Disco: a glitter-coated pop music cheese-fest that hit its prime in the ‘70s… right? Maybe not, as in the past decade several notable artists have lead the disco revival with a modern upgrade in the form of nu-disco. The London-based Mighty Mouse is one such DJ helping to introduce this generation of club-goers to the genre with his own fresh perspective.
Matthew Haymes, the man behind the Mouse, was first introduced to electronic music when his brother brought home a 12” copy of New Order’s “Blue Monday”. The synthesizers quickly did the trick and, with additional help from the likes of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, Haymes was won over as a true fan. His mother’s ABBA records also inspired a love for disco, and this combination would set the foundation for the Mighty Mouse sound years later.
What began as trying out playing vinyl at a house party quickly developed into a full on obsession:
“I moved in with a friend [who] had decks and I’d just play on those decks every night all night as much as humanly possible. It was just all I could do. Every penny went on records. It became an absolute addiction. I wasn’t trying to make music at that point, I was just obsessed with playing records.”
As part of his new passion for DJing, Haymes began hunting for rare and obscure disco records. He found that he favored eclectic sounds that were different from the norm, but he wasn’t sure how he could make money DJing such unique music.
Enter Lindstrøm. This Norwegian producer lead the nu-disco movement in the early 2000s and inspired Haymes to incorporate disco into his own sound.
“I started hearing Lindstrøm when he started the nu-disco sound nine or ten years ago. That’s when I was like, ‘Hang on a minute, he’s doing something a bit different to everything else that’s not just straight up house music,’ which I was a bit bored of… It was this idea of you can do 4/4 but it can be dancey and it can be different and it can be a bit out there… Lindstrøm, Horse Meat Disco, and Aeroplane showed me that you can play any form of disco records and people will dance.”
Now, Mighty Mouse has a defined sound that is both vintage and modern, combining the best of both worlds. Haymes favors music that is loose and funky, that sounds like it could have been made during the disco heyday but with a contemporary edge.
“When I’m going to do an edit I like it to feel a bit like it was made back then, and probably add a little bit of shine so it feels more modern and current… I just love the feel of music that was made in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It hits a nerve with me, and I quite like trying to make modern versions of it.”
Haymes recently returned from touring in the U.S., during which he was able to introduce club audiences to disco music. He noticed an innocence and an excitement in the crowd’s reaction to what he was playing — the look of people discovering disco for the first time. Haymes spoke about this experience with the joy of someone excited to share their passion with others, a desire that drives much of his DJing and production philosophy.
“I want to remind people that disco is a whole world of unheard of music, rare gems, and modern stuff. Disco was a movement. Music in the ‘60s wasn’t in clubs. These late night parties didn’t exist. [Disco happened] when music moved into the clubs in the ‘70s. At the end of the day I think house and techno all came from disco. We all play disco in our own way. I just have a passion for stuff that sounds quite vintage and retro.”
And he’s right — without the club culture that disco inspired, and the rhythmic 4/4 beat that laid the foundation for house and techno in the next decade, the landscape of electronic music would look very different today. Haymes’ quest to introduce this generation’s electronic music fans to the music that began it all is a noble one, and his fresh take on disco accomplishes this quite well.
Between DJing as Mighty Mouse and working on his second project, his band Du Tonc, Haymes keeps himself quite busy. Du Tonc allows him to fulfill his musician side with live instruments and more lyrically-based songs, while Mighty Mouse satisfies his infatuation with DJing disco records.
Now back at home following his recent tour, Haymes has returned to his studio in peaceful North England to work on new Mighty Mouse and Du Tonc material. He intends to release several new edits this year, as well as an original Mighty Mouse single at the end of the year with an EP to follow.