Mat Playford BiographyElectronic music is littered with the ghosts of 'next big things' and 'ones to watch' fallen by the wayside, so willing are we in these times to uncover the artist that's next bound for stardom, however short their shelf-life. Some are in it for nefarious purposes, to build them up and take their cut, others simply putting in the hours, hoping to be the one that digs up a gem. But history tells us so many of these burn bright and fall away, whether one-hit wonders overtaken by hype, or unwilling to put in the hard yards when they hit the big time. It's not all gloom though, because for every fifty unworthy upstarts, there occasionally comes the real deal. You may not believe in Malcolm Gladwell's magic number, that threshold of investment of time and energy that separates the legends from the also-rans, but the truth is often simpler than the cliched fiction: those successes are often some way more than 'overnight', and in Mat Playford's case, he's one of the UK's longest overnight successes. 'The epithet of ‘proper’ is used in front of many that don’t deserve it, but in this case it’s well-earned as a musician and more. His relationship with electronic music runs way deeper than the usual post-pubescent teenage awakening in some dark pulsating corner of a club. Mat's love-affair with the synth goes back to when he was barely walking, immersed in the 80s godfathers: Giorgio Moroder, Jean-Michel Jarre et al. Some kids collected football stickers, or spent their free time sneaking a cheeky smoke behind the bike shed, but for Mat Playford, hardware was his first giddy crush, and it's never left him. At 14 he was putting parties on, and constructing his own studio, and at 18 he left his St Albans home to study at Leeds college of music for five years, further immersing himself in a scene he was fast realising would shape more than his teenage years. Obsession is a strong word, but for him music is a way of life, far more than merely one strand of his existence. When many would've launched straight into the tough slog of self-promotion, the next stop on the journey was again a right-angle turn, steering away from the path of least resistance that so many follow. Taking an opportunity that many would give a limb for, he experienced New York through the musical prism of Sandy Rivera and Angel Moraes, who, like the Big Apple's club scene were at the top of their game. Invaluable lessons were learnt, and an appreciation for the long game firmly grasped, and yet Playford's near future saw him starting his own record shop, Play Music, in Leeds, which garnered a nomination in Muzik's Best Independent Record Store category, rather than simply ply his trade in the clubs of his adopted city. Cramming a veteran's years into his short career was all part of the process that took him to where he is now, where the apparent effortlessness is in reality built on month upon month of single-minded, committed effort. When music production finally began to take centre stage, he'd already collaborated with Paul Woolford, the then Basics resident that he'd form a steadfast bond with until the present day, and who he'd aptly follow to Space's legendary Terraza. Also at the centre of his musical venn diagram is Tom Gray, his partner in the genre-bending Wierdo Police, the production pairing and live act that's dominated the last six years of his career, and with whom he formed Architech, sitting alongside his own Social Problem imprint. Work with a menagerie of knob-twiddlers has spanned the beats of Tim Deluxe, Clive Henry, Darren Emerson, Sandy Rivera and Pete Herbert, while Playford's gigs reflect his refreshing lack of snobbery or filtering, beyond clubs he knows will embrace his own energy and digest his blend of spacey, vibey house music. A regular at Space since 2008, he's hit everywhere from Snowbombing and South West Four to Tresor and Mulletover, with a plan only aimed squarely at inviting as many as possible to share in his infatuation with music, and his never-forgotten joy in the realisation he's one of the lucky few that get to follow their dreams every weekend and be paid to live them. 2011 stands to be a landmark year, with a residency on Space's Terrace in the summer on a White Isle whose demise has been once against greatly exaggerated, and the honour of debuting a new compilation series for We Love to launch the summer's madness. Eschewing the 'best of' compilations - nearly dovetailing Playford's own career path and muscial ethos - We Love… Artist Portraits 01 is a double disc that divides itself between his pigeonhole-evading Weirdo Police material and a mix that perfectly captures the mystical Terraza's atmosphere and energy as it builds on a Sunday evening. While many mixes that traverse musical boundaries ultimately dilute an artist’s potency, here it simply affirms that Playford's strength lies in his ability to navigate any style with a commitment and passion that runs through every track like a spine. Adding to this idiosyncrasy, and squaring the circle that began his passion as a child, is his own lovingly-constructed synth, a modern museum piece, that allows him to sprinkle his own magical production dust over the records he plays, and judging by its debut at the Sunday shindig's opening weekend, like its operator, it's set to become a fixture between now and October in a year when Mat Playford stops being repainted as a next big thing, and simply becomes big.