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The Alien encounter

DJ spins out new award, half a dozen shows at TWSSF



By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Mat the Alien

What: DJ Experience

When: April 21

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Few would argue Mat the Alien is Whistler’s most famous, not to mention skilled, turntable talent.

So what’s the Alien’s, otherwise known as U.K. import Mat Andrew , secret?

His scratching is what captures the imagination of both listeners and artists. He draws from a suitcase of more than 7,000 albums. He’s played with the best, including AfricaBambaata, Josh Martinez, Buck 65, Killa Kela, Sweatshop Union, DJ Craze and most recently Cut Chemist.

But the secret to his success was recently spotlighted at a DJ competition in Vancouver.

You just have to visit his site myspace.com/matthealien to see what that spark is all about. While most artist sites list only a handful of names under their music influence list, Andrew ’s just goes on, and on, and on.

“I grew up listening to everything from metal to rap to electronic music,” Andrew said. “Living in Whistler has also really influenced what I play because you are playing to people from all over the world. There is not one type of crowd.”

Versatility is at the source of this chameleon’s global embrace. In cities, DJs specialize in one genre, pushing the limits to find their own style within that one space. But living in Whistler demands more than that. Andrew takes on a universe, from playing an intimate outdoor party one night then spinning a mainstage show to crowds in the thousands at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

It’s this diversity, so ingrained in his blood, that landed him bragging rights and a $1,000 cash prize as the winner of the Three-Style Who’s the Most Versatile DJ competition this year, beating out eight of Vancouver’s top DJs. Competitors had to mix at least three music genres into a 15 minute set. Hearing about the contest last minute, driving from a Nelson show to Vancouver, Andrew was coerced to step up to the tables without much of a plan. Of course more than three genres mixed into Mat’s set. It just comes naturally.

“It keeps me into it to,” he said of his versatile sets. “I like all different styles of music and I find different ways of putting it together.”

The festival veteran has touched down for at least five or six years — he’s lost count — where he shows off his multi-coloured record stash in a variety of different events. Listen for more rock-influenced mixes at the festival’s Rail Jam April 19 at Skier’s Plaza, instrumental hip hop at Big Air April 21 at Skier’s Plaza, and electronic beats for the DJ Experience April 21 at the Telus Conference Centre. He also spins Fashion Exposed April 20 at the conference centre and joins buddy DJ Vinyl Ritchie for a Team Canada set on his regular Wednesday night at Moe Joe’s as part of festival celebrations as well.

“The festival is a good time to be in Whistler,” he said. “You’ve got your friends coming in from all over the world, a lot of good parties, and you are playing to huge crowds where you’ve got both old and young people to play to. I really enjoy it.”

There is plenty of joy to go around with Andrew working around the clock at his craft. When not doing local shows, he’s touring. Last November he extended his fan base to Korea. He just tied up a B.C. tour this month.

He also spends equal time in the recording studio. He recently released a track on the soul EP Hai Karate All Stars with smalltown DJs, Vinyl Ritchie and Czech. He recorded with England’s Killa Kella, the world’s best beat boxer. Andrew is also getting ready to collaborate with Skratch Bastid on a mixed album. Then there are soundtracks for snowboard and mountain bike films and television shows and video games, including most recently the MBA Street Jam IV.

“It’s hard to know what to concentrate on,” Andrew said, laughing.

Even if he doesn’t, fans do. No matter what genre or medium, Mat the Alien is all about another-world experience.