With a silver selling debut album 'What's That Noise' they broadened their horizons and moved into the record label arena, setting up Ninjatune, by anyone's guess one of the highest respected of all British indies. Several albums later and the boys were involved in multimedia with Rob Pepperell's Hex, providing showpieces of multimedia and toys for the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and the Barbican. Their radio career, now removed from Kiss, had spawned the influential 'Solid Steel' mixes, with their 'Journeys by DJ' mix of 1997 regarded by many as the best mix album ever conceived. Their last album, however, was seven years ago, and 'Let Us Play' marked their first long player on their home label.
Fast forward to 2005, and 'Sound Mirrors', their fifth album and a truly remarkable piece of work.
Black agrees, in a modest sense, displaying a quiet pride at what the group has achieved. "It is better, yes. There's a coherency there that's a bit lacking in some of the earlier albums, and some of the tracks we've done - 'Mr Nichols', or 'True Skool' (which features Roots Manuva) are among the best we've ever made!" The work with Roots Manuva has been particularly beneficial, and it's not long before Black is talking about the South Londoner in glowing terms. "I think he's been the first person to take hip hop and put it with the UK mixed race experience and really make it work. He's a hugely talented artist but his ego is still well under control which is refreshing to see. He's a really interesting person as well because he's quite mysterious, and he doesn't 'front out' too much - you can tell there's a sensitive person there."
As is often the case, Black's passion for music stems from what his parents listened to. "I didn't train musically in any formal sense. I'm learning to play guitar this year, but other than that, nothing. My Mum and Dad used to play a lot of music in the house, and I致e just bought a CD of the Temperance Seven (a traditional jazz band) ・they were a favourite of my Dad's, and he was at Art College with them. Musically they'e so good, good to dance to, and my girlfriend is a huge fan also ・she's even learnt to Charleston! When I did 羨n Hour To Make This・on Radio 1, I took a Temperance Seven tune, 舛harlie My Boy・ and mixed it up with Crazy Titch, who's one of the top London grime MCs at the moment. Their version of 羨utumn Leaves・is another favourite, and of course we did our own version.・More simplistic forms of music at school also had an effect on Matt. 展e used to have 全inging Together・at school, and we used to sing funny kids・songs like 前ld Mr Tucker・・I even won a Swiss holiday through singing at school! It's surprising how well these tunes go with more contemporary beats, and I'm always thinking how we could be more eclectic. I'm just about ready to get into classical music now!・
Among his many influences, Matt lists Josh White, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Ottilie Patterson, Betty Smith and Fats Waller. Not to mention the radio. "I got into Radio 1, and Benny Hill's 'Arnie The Milkman' and I loved the usual 70s rock and pop. I ran the disco at school, that was・shit! 31 years ago! I used to do sounds and lightshows, using Moonwalker・toys!・
After twenty years of writing dance music, the boys retain a freshness to their writing. He'll it's like, I'll talk in terms of hybrids, casting one's net around, trying to keep the genetic pool wide, rich and healthy rather than restricting yourself to monoculture. There's no excuse for not trying something new, really, unless you'e a hamburger manufacturer who's found the sauce of the week! I like the sensation that we'e on the bleeding edge・ as it were. It's the same with gadgets, too ・I used to be a gadget freak but now I resent being a tester. I壇 like to think we致e been in pole position for a while now, in both fields!・
So how does he find his partner in crime Jonathan? We'e getting on better, and find our ideas can all be translated pretty easily now. We'e going to do our best work yet, though, mark my words. I strongly believe the best is yet to come, although I'm pleased that journos say this is a good step forward, I'm satisfied. If your extended tribe can give you good feedback as well, that means a lot. Who was it said, 土ou shouldn't read your press, just weigh it!・It does affect you if someone says it's shit, and you'e shit. Who's strong enough to be totally unaffected by that?・
And who's strong enough to be unaffected by Coldcut's mammoth tour schedule?! Paging down the enormous list of dates on Ninja's website, fatigue sets in long before the end! 的t's kicking in now. Well, we'll do it, I'm 44, and I don't feel old or tired. I feel full of go at the moment, but a few weeks on the bus will sort me out! Anyway, fuck it, it's better than working down at the coalmine.・Are the parents attending? Yes. I'm actually getting closer to being like my Dad. He's an artist, and he likes the album, likes the artwork, can hear some echoes of the stuff he listens to. He wants to be a performer, even to sing with some of our stuff, so we might do something with him!・
Coldcut started Ninjatune back in 1993. Asked if the label's success is in any way surprising, Matt responds warmly. "Is life a surprise to you? (expressive pause) That was a bit too profound! We just thought that if we build it, they will come. We built it and they did come. They'e a bunch of obsessive, dedicated and lovely people. Sure, we would like to make a lot of money out of it, but it's a lot what the climate's like at the time. We're all still got the restlessness, and I think that's a big part of it. I read an interview with Grandmaster Flash in the Big Issue, and he was saying, 的 want to be master of my trade and I'm not there yet.・I thought it was modest and revealing. In this business you adopt it as a lifetime's work. And as my girlfriend puts it, 殿rtists don't retire!粕
Black admits that for this year, the tour is it. We'e making a live show which is a really good product and keeps us at the front of audio visual entertainment, and we'e being encouraged to focus on this. A couple of other things we'e working on are www.nowthemovie.org, where people send their own footage in and we combine it as a collage ・that should be at our live shows. Also there's our 'V-jam 3', the standard version which is an amazing tool at just fifty quid!・
Black is relaxed, assured in the knowledge Coldcut's music and visuals are still moving from strength to strength, and covering new ground. And with such a well-received album in the bag, his continued modesty is refreshing.