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Meet Matt FX, the man behind Broad City's dope soundtrack

The New York native makes sure each series is packed with bangers

  • Sydney Megan Jow
  • 31 March 2016

Abbi and Ilana deserve the very best soundtrack.

They're two ‘broads’ who live in New York City, diving head first into hilariously unfortunate, and all too relatable situations. From priceless one-night stands with the DJs they met at a swanky club opening, to a very real number-two situation with a crush trapped in a hurricane hideout, the girls of Broad City bring to the table a form of new-school comedy that mirrors the life of mid-twenties NYC, no-holds barred.

The show, produced by Amy Poehler and written by and starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, is one of Comedy Central’s most successful programmes.

But what’s a raunchy or cringe-worthy laugh-til-you-cry scene without the perfect background music? The show is known for its dope soundtrack and fans expect nothing less. Each track needs to move seamlessly in tandem with the rollercoaster of emotions shown by the show’s characters. That’s where Matt FX comes in, Broad City’s musical director.

Raised by a conductor whose strict musical methods taught him the power of sound at a very early age, Matt knew from childhood that he was destined to inspire people through ‘speaking music’. At eight years old, he enlisted in a Catholic boarding school where he became a professional boy soprano performing six times a week for five years in churches around the world, including the Sistine Chapel. The musical creative attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, where he befriended a young Azealia Banks and immersed himself in the Brooklyn DIY rock scene, going on to familiarise himself with electronic music.

After a short stint in Glasgow for university, Matt returned to New York City. The young artist managed to lock down a position as the musical supervisor for the American adaption of the hit UK show Skins. Although the programme ended earlier than expected, Matt took home the gold as the first curator to land Phantogram, Aluna George, and Clockwork (more famously known as RL Grime) on national television.

Fast forward to today: Matt FX is now known as the ardent musical director of Broad City. He’s recognizable on the hip NYC music scene and always greets with a smile. To add to his repertoire, he’ll be appearing at the UK’s AIM Sync Licensing Conference as this year’s Keynote Speaker, where he’ll discuss music licensing, sampling, and pick apart 10 tracks live, presented by major labels including Warp, 4AD and XL.

Intensely fascinating and unmistakably talented, we decided to sit down with Matt to discuss his creative process, musical tastes, and why audio elements play a huge role in visual programming. Added bonus? Matt has also made a special mix exclusively for Mixmag, highlighting tracks he's used on the last three seasons of the show.

Q+A and a mix of Broad City tracks by Matt below.

It’s been obvious that musical components play a huge role in setting the mood. Tell us about the importance of this to you, especially when it comes to comedic content.

Music is incredibly important when putting TV and film together. A good song can make or break a scene. Regardless of comedy, drama, horror, the music needs to play off the emotions and context. For me, it’s all about looking at the characters, the setting, the colors on the screen and going from there.

You’ve been known to choose some very interesting, lesser known artists in the show. How do you curate and find these tracks?

In some ways, I think I let the songs find me. I put a lot of time into grinding as a DJ in Brooklyn - being constantly surrounded by like-minded people has made my experiences as a supervisor much easier. Social media is also my best friend for music searching. I firmly stand that the song will come to you if you just keep your ears open.

A perfect example: last summer I was stressing heavy when Abbi and Ilana told me I needed to find a song to pair with a club scene. The hip hop track had to be A+ and easily licensed. I had been searching for quite some time when the song literally fell into my lap after being dragged out to the Manhattan super club, Up & Down. K Rizz’s 'Yes Bitch' is now the official song for the season’s commercials and is featured prominently in episode 6!

You’re also a DJ with the Tribes NY crew. How has your experiences as a DJ, creating mood for a club setting, helped you with Broad City’s musical direction?

It’s funny, DJing and working with Broad City is so similar, but so different. With the show, its about bouncing from vibe to vibe, serving the episode at hand with its twists and turns and various genres. With DJing, its building the vibe and progression. I’m merely a servant to something greater in both environments, it's as much about being an artist as providing a service for people that supplies their mood.

What are some of your favorite scenes and musical pairings from the show so far?

There are so many! I think in season one my best flex was episode 9 where the girls relentlessly scour the city for a new apartment with little help from an overzealous real estate broker. In season two, episode five, the fast-paced party hopping scene was my favorite to score. Soundtracking an illegal rooftop party scene definitely cut my teeth as a DJ! This season, episode 6 is going to be absolutely crazy and the music is my favorite so far. Stay tuned for that one!

[Featured image: Jerm Cohen]

Sydney Megan Jow is Mixmag's US Digital Content Editor. Follow her on Twitter