Last weekend the Meakusma Festival took place in Eupen, Belgium. Philipp Matalla also played his live debut there. Our author Nikta was there and spoke to him.
The Meakusma Festival has been taking place in Eupen, a tranquil town of 20,000 inhabitants just across the German-Belgian border, since 2016. After a three-year break, a good 1,000 people strolled through the streets of Eupen and across the grounds of the old slaughterhouse, where most of the events took place, on the first weekend in September this year. The line-up is in no way inferior to the big players of the scene, is a gathering place for techno avant-garde, contemporary music nerds and party people who want to take one last festival of the season with them.
A name from the local Halle-Leipzig scene also appeared in the line-up, and twice: Philipp Matalla. He celebrated a premiere in Eupen: his live debut. It comes across as dubby, with elements of hip hop and industrial, initially very experimental and later danceable. Just like the artist’s DJ sets: everything is unexpected and sometimes deliberately disharmonious. But it still harmonises, this collage-like, trippy Matalla patchwork. We spoke to him about current projects and his connection to Eupen.
After a break, the Meakusma Festival is taking place again in Eupen. This isn’t your first time. How did the connection to the Meakusma come about?
I was invited to play in Eupen a few years ago, even before the festival even existed. Since then, the organizers and I have stayed in touch.
What is the appeal of the Meakusma Festival for you?
The festival is excitingly curated, both the choice of artists and the locations and spaces work incredibly well together. In general, it often feels more like visiting a series of exhibitions than going to a festival. Also because Eupen is well integrated as a place.
The most recent release on your Bandcamp account was in October 2021 on the “Training Tactics” sampler, a compilation of Halle artists. What have you been up to over the past few years?
I mainly worked on my first album as Philipp Matalla. Together with other people I have organized a number of events in Halle and the surrounding area with parties, concerts and exhibitions. Partly as WUEST, including in Spätis, in the theater or in the swimming pool. I was also involved in the Tarmac Festival. Otherwise I started a radio show on Radio Corax in January.
And what are you working on right now?
Until recently I was working on a first version of a live set that I first played at Meakusma Festival. I still have some ideas that I still want to try, such as an additional video component.
Your gigs are generally few and far between. After the long Corona break, how does it feel for you to play and DJ live again?
I definitely notice how much was missing when you had a good evening again after a long time.
You were represented twice in the Meakusma line-up, once as a live act and once as a DJ. Where are the challenges?
Everything about the live set is new to me and therefore a big challenge. As a DJ, I generally want to play the music that picks me up at the moment and be able to change everything whenever I feel like it, regardless of the usual structures or within the framework of certain styles. That has always been the case, but it carries the risk that the mood in the room can change at any time. But it is all the more rewarded when the local people tick in a similar way.
And in which direction is the set going? What was important to you when curating the Meakusma set?
The Meakusma Festival is very open. Therefore, a set can be tackled there without any problems as just described. Otherwise, I also integrated a few artists who were also there at the weekend.
It’s been a long time, but the name Philipp Matalla is still very much associated with the Leipzig label Kann. How did this time shape you?
That was important to me at the time. Otherwise I would definitely have had less confidence in my output, both as a DJ and in production. The Leipzig scene was incredibly open to me and I was able to get to know a lot of people and clubs in a very short time. I am still very grateful for that.
You’ve been doing your own radio show since the beginning of the year: it’s called “Unarchived” and it’s on Radio Corax. What is behind the name and what is important to you when designing the programs?
I had thought about starting a show during the pandemic so I have a new channel to play music even when clubs aren’t open. It has worked well so far, even with some great guests.
The program should be heard at the time of broadcast if possible. There is also a repeat, but I didn’t feel like an archive of past programs. It shouldn’t feel like you’re recording something for eternity, but rather be a classic radio moment for the listener.
What’s coming up?
My Album! It’s called “Stakes” and will be out later this year on the Meakusma label.
Foto Live-Set: Caroline Lessire