Matthew Halsall

Manchester based composer, producer, trumpeter, DJ and founder of Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall is one of UK’s most creative talents. A gifted trumpeter with a beautiful, expressive tone, his music has explored his love of the transcendental spiritual and modal jazz of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as more contemporary dance music and electronica. Matthew Halsall plays Gondwana Records’ 10th anniversary show on Saturday, 3rd November 2018 at Säälchen.


1: In 2012 Matthew’s ‘On The Go’ album won best jazz album of the year at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards.

2: In 2013 British musician, producer and DJ Bonobo selected one of Matthew’s tracks (Sailing Out To Sea) for his ‘Late Night Tales’ compilation.

3: In 2016 Matthew collaborated with the legendary DJ / producer DJ Shadow on the track ‘Ashes To Oceans’ from the album ‘The Mountain Will Fall’.


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
My music is inspired by lots of things from travelling, meditation, nature, art, film and of course listening to other music, both past and present.

2. How and when did you get into making music?
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I discovered jazz very early on (at six years old), when my parents took me to a concert where I heard a local jazz big band do explosive covers of Miles Davis’s Milestones and Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night In Tunisia and although I was very young at the time, this experience had a lasting affect on me and I felt very drawn to the trumpet and in particular the types of characters who played it, so I began to have lessons. I also studied the piano and drums and spent a lot of time listening to my parents eclectic record collection, and I remember being fascinated by the various recording techniques people like Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles were using and always loved opening out the gatefold LP covers to look at the artwork, and I think it was a combination of appreciating all these things that inspired me to start performing, writing and recording my own music.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda
Pharoah Sanders – Journey To The One
The Cinematic Orchestra – Everyday
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
A Tribe Called Quest – Low End Theory

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I have very happy memories of performing in Berlin at Emmauskirche and Funkhaus as part of the XJAZZ Festival and I’ve also spent a lot of time in the city enjoying the many beautiful parks, cafes, restaurants, bars, music venues and record shops. Another thing I associate with the city is its rich history in both architecture and design and I always try to visit places such as the Bauhaus Archive Museum or architectural places of interest when I’m in the city.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I’ve spent many hours composing and relaxing with friends and family in Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury, in South Manchester and I even dedicated my fourth album to this place, as it’s where I wrote everything.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I think I’d be an artist / painter in the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Picasso or maybe someone like Matisse, failing that I would like to be involved in the creation of films (even if they had no sound!), or be a photographer. I’d definitely do something visual.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Tropical Drums of Deutschland, compiled by Jan Schulte.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Ah, there’s so many people I would like to collaborate with, but here’s a few that are still living: Mulatu Astatke, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Pharoah Sanders, The Cinematic Orchestra, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Madlib, DJ Krush, Q-Tip, Roots Manuva, Bjork, Autechre and Theo Parrish.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Well over the years music has become quite popular in South Africa and I remember performing two very special concerts at Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg and the audiences really seemed to connect with the music I was playing and I remember people heckling for their favourite tunes I’d written and some people even sang and danced along and when I met some of the fans after the concert they were so happy for the experience and it made me think, that’s why music is so special.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I guess technology has allowed me to compose anywhere in the world and that is pretty amazing, however I’ve also written some of my favourite compositions on a simple upright acoustic piano or on my trumpet, so it’s not essential.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Yes, I have two older brothers (Daniel and Jonathan) and they’re both super supportive of my career and we all share a deep love of art, music and film, and luckily Daniel happens to be a fantastic graphic designer and he’s been working alongside me on the visual side of my record label (Gondwana Records) since the very beginning.

Matthew Halsall just dropped two new EPs as part of the Gondwana Orchestra. Journey In Satchidananda / Blue Nile and Colors feat. Dwight Trible are both available via Bandcamp.

Photo © Sorrel Higgins