Matthew Dear on Quitting Drinking and Philip K. Dick: "It's All About Liberating Yourself."
Before the genre tag EDM existed, there was IDM, or Intelligent Dance Music. Granted, it's a pretty pretentious name for a genre, but it fits incredibly well for Matthew Dear. His experimental, rhythm-driven pop is both energetic and introspective, a form of exploring multiple identities and his own, ever-shifting persona.
Ghostly International Matthew Dear
And Dear does have a lot of varied identities, working as producer, songwriter, engineer, and vocalist. He's released records under at least three different monikers and played an integral part in the founding of both Ghostly International and Spectral Sound, two of the most important record imprints in electronic music today.
We spoke to Matthew Dear over the phone about quitting drinking, the authors that inspire his ambiguous lyrics, and the nature of identity and ego.
Up On The Sun: What was your involvement in co-founding Ghostly International?
Matthew Dear: I met Sam Valenti who's definitely the true founder of the label. I met him a year before the label started. He saw me playing live at a party, I was doing a live set outside because it was very rare to run into people that were into the same thing. We were in Ann Arbor, [Michigan] on campus and he was like, "Oh man, I like what this guy's doing," and we set up a meeting, a coffee meeting, a week after.
It was a natural match, I think. Sam had this veracity for gathering creative minds and allowing output to be seen. He really just provided an outlet. I think I was needing an outlet ... it was just a really good fit so we decided to embark on the journey together.
That's cool. And then you did Spectral Sound.
Yeah, Spectral was a year after we started Ghostly. We decided we wanted to take Ghostly into more avant, obscure listening direction, whereas Spectral we still wanted a very dancefloor-based imprint. It was more something DJs could rely on time and time again.
What was the hardest part about co-founding two labels?
I think drawing the lines of separation so close to each other. They were confusing a lot of people. I remember somebody came up to me, I think it was after Winking Makes A Face came out, which was the second release on Ghostly by Tadd Mullinix and it was such a far turn left from what the first record had been. A friend came up to me and said "Hey man, I'm really sorry Ghostly's going in this direction, you probably don't have a future releasing music on that label."
Coming from a friend who couldn't see the clear lines we were setting up, that was kind of a low. People were really unhappy or it was too over their heads to understand what we were going for. I don't think it became super clear to our audience or even us, the true direction of the label until about five years later.
Your remixes really give new life to almost every track you touch. Are you always working on remixing for other people or just when people approach you?
Really just when people approach me. I like to spend as much time as I can working on my own music in the studio. Remixes now have become projects that really speak to me, guys I really wanna do remixes for and vice versa.
Do you get a lot of offers for remixes?
It goes up and down. I'd say I'd get about four or five substantial offers every year.