Matt Warren’s Exclusive Interview With The No Fly Zone Magazine

Chicago house music pioneer Matt Warren took the time to step out from behind the turntable and sit for a Q&A session and field some questions for our The No Fly Magazine readers.

NFZ: Wow, you’re been in the music business for several decades now. Please tell our readers everything you’ve been involved in over the years.

Matt Warren: Well, I’ve been a DJ since 1978.  I was only 12 at the time and I played at my first neighborhood party. By my teenage years I was spinning disco and funk, but gradually my sets changed and became more varied. From 1983 my sets featured a lot of New York sound as I played at the Limelight, Coconuts, AKA, Paradise and Club Flamingo. Of course, Chicago House is in my blood and always will be.

In 1985, I began my career as a producer with Rock The Nation. Later in 1985, I co-founded Sunset Records and released The Razz EP with Ralphi Rosario, and in 1986, I did The Way To My Heart.  

In 1987, I parted ways with Sunset and started AKA Records and went on to have a hit with Bang The Box, which is the first ever hard house single.

After AKA Records I’ve continued to DJ and produce and have worked as a mixer, engineer and composer/artist. I just love being involved in music, and Music Is My Life.

NFZ: What was the music scene like in Chicago where you were starting out?

Matt Warren: Chicago back then had really exciting and creative scene and I was part of it since I was a teenager. The DJs were major players both in what we were spinning as well as the music that was being created. I’m pleased to say Chicago still has a lot going on and I’m still part of it.

NFZ: Do you still DJ live at events, and if so, where can people catch your set?

Matt Warren: Keep watching social media and my biog for where I’ll be DJ-ing next. Who knows, I might be in your town?  But yes, most recently I played at a Chicago Puerto Rican Day Festival.  It is great to spin outdoors.

NFZ: As a producer who was the most interesting artist you’ve ever worked with?

Matt Warren: There’s too many to say and I always say you never know, it might be the next one.  I’ve been lucky to work with so many different artists.

NFZ: How did you Music Is My Life with the Wake Up! Music label com about?

Matt Warren: I was working on Elena Andujar’s album Flamenco in Time for the Wake Up! Music label when MY MY Lady G asked if wanted to do a solo album. Of course, I said yes!  It was the chance of a lifetime to get back making music.

NFZ: What’s your favorite record you’ve ever released and why?

Matt Warren: That is an easy one for me. The Way To My Heart which I recorded for Sunset Records and was released in 1986. While I was working with some talented people, what really makes the record for me is Pepper Gomez’s vocal. Pepper is the one of the best vocalist I’ve ever worked with during my career. I really loved the production we did on this one, too. Seeing this one chart Billboard was the frosting on the cake. I like this one so much, we remade it for Music Is My Life and you can hear it  – updated, Nu-House style. Great tune!

NFZ: You call this new album Nu-House music. Would you define that term for us? 

Matt Warren: It wasn’t actually me that came up with the term Nu-House. That was Derek Anderson in the UK. The album had just been mastered by Harvey Summers, in England and when Derek was listening to the playback and pointed out how different Music Is My Life was from everything that had been out before. When you’re recording an album sometimes it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Derek pointed out great songs, talented vocalists like Pepper Gomez, Janis McGee, and Elena Andujar,  the use of live instruments and the catchy songs that are full of House, soulful, funky and guaranteed to fill any dance-floor and called it: “the first Nu-House album.” When we listened to Music Is My Life with fresh ears we realized just how important an album Music Is My Life is. It’s not just the first Nu-House album, but an album that will transform how house music is made and sounds. In years to come, I believe that Music Is My Life, the first Nu-House album, will have transformed dance music.

NFZ: Are you involved in any political causes or charitable actives? If so, which ones and what do they do or hope to achieve?

Matt Warren: I’m not a political person, but I do support a number of local charities in Chicago. 

NFZ: If you had the power to change anything in this world, what would it be?

Matt Warren: One thing I’d like to change is the amount of violence in our society. As I’m a Chicagoan, I’d like to see the end of violence. Wouldn’t we all?

NFZ: Any particular artists you’d care to work with?

Matt Warren: I’ve worked with a number of artists in the past, and I’m always interested in working with new and established artists. I don’t have a wish-list of artists, but I plan to keep working and making music. I want to work on any new Wake Up! Music projects as that is one cool label. Other than that, I’d just like to see what opportunities come up.

NFZ: What is something about you that your fans don’t know and would probably surprise them?

Matt Warren: Although soccer wasn’t big when I grew up, I’m a huge of the Scottish football team, Patrick Thistle FC. I was a latecomer to the game in the eighties and saw highlights of a Patrick Thistle game around 1987, and really started to follow the team when the late great John Lambie became the manager in 1988. He did so much for the team, especially when he returned in 1999 and led us to the 2nd and 1st Division and back into the SPLl. As for favorite player, it’s got to be Chic Charnley a real character who could transform a game.  Also, I own a brand new barbecue restaurant in Oswego called Piggy’s. Stop by anytime!

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