Simply put, there are currently people who believe the world should reopen and those who don’t, and the disconnect is dividing our societies more than ever.
With his girlfriend milling around in the background, Asteroid (real name Matt Thomas) took some time from their Amsterdam home to share some poignant thoughts while enjoying a cold beverage. Although discussing his artist aspect, we also decided to focus on a personal point of view.
“There’s no amount of arguing, glorifying or gloating that can change the situation, that’s out in the open,” he said as we settled in for our chat. “It doesn’t matter what anyone says about this. No one really knows what’s going on, and if anyone thinks they do, maybe they need to be a bit more humble and open-minded.”
Expanding on humbleness, Matt took a shot at some of the criticism that has circulated throughout the Trance scene these past weeks and didn’t hold back in need for artists to keep their egos in check.
“Let’s face it; as artists, we may create something we want people to listen to, but ultimately, artists should understand that no one is guaranteed to hear your music. There’s so much good music out there that people don’t need you. I’m sorry, but they don’t. They don’t need Asteroid; they don’t need anyone in particular. People will find something to listen to, regardless. So, let’s look at it this way, we’re the lucky ones. We may be the ones who create, but we’re lucky if someone takes time out of their day to listen to our music, so how can any of us have an ego based on that?”Matt Thomas
But undoubtedly, the egos will return. And with fans chomping at the bit to attend the next festival or club event, the question begs whether music agencies will push their top artists even harder to recoup lost revenue, thereby relegating up-and-comers to an even further back burner.
“When you think of the bigger agencies, I think promoters are going to come knocking when it’s time to have gigs again for those (artists) anyway,” Matt said. “They’ve been at the top of the game for years but more prominently over the last year or two when gigs have become less and less frequent. These agencies have a monopoly on the gigs that are there because they have the biggest artists. It makes sense that promoters will book from these agencies because the chances of people wanting to see the bigger names compared to an up-and-comer are pretty obvious.”
Make no mistake, the top agencies are built around the A-list stars and their recording labels, so they would rather keep it in-house. They’re going to push those artists either way. The traveling artists are the sole source of their income, whereas artists like Matt have full-time jobs outside of music. So, how does one break into that elite group? That’s the age-old question, isn’t it? Does Matt believe that newer artists should have more of a chance?
“I do, but they need to work for it too, myself included,” he honestly said. “It’s easier if one of the bigger artists take you under their wing, but it’s incredibly hard otherwise.”
He continued, “We have the potential to reach more people now because they’re looking for new music, live sets, videos – any content that can stimulate them from the fingertips on their phones, so we as artists have to keep doing what we’re doing, and more.”
And, if for some reason no one were to hear another Asteroid song, that wouldn’t stop Matt from doing what he loves. “It’s who I am,” he unabashedly said. “Regardless of the social media popularity or gigs, I feel this is my purpose – to share a message, and even if no one else listens to it, I’ll still make music for the rest of my life.”
Matt’s life took a detour when he moved from Wales to The Netherlands in 2018 and has always maintained a full-time job, which is a bit surprising to him. “I look at my (record) release schedule or the achievements I’ve obtained and think, ‘how did I ever have time to do all that stuff?’ But, you just make time for it. I work four 10-hour days, so that allows me the extra day to relax with my partner and two days focused on my music whether it be in the studio, mixes, my monthly radio show, Black Moon Radio (which began last month), or helping clients with their tracks.”
But, with his appearances last year at Dreamstate Vancouver, The Netherlands’ Luminosity Beach Festival and ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) along with the 2020 UnKonscious Festival in Phuket, Thailand, Matt is receiving more requests from bigger record labels to provide music. Admitting to prioritizing his efforts to his own brand, he revealed that two tracks are on the way later in the year. “I have a huge project that’s a great opportunity for me,” Matt secretly said with a smile. “I can’t say any more about it other than the gentleman who requested the work has received and approved one of the two tracks, so I better nail this second one!”
Asked if he receives help engineering his productions, Matt was quick to say that he’s been learning since 2012. He studied Music Technology at a local University but still paid for tuition along the way to better understand Trance music. Since late 2018 he’s created them on his own with no further tuition. However, like all good producers, constructive criticism and feedback are welcomed. After spending multiple hours on a song, your ears can become numb to slight nuances that others may recognize, and Matt has enlisted the aid of some of the best in the business. He explains, “I’m quite friendly with Darren (Porter), and when I was on the cusp of getting some big releases, he helped me out with some production tuition that I paid for. Matt also didn’t hesitate when saying he is now studying sound design and is excited about the possibilities. “It’s (learning from others) the one thing that can take you from a professional to one of the more creative producers in the scene.”
Taking a flyer and moving to Holland on the advice of a friend in 2018, Matt inclined to relocate to the Trance capital of the world and further his music career, which he has. “It’s the best thing I ever did both professionally and personally,” he said as he boyishly smiled towards Olivia, his girlfriend, who was just out of camera range.
Matt also has noticed the country’s citizens are naturally of a cautious and practical nature, thereby possibly causing the more relaxed lockdown procedures. He also feels the Dutch government cares a bit more about its people than in other countries. “I don’t get that overwhelming feeling that we’re not cared for here,” he says. “I love everything here from the infrastructure to its people.”
Loving and being kind to people is part of Matt’s mantra. He also practices non-duality. In short, there is no good, bad, right or wrong – everything just is. He describes human beings arguing whether something is good or bad based on everything we’ve learned. So, imagine we didn’t learn what good and bad was to begin with, we would have no judgment on the two. Therefore, everything just is.
Matt also quotes Jim Carrey in saying, “life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you,” and emphasizes that “we use ‘I’ and ‘My’ constructively in a sentence, but that’s our egos talking. “For example, none of my possessions belong to me – this body isn’t mine – I’ll have to give up this body after a few years. Another example would be if the glass you’re using falls on the ground, it’s not your glass anymore.”
Admittedly, we’re accustomed to rationalizing things as ours. Still, in Matt’s view, the problem is “everyone truly believes that everything they’re talking about in terms of I and My is theirs. That’s the biggest mistake any human being can make. Because as soon as you think something belongs to you, and it no longer becomes what you believe it to be, that’s when the issues start, and it’s more difficult to be at peace.”
The thought process is unique, albeit quite functional and a simple way of living. Matt concluded by saying that possessions don’t make us rich, even money. “Money is a factor of convenience, not an index of success. I base success around my relationships with people, whether I’m kind, compassionate, and if I help others.”