“Some of the songs are quite dark. But the music sort of… soothes.” Luis Felber’s group, MATA, channels the Peruvian folk music of his youth – singing of flings and fools, a thrust of punk beneath all the tracks. He let Mira Mira inside the Love Electric studio, and we talked Wu-Tang, desert island discs, and his next steps.
How has your sound evolved since you began?
I started writing and performing music when I was about 16. I was inspired by bands like The Clash, Radiohead and Nirvana. Since then I’ve played in loads of bands – every band I play in, I learn something new: what feels good, what doesn’t. The last three years I have been producing and co-writing a lot, and again, each project augments my craft. But still a lifetime isn’t enough to feel it all out! MATA is the current sum of everything I’ve done so far; a death of the old self, a new beginning. I founded MATA two years ago with two friends when I started producing… It’s evolved a fair bit since we started working. I think when you’re young, you just want to do everything, throw everything in there, and now I like limitations.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
That’s a good one. This sounds kind of cheesy, but my older brother, Tupaq Felber. He’s a film director, and just released his first feature film at the London Film Festival. I’ve always looked up to him. He’s thirteen years older than me, got me into a lot of life-changing music and films. I always looked up to the way, you know, someone can just make a film! Pick it out of the ether like that. It’s the same with music and especially the production process. When I got into production it gave me a lot of confidence to have someone like that to look up to. But musically, probably, gosh – Neil Young, Prince, and Tom Waits. And my brother. So those four – that’d be a great dinner party!
What would your desert island disc be?
One album or one artist?
Whatever you like!
I think the artist would be Otis Redding. If I was on a desert island I’m gonna be really depressed most of the time, and most of Otis’ songs are quite uplifting.. But if it’s one record, then probably just 36 Chambers by Wu Tang or Sign of the Times by Prince, maybe Sign of the Times cos it’s a double album – that’s kind of cheating!
How did MATA start?
A break-up, which led to living/working in a recording studio. Then writing a lot of songs, playing, and jamming to the early hours with the co-founders Ben Bones and James Dunson.
Where do you see MATA in ten years?
Touring the third MATA record in South America and across the world, with a three month stop off in Mancora, Peru, to score Tupaq Felber’s up-and-coming feature film which stars yours truly and Rihanna.
How do you see the cultural scene in Peru changing?
I grew up in Lima a bit then, most of my family are from Lima. Since the 90s it’s been on the up! There was a lot of terrorism before, but from the noughties until present, I feel like it’s getting very exciting. Fashion, music, architecture, youth culture, food! You know the fashion world out there, it’s kind of counterculture for young people, and it’s just thriving – or maybe I’ve just never noticed it! But I think the internet and iTunes, Instagram and Facebook, have boosted people’s access, and they can see more than before. I have always loved Peru’s culture and always will. A lot of my friends’ bands go and play in Lima now – I can’t wait.
What’s next for your band?
We have our single launch on December 14th, at Mascara bar in Stoke Newington. It’s a quaint, Lynchian little place. The band is so exciting and fun, and I’m playing with some great people, and supported by an Afro-Cuban band called Afro Terra. I’m working on our next release tot, and looking to write and tour as much as possible also. South America in 2018! Motherland here we come! Can’t wait…
What was your first album that you bought?
There’s always been music in my house; Prince, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, The Stones. But the first album I bought was when I was like six or seven; Definitely, Maybe by Oasis. Then Dig Your Own Hole by The Chemical Brothers. I remember very visually like asking my mum to go into an Our Price to get me the Wu Tang album 36 Chambers, which they wouldn’t let me buy it because of parental advisory!
For more information on MATA, go to https://www.allthingsmata.com/.
MATA – ‘THEREALTHING’:
Co directed by Alice Dellal and Jack Payne
Edited by Jack Payne, Alice Dellal and Luis Atawalpa Felber
Produced by Luis Atawalpa Felber