Matt Lutz founded Classical Trax (CT) in his bedroom back in 2014 as a Facebook group for young producers to swap tracks—today, it's a full-blown platform for up-and-coming artists from around the world. The group's size and influence is expanding rapidly, and they now have a monthly slot on NTS radio, a SoundCloud chock full of premieres, and a mix series on their website.
This week marks the release of the crew's second compilation Jamz! Vol. 2—a sprawling 31-track exploration of club sounds from New York, LA, the UK, Italy and beyond. (Jamz! Vol. 1 dropped last year in October.) The digital-only release is split across 2 "sides" and a range of styles, from bass and grime to more straightforward 4/4 techno cuts.
THUMP is excited to premiere the B-side of Jamz! Vol. 2 ahead of its full release on Thursday (February 11). We also spoke with Lutz over email about how he decided which tracks made the cut, why CT isn't a typical record label (hint: there's a lot less bullshit), and where they're going in the future.
THUMP: Classical Trax has grown a lot since its inception. How do you view CT as a platform for rising producers as it continues to grow? And how does CT differ from a typical record label?
Matt Lutz: Classical Trax is a great platform! I used to go on forums when I was in college. I started getting into grime, and other areas of dance music like techno, house, bassline, funky, juke—and I grew up in Baltimore so I was already surrounded by Baltimore Club on the radio.
The group gives producers and DJs a way to connect with people who are into the same things musically. Many of these artists may not have that outlet where they are located and the internet is a great tool to help them. A big thing happening now is collaboration and connecting in real life. I love the ability to do CT meet-ups when any of the members travel. We can hang out, eat, and go to shows so that sense of community isn't just online.
There's a lot of musical diversity on Jamz! 2. What ties all these tracks together? How do they represent what CT is about?
Classical Trax isn't about any one particular genre, but the group was founded on a love for club music. I want these compilations to represent not only the artists but the sounds that evolve in and outside the group.
As the curator of this comp, how did you decide which tracks made the cut? Did you make any rules for yourself during the selection process?
The selection process is really quite easy. I try to choose the artists based off members in the groups and what kind of sounds or mixes they have been feeling at the moment. I will then sit down and ask about 30 to 40 members that weren't on the previous comp and ask them to make whatever they are feeling. The only rule is to make sure we aren't using producers that were already on a previous comp.
All of the material on the new compilation sounds very polished. Were you involved in the production of these tracks, or do you just take stuff as it comes?
I want the artists to feel like they are doing this more so than me so whatever they send is great and I even let them master and mix how they want!
Can we expect CT club nights in the future?
Classical Trax has already done three events in DC, San Francisco and NY. Right now we are looking around for our next live event. I want to feature up-and-coming, diverse artists—that way we are doing something honest and sincere. DIY is the best way in terms of how to approach our events. Obviously that could change at some point and we could work with a few sponsors but it's about building within the community!
I honestly don't know what comes next [for CT], but we provide outlets much like a record label does without all the BS. Record labels are a great source of pride for people to release their music, but times are changing. We need different platforms along with labels to get people's music out there. We have to think of new ways to get people involved.
Classical Trax will release Jamz! Vol. 2 digitally through Bandcamp on February 11.