Matelic's 40-minute mix of his 2009 Party People EP:
Working a turntable takes intuition, patience, rhythm and a little coaxing to find the right groove — the one that brings an audience to its feet and makes it feel something real.
"I had to learn how to be simultaneously firm but delicate with records," says Indianapolis-raised DJ Scott Matelic. "If necessary, I have to be able to physically touch the record while it's playing in order to keep a mix going."
Matelic has gathered more than 10,000 records over the past fifteen years, including his favorite rare LP, Inside the Shadow by Anonymous, a psychedelic garage band fronted by his dad, Ron Matelic. Access to 12-inches, scratch and break records from Indy CD & Vinyl, where he works part time, has helped fuel the vinyl junkie's hobby.
"We've been expanding our new and used vinyl sections," Matelic says. "Fortunately for me, I've been able to benefit from some of LPs the owner, Rick Ziegler, has acquired. He stays on top of all new releases, regardless of genre."
Vinyl releases may remain the exception instead of the rule in the music industry, but Matelic says records aren't dead.
"There is a younger generation buying vinyl pretty consistently," he says. "I've seen it first-hand. But, at the same time, there are fewer records being manufactured specifically for DJs, as most serious DJs use computer programs now."
Matelic started his DJ career in the mid-1990s by playing house parties, mostly playing the hip-hop he saw on MTV and BET. It was all vinyl then, but he now stores most of his music on hard drives.
"Serato Scratch Live, a vinyl simulation program, allows DJs to play like they would with real records, without having to lug around crates of them," Matelic says. "I usually start with a sound or sample and build from there. It really varies, depending on what style of track I work on."
Whereas the old process of scratching vinyl meant manually searching through records to find and layer parts of songs that fit well together, now Matelic relies on digital samples and beat matching, using the pitch adjustment feature on his turntables to speed up or slow down songs and match them at a common tempo.
"Beats for rappers are more minimal," he says, "leaving room for vocals. I'm working on a project with my friend Jay McElfresh incorporating live instrumentation and sampling both, and those can come together pretty quickly."
Since launching his debut album, Primitive Pessimist, as a limited solo release in Japan in 2004, he's worked as a producer for name-brand artists, working up "Year Ov Da $exxx $ymbol" and "The Understanding" for Sole (on Bottle of Humans), and "Broken Wings" for Sage Francis (on Personal Journals).
"They really got my name out there early on in my career," Matelic says. "I sent them tracks, they told me what they liked and then recorded over them. I was lucky, because they had been gaining some attention at that time, and that allowed me to gain exposure automatically."
Matelic also notes DJ Top Speed, a mentor to many an up-and-coming local DJ, turned him on to new directions in turntablism.
"Top Speed was the first person I really saw mixing and cutting, and that blew my mind," he says. "There is definitely an Indianapolis style to DJing that I modeled my style after, and Top Speed was one of the pioneers. The Indianapolis DJ scene is one of the best in the country, in my opinion."
Matelic's most recent release came 2009 with the Party People EP, which featured remixes by Emynd and a collaboration between Matelic and Baltimore legends Scottie B & King Tutt.
"The 'Party People' EP came about from my interest in Baltimore Club music," he says. "It's basically a hybrid of house music and hip hop that incorporates heavy drum breaks and deep kick drums. I was exposed to it during my time living in the Philadelphia area, where club music is huge."
Matelic says his second release on his label Crossfaded Bacon, Baltimore Club EP, set for release in 2010, won't venture too far off track from his previous album.
"You can expect more aggressive, up-tempo dance music — stuff that people can really get wild and let loose to," he says. "I think it's important to catch people off guard from time to time. Their reactions can be rewarding."
Matelic performs at the Casba Bar in Broad Ripple every Wednesday night with Action Jackson and special guests for a party called "OMG!" The first Tuesday of each month, he can also be heard at A Squared Industries' event "Let Go" at Lockerbie Pub.
"Casba and Lockerbie are both good examples of hearing quality DJs in a dance party environment," Metalic explains. We have free reign musically to do what we want with our events, because we've built good relationships with the bartenders and employees. That makes the time spent there a lot more enjoyable."