Matthew Dear embodies the true essence of what electronic music was originally about. With influences ranging from Brian Eno or David Bowie, Dear is far from just a techno producer. From his much lauded debut album, 2003’s Leave Luck To Heaven, on Ghostly International through to breakout LPs Asa Breedand 2010’s Black City, the Texas-born producer has to date served up a delightful yet moody contribution to the often po-faced world of electronic music. With his new EP Headcage released on the 17th January, along with his full-length project Beams due out later this year, Wonderland sat down with Mathew Dear ahead of his world tour which begins this week.
I’ve spoken with Ghostly label head Sam Valenti IV about this before, how your journey from Leave Luck To Heaven to Black City, and now into Headcage and Beams, has been a slow process of stepping out from behind the controls of machines (as both a producer and DJ) and becoming more of a rounded stage performer. Do you think that is a fair assessment?
I wouldn’t say I’ve stepped out from behind the machine, as I am still meticulously producing the albums in my home studio. On stage though, I would have to agree that things are getting more interesting. I’ve been playing with the band for about six years now, and it remains a constantly evolving process.
How did you go about forming your touring band?
My original band, who toured with me from the beginning of Asa Breed up until late last year, formed out of old friendships. They left to pursue personal careers, but I still have Greg Paulus on trumpet, who joined for the Black City touring. The new band I’m debuting this week in Los Angeles and San Francisco came through a random meeting and the bringing on of an old Ghostly cohort.
To me, songs like “In The Middle” off Headcage or “I Can’t Feel” from Black City have this loose sort of experimental hip-hop style mixed into a poppy immediacy. What is it about the feel of these tracks that appeal to you?
Those two are all about the groove. They are clunky songs somersaulting down a boulevard. Hard to recreate live, but we try.
With Headcage and Beams, what sort of personal advancement will come through in your music this time around?
This is the first time I’ve mixed an entire album in an outside studio, so the songs sound bigger and cleaner.
In whatever way the word “mature” means to you, how do you think Matthew Dear has matured as an artist?
I’ve spent more time and energy setting up my studio. In the past, I didn’t care for this or that compressor or microphone. I was younger and just wanted to create. There is the simplicity of unbridled youth at play in all that, but I find far more satisfaction now in digging deeply into my machines and making them work for me.
Sam Valenti IV – some have described him as a visionary. As someone who’s been a part of the Ghostly fold from the beginning and a friend of his, how would you describe Valenti’s creative approach?
Sam has such an endearment toward creativity. He searches for it in others, and wants to help them express it. I have yet to meet someone as non-judgmentally compassionate towards art as a whole.
Dear’s world tour starts in the US on Wednesday – click here for info.
Words: Kelly Frazier