One of electronic music's best-loved artists brings the heat.
There aren't many examples of artists who are equally as comfortable crafting esoteric minimal techno as they are standing on stage fronting a band. Having been active on the scene now for over a decade, Texas-born artist Matthew Dear has come to enjoy a unique standing within electronic music by pursuing each of his sonic interests with equal vigour. Ghostly International and its club-orientated offshoot Spectral, the imprint Dear co-founded with Sam Valenti IV at the end of the '90s, has been the platform for most of these explorations. Countless 12-inches either under his own name or as Audion—the alias Dear frequently donned to delve into more rank strains of techno—have been put out through the label, while Minus/Plus 8 was also a regular home for his False moniker during the mid-'00s. It was in 2007 that Dear made the formative steps towards the artist we now know. The warmly received Asa Breed album saw Dear stepping out front and centre with his Big Hands band, turning to an electronic pop sound which would continue three years later on the equally as impressive Black City.
Dear says below that he "didn't want to think about trends" when recording RA.306, and the result is a mix that, true to his word, sounds suspended between time and genre; music from DJ Bone, Planetary Assault Systems, Radio Slave and Gemini help him achieve this goal.
What have you been up to recently?
I have been doing some intermittent touring with my new band. We are a five-piece now. My next album is finished. I wrote a new song called "Ribbons (I Don't Think About It Too Much)" that I want to put on the album, but will probably wait until the next album. I shot a video in Los Angeles for the first single from my new album. I just walked my dog and it was a lot colder than I hoped it would be. I played a Leftrooom party last night with the lovely Laura Jones and Matt Tolfrey. After my soundcheck, I walked in the rain up 10th Ave. to W. 58th. I made a right and met Miguel at Blue Ribbon Sushi. We both had uni. He did not try the wakame salad.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I wish I could tell you it was recorded live at the Liquid Room in 1996, but it was recorded in my studio using a combination of: Ableton Live, Traktor, an Elektron Octatrack, a General Electric tape recorder (but only for the dusty mic), Eventide guitar pedals, and a few voicemails from my phone.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted it to be a bit more grainy and raw than what I usually play. I knew I wanted to include some legends in there (DJ Bone, Alvarado for example). I didn't want to think about trends, lack of trends, this or that, or any second guesses. I went through a collection of folders as I would on any given show night and just went for it. I wanted it to be as unadulterated and straight-forward as possible, you know, not letting myself get in the way. I plugged in the dirty mic and used my voice on parts of it.
You mentioned in a recent interview that after some experimentation you'd "found your live sound." What did you mean by that exactly?
I am always looking to better the music I perform live. There is always room for improvement, whether it be in the way you EQ your tracks for various sound systems, the type of processing equipment you bring out to improve your vocals, the microphones you're using, the placement of the band on stage to better suit the audience's perspective. These types of things never get completely figured out, only because there is always something new to try. It's kind of like how they will never be finished painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Once they get to the end, the other side needs to be repainted again. I'll never truly find my live sound, but I won't ever stop searching for it.
Are you still writing music as Audion?
Yes, more and more ideas as Audion have been fermenting themselves in the studio. All it takes is a great night DJing, or hearing a new track that just blows my mind, and it shows me that there is still so much to be accomplished with dance music. Aside from all the focus on parties, charts, technology, Grammys, rave festivals and what not, it's beautiful when it's just you in the studio and an idea. STL tracks take me there. Those two Planetary Assault System songs on my mix make me feel that way too.
What are you up to next?