These days, the idea of getting your break, being talent spotted by an influential DJ then asked to play their legendary party is a rare one. But that’s exactly what happened to Matt Tolfrey, a relative unknown who impressed Craig Richards so much he was invited to play with him at Tyrant at London’s fabric in 2005. In the years since, countless sounds, scenes and selectors have been and gone. But not Tolfrey. He is now firmly entrenched in the global scene and as vital as ever, whether in the DJ booth, studio, or heading up the influential Leftroom family.
Always someone who had a penchant for less obvious and more curious sounds, Tolfrey has never been easy to categorise. His crowd reading and leading selections are utterly unpredictable and wholly compelling. He has an open mind and deep record bag that takes in house, minimal, electro, disco and techno that could be 20 years old or not even out yet, and because of his ability to sequence coherent stories, you’d never know the difference. He is someone who plenty of his peers come to for advice. Someone who steps outside the usual limits of the dance floor and comes at things–both as a DJ and producer–from a left of centre perspective. All those who’ve experienced him play across his vinyl and digital setup will agree. For that reason, he is ever-present at the world’s finest events from Circo Loco to Glastonbury, Pacha Ibiza to fabric, Panorama Bar to Space Miami via BPM, Lovebox and Burning Man. He also holds down esteemed residencies at Bar Americas in Guadalajara, R33 in Barcelona and of course Stealth in Nottingham where it all began. And he’s recorded an Essential Mix Live from Sankeys Ibiza during Radio One weekend. And, of course, he has also made an entry into the iconic Fabric mix series with the 81st instalment, has served up a personal view of the Classic label with the first of the ‘In The Eyes Of’ series, and has put out three of his own label compilations.
His very personal and passion-fuelled Leftroom empire is a place that Tolfrey’s taste has played out next to his love of proper relationships with like-minded people. More like a family than anything else, his cult Don’t Be Leftout parties and compilations are basically him and his crew indulging their own unadulterated sound worlds with great results. The label, meanwhile, has constantly evolved and set its own singular agenda with more than 140 releases across it and three sub labels over the last 13+ years. It has helped establish Tolfrey’s own sound as well as make household names of plenty of previously unknown talents.
Next to his own timeless album, World of Mouth, featuring vocalists Ya Kid K (Technotronic), Marshall Jefferson, Jem Cooke and Kevin Knapp, Tolfrey is behind countless EPs and remixes on a mix of contemporary and legendary labels including Cuttin’ Headz, Rekids, Crosstown Rebels, Cocoon, No.19, Phonica Recordings, Kaluki, D-Floor, Soma, MURK, Classic and Wiggle. He also produces as Kerb Staller, a live project with jozif and DNCN, with an album signed to Skint due for release in 2018.
It’s fair to say Matt Tolfrey has managed to carve out his own place and sound in the ruthless and relentless dance music world, where time has proven that taste overcomes all trends.
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