Dec 8, 2022
7 min read
It can take years for an artist to find their groove, make an impact, or simply get their name noticed. French DJ and producer, Matt Sassari's journey to notoriety has spanned a decade, over 100 releases, and even more gigs worldwide. His trademark sound blurs the lines between house and techno earning support from industry tastemakers and fans alike. After years of consistency, Sassari has become one of the most respected and sought-after names to emerge from the storied French dance music scene.
After beginning his journey as a producer in 2008, it was at least four years before he felt comfortable officially releasing music under his name. He debuted in 2012 with "Wondernuts," and maintained an ambitious string of releases that, even early on, were distinctive, funky, and brimming with low-end flavor. He eventually landed on labels like Defected, Glasgow Underground, Cr2, and Octopus Recordings cementing his place in the upper echelons of underground dance.
While his hometown Marseille isn't the most recognizable of dance music hotspots, it provided a fertile breeding ground for the young artist. He embarked on a parallel journey as a DJ, and on the strength of his boundary-pushing records ended up with a breakthrough performance at Amsterdam Dance Event in 2014. As he slowly ascended the European circuit, his music received consistent support from the likes of Carl Cox and Joseph Capriati.
Everything changed for Matt in 2019 when he scored a massive Beatport #1 hit, "Put A Record On," a thumping interpolation of Madonna's "Music." Since then, he's topped the charts numerous times. In 2022 he launched his label SASS with a monumental debut collaboration with Green Velvet, "Dance or Die."
Growing up in Marseille, it seems like you had the opportunity to discover electronic music at a young age. Can you tell us about your first experiences with dance music and what made you fall in love with it?
The first time I went to a club was the night of my 14th birthday at Spartacus near my hometown. It was like a dream for me! Pier Bucci was playing live that night. It was an amazing experience, and started my love with electronic music.
Despite an immense amount of musical talent coming out of France over the years, like Tchami, DJ Snake, Guetta, and Polo & Pan, to name a few, it still seems to be a country that dance music fans don't think of first when they think of hot spots for dance music. How do you feel the dance music scene in France has grown over the years, and where do you see your place in it?
Dance music is growing very well in France and becoming more accessible than before. And it will become bigger and bigger, I'm sure. In France, they see me like a foreigner [laughs]. One day they will respect me like all the DJs you mentioned... Or not (laughs). They will wake up when it will be too late.
What is your favorite club in Marseille?
Cabaret Aleatoire, where I'm doing my event called SASS.
You started putting music out in an official capacity around 2012. What were those first years like as you discovered your sound and style?
I've been making music since 2008, but it was really amateur. Once I found my sound in January 2012 with my first release called "Wonder Nuts" under Matt Sassari, I was sure about my style—something dark and groovy. Less than two years later, I got my first international gig at ADE with Deeperfect, and it was unreal for me. After that, I knew which direction I would take for my career.
In 2015 you dropped an incredibly deep and techy three-track EP on Dubfire's Sci+Tec label. It was probably one of the larger and more known labels you had released on at that point. And, of course, a sign-off from an incredibly influential figure in our scene. How did you feel when you got the response back from Dubfire saying he wanted to sign the track?
Yeah, it was the best. I think because it was my favorite label and my goal to be on board. I remember speaking with Ali on Skype [and] he told me, "yeah, let's sign it!" After that, there was no response for a month, and I was like, "noooo, he doesn't want them anymore!" But finally, I got the release out, and it was one of the best accomplishments in my career. I miss this era when the techno was funky!
Do you find that the studio is a happy place for you? Is there something cathartic about creating music that you love?
Yeah, it is a happy place when you find the right groove. Otherwise, it's a stressy place [laughs] when I create a song I love, it is one of the best feelings, really!
In 2022 you released a sample pack for Beatport. Although this might not seem like a big deal to outsiders, it is a mark of respect for many in the industry. A sign that your sound is one that people want to replicate. Take us through this process and what it meant to you to undertake this project.
I got a lot of messages about how I make my sound, so a sample pack is the best way to give them some of my stuff, but not too much [laughs].
In 2019, you released "Put a Record On." A smashing Beatport #1 and a top 20 song of the year. How did your career change after that?
Yeah, this one was an unexpected number one. When I did it, I didn't think it would be crazy because it was a cover tune. More commercial, you know? After all, the tune is getting bigger and bigger, even now! This track [impacted] my career in a good way, but didn't change, just the confirmation that "I'm here."
You followed up with "Give it to Me," a remake of the classic Timbaland song. Many of your bigger tracks benefit from clever vocal samples. Why do you feel these samples are so effective and what's the process for you to pick the right one?
I had to choose between going more techno, like everyone else, or making my own groove with cover vocals that nobody had taken already. So, I preferred this way, and I love it. Since I released "Put A Record on," it was the start of the RNB/tech house crossovers. "Give It To Me" is really special. The groove is unique. That's why it works. I don't think it works the same now when you mix a super hit with a classic tech house groove.
Tell us about the label, Sass. Why did you want to start one?
I had one called Panterre Musique before, but I had only self-released on it. I wanted to start something totally new and more for my underground stuff. The first release with Green Velvet is just another huge achievement. I have to thank him a lot for accepting it!
Our goal now is to release only my tracks in collaboration with other artists I love, like Will Clarke, Dense & Pika, and more. Soon we'll have SASS showcases all over the world that include the artists supporting the project.