Photography by Mohammed Qavi

Behind the Decks with Gardenstate: A Dive into Matthew Felner's Journey

Jun 22, 2023

Photo of Michela Iosipov

Michela Iosipov

6 min read

Dive into the musical universe of Matthew Felner, an integral part of the rising electronic dance music duo, Gardenstate. From falling in love with the psytrance community in his teenage years to being part of the legendary duo, Gardenstate, Matthew's journey through the world of music is as compelling as it is inspiring. Today, he shares his experiences, from his early days at Crobar in NYC, becoming a talent buyer, to forming Gardenstate and performing at notable venues worldwide. He also offers a unique glimpse into his artistic methodology, his musical muses, and his exciting future. Whether you're a longtime fan or new to the 'deep psychedelic progressive melodic' style that Gardenstate has perfected, you're sure to find insights and stories in this interview that resonate and ignite.

Matthew, your journey into the music industry is inspiring. Can you tell us more about when you first fell in love with the psytrance community and how it shaped your early musical tastes?

Tel Aviv, the late ‘90s, it was at Pacha Tel Aviv as a teenager when it was open air party which I had never been to an event like this ever before. The music back then was just so trippy, a lot faster, just out there and for me. That’s what made me fall in love with dance music.

You mentioned being impacted by Tiësto's Parade of Athletes at the Olympics. Can you describe that moment? How did it push you to be a part of the music industry?

Seeing it live on TV with him playing during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Greece with that CD was where I said to myself, 'I want to commit to this,’ and that’s where my first job in nightlife was at Crobar NYC.

Can you shed some light on your time working at Crobar in NYC? How did this experience influence your career direction?

Working at Crobar was the experience that turned me into a talent buyer, learning how to work for large crowds, what type of security you need, and what kind of cash you need to have in the draw to exchange all that sort of thing. Still, it was on a much larger scale, obviously compared to what I was doing.

As a talent buyer, you had the opportunity to connect with many artists. How did this role impact your perspective on music and artists? Were there any unique insights you gained during this period?

I think that at the end of the day, everybody is human and has their own opinion on how they want to tell their story on the dance floor. I think the one unique insight for anyone is paying attention to the details of the dance floor. By that, I mean what is making people move.

With Garden State, you've performed at notable venues from Echostage DC to the Ministry of Sound in London. Do you have a favorite performance memory you'd like to share?

I would have to say the legendary Red Rocks; two nights sold out, family and friends came in from all over and rented a cabin near the venue, playing right before Above & Beyond. Plus, it was right after the pandemic, and the album just dropped! Everyone was ready to go; that week leading up to those two nights in front of 10,000 people will always be in a special place in my heart.

Your album, Inspirations, has received massive support from heavyweights like Tiësto, Gorgon City, Lane 8, Camelphat & more. How did it feel to see your work recognized and appreciated by them?

It felt incredible to be respected by your peers that you grew up listening to. I’m glad that everybody loved the approach that we took with it.

You've played multiple support dates for Above & Beyond, including two nights at Red Rocks. Can you share what these experiences were like?

You’re on cloud nine. That’s the best way to explain it. As I said, Red Rocks is number one for me. I also think an incredible venue is The Armory. I thought it was unique when we were in Minneapolis, and it happen to be the place where the Lakers originated. It’s also where they filmed Prince’s Purple Rain.

As you continue to push boundaries, what's next for Gardenstate? Are there any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon that you can share with us?

I’m working on another album with how I’ve been playing lately in my DJ sets. Something along the lines of the melodic Gardenstate sound, but also more groovy deeper vibes as well to come along on that album as well.

What is your goal as a DJ and producer, and how do you plan to achieve it?

Just to put out what moves me, stay true to myself, and hope the fans like the direction I am going.

How do you approach creating a setlist for a live show, and how does the crowd's energy influence your performance?

When it comes to DJ performances, I say the first two tracks for me I have planned and then I can tell where the room is and figure out where to go from there. I’m not the type of person where I’ll have a pre-determined set ready to go. I like to vibe with the room and see where they want to go.

What's been the most significant or transformative moment in your career, and how has it shaped you as an artist?

The best part is turning into what it turned into; it’s unbelievable. The Inspirations album was the match, and the best part lit that on fire and then some. Seeing movie stars, TV personalities, artists, and sports figures use it in some way, shape, or form in their social media platforms, especially on TikTok and Instagram.

It’s truly remarkable, and I will forever be grateful for that happening. Now to where it will take me, I want to let the album and experiences this summer determine that.

What advice would you give your younger self, just starting in the music industry? If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting in the industry, what would it be and why?

Keep people and yourself, guessing what you want to do. The allure of that makes me keep trying new and different things while making music.

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