Earlier this month I got a text from the homie DJ Day late at night… a little too late. Thinking the time difference from West coast to East coast could have been a factor it was only upon opening the text that I would learn the unfortunate news. Matt Stackswell had passed away. Having only met him a hand full of times, it was through the internet that I personally kept up with him but knew of his ties with the rest of my DJ family, Soulstrut, and of course Turntable Lab. Knowing I couldn’t do the justice of a proper remembrance, Doc Delay got at me with this very touching letter. Rest in Peace Stackswell, you will be missed.
I sit here on this gorgeous day next to a beautiful lake, surrounded by friends who play tennis and wake surf, yet I feel a pounding guilt. While I worried about whether to eat lobster or perfectly grilled pork loin, my friend Matthew Brenner lost his life.
I met Matt 5 years ago when he walked into an east village record shop where I worked. He recognized from my handwriting that I was a (former) graffiti writer. He asked for my Nom de plume, and I reluctantly replied, “Delay.”
Matt’s bright blue eyes lit up, and he said,”ohhhh that’s yoooouu!” One of a small handful of people that would even care, Matt followed up with a barrage of questions that referenced a life I left behind a decade earlier. A couple days later Matt emailed me photos of pieces I couldn’t even remember doing.
Matt’s enthusiasm for art and music was something I once shared. Watching him light up when going through photos or records reminded me of myself before I found out how insignificant I was. His interest was a monument to what I had given up.
As the years passed I developed a friendship with Matt that extended beyond our common interests. He would seek my advice on things ranging from career to technology -relationships to cuisine. It was flattering that Matt would turn to me for guidance, and I always tried my best to oblige.
I saw Matt struggle with his lack of work options in DC and encouraged him to pursue something more long term. I suppose it came as no surprise that he would leave Washington for the big apple like I had 10 years earlier
Much like Matt, when I decided to move to New York, I left behind a great girl that loved me. I told him that was something I regretted, and I know his relationship with lily was the hardest thing for him to leave behind.
His metamorphosis was unshakable. I remember that momentum and saw it take root in him. He moved north with a new determination and new goals.
As Matt settled into New York I would see him less and less frequently. I expected that, and wanted that for him. I wanted him to thrive like he should and chase any and all of his aspirations. Even with both of our hectic schedules, Matt managed to see if I wanted to meet for a beer at least once a month, and I always knew when I saw him I’d be greeted with a bright smile and genuine interest in what transpired since we last spoke.
Sometimes the enthusiasm wore on me and I sneared at it as if it were a petty quality. My cynicism was a badge I wore to represent my experience. Little did I know that Matt’s unapologetic interest would be the thing I most admired when he was gone. A charming and contagious joy there is not enough of in this world.
– Doc Delay