I must admit, when I was invited along to the MTV SOL Mexican Street Party my level of excitement was along the lines of ‘Oooh I like beer, I like Mexican, I like MTV, I like parties and (lastly) I’ve heard of those Stafford Brothers before’. Then when I was asked if I wanted to interview the boys for Almost Famaus my first thought was ‘Are they too famous for Almost Famaus?’ and my second was, “What the HELL would I talk to them about?” DJ’s and house music are definitely not my forte!
So, I did my research. I learnt that Chris and Matt Stafford were recently named in the official DJ Mag Top 100 DJ List, which given there must be hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of DJ’s in the world, is a pretty amazing achievement. This year they signed with US Hip Hop label Cash Money Records alongside names such as Christina Milan and Lil Wayne, who they partnered with on their debut Cash Money single, Hello. If you think you haven’t heard it, look it up, chances are you have. I thought the same!
So on Friday night I dragged a girlfriend along to the MTV party, a little nervous about how the interview would go. After watching a few episodes of the Stafford Brothers reality show I had visions of an experience somewhere along the lines of trying to interview one of the Jackass guys, but to my surprise Matt and Chris Stafford were polite, engaging and as you can probably tell by the photos of me giggling like a school girl, really quite funny!
The first things that surprised me was Matt’s ability to remember my name after a very brief introduction about ten minutes before our interview. I’d been Googling these two all week and I was still worried I was going to forget which one was which. He told me he has something along the lines of a photographic memory for names and faces, a skill that I’m sure comes in quite handy when you meet as many people he would.
A few jokes about my inability to remember anyone’s name lead to Matt referring to me as “Steve from Almost Famaus” for the rest of the interview. I handed the guys my business card and told them a little about Almost Famaus, to which Matt responded, “Shit, Almost Famaus? I thought we were famous!”
Level of fame aside, it was nice to meet two Australian guys (yes they did assure me they are Australian citizens despite the strong Kiwi accents) who despite being incredibly successful, are still genuine down to earth guys just having a great time doing what they love.
AF: I watched a few episodes of your reality show this week, but I understand since that aired a lot has changed for you both. Can you talk me through what’s been going on over the past year or so?
Matt: It’s all a blurr, I don’t remember any of it. What’s your name again? I guess the biggest thing is we moved to America, based in LA, and we ended up signing with Cash Money Records.
AF: Signing with CMR, did that surpass all expectations you guys ever had for your career when you were starting out?
Matt: Well as a house DJ, you don’t think about being with Cash Money Records. It’s one of the biggest Hip Hop labels in the world.
Chris: As a DJ making house music, you don’t really think about it, you don’t think ‘these guys are making hip hop music, let’s go get signed to them’. However, we wanted to work with these artists when we moved to LA, like Lil Wayne who ended up on one of our records, these were the people, like Drake, who we wanted to work with and they are all under Cash Money, so it’s a huge honour to be involved with them.”
AF: For people starting out who think ‘I want to be a DJ, it’s going to be so glamorous’, I remember watching an episode of your show where you were stuck at Barcelona airport for about five hours and Matt, you looked liked you were about to kill yourself.
Chris: He did [kill himself]
Matt: This is a ghost, the shadow of me.
AF: How do you push through those moments? What inspires you to keep going?
Matt: (Raises his beer)
Chris: (Talking closely into microphone) You can’t see this, but this is a beer.
Matt: It’s this, Mexican beer. I just went to the bar and started drinking.
AF: But career wise, what pushes you to keep going?
Matt: (Points to his beer again)
Chris: It honestly helps you a lot of the time, you’ll get to a gig and you might feel like you just want to go to bed, but once you have a couple, you walk into that club and hear the music, you do just get the energy.
Matt: Have an energy drink, have some vodka, have some Jagermeister. You got a party!
AF: How long do you think you can keep it up?
AF: Mick Jagger style?
Matt: Well fuck, everyone says I look like him so…
AF: I did want to ask you actually, do people always tell you that you look like Dax Shepard ?
Matt: Who? I never heard of that person. Is he Almost Famaus?
AF: No he’s famous, he’s married to Kristen Bell.
Matt and Chris: (Blank faces)
AF: You live in LA, get with it!
Matt: I’m not in that whole scene, I know the music scene and I know who Batman is. Bruce Wayne.
Chris: There are so many people who he looks like.
Matt: Steven Tyler. Someone from Dumb and Dumber.
AF: Garth from Wayne’s World.
Matt: Yes! I can take that. The Scooby Doo guy (sings the Scooby Doo song)
AF: When you go to the hairdresser, is the brief ‘make me look like Garth from Wayne’s World?
Matt: I don’t go to the hairdresser! It is a stupid haircut though.
AF: Ok, we don’t need to talk about your haircut anymore. Can you give me your top three ‘What The Fuck’ moments when you realised how successful you’d become?
Matt: Meeting Alex from Almost Famaus, then going “we’re almost famous!” and then going “fuck, I thought we were bigger than that!”
Chris: What the fuck?
AF: Ok that’s top, so what’s number two?
Matt: Y’no what, hanging out with Bird Man (CMR Founder and CEO) and Lil Wayne and Tiger and all those crew in Birdman’s trailer, doing shots and actually partying with these dudes and you’re like ‘man, this isn’t the Gold Coast’ y’no? And these dudes are just covered in money, but cool as fuck, and so cool with us and I guess for me that was one of those moments where I was like ‘wow’.
AF: I heard that you guys just randomly jumped on the decks at a nightclub on the Gold Coast and that was kind of the start of your career as Dj’s?
Matt: Pretty much, we actually lied to get our first show, that’s a fact.
AF: So prior to that, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Matt: I was playing semi professional rugby. But I also had a lot of posters on the wall, I wanted to be Angus Young, but y’no, not look like him.
Chris: But he’s achieving that.
Matt: Every day I get closer to that goal. We wanted to be a rock star or a rugby player.
Chris: We always wanted to be in something creative, well I did.
Matt: He was always into art, music. We play guitar, he plays piano.
Chris: We both went to University, got marketing degrees. I wanted to get into advertising, so I always wanted to be on that creative side.
Matt: I guess what it was really for me was I always just wanted to party.
Lifelong dream achieved I’d say Matt! After a bit of a chat about their involvement in the Stafford Brothers brand, of which they say they make all the big decisions and “own their brand”, Chris leaves with one parting piece of advice for young artist starting out; “Hold onto your publishing, because for you that’s money in the bank.”
Post interview the boys took to the stage after a grand entrance following behind MTV VJ Kate Peck on a motorbike. Being early on a Friday night, around 9pm at this stage, it took a while for the crowd to tear themselves away from the free beer and hit the dance floor, but after a few songs the charismatic DJ’s were playing to a full dancefloor, groupies in tow front and centre. In classic Stafford Brothers form, there was dancing on the decks and shots being poured into the mouths of the excited crowd – yes I might have snuck in a jager that was passed over the stage as well. It would be rude not to!
* In honour of the Stafford Brothers, I even created a new category tag ‘Already Famaus’. Just for you Matt!