Julio Bashmore: ‘When I started to DJ, it was always going to be house’ | Electric Picnic

Matt Walker’s boots are made for knockin’, according to the DJ and producer’s debut album of dance music and ‘more song-based stuff’

The sound Matt Walker heard in his head was always house music. The man known to fans as Julio Bashmore was in thrall to house from an early age, so it's no surprise that his debut album, Knockin' Boots, is one of the house quality releases of that kind of the season.

It was Daft Punk who first got the Bristol kid purring back in the day. "I remember seeing their videos on MTV," he says. "I loved the Da Funk video, with the man with the dog's head, and All Around the World. Homework is still my idea of a great house record."

While a teenage Walker hung around his gaff playing Streets of Rage, his older brother was spinning house records in the background. “Greg had been buying American imports for years,” he says, “so I’d hear all that house music in the background. When I started to DJ, it was always going to be house.”

Eventually and probably inevitably, Walker began making his own tracks. His first release appeared on San Francisco's Dirtybird label, but it was 2010's infectious, irresistible Battle for Middle You that introduced Julio Bashmore to the masses.

“It all went a little crazy after that. When you’re putting out tracks and everyone’s loving them, it’s an amazing feeling, but you’re also aware of what has to come next. For me, it was about keeping things simple. I know a lot of people would have just sat there and tried to repeat the formula, but I never.”

Keeping things simple meant not going mad in the studio. “You can get so caught up with wanting all this gear for the studio and downloading all the plug-ins,” he says. “I prefer to strip things back.”

After all, the likes of Jessie Ware wanted to work with Walker for what he could do with their tunes rather than for what was in the racks in his studio.

"It was around 2009, even before Battle for Middle You, when Jessie first came to my parents' house and we first wrote together. I've been making pop records for as long as I've been making underground dance music. From the start I've wanted to make weird pop records, and it's something I'm still keen on.

“There’s a real power in weird stuff in pop. The Neptunes are a perfect example of that. They’d produce a pop song with a weird, twisted beat, and it became a track that loads and loads of people loved. I was always amazed and intrigued by that.”

Red Bull days

Since those early studio excursions in Bristol, Walker has found himself working in different spaces. He spent time in the Red Bull studios in London and has nothing but praise for that brand’s investment in music.

“They’re not the only corporates with loads of money, but they’re one of the few who seem to be really into music. I was wary at first, but there were no sales executives around, just people who wanted to support what I was doing and I appreciated that. They just gave me the space I needed and let me get on with it.”

He also used a studio near west London’s Westfield shopping centre, though he admits that one was a bit more expensive on his pocket.

“It was in the arse-end of an industrial estate ages from anywhere. If I wanted a Snickers, I had to cross the Westway motorway and go all around the houses. It would take me an hour and a half to get back to the studio with my Snickers, and I’d have purchased clothes from Uniqlo and aftershave in Boots as well that I didn’t need.”

Walker didn’t count how many candy bars he devoured making the album, though it took the guts of three and a half years to get it right and assemble guest vocalists Seven Davis Jr, Okmalumkoolkat, Bixby, Sam Dew and J’Danna.

“The hardest thing for me was knowing when I was done,” he says. “When you’re an artist, you always think you’ve time to do more or you want to do more. I’ve always just casually made music and then I got serious at the end of the album’s production. I thought I was finished it in 2013, but I’m glad I continued with it though, because it feels now like how I want it to be.

“It’s got the two sides of me, the dance side and the more song-based stuff I’ve done with Jessie. It seems more rounded to me.”

On the Broadwalk

With Knockin' Boots just released, Walker says that "now is the time to work" and that includes more work on his Broadwalk label.

“I’ve a sweet deal for my label, so I hope to release more work from people on the album for that,” he says. “I’ve always liked labels who develop artists, and that’s what I want to do with Broadwalk.”

With his own work, the plan is to ensure there are more albums to come. “I think the most important thing for me is to keep good people around me to keep me from going off on one,” Walker says, “I want people to hear the album and like it. I grew up listening to albums I loved, so my plan was to make an album myself. “It’s great to have done one, but I just want to do more of them now.”

Knockin’ Boots is out now. Julio Bashmore plays the Little Big Tent at 11pm on Sunday at Electric Picnic