Dance-punk’s not dead — it is just playing R&B in Bushwick.
As the bass player for Brooklyn indie band the Rapture, Mattie Safer achieved the kind of success most musicians can only dream of — international tours, magazine covers, awards, and a major-label record deal. But in 2009, after a decade in the band, Safer felt like he had hit a wall creatively. So he did what most musicians would never dream of — he quit.
“It was one of the most freeing things that I’ve ever done,” said the Greenpoint resident. “It was hard to walk away, but once I did I felt like I was standing up straight again.”
Five years later, Safer may not be selling out arenas, but he said he has found his own musical voice, trading in post-punk party songs for the sounds of soul and R&B that have comforted and inspired him since his teens.
“When I’m chilling at home, I’m listening to Earth Wind & Fire and Mary J. Blige,” Safer said. “That’s what feels most natural to me.”
The work he has recorded to date has a ’70s sheen to it, reminiscent of some of Stevie Wonder’s best work and given a warm glow thanks to his bubbly bass work and emotive vocals.
Safer said it is a platform that has allowed him to express some of his deepest fears and greatest aspirations.
“Everything I’ve been writing is really about waking up and figuring out how to really live and live a life that has meaning to me,” he said.
So far, Safer has only made a few scattered tracks available online, otherwise keeping himself busy with DJ gigs and production work. But now the 33-year-old musician is getting ready to step back into the spotlight.
He is putting the finishing touches on his first solo album, which will be released in spring of next year through Wolf Tone, the label of big-time record producer Paul Epworth, who has worked on songs and albums for Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Paul McCartney (and also co-wrote a little track you might have heard once or twice called “Rolling in the Deep.”)
In the meantime, Safer plans to build momentum with more live shows. On Aug. 23, he will play an art party called Kaleidoscopic at event space Lot 45 in Bushwick, and he currently has a monthly residency at the Flat in Williamsburg.
By the time his album drops, Brooklyn will hopefully have a better idea of who he is — beyond “that guy from the Rapture.” And Safer hopes he will, too.
“I just want to continue to build an audience and continue to expand and to get to know myself a little better doing that,” he said.
Mattie Safer plays Kaleidoscopic at Lot 45 (411 Troutman St. between Wyckoff and St. Nicholas avenues in Bushwick, www.kaleid