Despite the turbulent year, Maths Time Joy has been as busy as ever in the studio. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s produced for and worked with Snakehips, Mahalia, Bebe Rexha, Gallant and more; remixed Ellie Goulding and Bon Iver hits; and been noted as a versatile producer for his own collection of thoughtful, smooth, cinematic, off-centre-pop EPs.
This year, the producer, songwriter, DJ and mixer has stayed booked. Firstly, he’s helped craft an upcoming EP with RnB artist Flores, which the producer says is “some of the best music [he’s] made”. Doubly, Joy has been busy forging his own newest EP – music that teeters on the edge of ambient pop but flows heavily towards inspired dreamlike, experimental music, he says – for release in early 2021.
To celebrate the artist’s recent standalone single “Fall Back” featuring Matt Woods, House of Solo spoke with Maths Time Joy about the track; how working during the pandemic has affected his process; his evolving sound; and the exciting new project in the works.
Hi Maths Time Joy! How are you?
I’m well, thanks!
How are things going?
Things are going good. It’s been a strange year – mostly working out how to adjust to the new ways of doing things that the lockdowns have caused – but luckily I haven’t been too affected.
What’s keeping you busy?
I’m currently in Norway. I’ve been finishing up a project I’m working on with an artist called Flores out here (for Flores’ upcoming debut EP), so I’ve been travelling between here and London where I’m usually based.
Did the pandemic put a spanner in the work in terms of your usual way of working?
It’s definitely been a new experience. Rethinking how studio sessions can work and how to work without them. Luckily, I’ve often sent people instrumentals and collaborated that way, so that’s something that I’ve reverted back to doing since the lockdown.
As a DJ too, I can imagine this year was not ideal…
Yeah definitely. Luckily, that’s not what I spend most of my career doing, so I’ve been able to escape that in ways that other people haven’t. It’s really wiped out some peoples’ whole income and it’s hard to see when it’ll be back to normal.
You had taken a couple of years off releasing your own music before 2020 – what was it like to return to such a turbulent industry?
I’ve been working on other people’s projects, so it hasn’t felt like time off! I just re-focused my attention for a while. But it’s definitely a different environment to release music in now. Soundcloud and Hype Machine used to be ways of breaking artists [into the spotlight], but now it just seems [that] everything is focussed on Spotify and streaming, so the avenues are harder to navigate to get heard.
Tell us about your latest release, “Fall Back” featuring Matt Woods – what inspired the track and what drew you to Matt?
I’ve worked a bunch of times with Matt. I think I first heard of him through Spotify and then once we met, we realised we both loved the same music, mostly Bon Iver and D’angelo. We worked on a few tracks for his EP and this was a song that he [brought to me as a] demo and I thought would fit great in the sound of my own artist project.
In terms of sound, the track follows several releases so far throughout 2020 that have turned seemingly introspective and dark – they differentiate themselves so starkly from your work with pop artists, which tends to be much more vibrant. Is this reflective of the world at the minute or something tied more closely to your own work as a musician?
I think my own stuff has always been more introspective and explores different sounds. There’s often more freedom that comes with being able to work on my own project and not have anyone else guiding the direction or any A&Rs (artists and repertoire) to answer to.
The new singles evoke a real sense of smooth, dreamlike pop music. What were your intentions behind this?
Thanks, I think dreamlike is a good thing to reference. I hope that most of my artist project sits in that space without being ambient and passive. I like to make music that you can appreciate with headphones on and really hear the intricate details, and also something that builds and progresses as the song flows. I’ve tried to use sampling in different ways recently to get out of my comfort zone and manipulate them in different ways.
What artists and sounds are shaping your new music?
In terms of inspiration, I really enjoy Moses Sumney’s music. It’s always really beautifully produced, and I still always go back to the last Radiohead album and Blonde by Frank Ocean for production inspiration.
Could you tell me a bit about your new project?
These three singles (“Real Deal”, “Two Steps” and “Fall Back”) are actually standalone releases building up to a project which I’ve made with an artist from New York that we’re going to put out early next year.
You have obviously always had a very collaborative approach to your music; what draws you to this way of working?
I think I’ve actually been less collaborative than it seems. Since I started producing for other people, I’ve tried to be much more collaborative and work with musicians and other artists. I think when I first started out I used to think I could do everything myself and would mix, master, make the artwork and do everything but now some of those I think other people could achieve better than I could.
Do you have any shows planned or DJ sets in mind for when things return to normal?
Not at the moment. I’m just focussing on releases and other production work but hopefully also recording some live performance videos.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I’m excited to release this new EP! Also, the EP by Flores that we’re just finishing I think is some of the best music I’ve made, so I’m looking forward to releasing that too.
Stream Maths Time Joy’s newest single “Fall Back” featuring Matt Woods.