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Touching down with Mat the Alien

the popular Whistler DJ dashes from gig to gig around the continent after 20 years at the resort
DJ, SPin that... Mat the Alien at work. The Whistler DJ works around the country as well as at home. Photo submitted

Maybe the best way to catch up with Whistler DJ Mat the Alien is at an airport.

Mat landed on the shores of Great Slave Lake last weekend, a couple of hundred kilometres south of the Arctic Circle.

He touched down at The Elk 314 bar in Yellowknife, his first-ever gig in the Northwest Territories.

"I've been to Whitehorse, that's the furthest north until now," he says.

"It's a smaller scene, but people really appreciate you going up to smaller towns... When I go to towns that other DJs won't go to, I've found people appreciate that you've made it there and they're really into the music."

He has built his career to the point where he is in demand all across the country and beyond.

"Usually, I tour every weekend. The weekend before Yellowknife I was in Ottawa, Sherbrooke and Toronto. And this weekend I'm in Regina and Thunder Bay, or something," Mat says.

"I've had some years where I'll play in Whistler one night, Vancouver the next night, then Montreal the next night and Mexico the next night. Then you realize you're really tired and getting sick. Now it's different. It takes a bit of planning."

Later in May, there will be a Bass Coast tour to Portland and Seattle, followed by the summer festivals — including a set at the Squamish Valley Music Festival. He will also be at Shambala and Atmosphere.

That's a dizzying amount of territory to cover.

"If I play in Whistler now it will be mid-week," he says.

The rest of the week will find him at home, making new music.

Last summer, Mat put out his album Alienated, which he describes of "all kinds of styles and tempos" of bass music.

"This summer, I am pulling together people from all over and we will be remixing tracks from that album," he says.

"People like (Vancouver hip hop band) Pigeon Hole, (Nelson, B.C., DJ) Adham Shaikh, and (American musician) Sinister. It's interesting when you give people the tracks you've made and they rip them apart. Interesting to see what they come up with."

Both albums will be available on Mat the Alien's record label Really Good Records. He also uses the label to put out one or two Canadian bass music compilations per year.

Mat has been a fixture in Whistler nightclubs for 20 years, moving to the resort from the U.K. He likes that we are on the big-tour circuit for DJs from around the world, where they will perform in L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver — and Whistler.

"The key with Whistler, too, is that a lot of towns can't support mid-week shows, but at ski towns the mid-week show is fine. They will have their busiest locals nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, whereas in cities it's weekends. Booking agents are keyed into that," Mat says.

"A lot of people have heard about the scene here, too, and they want to come and check it out."

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