Matt FX is on one hell of a ride. At just twenty-three, the New York native is the architect behind some of television’s greatest soundtracks, including Comedy Central’s breakout hit, Broad City. Currently working on FXX’s Man Seeking Woman and Amy Poehler’s upcoming series on Hulu, Matt also throws some of Manhattan’s hottest blowouts as part of Tribes NY. Ironically, the one thing he brags about is being able to make a scrumptious taco. Set to drop an EP later this summer, we called up Manhattan’s Zen musical prodigy to discuss curating the hottest tracks for Broad City and Skins.
What exactly do you do as a music supervisor?
As a music supervisor, I work with show-runners, directors, and the creative visionaries behind moving pictures. So with Broad City, I work with Abbi and Illana– they’re geniuses and very talented people. What I do is pick the music for the show within the constraints of the budget and licensing laws and things certain people might not be thinking about. I pretty much make sure we can afford the track. It’s about sound tracking the show and painting a musical picture behind the video.
How would you describe your relationship with Abbi and Illana?
It’s very close quarters. Music supervisors are usually the last people to join a production. Most shows go through a three-month production process, followed by post-production, and then the music supervisor gets dropped in. I’m not watching every scene, or reading every line—I’m just going to the scenes where there’s music and we take care of that emotional context and story. Its cool; it’s a great relationship where I work directly with all the editors.
How much of it is soundtrack versus sound design?
It really depends on the show and the need. There’s a lot of sound design stuff like pre established libraries or even setting the boundaries of what people can tolerate in sound design, sort of like raising the stakes of drama. But with sound tracking, it’s definitely more about getting music that already exists or getting producers to compose something.
Soundtrack is essentially its own character in many aspects.
Oh, for sure. In a show like Broad City, the music, and even New York City itself, is like two supporting cast members behind Abbi, Illana and Hannibal. I think the city is alive and the way the soundtrack is embedded in the show speaks for itself.
What do you look for in a song to capture that sense of character?
The first thing is to make sure whether or not I can afford it. I don’t even like to consider songs that are big budget tracks: I don’t want to eat up the budget if its impossible to get and I also don’t want to get everyone really excited about the song. It’s just a nightmare to replace, especially when people are attached to something; it’s hard to picture this scene with a new track. The biggest priority is whether or not it can fit the budget. Beyond that, it should be fresh, totally accurate for the show, and bang. All the things in music I would look for on my own.
How would you say the show’s sound has evolved over the years?
That’s a really good question, actually. Coming back for season two, one of the big things that I was thinking about was, “Do I hit up some of the same producers from last season or do I look for new people. Where’s the line? Do the producers from last season have more or less work on this one?” I think the sounds progressed in the first season in general; both the show and the soundtrack was a little bit more provisional. Having found our footing in season two allowed us to go in a bunch of different directions. You’ll see sequences like the China Town sequences where they do a Bourne Identity joke and fast paced action stuff. It was produced by someone who made a bunch of tracks for the show that sounded like normal rhapsody music.
You first got your big break with Skins at nineteen. How exactly did that come about?
I was actually 18 when I first got hired and I turned 19 on the job. Senior year [of high school], I met this girl who is now one of my best friends. She’d seen Rent on Broadway 133 times when I met her, and she became similarly as obsessed with Skins. She has an addictive personality for those types of shows and ended up tracking down the creator. They hit me up and said, “Hey, we are doing this show where people work on the script and tell stories of high school experiences. I was brought in and I immediately asked about the music and whether I could meet the guy doing it and help out as an intern. And then the next day I quit my day job.
Your father was a musician as well. Would you say that coming from a musical background has played a large part in your approach to music?
Oh, definitely. I love music supervising, but I think it’s only the beginning of my career. I love what I do, but I think I’m more of a musician.
Do you notice any similarities between music supervising and DJing?
Oh definitely it’s really just about cultivating the best ambience.
What goes through your head when you’re onstage controlling these crowds through music?
How am I going to get another drink? [Laughs]
What’s next on your agenda?
[I just released] my collaborative project, which I’ve been working on for a bit. It’s something that people have been very supportive over, especially Abbi and Illana. I’m going to be deejaying at a bunch of cool places and supervising other projects that I can’t talk about just yet and then moving on with Broad City.