When most people think of EDM DJs, they think of extroverted neo-rock stars. These jetsetters are so committed to the party that they curate sounds that shake the air around it. Their lives — the epitome of cool — are soaked with champagne and exclusivity.
While this is true for some, in reality, an affinity for making electronic music often goes hand in hand with a love of computers and of spending time alone — producing music, taking long, solo flights from gig to gig, and passing seemingly endless hours in airport-terminal purgatory.
Colorado-based producer Matthew Philpott-Jones, professionally known as DMVU, is no stranger to this scenario. His love of electronic music was a natural progression from his fondness for computers and gaming while growing up in icy New England.
Philpitt-Jones's most recent release is Praise Be Delusion or, the Ripple, a fifteen-track, hour-long album out on the Dome of Doom label. He first joined Dome of Doom in 2020 with the meditative, experimental Two Pairs of Eyes, Gazing Only at Each Other, then returned with more blissful and contemplative electronic music — a stark contrast to the head-banging, whiplash-inducing bass music that initially got him noticed in the commercial EDM world.
Westword caught up with Philpott-Jones to learn more.
Westword: While you’ve been in Colorado for quite some time, you’re originally from New Hampshire, which isn’t the first place people think of when they think of electronic music. What originally got you into EDM, and what inspired you to start writing your first songs?
Matthew Philpott-Jones: I was really into hip-hop around the age I discovered electronic music. It was mostly my friends' older brothers listening to Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin, and me just hearing it from the other room and being shocked. Eventually my best friend at the time ran away from home and had nowhere to go, so he stayed with me and my parents. We were both into computers because of video games, and one day he was just like, “Hey! I know you love playing drums. What if I told you you could make drums on the computer?” And I was completely blown away. At this point in my life, music was made by instruments — guitars, pianos, things like that. I didn’t fathom that you could use a computer to write a song.
Electronic music can be quite segmented and elitist, culturally. Some house heads don’t like bass music, bass music fiends don’t like house, and some go out of their way to actively disparage others. Why do you think this is?
While I do think being an elitist is kind of ridiculous, I do understand it in a way. Most people find something that they feel is sacred, and they're afraid that if too many people know about it or partake in it that it will lose its magic — which in a sense can be true. But realistically, that’s usually not the case. People are defensive for things they care about, including art. I think everyone kind of goes through an elitist phase when they're young, but almost everyone I know has rather quickly grown out of it. We’re just here to enjoy it for what it’s worth.
Speaking of elitism, there's a conception in electronic music that it's all made by computers and that it's not "real music." What do you say to people who dismiss electronic music because of the electronic element?
I mean, to be totally fair, that’s not something I’ve heard anyone complain about in like the past ten years, but I also suppose I'm part of a circle where that’s not too common. But usually to people who say things like that, I would tell them that they should probably realize that the majority of music they like 100 percent contains lots of electronic elements. So much modern music, even country, is made on a computer. It’s a really outdated ideology. Might as well tell people to use a rotary phone instead of their iPhone.
You had a huge hit, "Bloccd," which got played by Skrillex, Diplo and other mainstream acts. Were you concerned that when this started blowing up, it was going to compartmentalize your sound?
It was kind of something I was afraid of. I had seen a lot of artists I really enjoy get big, and all of a sudden their sound seemed to progress much more slowly than before. But also, as an artist, I understand that. We're all trying to make a living off what we love, and sometimes you find a pathway to do so, and who can blame anyone for taking it? I think I was so worried about compartmentalizing my sound after that song that I over-corrected and started making really crazy and emotional music. It’s nothing I regret, but I definitely could’ve chilled out a little bit.
You release a pretty wide variety of music, as exemplified by last year's releases. Chemicals is a big-stage, festival-ready extravaganza, while Two Pairs of Eyes is more melodic and experimental at times. What’s with the contrast, and do you think that more artists should take this approach?
First of all, I think artists should do literally whatever they want. I want zero say in what someone does; that is completely on them. If someone wants to make the same style over and over, I think they should. I know people who can make the same style over and over, yet still manage to bring something unique to the table every time. I just personally have really bad concentration, and I get super bored and antsy when I work on something that sounds like the last thing I worked on. So I usually just go through the throes. I’ll make something really chill and emotional, and then I’ll make something aggressive. I have a writing style for every emotion.
Listen to Praise Be Delusion or, the Ripple at dmvu.bandcamp.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.