Soundbites with Mat Cipher: From Budapest to LA, and the rise of ‘Sand Toy’

LA-based DJ, producer and musician Máté Miskolczi (Mat Cipher) may be new on the scene, but his work has already been remixed by artists who have been supported by the likes of David Guetta and Martin Garrix. Raised in Budapest and having taken on classical instrument training since age five, he developed his own sound, and the result was the release of his first album, ‘Dominoes’, in 2019.

Cipher’s newest single, ‘Sand Toy’, releases today — featuring the vocal performance of Freida Mari alongside an alluring pop-infused house tune to evoke a feeling of carefreeness. We spoke to Mat about his journey in the music scene, and how Sand Toy came about.

You now operate from Los Angeles, but originally you were from Budapest. Can you tell us the differences in the music scene between the two places and whether that has had an effect on your music?

Mat: The biggest difference that I realized is that electronic music is more Europe based, in my opinion. Although it had impact on the global music and pop scene, LA is generally pop and hip-hop. However, changing up the environment pushed me more towards creating electronic music, which is also mainstream at the same time.

What has the experience been like making music under a different landscape, with lockdowns and reduced collaboration during the pandemic?

Mat Cipher 1

Mat: The first two months were relatively tough since I was unsure whether we should be releasing music in these times. I thought we should wait until everything was back to normal so that people could listen to music in the more traditional settings, like when commuting to work/school or having fun at parties/festivals. Therefore, we focused on songs that we were pitching to other artists or television shows/movies. This was productive as well, but it took time to realize that was actually a great time to be releasing music on our own. So, I started working on my solo artist projects, and I created a release plan for some upcoming songs. Collaboration wise, it was hard at first, but then I got into it more and more and now realise how great it is for us as artists to be able to work with anyone in the world, anywhere in the world, and still be able to write and record without any obstacles.

Your sound has changed from electronic to a more pop-infused house style. How did that evolution begin?

Mat Cipher 2

Mat: I think that happened when I moved to Los Angeles. My music teachers were teaching me more about the mainstream scene, so I started getting into it, to the point where I realized I wanted to make mainstream and electronic music at the same time.

Your most recent song, “By My Side”, debuted alongside a music video featuring The Sims 2 video game. What’s the reason behind this unique pairing?

Mat: ‘By My Side’ gave me real nostalgia vibes, and I talked with my sister (who made the music video with a friend of hers), and she told me that we could have a music video that is partly played by real actors, and partly played in a game. The Sims 2 was our childhood game, and we would play for hours every day, so I reached out to the EA Team asking if they would give rights to use the gameplay footage. Fortunately, they were very supportive and gave permission, and they even shared it on their social channels, so we were vastly joyful.

Talk to us about the process of how your new single “Sand Toy” came about.

Mat: It may sound funny, but one lazy Saturday, I woke up, and I had a melody in my head. I recorded a voice memo, then I was playing around and came up with a guitar hook that eventually became the final one. At that point, I was doing the instrumentation to see how the whole finished song would sound like. I had some vocal ideas, so I called my friend and frequent collaborator, Manu Beker, to finish the vocal top-line. We finished the demo, and I found the singer, Freida Mari, by accident on Spotify. I was amazed how good she was, so I reached out and asked whether she would be down to sing the top-line, and she said yes! Therefore, we wrote the song in LA/Mexico City, recorded the vocals in Toronto, I finalized the project in Budapest, the song was mixed by Pablo San Martin in New York City, and it was mastered by Mike Marsh in London. It’s kind of crazy how remotely we can work nowadays.

What influences sparked the sound and lyrics of “Sand Toy”?

Mat: I just wanted to paint a scene where you can let everything go and enjoy the present. Maybe you’re road tripping with friends, or you’re having a party at your lake house. I love that music is relative, and for each person, it can mean something completely different.

Watch the music video for Mat Cipher’s new single Sand Toy here:

You can also follow Mat Cipher on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Visuals courtesy of Mat Cipher.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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