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"If you're honest, you will find your audience."
- Mattie Safer
Versatility is crucial for musicians of the 21st century. This is a path that Mattie Safer knows very well. A Washington, DC reared, jazz school dropout who came into his own in New York City as bassist of indie dance band The Rapture, Mattie Safer is a singer, songwriter and producer with a punk past and a unique soul sensibility.
Mattie first made his mark as bassist and vocalist in The Rapture. Bursting onto the international scene with ‘House of Jealous Lovers,’ the group released the DFA-produced ‘Echoes’ in 2003 (which was named Pitchfork album of the year), daring us not to dance and defining a musical era. During his time with The Rapture, Safer released two albums, toured the world several times over, and worked with some of the most esteemed producers of the era, including Timbaland, James Murphy, Danger Mouse and influential British producer, Paul Epworth. This relationship with Epworth would eventually lead to a solo deal in 2011 with Wolf Tone Records after his departure from the band in 2009, unveiling a more refined musical style from Safer.
Epworth encouraged Mattie to be himself and make timeless music that he loves rather than worry about doing what was expected of him, or trying to be cool. Safer grew up listening to and performing a wide variety of musical styles; Talking Heads, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Pharcyde all shared equal place on his teenage record shelf. So it’s little surprise that this is where Mattie turned for inspiration as he began to flesh out his own sound. Under Epworth’s tutelage, Safer found himself in the studio inspired by musical greats of the past and present including The Impressions, The Soul Stirrers, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, and D'Angelo.
Although internal issues at Wolf Tone led to a parting of ways, Safer credits his time at the label for creating the framework for his solo debut, All We Are, which he released independently in May of 2016. The 5-song EP features honest songwriting “about love and spiritual growth,” pairing velvety vocals with stripped-down R&B production, offering a breath of fresh air in a predominantly electronic soundscape. It is a setting that suits him well, allowing his lyrical ability to shine through. Safer has that rare ability to engage the audience, armed with the kind of raw honesty that only the best storytellers possess.
The EP heralded Safer’s return, impressing old fans and winning new fans alike, receiving a great deal of blog support from Exclaim!, All Access Music, Self-Titled Magazine, You Know I Got Soul, Soultracks and Atwood Magazine.
2017 has been a jam-packed year for Mattie, kicking off with a collaboration with Australian producer Beni for the single ‘Whatcha Wanna Do?’ which received love from Mixmag, BBC Music and set the blog world alight. Another month, another scorching vocal collaboration hit the streets, this time with Swedish producer Blende. ‘Back to Summertime,’ was rightfully honoured with ‘Tune of the Month’ by Mixmag; streamed more than 50,000 times on Spotify and featured in their ‘Weekly Buzz’ and ‘Friday Cratediggers’ playlists, receiving national airplay in France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Poland.
Over the summer, Mattie followed up with three new releases of his own. First came a collection of remixes from his first EP All We Are in May. His new single 'Floating' followed in July, a brilliant slice of neo-disco sunshiny pop, made with Filip Nikolic (Poolside, Turbotito). The two manage to bring a classic Paradise Garage feel to a modern electronic soundscape. 'Floating' is both timeless and futuristic in its sound and message. In “Floating,” Safer reflects on the discord and cultural clashes of the modern world, imagining an idyllic escape into the cosmos: “10,000 light years away, maybe we find us a place/Where all the bullshit around can disappear without trace/Without the weight of the world we’ll find a loving embrace/Live a beautiful life floating in outer space.”
The point, according to Safer, is that “If we could find ways to see past the things that divide us: race, class, gender, religion, sexual-orientation etc, we would see that we really are all very similar and have lots of relatable hopes and wishes. Above all, to be treated fairly and kindly by those around us. I just get frustrated trying to figure out how to get people to learn to respect each other’s differences and to accept and love each other. I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate problems and grievances. Writing this song was just a way to express the hope that we can get past all that and solve problems together.”
A collection of remixes dropped the following month, and Mattie is already back in the studio writing and working on the next release. Says Safer, “If all goes well, I’ll have a lot of exciting new music for 2018. I’m still just working to explore the boundaries of my creativity and keep on pushing.” With an output that never fails to surprise or exceed expectation, we can’t wait to hear what’s next.