The Mutaytor – Igniting A Scene (Matty Nash Inteview)

What do you get when you combine tribal drums, live-mixed electronica, fire performers, hoop dancers, aerial artists, John Avila (Oingo Boingo) on bass, Steve Reid (Rippingtons/Supertramp) on percussion, a live horn section, chine parade lions, giant screen visuals and a bevy of interactive dancers and performers? The Mutaytor – kind of like your birthday, Christmas, Halloween and New Years Eve all rolled up into one.

“The whole purpose of our group is to ignite and inspire the creative potential of each and every audience member…not just at the concert, but throughout the rest of their lives as well.”

Glide spoke with the founder of The Mutaytor, Matty Nash, about his multi-visual stage spectacle that is igniting the scene.

The Mutaytor performed at The Green Apple Music Festival in NYC and as part of the Jammys with a varied and esteemed group of players. Describe a few of your favorite moments from the experience.

Mutaytor was very proud to collaborate with Mickey Hart, Mike Gordon, Steve Kimock and Baaba Maal at The Green Apple Music Festival. We played a number of different shows with that lineup, creating very unique experiences and musical magic each time. The Jammys concert was amazing, because we got to help arrange and adapt classics such as “Jingo Ba”, “VooDoo Chile” and “Iko Iko,” giving Deadheads a taste of modern versions of their favorites…and these songs went over amazingly well with the audiences.

The highlight of our week was being joined onstage by media icon Walter Cronkite at our Grand Central Station performance. Walter joined us onstage and was drumming on a big drum with a mallet and smiling and winking at the Mutyator performers, and having the time of his life. It was a very special, surreal and inspired collaboration and we had a lot of fun playing with those legends.

You performed at Wakarusa and will be at 10K Lakes Festival and other festivals this summer. What are some of the challenges in taking your show on the road?

Each Mutaytor performance is unique and different, and we have some very specialized special effects, stunts and customized music instruments…creating a unique and once-in-a-lifetime show every time we perform. Some of the wilder things we do are pyro effects like a flame-throwing electric guitar, multiple aerialists doing tricks in the air, and invading the stage with Chinese parade lions and anime characters. Some of the challenges are adapting our large stage show to venues and events that have limited space, ceiling height, ventilation, etc. Safety is first and foremost, so occasionally we have to pare down some of our crazier elements, but we can compensate by doing more interactive sequences with the audience to make up the difference.

You use a lot of fire in your performances. What kind of regulations and safety issues do you deal with there?

Mutaytor has been performing with fire since 1999, and we’ve had to undertake a great deal of training, rehearsal and education to create safe, legal fire shows in every city that we perform in. We have a rigorous checklist and safety data sheet that address dozens of variables for every show, and we work closely with the fire departments and municipal codes at every venue. We do a very safe, but exciting fireshow and many of our devices and creations are one-of-a-kind.

The Mutaytor seems to be building bridges between the Burning Man and jamband communities. Describe what happens when those two worlds collide.

Both of those communities share an open-mindedness, curiosity, and exploration of new and unchartered territories as it relates to music and performance. We’ve performed for Burning Man audience for seven years, but we’ve only performed for Jamband audiences for a half year, and the Jamband audiences are experiencing us for the first time at these festivals. They love the artistry, theatrical elements, fire, costumes, and characters that we’ve developed and it’s allowing them to hear new kinds of sounds with our DJ/electronic music matched with our rock band components.

How do you manage communications with such a large cast? Where do you rehearse?

The geek factor for Mutaytor is off the charts: behind the scenes, we are all very into computers, technology, and building highly specialized internal systems to ensure that communication and coordination are perfectly in place. We operate as a hive collective, and each person is aware of the functions of their jobs, as well as how these interlock collectively. Our production installations are built very quickly and efficiently and our workplace is a fun and easy place to be. We rehearse in our own 3,300 square foot warehouse located in Downtown Los Angeles, and we call our headquarters Smashlabs. The Smashlabs is fully functional and outfitted with dancefloor, soundsystem, storage, workshop (welding, rigging, carpentry) and a large yard outside with our trapeze and aerial rigs and space to rehearse our firedancing and pyro effects.

In a recent article, Guy Laliberte, CEO of Cirque du Soleil said that what he does works because he balances creativity and business. As a performer, how do you manage that balance? Will there come a day when the business will take you away from performing as part of Mutaytor?

I envision that my role will constantly be evolving and adapting, and I work hard to maintain the balance between the creative and business worlds. Everyone in our troupe is a utilitarian player, and we all blend multiple business tasks with creative tasks. I hope to always be able to encourage the dream scenarios for all of our players, and I love to be involved in both of those universes.

Mutaytor’s cast of characters come in all shapes and sizes. Do you consider Mutaytor a haven for performers to come that don’t fit into conventional performer roles based on a particular look?

I think that each Mutaytor cast member is able to realize a lot of their performance and creative dreams here that they couldn’t dream of pursuing in other projects. There is no ceiling or limitations here, and we do look for unique talents that don’t fit in conventional shows.

To keep the show fresh, do you continually consider adding new members with different talents or work on expanding the repertoire of tricks the current performers have?

We expand the current repertoire of tricks a lot more than add new players. The turnover rate in Mutaytor is exceedingly low for how large and developed our show is. We try to encourage new content all the time, and adapt and develop new acts as well as re-invent older material to always have a new look and sound.

Where do you see The Mutaytor in five years?

Our goals as a group are to build up our audiences to be a top draw in the concert and touring world in North America first, then translate that into audiences in Asia, Europe, South America and other world destinations. We want to create new CDs, DVDs and other releases which capture the energy and experience of our live shows. We hope to build open-ended installations in Las Vegas, Broadway, Europe and Asia, following the Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group molds. We hope to also use our music and perfomance for community service and for charity groups, such as Special Olympics, drum circles in for patients and elderly, and creating non-profit organizations to teach music, dance and perfomance skills for underprivileged kids.




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