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Fab Man Of The Week: Matt Diamond
This weeks Fab Man of the Week is no other than Matt Diamond (aka DJ Dutchmaster). I met Matt a couple of years ago at Club Aer in Manhattan. He was a really cool, chill guy. Come to find out, he's one of the best DJ's in NYC (not a Push Play DJ either! He gets it in on the Technics!) and owns his own record label, Coalmine Records. For all you entrepreneurs that want to be successful in the music industry, take notes from this interview. You might just learn something...Name: Matt Diamond p/k/a DJ Dutchmaster Occupation: C.E.O Coalmine Records Age: 31 Status: Single Zodiac Sign: Gemini (yo b, i'm crazy) When did you break into this crazy industry, and what do you feel was your big break? I started back in '97- if you woulda referred to what I was doing as being industry related, I woulda looked at you funny. I was DJ'ing parties as a student at Indiana University (go Hoosiers) for some extra cash. I also loved DJ'n, like I was a student of the craft, I learned quick and had a great mentor- shouts to DJ Topspeed, outta Indianapolis...dude is like the Afrika Bambaataa of Nap town lol. He tought me everything from clockin your bpms, to beat matching, to scratchin and most importantly how to rock a party. At the time, I never woulda thought that I'd have a career in music- I was a psych major and probably thought I'd end up workin a boring-ass 9-5 somewhere. As far as my 'big break', I wouldn't define any success I've had to date as a break, it's more of a consistent and steady climb. I've had doses of hard working paying off, but trust me for any one thing that's worked, there were several that didn't, but life's about trial and error so I learn from it. Regardless, I still have a long ways to go... How did you come with you DJ name, what is the story behind the creation? It's funny cause I'm actually not a fan of my Dj name, like at all..I think it's corny ha. Usually most people call me Dutch or that's what I prefer. I don't mind seeing it written, but when people are like 'ayo Ducthmaster', I'm like 'oy vey, that's me' smh!! Now since you asked lol, the story behind my name can be broken down in like this. Ok, so I know I wanted 'master' thrown somewhere in my name to follow in the tradition of other DJs that paved the way that I looked up to and emulated...I'm talking bout the legends like Grand Master Flash, Grand Master DST, Funk Master Flex, Waxmaster C (DJ Premier's former moniker), Mix Master Mike, so on & so forth. I knew that with the title 'master' in my name, I'd be taking a vow that as long as I was gonna consider myself a DJ that I'd have to keep my skills sharp. The 'Dutch' part is another story...I actually planned on moving to Amsterdam after I graduated from IU, so when it came time for me to come up w/ a name I through the Dutch in there for good measure lol. Kinda ironic cause I don't smoke trees and I never ended up moving to Amsterdam. Well, i'm stuck w/ it now, I shoulda just gone to one of them DJ name generator websites...I'm buggin lol. When and why did you start your label, Coalmine Records? I formed Coalmine towards the end of 2004. Truthfully, I was just kinda fed up with the state of hip-hop. For me, it's decline was pretty steady from 2000 on. A lot of my motivation for getting in this game from a label standpoint, was to just put something out there that I thought was dope..shit that was just raw, that boom-bap sound that's virtually extinct now. To me, that sound is hip-hop, that's what I came up on...albums like Ready To Die, Illmatic, The Infamous, 36 Chambers, etc. It's funny cause the name of my first 12" was called 'The Raw'...it features Saigon, Inspectah Deck and Bekay (Coalmine's first signed artist). Do you feel you have a lot of respect in the Hip-Hop world? It's funny, a lotta people think Matt Diamond and DJ Dutchmaster are two different people...I'm like Keyser Soze. Even people that I've known for years as Matt Diamond from Coalmine Records had no idea that I'm DJ Dutchmaster. It's reallly funny when they find out I'm one in the same. I guess the duality is just part of my Gemini nature ha. As far as respect goes, I think for those that know me or have ever worked with me in this industry, respect me. To date I feel that my reputation is golden, I take that very seriously. Law 5 of 'The 48 Laws of Power'..."so much depends on reputation- guard it with your life'. I take those words to heart..I treat people with a high level of respect and in turn people treat me with respect. Now where did you grow up? And does your hometown affect your personality? I grew up in Huntington, Long Island. My hometown has had a tremendous effect on my personality. When I tell people that I'm jewish and from Long Island, there's a certain stereotype that comes along w/ that and I really don't fit into any of them. It's kinda funny actually. I went to John Glenn High School and at the time I entered the 9th grade, my high school was becoming very gentrified. There were some nice neighborhoods in my school district, but there was also the hood. My friends and I didn't grow up sheltered or over privileged. We had a diverse crew of friends but for the most part we all did our own thing. In our circle of friends, we had dead heads and hip-hop heads lol of varying race & religions. At the time, I wasn't even the hip-hop aficionado that I am now. Although I owned all the classics that I mentioned earlier and I was a fan, I was also into a lot of other shit too...from Lenny Kravitz to Gangstarr to Marley & even heavy metal. My 'obsession' with hip-hop didn't really come into play until college...but I think my hometown and my experiences at the time all had a lot to do with it. So out of all your DJ gigs, what was your best and worst gig? When I was first starting out, I would literally clear rooms..it was a disaster. In retrospect, I can see why. I played what I wanted to play and I absolutely resented commercial music...definitely not a successful combination. I just couldn't figure out why people wanted to listen to hit records all night, but didn't want to listen to the shit I liked..lol..i get it now. I finally got my 'act' together and started gettin people on the dancefloor instead of off it. My best gig was probably the time that I dj'd for ODB. I was dj'ing at Southpaw in Brooklyn back in september of 2004 for a few artists...nothin crazy, just playin some records between sets and holdin down the after party. There was a rumor that Ol Dirty was in the spot. The crowd started thinning out a lil bit and as I'm diggin through a crate of vinyl (this was the pre-serato era) I hear this all too familiar voice say 'ey yo, whiteboy, i wanna rhyme yo, can i rhyme, is that cool?' I looked up, sure enough ODB was right in front of me, with that same crazy ass look on his face that you see on the 'Return to the 36 Chambers' album cover. Next thing you know, I throw on some Wu instrumentals that I happened to have in the stash and he got on the mic and within seconds the place was packed in. He ran through classics like "Brooklyn Zoo" and "Shimmy Shimmy"...it was incredible. His untimely death came two months later. Who are some of the people you admire in the industry, and why? I'm pleased to say that there's a lot of people in this industry that I admire. I'm fortunate to have been able to forge strong relationships with good people that make this crazy game all worthwhile at the end of the day. I just got back from L.A. and I got to meet with Zach Katz. Zach is currently the manager for super producer JR Rotem and is a business partner of their label, Beluga Heights. Zach was formerly a very well know entertainment lawyer and at one time was the manager for Hi-Tek, Denaun Porter and the legendary Rakim. His business acumen is sharp and you can't help but respect that. His dealings are fair and to the point and I admire that...no smoke and mirrors. I've also been privileged to have worked with several artists in this game. Recently I recorded a track with Pharoahe Monch which will be the single for Coalmine's forthcoming compilation 'Unearthed'. Monch is cool as a fan. His whole approach to making music is that of a true artist. He's incredibly passionate about what he puts into his craft and equally as critical of the outcome. Monch has always been on my top 5 list, so to work with him was surreal, but to have him be as involved and as passionate as he was was really a blessing. Who are some of your favorite artist right now? There's a tremendous renaissance going on in hip-hop right now. The bling-era has reached a close for the moment. With the global issues that have made their mark on the world for better and for worse..from Obama to the recession, it's reflected in the music. Even hit records like Kid Cudi's 'Day N' Night' to Kanye's 'Love Lockdown' to Jamie Foxx's 'Blame It', seem to be more about experiences then they are about possessions. In New York alone, I see a strong artist movement that's taken place and it's a beautiful thing. I was just down in Austin last week for SXSW and it was dominated by NY based artists that are eager to step outside their boundaries and hit different stages. Artists like 6th Sense, A. Pinks, Emilio Rojas, Asher Roth, Donny Goines, Torae, Charles Hamilton, Fresh Daily, S.O.U.L. Purpose, Homeboy Sandman, Drake, Fashwan, U-N-I, Pac Div, Termanology, Skyzoo, Wale...represent a new face for hip-hop. The torch is being passed, pay attention!! What artist do you wish you could have signed? If there was any artist that I wish I could've signed, it would probably be Saigon. Sai is cut from a different cloth. If he came up a decade earlier I think he would have made a very influential and timeless stamp on this game. There aren't many street poets left, Sai is part of a dying breed. For whatever reason that Atlantic Records couldn't get shit poppin w/ Sai...whether they be political or not is just a shame. I'm happy to hear that he has a situation with Amalgam Digital, which will at least provide an opportunity for his music to be heard. I'm amped to hear 'The Greatest Story Never Told'. Favorite Vacation Spot: Aruba, Panama, Prague, Miami Favorite Restaurant in NYC: Supper (156 E. 2nd St.) - Italian Favorite TV Show: Curb Your Enthusiasm (thank God for On-Demand), Family Guy..not a big TV person.. Favorite Reality TV show: Celebrity Rehab is always exciting...kinda funny, kinda sad Favorite Artists: Stevie Wonder, Ghostface, Pharoahe Monch, Kool G. Rap, Black Thought Favorite Genre of Music: Hip to the Hoppa Favorite Clubs in NYC: Home, Pink Elephant, 1Oak, APT, Marquee Why did you go underground instead of mainstream? Choosing to put out underground music didn't seem like much of a choice, it just came natural. It's the music that I love and despite the fact that this element of the culture has been smothered it recent years with the influence of commercial hip-hop in today's market, there's still a demand for it. Hip-Hop wasn't always commercial and I think that the brand of music that I help craft helps supply a specific demand. At the same time, I want to make it quite clear that I am not pigeon holing myself to 'underground hip-hop'. I like good music which shouldn't be limited or necessarily categorized as underground or commercial. For example, I recently created a parent company to Coalmine named Diamond Music Group (DMG). Through DMG, I have assembled a team of producers, singers & song-writers. It's through this avenue that I get to be involved with the commercial side of the industry, specifically with respect to the placement of completed tracks for major label projects. What are the type of tracks you love to spin, while at the turntables DJ wise, I like to keep things moving. I'm not genre specific just as long as the musics hot. I normally like to start a set with some classics & breaks, some soul grooves & even some funk. Let the crowd know that you know how to DJ but just build into your set slowly. There's no need to bust out a current hit record when the night is still young and the club is just starting to fill in. Once I get into hip-hop I normally go in bpm order for a lil white. Most DJs nowadays don't even know what this means, but I can't stand when sets are all over the place tempo-wise. I like to build things up to speed slowly, bring it back down, introduce a new genre, play the necessary mash-ups, go through a quick run of different eras, etc, etc. You have to take the audience through an experience with you, but at the same time it's necessary to be spontaneous and 'read the crowd' and play what they want...u gotta lock into a certain vibe that the crowd is feeling. It's really a combination of being organized & creative but yet impulsive- and that's not always easy, you have to know music and know your records, know the hooks, know when it's cool to blend but know when it's cool to just drop in a new record on the 1 count or even on the snare. There used to be a lot more 'doubling up' of records, but that style seems dead now. Most club DJs today seem to just race through records, track by track only playing at most a verse. However, if you know the right records to double, it's dope as long as you're in and out and don't turn it into a DJ Battle with yourself lol. But my greatest joy is playing a record that I absolutely love at the right time and seeing the crowd just get open, For example, 'Give Up The Goods' off The Infamous album. Try playing an underground set for a commercial crowd and you'll lose you're residency, but drop that record in a really well put together set at the right time and you'll have even the bougiest crowds in the meat packing district losing their minds. Tell us some of your accomplishments to date… I think something that helped put a lot of wind in my sails when I just started Coalmine was getting a number #1 hip-hop single on the college charts. I mentioned the song earlier, 'The Raw'...it just went over really well, from feedback, to chart position to sales. It helped me get off to a good start and made me realize that I should just keep going. I've put out a lot of singles since then with a lot of different artists from the late Old Dirty Bastard to world freestyle champion Supernatural to some of my favorite groups like Heltah Skeltah and Dilated Peoples. I've also had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite producers and DJs from The Alchemist and JR Rotem to Kayslay and DJ Revolution. In about March of '08, I started being involved in producer management/representation. My first client is Australian super-producer M-Phazes. I had the opportunity to represent him in Sha Money's 2nd Annual One Stop Producer's Conference Beat Battle and won first prize. This producer's conference, which is held annually in Phoenix is revered in the industry as the Super Bowl of Beat Battles. This win helped create a lot of industry exposure for myself and phazes and it immediately took his career to another level. Since the One Stop victory, I have helped facilitate several industry placements that have helped M-Phazes reach his goals as becoming one of the industry's marquis producers. I've also recently helped forge a strong digital distribution network through Diamond Music Group. This service provides premium digital distribution and ring tone service for several artists and labels worldwide. I have other exciting projects in the works and for better and for worse there's still a long way to go. Who do you consider one of the most influential artist right now? I could give you the obvious answer and go with Kanye West, but I'm going to take a different approach to this answer. Kanye is more then music, he's one of the most influential brands on the planet, however I want to focus this question more on the musical influence then anything else. I'm going to say that Asher Roth may quite possibly be one of the most influential artists for the moment. His influence is just starting to bud, but just wait and see. For starters he's white. There hasn't been another white artist since Eminem to receive such buzzworthy mention. The race card isn't an issue to me, however it is to other's and therefore should be addressed. Beyond his race, Asher is dope and what he is doing right now could not blend in more perfectly with the climate of what's going on. His market is not as unique and different then what we may think. He's a white kid from the suburbs...and guess what, so is the majority of urban music consumers. So far his music is fun and is in-step with what people want...fun music that people can relate to. I got to see Asher perform at SXSW recently and his live show is a beast. With off just 1 single 'I Love College' and a leak of his album's intro 'Lark On My Go Kart', this kid is making noise. It's seems that he's victim to the love/hate syndrome, which from what I've seen with other influential artists is a good thing- it gets people talking. Props to Steve Rifkind, dude's vision and entrepreneurial spirit is still by and large unrivaled in this game! Where do you see yourself i n 5 years? In 5 years I hope to be doing the same thing...being involved with music for a living, however It's my goal to take things to the next level. I want to build Coalmine Records into one of the most successful and cutting edge independent record labels. I also plan to build Diamond Music Group into one of the premier music agencies in the industry, specializing in project consulting, production, artist/producer management, digital distribution, sync/licensing, online marketing and more. Tell our readers some of the celebs you have worked with in the past? Does Perez Hilton count? I haven't worked with him, but I did almost run him over at SXSW...bicyclists should not be riding in the car lanes people...smarten up!!! Who would you compare your DJing style too? I know who I would like to compare my DJ'ing style too, whether or not that comparison is accurate is another story lol. Pretty much any core member of The Beat Junkies (Babu, J Rocc, Rhettmatic, Melo-D) is who I've emulated over the years. I'm not even close to being in that league, so I consider this comparison a reach at best, but collectively and individually they represent everything I strive to acheive as a DJ. I've followed them closely for over a decade and a lot of my techniques and style come straight from watching them...and of course, DJ Topspeed! What label head are you most like? I think I'm like most of 'em...Jewish lol. I'm just playin, honestly, I couldn't say that I knew any "label head" well enough to make a comparison. There are however many I greatly respect...Steve Rifkind (SRC/Universal), Zach Katz (Beluga Heights), Dru Ha (Duck Down), P. Diddy...and of course, Richard Branson. What is something a lot of people don’t know about you? I'd rather be blind then deaf...in the words of Erik Sermon and Marvin Gaye, "Without Music baby, (Ow, I'll go crazzzzzy)" What new projects can we expect from Coalmine? We just dropped a compilation titled The Foundation, produced entirely by Germany’s super producer Shuko. Shuko is a real dope and dynamic producer that has produced tracks for legends like O.C. to burgeoning artists like Tyga on to mixtape rappers like Papoose. The project is hosted by Heltah Skeltah and is mixed by yourstrulyJ. The Foundation includes guest appearances from many of today’s most iconic and celebrated hip-hop artists, such as Rakim, Papoose, Talib Kweli, Sean Price, Skyzoo, Jae Millz, Canibus, Torae, R.A. The Rugged Man and more. Go support good hip-hop..its on iTunes if you’re too lazy to get ur bum to the record store ha!