Music Supervision Deep Dive with Matt FX Feldman
Pacific Northwest Chapter
Matt FX is an artist, producer, and cultural curator who recently emerged as a prominent young tastemaker thanks to his role as music supervisor for the hit Comedy Central series, Broad City, as well as Hulu's Difficult People, FXX's Man Seeking Woman, and the MTV adaptation of the award-winning SKINS. GRAMMY Pro sat down with Matt FX to learn more about the taste and process of this rising music supervisor.
GRAMMY Pro: Many music supervisors come into the job after interning and assisting for years. You started working on SKINS with basically no experience in traditional music supervision. How does this set you apart?
Matt FX: I feel a little guilty sometimes. It's almost like in the medieval ages; if you want to be a blacksmith you need to apprentice for a damn long time. I just walked into the back door, and not only that but I was like "Oh, that's a cool sign." I had "Music Curator" printed on my first business cards; I didn't even know the real title of my job.
However, I recognize that I am good at it. Especially now knowing artists and being sort of, I think into it. If I wasn't supervising I would still know these artists. I would still know their parents. I would still be out at their shows -- because I like to listen. I'm just grateful that at the end of the day everything panned out.
GRAMMY Pro: Tell me about the beats that you use for the scene transitions in Broad City. How are those sequences created?
Matt FX: That's an interesting story. I remember the first or second day I was with Abbi and Ilana they were trying to explain to me what kind of music they liked. They said "We don't like this, we don't like that, we LOVE Missy Elliott and we love hip hop beats." I thought to myself "Oh, my friend Tony produces tracks like Missy Elliott..." I reached out to him and some other producers and said "Send me your demos. Send me the things you're not working on: your tired, your poor, your garbage" Because one man's trash is another man's treasure. I would find the best three to five seconds. Most of those transitions could never be released because they were forty-second demos, but I could use the best five seconds to pay my producer friends' rent. I was like "I can give you $500 bucks for this?" And they said "Damn, great!"
GRAMMY Pro: You've mentioned before that about 60 to 70 percent of the music in Broad City comes from independent artists. How do you find this music?
Matt FX: Typically it’s a combination of Facebook, Soundcloud, and my email. I am always more likely to listen to something if it's being recommended to me. My best finds usually come from a network of Brooklyn-based musicians and producers, or from international acts.
GRAMMY Pro: Let's talk about some of the music. Tell me about “Yes Bitch” by K Rizz.
Matt FX: This is a great story. So I'm at my neighborhood pub, McKenna's, eating dinner and I got an email from the creators saying "Hey we're shooting a scene at the 40/40 Club tomorrow, and we need a really big hip hop track that is 100 percent licensable." Of all the genres of music, Hip hop I think is the hardest to get something affordable that sounds great. You really get what you pay for in that genre. So I'm freaking out because I have no idea where to look and what to do, and as I'm doing that some friends drop by and start trying to convince me to go to the club next door. I'm like "Do you see these wings? I'm not going out tonight --let alone the fact that I have to find a song by tomorrow morning that needs to be perfect". All three pressured me and I caved. As we're walking in, K Rizz is performing "Yes Bitch". It's the Queer People of Color night, she's wearing all leather, and she crushes it. I said to myself "This is the song; I found it, easy, done.” As soon as she finished I walked up to her and introduced myself. That song wound up being used in commercials for the season, and I think it got the most mileage of any song in season three. There are those moments that are so serendipitous or kismet-based. There's just no way I could have ever found that song through my normal channels.
GRAMMY Pro: I love that. OK there's another song that I want to focus on that has received quite a bit of critical acclaim: Lizzo’s “Let 'Em Say”
Matt FX: This was the first episode of Season 3, and we needed to make damn sure that it was the best place to start the season because it's the very first thing you see and hear. So many people are going to make their snap judgment on the entire season based on this scene. I tried a few options and nothing was working out, so I asked Abbi and Ilana to give me a list of all the artists they wanted to hear in the season. I left the room and went into my little nook, and the first song I played was “Let ‘Em Say”. I ran right back into the editing room because it was the perfect fit. Later, I went on to host MTV’s Wonderland with Lizzo. She’s a good friend of the Broad City team.
GRAMMY Pro: The first Broad City soundtrack was released in the fall of 2016. How did you select the tracks for that release?
Matt FX: I originally pitched it as a double disc in vinyl. One was Abbi and the other, Ilana. Abbi would lean little bit more rock and roll a little more guitar music a little chiller, and Ilana would be rappier and in your face. We ended up having to scale back, so from those two playlists I wound up making five or six different permutations of 12 songs and then literally scooting around and walking around in them for four weeks before I decided on the one that I thought was sequentially the most telling. I wanted to make sure that the music on the soundtrack was the cream of the crop of these unsigned artists: people who don't normally get these sorts of looks or opportunities. Not every artist has a place to release music where it's going to get a lot of attention.
One other thing that I would love to do one day is to create a 20 or 30 minute beat tape, where it's just instrumentals getting mixed into each other. We’d focus on using all the transition tracks, like all of them, and move through all of the BPMs throughout the tape. Then have Hannibal Buress [Actor in Broad City] narrate it. I think it could be a really fun piece of material.
GRAMMY Pro: What’s next for you this year?
Matt FX: I have a series, Detroiters, that is coming out very soon on Comedy Central. I'm really excited about it. It’s the first time I’ve worked on what is effectively a period piece. I had to do a lot of research on Motown, and I know a lot more now than I did going into the project; all of the different labels and the artists who didn’t get big. We’re not just going with the staples. We feature a lot of forgotten singers, and that's really interesting to me. Other than that, my birthday is on February 1st, and I'm going to release my first remix as MATT FX on that day. Then, ya know just keep juggling.