This interview was conducted by Radio UTD station manager and host of “Geo-Tunes”, Amanda Maceda.
(This interview has been edited for clarity)
Amanda (she/her): Hey, Matt.
Matthew Devil (they/them): Hey. Glad to be back here. What’s going on?
AM: So, you’ve got a lot of cool stuff that’s been happening in the recent months… I’m trying to think where we can start off.
MD: Yeah, I’ve been trying to stay active. My main thing is Twitch. I’m doing a lot of live music on Twitch.
AM: Right. So, let’s start there. So you started with doing mostly live concert-like streams, right?
MD: Yeah, I started doing those on Friday nights. I started doing these kind of live improvisational performances where I’ve got my loop station right here and I’ve [got my] synthesizer and I just try and come up with stuff on the fly, and it’s been mostly successful. I’ve kind of widened my setup a little bit, so I have more tools at my disposal. I’m learning a lot from it, and honestly it’s getting better every week, I think. Every new chance I get, I’m figuring out a new way to make it more engaging and work in the Twitch environment. It’s very different than doing something like a virtual concert where I have something planned out. So, yeah, it’s a really cool environment and I’m enjoying existing in it.
AM: Yeah, it’s been so fun to watch your streams. Like granted, I haven’t gotten to see every single one, but it seems you’re always experimenting with a new thing or making x and x transparent or showing different kind of visuals.
MD: Yeah, the visual element is what I want to explore more because right now I just have a couple webcams and my screen capture. I want to see if I can figure out some sort of custom visuals to make [it] even more engaging ‘cause right now I’m focusing more on the audio because a lot of people on Twitch do just ambient music streams where it’s something you can just have on in the background, and I really like that kind of application of it. That’s my first priority in terms of making it a worthwhile experience. Just having something that we can, that you can put on and just kind of zone out to. But, I really want to explore the visual aspect more. I’m not really sure what kind of tools are available to me to do that, but every week I’m trying something different. I’ll find something that I like and settle on it, but it’s been fun to experiment for sure.
AM: Can you, for the listeners or viewers that haven’t gone to see any of your streams before, talk about a few of those visuals?
MD: Yeah, I mean right now basically what I’ve been doing is just kind of having both of my webcams active and then I just chroma key out a certain color and then fill it with something else. My main setup right now is one camera pointing down at my instruments and one at my face, and then I take out some of the color and in place of that I put a window of like chat because a lot of streamers like to have their chat on the stream. Which I think is pretty good. It helps with viewer engagement and stuff like that. Yeah, sometimes I just have like a monitor play footage, like, gameplay footage, just something, something really obscure, just something that’s visually interesting just in case people happen to be looking at the screen, but again, I’m mostly focusing on how it sounds. Just as long as there’s something there, it’s good enough for me for now. I’m gonna try new stuff as I keep going.
AM: It seems like it’s changing each time – which is good because it’s like a new experience for the audience.
AM: Like your music is the forefront of what you’re trying to share. It’s just kind of additional elements that add to the experience because, you know, Twitch is a streaming platform.
MD: Yeah it’s a cool environment because it gives me pretty much one hundred percent control over what you see and hear, so I can tweak any element to fit my specific goals. The performance streams are the ones I really want to experiment with the visuals, but I’ve also started doing these Tuesday morning streams where I just bring the viewer into my digital-audio workstation. We can just kind of look at my process, and I just make a random song or a beat or something, so the visuals there are more obvious, you just kind of want to see my computer screen. But it’s still fun either way just to either try and perform with more of an emphasis on the live element and then the other stream helps with just kind of collaborating with my chat, just kind of coming up with ideas, bouncing ideas back and forth, and coming up with stuff that I can record. You can actually see what it’s like to make a song on your own because that’s an element of music production a lot of people don’t get a chance to be face to face with. I think that’s really cool. And I had one this morning that people seemed to enjoy, so it’s great.
AM: Yeah, I’ve gone to one of those Tuesday ones. The Stardust Cruiser one.
MD: Yeah, that was the one that you named. That was really fun. That was a great track.
AM: It was just, it was magical. It was literally like watching you work, it was kind of collaborative and people got to talk to each other in the chat.
AM: It was a good time.
MD: it’s just like we’ve created a little room for ourselves to just chill and watch something just, kind of, come alive. It’s a little bit different than if you’re just watching me perform, that’s cool because pretty much all the direction, all the attention is directed towards me and what I’m doing. But if you see the music being created on screen, it brings it a little closer to the audience so we can kind of watch it happen together and kind of work on it together a little bit. I mean, I guess, it’s technically still me making the stuff, but you get a little more of a…
AM: Personal element.
MD: Yeah, you get a closer look at what I’m actually using to make it with, and it makes it a little more tangible. It’s really fun, and it gives me an opportunity to converse more with the people watching instead of just standing in front of them playing something.
AM: Yeah, I like the vibes of both kinds of different streams you’ve got going on right now. I think you’ve done a couple gaming streams at times.
MD: Yeah, I’m trying to fill in the time because Twitch always tries to emphasize the best way to grow your audience is to just be online as much as you can. During this sort of elongated pandemic time, there’s not much else that I’m doing, so any time I’m not streaming I’m either just creating on my own just playing games and stuff. So sometimes if I feel up to being on screen again, I’ll just kind of let the audience come in and experience me playing a game or doing whatever. I try to leave no window closed, like all possibilities, like if there’s anything that I have an idea for putting on the stream, I’ll do it ‘cause it’s fun.
AM: Yeah, it seems like you know your base is music, but I think it’s shown with Twitch how you’re like a cool, rad content creator.
MD: Yeah, Twitch really gives you a great opportunity to just kind of explore new avenues of entertainment and interaction with an audience. Since I’ve started streaming, I’ve also become a very active Twitch user. Like I just found a lot of wonderful streams that I watch regularly and interact with. It’s kind of fun seeing both sides of that coin, and it gives me a better insight of how I can curate my own streams for the viewer because I have experience as a viewer and what exactly I want to see. It’s cool to experience both of those sides.
AM: For sure. And speaking of becoming a Twitch viewer as much as you are a streamer, there’s – I believe there’s somewhat of a collab thing you’ve got with some Twitch users, correct me if I’m wrong.
MD: No, yeah that’s correct. I try to reach out to everyone in my network to create cool things. My best friend Gem also has a weekly art stream. It’s more of a presentation performance because they put on a show. It’s more of a modern version of a public access program where they’ve got sketches, stuff where they’re drawing, telling stories, singing songs, it’s kind of a variety show. And I’ve appeared on that a couple of times, it’s really fun to do that. But yeah it’s really fun to have some different streams in order t have crossover appeal, and it’s really cool to see where my audience comes from and what my audience watches and what I watch in relation to them. Yeah, it’s a cool melting pot of creativity.
AM: Twitch does like an excellent job with saying we think you might like this person or suggesting a certain stream after another a big streamer maybe ends. I think that might have happened with one of your streams that I was lurking in.
MD: Yeah, it’s kind of surprising how easily it is for me to just get on the homepage and see something that I’ve never seen before that I might be interested in. Another feature that really helps with that sort of stuff is raids and hosting where one person ends their stream and they send all of their viewers to a different channel. It really helps with cross promotion.
AM: Yeah, it’s super rad.
MD: I’ve been raided once and it was a really great experience because there’s all these new people who’ve seen a stream that I’m a fan of coming to me. It’s a really cool way to kinda like build a community in that sort of way.
AM: Who raided you?
MD: It was a channel called Regal Show, and it’s these two folks, Joel and Aubrey, and they just do comedy and chatting with their community. They play videos and talk and they do cosplay and sketches and all sorts of stuff. It’s just a fun variety.
AM: Nice. Yeah, because it almost kind of… how you’ve been describing it, it’s like Twitch seems very open to finding new artists of like, so many different types of content.
MD: It’s kind of bloomed in terms of the culture surrounding it because most of the outside world would consider it – when you think of Twitch, you think of people playing video games and people watching them play. It’s like really good gamers and people watching them play video games very skillfully, but its expanded so much further beyond that. A lot of what I watch is not in any way exclusively gaming streams, it’s more artistic or comedic in someway or some sort of community building sort of experience. It’s really fun to see how far the live format has gone ‘cause you didn’t – or I originally didn’t – think it would be possible for all these forms of expression to work inside of that framework, but it’s really cool to see all of it taking shape. A lot of us creative folks have really embraced it as a platform, and I think that’s really cool. It seems to be doing pretty well in terms of like giving people an audience and giving them a way to reliably make money off of their content through subscriptions and things like that. I think that’s a pretty good system so far, and I’m excited to see what happens to me in terms of that going further. I’ve reached the affiliate status, so I’m able to start working in bits and subscriptions and emotes and all that kind of fun community interaction stuff. I’m really excited to explore that further as well.
AM: I’m so happy you’ve made that, because I remember you were so close. Isn’t the cut like fifty?
MD: To be an affiliate, you have to reach fifty followers and then there’s a specific quota of how many different days you stream, and you have to reach a certain hour count and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, that was the biggest milestone, and I’m super thankful for that and I’m really glad to be actually experiencing some momentum and growth. It makes me really excited to keep going.
AM: Yeah, for sure. With all the effort and artistic power and passion you’ve been putting into these streams, you deserve it.
MD: Thank you!
AM: I’m really excited to see what you’ll further do with this platform and how it kind of goes to help… I’m trying to come up with the verb… Electric ladder but-?
MD: I’m trying to be elevated. I wanna make more connections and connect with more people who are interested in what I do and what we can do together. It’s really fun. It’s made me a lot more comfortable with performing live. I can say that for sure.
MD: I used to be really nervous about playing shows, but especially ‘cause we’re getting more comfortable with the idea of virtual concerts and people performing to an online audience as opposed to in real life ‘cause we’re making that switch. I just think that’s so… It’s created a lot more opportunities than I think we could’ve expected, and I’m really excited to see what it will be like to play real concerts like that to a virtual audience. I’m just really excited to see that like continue to expand, just as a concept – not just with me.
AM: Yeah, yeah, no, I totally agree with you ‘cause how we’ve seen… I know we were talking about this before the interview, but Minecraft concerts: that’s like a whole wild world of possibilities ‘cause it’s like literally they can create anything in there.
MD: It’s just an open source world of stuff when you can just create your environment you want for any particular situation. It’s really amazing.
AM: You can’t have a real dragon at a “real” concert!
MD: Exactly! I think that’s one thing that’s positive that’s come out of this whole situation. We’re slowly but surely coming to terms with the fact that online is just as real of a connection as a real life, and it’s really like a great thing that helps us stay together as a people.
AM: Yeah for sure. And also in terms of accessibility in terms of concerts because some people are not physically able to go and experience that real concert euphoria, so it’s so cool. It’s unfortunate that some of us are only realizing this now when we’re all forced to be at home, but it does open up that pathway for more accessibility for future concerts.
MD: It’s very notable progress in terms of bringing a lot of different types of art to as many people as possible. I’m really excited with how this is growing.
AM: Super excited for whatever collabs you have in the future too.
MD: Yeah, me too! We’ll see what happens.
AM: Are you planning to release those Tuesday morning songs or keep them in the back of your head?
MD: I’ve been going back and forth with what I actually want to do with all the stuff I’ve been doing on Twitch. When I come up with something that’s really cool I want to be able to save it to be able to hear it later, but I also want to get used to the fact that it’s an ephemeral, kind of transient sort of work. I’m planning to do this as long as I can, and with that in mind, there’s going to be hundreds of these with me playing for two hours. I want to get used to the fact that it’s okay if I lose whatever I just play because it stays in that moment, and I can look forward to making more in the future. The ones where I’m actually making on screen in my DAW, some songs I really think I want to put on to something, especially the ones that are more beat driven, more like house and techno songs. I really like doing that for my Marble Falls alias ‘cause that’s what I’m doing with that. I like to do instrumental beat driven stuff. As opposed to the more singer-songwritery, more conceptual stuff – that’s the Matthew Devil stuff. Just any side stuff that I’m doing ‘cause I like just making dance music and stuff that’s really simple and straightforward and fun to vibe to. So that’s what that is kind of for, I think I might, it just depends on the track that I come up with that day. If I feel really good about, I might save it for something else or I might just leave it with that stream. I’m open to it, I’m certainly open to putting some of this material on a project or record or something.
AM: Nice, so let’s backtrack a second because you just were like “oh yeah, my alias” and I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you talk about it.
MD: I mean, the Matthew Devil stuff is the stuff I really focus on the hardest, but I make all sorts of different kinds of music, whether it ends up on an album or not. Sometimes I feel like I’ve really come up with something holistic enough that I might wanna put it on a project under a different name. Along with Matthew Devil, which is the most serious, the stuff I put the most thought into. I have this other project called Marble Falls which I just use for if I make beats. I had one project where it’s just kind of like lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals and then there’s one where I just did kind of dance music, techno music, and I really like making that kind of music, but I don’t think it fits the Matthew Devil stuff ‘cause it’s a different vibe and a different artistic goal. I like putting it under that name. I think that it makes it feel more like a producer kind of role as opposed to a songwriter, so that’s what I use, that’s the name that I use for that. I only have one or two projects of that name online, but I like to have something separate from Matthew Devil that I can throw other things into if it’s just like something I’m doing for fun that I want to put out there. I just do it like that. That’s how I use different names because there are a lot of artists that come up with different aliases for things. I don’t want to be super complex with that because I want my stuff to be easily findable so I’m mostly just sticking to those two names. Matthew Devil is the stuff that I’m trying to push the most is what I mean.
AM: Right, yeah. Because when I think of you, I think of Matthew Devil. Especially with how your last album was such a metaphor for your own stuff.
MD: Yeah, it’s way more personal, and the other stuff if I’m making beats or instrumentals or doesn’t have any sort of secret background. It’s less conceptual, it’s just about something that sounds cool.
AM: Providing a good time.
MD: Exactly. That’s how I feel about how I separate those two parts of my music making.
AM: It’s not like you’re trying to divide yourself like complete separation, but it’s kind of nice to kind of have a base for a certain vibe or feel or even brand if you want to say.
MD: Yeah, basically. It’s kind of branding in a way, just because I want to keep things consistent in terms of like a kind of image, a mental image when they think of Matthew Devil or any of that.
AM: I guess to start to wrap this up, do you have a favorite stream of the top of your head?
MD: Like streamer, or do you mean like out of what I’ve done so far?
AM: I guess to divide it: a favorite stream you’ve done yourself in terms of the experience and the connection versus maybe the coolest kind of setup you think you’ve done?
MD: Oh, I see what you mean. I don’t know, I haven’t really picked… Like I like both kinds of things that I’m doing, the whole beat making one and the performance. The performance ones I put a lot more thought into because I have to plan it out to make sure it actually goes smoothly whereas the beat making stuff is a lot more candid, and I’m just coming up with stuff with the chat. But I’d say the stuff that I’ve been doing longer is the more performance-ish stuff where you watch me actually play something. I mean, I put more thought into those and they turn out more rewarding for me, personally, so I would say that. I couldn’t pick a specific one because I think they keep getting better because of how much I’m learning. I really like the one I did last week and I have that saved and I actually want to upload it to YouTube just ‘cause I think it’s so good. I only plan on getting better with each new one, so I’m just looking ahead in terms of that kind of stuff. In terms of a favorite person who’s not me who streams, my friend Gem is the one I watch the most often they have a show called Gem Show. It’s just a super abstract, really weird, variety stream, so that’s what I would recommend. As far as what I’m watching on a day to day basis, it always changes. Just find something that you like. Like I said, the Twitch homepage is really surprising in terms of what it can find for the user.
AM: There are so many sub-everything in there.
MD: I’ve still yet to actually break through the ice and finally see everything; I’ve just kind of dabbled, so I’m excited to explore that further.
AM: Sometimes it feels like a huge hallway with like the old-style boat windows, you know? It’s completely different kind of worlds you can jump into.
MD: All sorts of niches, yeah.
AM: For advice, maybe not necessarily new artists, but artists, since it’s about a year into the pandemic, and even if they haven’t jumped onto the live streaming, virtual platform, I feel like it’s never too late to try it. If you don’t, you’ll just regret it.
MD: Oh, yeah. You’re only seeing more and more people enter that world. I mean, I’m still relatively new at this. I’ve only been doing it for a couple months. The best advice that worked for me is that I told myself is to keep trying new things, keep experimenting, and even if you don’t like the whole setup you come up with, there will be something that you’ll be able to take out and apply to something else. It’s an extremely versatile space ‘cause, like I said, pretty much everything is in your control as far as what’s on screen and what’s coming through the ears and you can curate a very specific experience for your audience. Just explore and experiment, that’s my best advice, and I definitely need to do more of that myself. Can never do too much of it, I think.
AM: Awesome. Well, thank you for letting us… I was almost going to say pick your brain, but explore, talk about, and just updates with you and streaming because it’s been really cool to see how you’ve progressed. For listeners/viewers that haven’t heard of you before, aren’t too familiar with your work, or read any of your reviews, where’s the best way for them to follow, subscribe, contact you?
MD: Since we’ve been talking about Twitch, I would just say and I’ve tried to keep that consistent. I think that’s also my Twitter and my Instagram. As far as streaming services for music, just search Matthew Devil on there. Matthew Devil on bandcamp, it’s all interlinked, so you’ll find what you need through one of those links, I’m sure. And thank you so much for checking back in with me.
Check out this snippet from one of Matthew Devil’s live twitch streams!