Matthew Dear Explores Black City
Wrapped up in gold ribbons, spinning late nights in dark cities; bright mornings stepping out of warehouses, half naked dancers in their little red nightgowns. Love discovered by the lovelorned. It’s contrasting images like these paired with jagged lyrics that ooze out of Matthew Dear’s lusty tracks in his newest studio album, Black City. While Dear claimed dancefloor fame with his 2007 electro pop release Asa Breed, the ominous shift in Black City mark a clear artistic direction for the world renowned DJ and producer. There’s something fresh in his foreboding beats, something raw in imagination with sounds that bump, shake, creak and whirl and more mature in his frosty, lovelorn lyrics that paint Black City. Is Matthew Dear—who juggles multiple electronic music personalities like Audion and False— growing up?
We caught up with Dear, normally a Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident, just as he was rolling out of bed, taking a much-needed vacation at a friend’s winery in Napa Valley.
CBM: I am curious about how you maintain separation between your various musical identities?
MD: Ah yes. Juggling multiple musical identities is getting tougher. When I was younger I was constantly putting out music. I can’t keep up with it like that anymore. I have to be more calculated, more focused.
CBM: You paint a vividly imaginary picture of Black City, a desperate Gotham like jungle where sweaty souls lip lock in nightclubs and warehouses til 5am. Is Black City inspired by New York City?
MD: Black City is half abstract, half reality. Obviously NYC is an inspiration. The city can put a certain weight on you. It’s a welcomed weight, an intensity. The intensity comes out physically in the architecture and the flow on the street of humanity. This affects the way you approach your own life. That idea lends itself to a more intense way of working, creating art as well. But Black City is a more Gothic city.
CBM: Tracks like “Monkey” leave me feeling paranoid but I find hope in tracks like the futuristic lullaby “Slowdance,” and the chorally infused “Shortwave.” What is your favorite track?
MD: I usually don’t have one, but I like “More Surgery” because it encapsulates the album the best. It sort of wraps it all together.
CBM: What was the most challenging part of producing Black City?
MD: The challenging part is finishing. A song can easily go on forever. It’s all about trying to get it all wrapped up and widdling it down to the final statement.” Black City represents two years of work. The album-closer “Gem” is the oldest song on the album, originally written in 2003 but polished up until its final sound this year.
CBM: How do you know when a song is finished?
MD: To me, a song is really never finished. I’d like to think that the songs really are somewhat open and never totally done. When I perform I’ll play them a bit differently each time, expanding on certain parts, and even adding totally new parts.
CBM: Your music has obviously gone in a distinct direction over the years. It’s become a little bit more abstract, still playful, but a little bit rawer. Do you agree?
MD: The way I see it is it’s just me experimenting more in the studio and feeling more comfortable with my methods. I think Black City is more thought out and executed than things in the past. I’ve been adding more to it and figuring out different tricks to make things sound better.
CBM: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
MD: There’s always such a lull before an album. I hunger for the music to be out there. I’m always writing and making music and it feels good to have more music out. I’ll head to Europe for the rest of the summer before returning to the U.S. to begin an album tour.
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