (UK AOR station) during my childhood. My older brother was an avid heavy metal fan (a big thing in the Midlands) so I was also subjected to him blasting that through the thin partition wall that separated our bedrooms. Some of the earliest live music I got taken to see was things like Metallica because he would let me tag along. Eventually I started discovering my own music.

3. What music scene was alive there at the time?
I can't claim a ton of great music came out of Leicester itself, the good stuff that did emerge was more of an exception to the rule, but conversely it did have a really strong musical culture at the time. Demographics, geographical location, and the presence of two universities meant that a lot of interesting stuff passed though the city, from the annual Caribbean carnival to international bands on tour. A lot of my musical education came from hanging out in record shops like Timebox, Ultima Thule, BPM, 5HQ, Rockaboom and Left Legged Pineapple, and sneaking in (underage) to shows at the Polytechnic, University, De Montfort Hall, The Magazine and the Princess Charlotte.

4. What kind of music can we expect in the following two hours ?
The first hour is a showcase for the Disciples label that I've run for the last 3 or 4 years, featuring stuff from the catalogue such as Phew, Model Home, Ruth Mascelli, Niagara, Bogdan Raczynski, Special Interest, Black Lodge, His Name Is Alive and ESP Summer. This section of the mix also includes some previews of some upcoming Disciples bits from Suzi Analogue, Time Designers, 99Letters, Animal Sounds and Maxine Funke. The second hour is some tracks from other labels I help out with, based on stuff I had copies of at home!

3. If I'm right, you still work for Warp Records? In what period did you start working there and what are your main activities? Can you tell us some more about the Disciples label you're working on?
Yeah I've worked for Warp for nearly 10 years now, initially brought on board to help with producing reissues of their own catalogue, but over time we've become more involved with partnering with other labels and artists that aren't necessarily signed to the Warp label itself, but take advantage of some of our infrastructure and resources. A lot of my time is taken up with managing projects for these third party labels.

A few years ago I started my own imprint, initially with a guy called Luke who worked for Bleep at the time, the name was a bit of a joke about our names, and I've continued with it solo since he departed for fresh pastures. Initially it was intended as a purely archival label, as my background is working on reissues, but to be honest that is a bit of a crowded playing field these days, and we've since bent the rules a bit and released new music as well.

The common thread with the main Disciples series is that it's music that hasn't existed in that form before (so even though Rave 'Till You Cry is drawn from Bogdan Raczynski's Rephlex era archives, most of the music is unreleased and uncompiled). We also have a series under the R.A.T.S. banner for more 'straight' reissues of existing albums. The difference between Disciples and the other labels I work with is that the latter is more about realising someone else's vision, whereas with Disciples I have a bit more creative input and ultimately decide what gets released on the label.

4. In the past you already made 2 compilations for On'u Sound named "Sherwood on the controls vol. 1 & 2". What is your relationship with Reggea, dub and On' u sound ?
Warp started managing the On-U Sound catalogue for the owner (and producer of most of the records on the label), Adrian Sherwood, around 2015, which has been a great project for me to work on as I was a fan of the label before we got involved, and the Sherwood At The Controls compilations were a bit of a labour of love. The focus for the past few years has been more about boxsets or vinyl reissues focused on specific artists, and new albums that Adrian has produced with the likes of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Horace Andy, but we hope to put out some more compilations in the next couple of years, the catalogue is so deep and varied.

Outside of work, I listen to a lot of 60s and 70s era reggae, and for the past few years have run a monthly reggae disco in my local neighbourhood. The night is called 'General Echo', and is currently put on in a lovely 100+ year old Trade Union hall, the kind of place which still has fixtures and fittings from the 50 years ago and is also the kind of community asset that is a fast disappearing space in property obsessed 21st century London. What we do is very different from the serious sound systems like Jah Shaka (a truly immersive and life altering experience I would recommend to anyone), it's more of a small scale celebration of the music, but we're lucky enough to host some amazing selectors, and have a wonderfully mixed and friendly crowd that come to the nights to listen to some of the greatest music ever made.

5. You have been and frequently engaged in Jon Hassell's musical oeuvre. How did you get to know Jon Hassell's music and how did you come into contact with him?
Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with Jon Hassell and what you will be able to accomplish for Jon Hassel fans in the future?

One of the other catalogues Warp took on in my first few years here was the All Saints label, and I first contacted Jon because they held the rights in one of his albums. This relationship quickly grew into something more involved, and we set up the Ndeya imprint up as a home for his music. Working with Jon was very intense, but it was a true honour to help with the release of his final two studio albums. Losing Jon last year was a massive blow, but I'm now working with his estate to try and ensure that his legacy is well looked after.

6. The key question, for all the Hassell fans, is there an unreleased Hassell album coming out?
There's a lot of unreleased recordings, whether there is an actual unreleased Hassell album is a more difficult question. The editing and sequencing of his albums was such a big part of the process for Jon, it's like the recording was one half of it and then the arranging he did in post-production was the other half. There's some really good collaborations in the vaults though, and some amazing concert recordings and things of that nature, we're still going through all the tapes but some exciting releases for Jon Hassell fans to come for sure.