Every week ChiChi212 will be getting In The Booth with Manhattan’s hottest DJs to learn what makes their turntables spin. This week, a DJ I met at Star Room (RIP) years ago, Matt Heckman.
BM: How did you choose your DJ name? Or if it’s your real name, why did you stick with that?
MH: I hate this question. (BM: Too bad) When I started DJing it was just for fun in college- I used the first part of my college email “M_”. It made sense then. When I moved back to NYC I dropped the underscore ( _ ) and became DJ “M”. As bookings picked up and I looked at the fliers I realized how terrible “M” looked. I now use my real name. Lame, I know.
BM: Would you consider DJing a full-time job or a hobby?
MH: DJing is definitely a full time job for me and I’m grateful for that.
BM: What do you do during the day?
MH: Most of my “daytime hours” are spent practicing, managing my always growing music collection and running SimpleSound® w/ my Friend Oliver Saul – we design, install, and maintain sound systems throughout NYC (most recently at The Bind Barber).
BM: When did you know you wanted to be a DJ?
MH: Right out of college I was offered a job at William Morris in their LA office. I only had 2 weeks to pack up my life on the East Coast and make the move, needless to say- in those two weeks I decided (much to the shock of my parents) I wasn’t going to LA, wasn’t wearing a suit to work, and wasn’t grinding a 9-5 job. I called William Morris and said “thank you” but that I would have to retract my acceptance. That decision came in May of 2008 and I haven’t looked back since.
BM: Fill in the blank: If you couldn’t be a DJ, you would be a ___________
MH: In no particular order:
- Sound Tech
- Coast Guard
- Commercial Blue Fin Tuna Fisherman
BM: What DJ(s) did/do you look up to and have you ever met them?
MH: I started DJing in upstate New York, attending Skidmore College, without much exposure to “big names”. I did however spend a lot of time watching DJ AM, DJ Enferno, DJ Flipside on youtube videos. Once I moved back to NYC, I began to network with some of the best in the business. I owe much of my success to someone you’re very familiar with, DJ Price. I met Price in September of 2008, he must have seen something in me because he booked me (having known me for maybe 5hrs) that very night. Price is one of the hardest working, most humble and professional guys around – I owe him a lot.
BM: How would you describe your DJ style and what’s your favorite type of music to spin?
MH: Unexpected, Imaginative, high energy. I like to surprise people and take a lot of pride in giving people a real show when they come out to hear me spin.
BM Complete this sentence: I can’t go into the booth without…
MH: Iced coffee, bottle of water and gum. I’m not really a drinker.
BM: What type of food do you crave when your set is finished and where do you go to get it?
MH: On most nights you’ll find me grabbing a sandwich from my local deli and enjoying it on the comfort of my couch while reviewing the nights set. If I’m trying to induce a food coma and get a good night’s rest, I’ll go to Cafeteria around the corner and order the “Mac-Attack” and a BLT (no mayo!).
BM: If someone wants to request a song, say because it’s their birthday, how should they do it? With cash? Via twitter? With the song written on their boobs?
MH: There is definitely proper song request etiquette:
- Don’t bother a DJ if he’s in the middle of mixing, scratching- I can’t tell you how annoying this is.
- Don’t ask for Sexy Bitch, Rude Boy etc at 11pm , chances are I’m working until at least 3:30 am and I’m not going to burn records early just for you.
- Don’t expect your request to be the song on flip – real DJ’s aren’t Juke Boxes.
- Don’t hold your drink anywhere near the equipment.
- Do be polite – it will get you a lot farther than that $5/10/20 bill you have crumpled up in your hand.
- Do be original – chances are if you’re asking for something popular, it’s going to be played..at some point. I’m more likely to play the obscure request over something I hear everyday.
- Do have a 2nd choice ready- If I don’t have the song, I’ll always give it you a second.
- Do try to have fun, no one likes a debbie downer.
BM: What three songs do you wish you never had to hear again?
MH: “I got a feeling,” “Paparazzi,” anything by Ke$ha
BM: What three songs am I missing out on by not having them on my iPod?
MH: “Forever My Love” – Smokey Robotic // “BlackOut” – The Knocks // “Don’t Stop” – BEATS ft.Gunna Gatsby & Janjo
BM: If you could produce a song for any artist who would it be and why?
MH: I think it’d be very cool to work with Ludacris. I’ve been a fan of his flow for a long time.
BM: If you could curate the soundtrack to any movie, what would it be?
MH: I think it would fun to curate the soundtrack for an animated movie, I think there would be a lot for more freedom working in that world. Disney, I’m waiting for the call.
BM: What’s your dream gig?
MH: As corny as it sounds- every gig is like a dream. I never in a million years thought this is the life I’d be living yet alone have it pay the bills.
BM: What’s your favorite city to DJ in (aside from New York?)
MH: I’ve worked in LA, Las Vegas and D.C. and Miami. I was amazed in Vegas because everyone is there to party and have a good time. Age is no barrier out there, so says the 50 year old guy asking for “Shots”
BM: What are your favorite clubs to spin in NYC?
MH: I’ve spun all over New York City from tiny hole in the walls to NYC’s most prestigious establishments but I still have a lot of fun DJing at places that helped start my career. Places like Gallery Bar and Anchor are great because I have lots of musical freedom, people are always there to have a good time and I feel at home (it doesn’t hurt that I designed the booth at Anchor).
BM: Would you ever play Hanson in your set?
MH: I just looked in my library- I don’t have a single Hanson song…but if I was expecting you at a gig I’d download it.
BM: What is the worst part of nightlife?
BM: What is the best part of nightlife?
MH: Spinning for a crowd that just wants to dance.
BM: What’s your next career move or will you DJ forever?
MH: For now I’m working on progressing my career as a DJ and trying to travel more. Down the line I want to open my own venue that fills many of the voids I’ve found along my experiences in nightlife.
BM: Any projects you’d like to promote?
MH: No, but there are a few people:
- DJ’s : Terry Urban // Ian Boyd // DJ Theory // and all my friends on Dubset
- My good friends over at Reason Clothing
BM: Where can I stalk you in the internet?
BM: Where can I listen to your mix tapes?
BM: What’s your fun fact?
MH: I often go 40miles off the coast of Long Island, for 12hrs+ with no cell phone service, to catch sharks.