Pianist Matt Wilde’s Prophet Rev2 provided the “secret sauce” for his debut album
Using a Yamaha piano, a Rhodes keyboard and the aforementioned Prophet, Matt Wilde produced the stunning first album, ‘Hello World’. We find out how.
Matt Wilde in his studio
It’s time to shine a light on the piano. Who better to do it with than Matt Wilde? Hailing from Manchester, Wilde draws inspiration from diverse cultures to create an instrumental hip-hop-leaning jazz sound with rich harmonies and clean drums all centred around his impressive playing skills.
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In 2023, Wilde proudly released his debut album, Hello World, with Band on the Wall Recordings. It’s a delightful, heartfelt 11-track release including collaborations with a trumpeter, a drummer, a saxophonist and a bassist all working in tandem. So, we find out how Wilde processes his piano, which piano he uses and what tips he might have for upcoming musicians and producers.
Hey, Matt! Your debut album… how does it feel?
Honestly, it feels surreal to finally hold the LP! It’s one thing to conceptualise and work on an album, but to see it come to life, to hold it physically, is a whole different experience.
Who are your favourite/most inspiring producers and/or pianists?
My musical inspiration comes from a mix of producers and pianists. On the production side, I’ve always been a huge fan of J Dilla, Pete Rock, Madlib, and MF Doom. Their unique styles and approaches to music have influenced me.
As for pianists, I grew up listening to Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, and Chick Corea. Each of them has a distinct style which continually inspires my approach to the piano.
What piano do you use?
I use a Yamaha U1 upright piano. It’s a nostalgic choice; I grew up with a Yamaha upright at home and love its touch and tone. Its forward-facing strings bring intimacy to my music, adding warmth and authenticity to my productions.
What other gear was used for your album?
For this album, I used a Rhodes MK1 and a Prophet Rev2. The Rhodes MK1 was a lockdown project; I bought and restored it which was tough, but super cool to get hands-on and see how it works from the inside out (literally!).
And the Sequential Prophet Rev2, that’s my go-to for all the synth magic! From counter melodies to dreamy pads and strings, and some syncopated rhythmic stuff. They’re the secret sauce that made the album feel complete.
Tell us a bit about where you make music.
I’m based in my home studio in Manchester, UK. The studio is on the smaller side, which has been great for maintaining a clutter-free and purposeful environment. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a variety of gear, mostly keyboards and hardware, buying and selling to find what works for me. Now, I’ve settled on a collection of gear that I find inspiring and use every day. It’s a space where each piece of equipment has its own significance, helping me craft music efficiently and creatively.
How do you use your creative space?
My creative space is where most of my tracks begin life, often starting as sketches on the piano to flesh out harmony and melody. The compact nature of my studio means everything I need is within arm’s reach, which helps keep the creative process fluid and uninterrupted. While I do a lot here, for larger recordings like drums, I step out to professional studios such as Airtight Studios for extra space, equipment and quality. This blend of in-house groundwork and external recording is the perfect balance for my workflow.
What processing went into your piano sounds?
I have a pair of Soyuz 013 FET mics that live on my upright. I record them into a Universal Audio Apollo x4, usually tracking through a Neve 1073 pre. I also record the piano with the felt rail as it makes the tone slightly warmer!
My basic chain usually goes something like this:
Preamp > EQ > saturation > compression
Who did you collaborate with for the album and how did you work together?
For this album, I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with Band on the Wall Recordings, a label from the iconic music venue in Manchester. It feels like a full circle moment for me, as I used to attend music workshops there run by Brighter Sound during my younger years. Those sessions, where I honed my skills in playing and recording with Ableton Live under the guidance of some incredible mentors, played a big part in my musical journey.
The record itself was a collaborative effort with some incredibly talented musicians. We had Aaron Wood on trumpet, Oscar Ogden on drums, CARRTOONS on bass, Parthenope on sax, among others. The recording process was a mix of remote and in-person sessions, which brought a unique dynamic to the creation of the album. It was a great experience to see these musicians breathe life into the records with their unique styles and expertise.
What is your dream piece of gear and why?
A dream piece of equipment for me would be the new Rhodes MK8. It’s not just about its stunning looks and sound, but also the fact that they’re made in Leeds, just down the road, which adds a personal touch. Maybe one day I’ll get my hands on one. Additionally, I’d love to invest in some classic analogue gear like the Neve 1073, API 2500, and LA-2A.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
Assuming there’s a magical power supply on this desert island (hey, we can dream, right?), I’d go for the Ableton Push 3 standalone. It’s compact, versatile, and totally self-contained. I could easily carry it around the island, setting up my studio under palm trees or by the shore. Plus, it beats trying to haul my piano through the sand — that would be a sight!
What is your top piece of production advice?
My top piece of production advice is to trust your ears and your instincts. Try to play or create what you hear in your mind. It’s important to be patient with yourself in this process. Avoid judging what you produce and let others give you feedback. The key is to keep the creative channel open, allowing your ideas to flow naturally without self-judgment. This way you can be creative whilst also developing a unique and authentic sound.
Head to Matt Wilde’s website to find out more.
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