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Music Interview

Matthew Dear interview: 'We're in hyperspeed now'

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Matthew Dear

© Philistine DSGN

Matthew Dear this week releases his latest record Beams.

Dear exploded onto the scene with his 1999 debut 'Hands Up For Detroit' (later sampled by Fedde Le Grand) and has remixed everyone from The xx and Hot Chip to The Chemical Brothers and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

His fifth album under his own name marks another leap forward from his minimal techno beginnings to a rich, layered, electropop symphony. Digital Spy spoke to him all about it.

What can you tell us about your new record?
"It's a reflection of my love of music making, sitting in the studio and working on different sounds. I think it's the most dense and robust album I've produced. I'm accomplishing more things that I want to accomplish, pushing sounds in certain directions that I haven't before - incorporating real instruments with synthetic instruments. I think musically it's a bit brighter and bubblier and shiny than anything I've done in the past."

The video for 'Her Fantasy' is great fun - how much interaction did you have with the director on it?
"Tommy O'Haver the director came up with the vast majority of the concept but we would go back and forth on the layout and the storyboard and exactly what the colouring would look like and the costumes. It was collaborative."

Are you a Kenneth Anger fan?
"More so after Tommy... He took me to school on Kenneth Anger and showed me a lot of videos. It was his direction to go that way and I loved it too. When you see a missing link, it's like, 'Ah, I see now how everything happened the way it did, because this guy did what he did'."



What do you get from playing fully-live shows that you don't get from DJing?
"There's the randomness of the band show. The uncontrollable sound that you can get on stage with instruments. When you DJ it's pretty linear and straightforward in that sense... They're both great in their own regard though. There's energies that you can create with DJ sets and moments and just this constant rush... with bands it's so up and down. There's peaks and valleys. I like both."

How important are the lyrics to the whole package of a Matthew Dear track?
"It's very important. Lyrics are more important now than they were earlier in my albums. For me lyric writing is very therapeutic and it's my way of releasing personal information and questions and letting it get out of me. I never write complete storylines. I'm not singing love songs directly, but there's a lot of love in there."

Bowie and Eno are obvious influences, but is there more current stuff that still influences you?
"Yeah, absolutely. Number one would be Animal Collective. Those guys are just phenomenal. I really, really love what they do and I look forward to each release of theirs like I did Radiohead when I was growing up, or when I was first getting into The Beatles. I was so excited to get it all and take it in. They're a musical passion. I really like Beach House. I really like what they do - the marriage of pop and rock bliss. I'm really into that. Grizzly Bear are fantastic."

Animal Collective

© Rex Features / Tom Watkins

Thom Yorke

© PA Images



You've remixed some major artists - are there any big pop acts you'd love to rework?
"I'd still love to do a Radiohead remix. Remixes are tough though. You can't force it. It has to make sense. You can't just pick any song. I think it'd be fun to remix a pop artist, just to hear all the stems - you get all the chunks of the songs broken down. It'd be cool to hear that, to see how they're putting it all together. A Timbaland production would be amazing. To hear his pieces and see what he does."

Was it a challenge to get stuff across to rock fans when you supported Interpol last year?
"We played in Antwerp, Belgium which was one of the biggest shows - six or seven thousand people - Paris was the same, and those were our best shows. They were into reaching out. In England, for example, we had some of the least-receptive audiences for what we were doing. Maybe it was a bit more pure rock. Some shows were great and others definitely felt like you were getting in the way of a fan and their favourite band!"

Matthew Dear

© Olivia Locher



How much do you feel like a frontman when you're up there on stage?
"We're a band and the guys are far more talented musicians than I am. To me it's like they're fronting me. I'm just up there to sing the songs and do what I do and they help power it at the back. There's no frontman feeling. Do I sing with a mic and jump up and down on stage? Sometimes I do. Does that make me a frontman? I don't know."

Electronic music seems bigger than ever with DJs like David Guetta selling out stadiums - is that something you want?
"I'm all for the music that I make as myself... It's not being crafted for me by someone else, the plan's inherently mine. If that plan were to reach a stadium-sized audience? Fantastic. That's great. Nothing against that. Is that my goal? No. Do I think that will happen? Probably not. I don't think my music is as accessible or as stadium-friendly. Maybe it is. You never know!



"The main thing is I'm just going to keep doing it my way and enjoy it. I'm having a wonderful life now, making a living doing music. I have been for over ten years and would love that to continue and I don't need tonnes of money. I just want to support my family, that's all I need."

Are you concerned with filesharing stopping that from being possible?"
"Not so much anymore. This was a really huge debate maybe eight years ago when it was all creeping out, when Napster first started... now it's all about sharing and access. To me it's almost better that my music is out there on as many platforms as possible so people can have it and hear it. If they like it, chances are they're going to come see you live, and that's where you make your real money."

What about sponsorship as a way of making a living?
"Sponsorship is tricky. You don't want to be playing for anybody else but yourself. You get sponsored and it's all fine and dandy. They give you a chunk of change to go tour and a bus. They're doing that because they want some money back. They think they're going to get a return. If things don't go according to plan, then they're going to say, you might have to change your repertoire. Then you get into a rather hairy situation. Who are you working for at that point?"

Do people value music now as much as when they had to spend money on it?
"I think they do. Some would argue that it's being more valued because it's such a hot commodity - every other two weeks there's a new album that's the hot album. We have tonnes more material to choose from. That doesn't give people the time to really sit down with an album and absorb it and listen to it from start to finish and really get the feel for it.



"We're in hyperspeed now. In overdrive, It's going so fast. I have songs that I return to constantly. They become albums that I love. Is it happening as much now? I don't know. Because of this urgency everywhere? It's definitely changed. Is it for the better or the worse, I don't know. You need to just find what you like and stick with it."

Matthew Dear's new studio album Beams is out now via Ghostly International

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