1/ So First Off - Tell Us your Name, City and Country and what you currently do for a living?
My name is Matt Jenko, and I live in the UK. I spend my time illustrating, animating, composing and producing music for my project Ellipsis, and I'm the first (and second!) artist to release a track through Music to.
2/ Is This Something You Always Wanted To Do? What Do You Enjoy About It?
When you love music, you instinctively want to share it. There's no better feeling than seeing your pal's mind explode when you show them your latest music discovery, and so to be able to do this on a weekly basis with the Save the World list is an incredible feeling.
The thing I enjoy the most though is getting track submissions from some remarkable talent. It's a little bit surreal when you check out the artist that's just landed in your inbox to find out they're rubbing shoulders with household names in their genre, and that they want their music on your list. I've made some amazing discoveries from people who have taken the time to understand what my list is about and pitched their music to me in a way that tells their story. Story is where it's at for me.
3/ Tell Us About Your First Musical Memory - Why Do You Think You Remember It?
The first track I distinctly remember jamming out to was the remix of 'Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)' when I was about one or two years old. Listening back to it now (after about twenty years) I imagine it was the distinctive vocal synth or whatever it was playing the main hook that caught the attention of my young musical mind. I think my love of house music might have started right there and then!
4/ Who Did You Make Your First Mixtape / Playlist For - What Was The Result - Did They Dig It?
When we started high school, we were all really into limewire and iMesh and those kinds of *totally not illegal* services for burning our favourite music to CDs, taking our inspiration from the compilation discs that Kerrang! (our Bible) were throwing out every month or so. I remember I had a bunch of CDs aptly titled 'Mosher 1', 'Mosher 2' etc., because it was important back then that everyone knew we were moshers and not scallies or townies - distinctions that in hindsight were absolutely ridiculous but at the time felt like they carried Crips & Bloods level significance.
Our generation didn't really do mixtapes - I think the closest equivalent would be sending songs to each other over MSN at these crazy slow transfer rates. You could drop some pretty heavy hints about how you felt about each other by choosing the right songs, although I think it's fair to say I didn't have a great deal of success wooing girls in this regard - it probably didn't help that I was really into death metal at this point in my life 🤷♂️
5/ What Made You Go Online And Search About Music Curation?
When you first start as a producer, your first thought is that 'right, all I need is a well-produced track that will resonate with people, and this baby will promote itself.' It turns out that this is literally the tip of the iceberg. Getting playlisted is the Holy Grail of modern music marketing, and so like every other burgeoning music producer, I turned to Google for the answer.
Of the many playlists I submitted my music to, one of them was 'Music to Sizzle Bacon and Flip Pancakes.' Right away, this was clearly unlike the other lists I'd pitched my tracks to. There was an enigma to it, it made me ask questions - 'what exactly is music to sizzle bacon and flip pancakes? What would that sound like?' I was so intrigued by this new species of playlist that ideas for my own had already begun to spring in mind, so that by the time the curator Jesse suggested I pitch my own list to bossman Andrew, the concept for 'Music to Save the World to' was already formed.
6/ Tell us about the name of your Playlist - where did that come from?
'Music to Save the World to' was never intended to address the global issues that face us as members of the human race - I felt like Jon already had that pretty much locked down with his 'Music to Fight Evil' list. What I wanted to achieve was a soundtrack to the every day struggles that so many of us face.
I've battled with the urge to just ignore your alarm and stay in bed, because the prospect of getting up and facing the day was simply too much to bear. I've endured the social quagmire of dealing with total fucking bellends on an almost daily basis and making it home without resorting to extreme tactics. I've embraced the courage it requires to check your bank balance two weeks from payday (and accepting the consequences of such am enquiry, too).
We're lead to believe from almost all avenues of institutionalised thought - be that mass media, religion, or the education system - that everything holds some divine purpose, and that we're all part of something bigger than ourselves or that everything in life is leading up to some great climactic event.
Whether or not this is the case was never supposed to be addressed by this list. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of our time spent on this planet isn't in the throes of some cinematic encounter, but instead in the every day tasks we have to navigate in order to make it through to the end of the day unscathed. This list was designed to provide a soundtrack to the mundane tasks in our life, because as mundane as they are, they're essential.
We're much better off when we find a way to enjoy the boring stuff, because if you can live each moment of your life with enjoyment and contentment, you'll find it much easier to make it to the end with a big ol' smile on your face.
That's what 'Music to Save the World to' is about - saving your own, personal world.
7/ What does a track have to have to make it onto your list, is there something special that you look for?
I can't deny that I have a bias toward electronic music. It's true that I get a lot of track submissions that, on paper, are perfect for the list in terms of theme. But I have to actually like the song, and it's simply the case that I prefer music that at the very least has very strong electronic elements. Yes, there are tracks from Kasabian and Enter Shikari and Bring Me the Horizon on my list, bands that would more or less fall into the categories or rock or metal, but if you listen to those tracks, it's quite clear why they appeal to my electronic sensibilities.
But that special something that I look for above all else is story. I want to know how your track can help a person listening to it with an aspect of the human struggle that hasn't otherwise been addressed by another song on the list. I want to know that what's being sent to me is real, that it's a product of blood, sweat and tears, that it's raw and emotional and will resonate with people. A track with no story is a track with no heart, no substance, and therefore no place on my list!
8/ What can an artist do in their track submission to your list to ensure that you'll listen to their track?
This feeds from what I said in the previous question, but it's the single most important thing in deciding whether I'll even consider a track that's sent to me - tell me the story behind the track. Tell me why this song is right for the list, and why someone who's listened to previous entries and read previous write-ups would enjoy your track as the next logical instalment in the saga.
At the end of the day, I have to be able to convey your song's message to my audience, so if you don't even know what your song is about, how on earth am I supposed to be able to figure it out!?
One thing that has absolutely no bearing on my decision to playlist a track is what I call 'number flexing' - when an artist basically just reels off a list of stats (streams, social followers etc.) to me, as if that somehow is all the explanation that's needed for me to include their song on my list. It's as if they think they're doing me a favour by providing me the opportunity to have their song on my list!
Whether an artist has a hundred followers or a hundred thousand is irrelevant to me. What's relevant is a song that vibes well with my admittedly eclectic song selection, and tells a story along the way.
9/ We know - these change all the time - but as of this week - what are your all time top 5 favorite tracks.
I'm gonna go all renegade cop here and instead choose the five songs that I feel most define what my list is about. These are the five quintessential 'Save the World' tracks, and if you're thinking of making a track submission, then these are the five that you should listen to and read the write-ups - they will be your guide!
All five of these songs evoke strong mental imagery in the listener, painting soundscapes that traverse the physical location in which they're being listened to. It's not just the lyrics that need to be telling a story!
10/ And finally - which Music to Curator should we interview next?
Despite being one of newer curators, Paul from Music to Shake A Hoof has been a powerful influence on the Music to community. I think it's time we heard from the horse's mouth what his list is all about (pun totally intended)!