It’s been a while, you could say, since it was last possible to catch Audion (Mathew Dear’s Techno Alter Ego) on tour. In that time you may have discovered your love for techno, as he discovered a love for changing the way you receive Techno live. With a career expansive album in the works titled, “Audion X,” Mathew Dear has put together an evening long odyssey to accompany the immersive audio visual content from his forthcoming album. SUBVERTICUL will feature a custom stage setup that was built by Heather Shaw (of Amon Tobin’s groundbreaking ISAM tour fame), whose team has created a labyrinth sculpture based off the Audion “A” that pulses, spins, and grows in response to Audion‘s ever shifting rhythms. We recently had the chance to speak with Dear about what to expect this Saturday at the El Rey, how it all came together, and how it is all still coming together.
So what’s going on! Are you all set, how’s everything looking for Los Angeles?
I’ve been going non-stop for the last week putting together music for the set, I guess for the last two years I’ve been making all sorts of styles of songs for the next album, for Audion. I’ve got stuff I’ve been making on the road, in the studio. I’ve got full songs, longer looped verions, all these different pieces. It’s actually been pretty overwhelming, this mass of data that I have that I’ve kind of just been putting off, and now I’m just like, OK I gotta figure this out now. It’s good, though, I work really well when the deadline is fast approaching. Now that we’ve got the show booked and everything I’ve been hacking away at this mountain of music and it’s all of a sudden just working. Everything starts telling me where it’s supposed to go, you hear the right mix of two loops or two songs, and now all this work that I thought I did in vain is totally making sense now. In the last three days I’ve kind of hit this streamline of energy and I’m almost in a way, seeing the light now, and how to put it all together. I think I’ve got pretty much an hour of the set locked and loaded at this point so I feel good.
So where does the live aspect come into this?
When you work with a show with visuals, obviously the lighting. You want there to be a secretive thing that can’t completely happen spur of the moment. I couldn’t just set up my gear and make new stuff on the fly because it wouldn’t lock. So there’s a mix of stuff that you can set up ahead of time, and then just knowing where certain things should go. The main thing now is I’m writing midi-clips underneath the song and the loops that will trigger visuals, so that’s where I’m at with the pre-planning. I have to make sure all of that is synced. I’m working with Martin and were going to get together a day before the full rehearsal and I’ll have all the music I’ve put together and he’ll have all the visual patches he’s put together and then we are going to work on the bigger picture. So what you’ll see in LA is what we put together in that room.
So it’s been five years since your last album as Audion, and you’ve been working on some new stuff, how much is this live experience involved with the new material you’ve been working on?
I would love it to be 100% new material because I want the live show to reflect what the album will be, because it feels like the album is essentially going to be the live show, but you’ve got to play some of the stuff people like. I’ve had a few Audion songs that stand out, I mean they’re all techno songs, and people recognize certain hooks from those, and true fans want to hear that stuff. Right now I’ve been playing around with the set, and I’ve got this song Fred’s Bells, and it’s so crazy, there’s this synth sound in there, and some cool percussion stuff in there, and I have those original files and stems so I took those and mixed them over some loops and stuff and added a new bass line and I’m like, wow, that actually works. So it’s almost like I’m getting to rehash old songs and make them better. I’ve learned so much about mixing and engineering, I didn’t really know how to mix things down back then. That’s why it’s hard to play some of the old stuff, because I have to go and re-master everything. You know back then I was young and I would just be like, oh, OK, that sounds good, and I’d just put a ribbon on it and call it good. So back then it was a lot more raw, and things weren’t as sonically accurate in my opinion. But it’s been fun to go back and reopen that stuff and put a magnifying lens on it to see what I can make it sound like.
How did the idea to perform this new stuff live come about? What made you want to take a route involving a visual artist?
Well back in 2009 I originally synced up with Martin, and a mutual friend, Eno, kind of wrote the original patches and software for the Hecatomb tour and we toured that around and hit Europe, Australia, Japan, and North America and it was really fun. That was the first incarnation of what it’s evolved into now. We built circular screens and it was a little bit of a self-fabricated set because we wanted to bring something unique to it. But it’s nothing like what were doing now with Heather, this will be a full stage production. I’ll be inside this object that is her design and that’s the show. It’s all kind of based on LED formats that haven’t been used before and projections. So it’s kind of a little bit of the old and new in that sense, and it all kind of evolved from that 2009 tour. There’s just a drive to do things bigger and better. We can’t go back once we did that tour in 2009, this just seems like the next step, and we really wanted to take it one step further. In wanting to do so it only made sense to enlist someone like Heather.
What came first the new material or the live show?
The new material. I’m always working on new stuff. There’s always something in the works. Whether I’m working under my own name, or producing some techno or making some hip-hop, you know I’m always working on new material. There’s always music there. It’s funny, you know I was working on this new stuff, but only in the last couple weeks has it started to make sense. And I think that’s because of the show. I think I’m tapping into something that’s really important, because I do think the live show and the proximity to it has finally allowed me to feel, ok, that’s what this is all about. So what I’m doing now while I’m going through everything is I’ve busted out my electronic machine drum and this MFB (Music From Berlin) machine that I’ve got, and my sampler, and I’m plugged into all these songs I’ve got going, and now I’m tying it all together with this live stuff. I’m sitting here putting it together and recording all these samples of me jamming on the machines and recording these minute and two minutes of sample warping and it’s like wow, ok, cool, now it’s all connecting. Now I’ve got this extra element. So what I can do is save that and do that live during the show and I’ve got these elements of live sample manipulation and live drum machine tweaking and I can just put it all together and trigger the lights. It’s a cool mix; it all just now makes sense.
You’ve got all these other projects going, do think that’s what fuels you and sets you apart in the techno realm?
I mean you’ve got Richie Hawtin who was doing the Plastikman show, guys like Deadmau5 and his huge production, and then the Amon Tobin show Heather worked on before this. I know what you mean, though, in techno not many people are going in this direction, but I feel like more and more people are just in general. In terms of other influences, when I’m touring with a band it’s four guys plus me and a whole truckload of equipment. You’ve got sound check and you’ve got to set up. You get there in the morning and load in. You put a lot more work into it. When you DJ, the worst thing you have to do is setup your computer for Traktor. So I guess with production I wasn’t really afraid of that with my other backgrounds. So I think doing all that other stuff made this a lot more palatable and more manageable, but I know a lot of guys would look at me like, damn, how does this make sense to put all that work into this one show?
Well you have more dates in Europe right?
We’ve got 5 or 6 shows in the coming year. So it feels good, we’ve got momentum. It seems like a lot of people are genuinely interested in it as well. We’ve got SF next and Noise Pop festival and then we’ll try and head to Europe early April. So it’s fun because I’ve got this album, and this is basically an album preview show. So people who come out are really getting a sneak peak at what the rest of the year is going to be like for me, and how this album is going to sound. Especially these first couple shows, they’re almost like listening parties in a way.
What made you pick LA for the first stop?
I just love LA, it’s such a good vibe, more and more stuff is happening musically there. The clubs are always packed and people are always having so much fun, everyone’s got a smile on their face. It’s just such a good energy. And I’ve been coming to LA for almost 15-20 years and there was a big surge right around ’06/’07 when techno was really starting to catch on there, and then it hit a lull, but now it’s coming back and it feels good to be apart of that. Secondly, logistically, Heather and her whole team are based there and the show was basically born in LA, so it just feels natural to start there. The centerpiece is actually sitting in some warehouse right now there and I just picture it glowing waiting for me.
Obviously out of the ordinary, Audion and his SUBVERTICUL setup are en route to the El Rey this coming Saturday and tickets are still available! So if you are looking to scratch a different kind of itch, or even just get outside of the club DJ box, there is no other place to be come Saturday evening. An album preview, brand new audio visual setup, and Audion, live. It’s going to be a big one so be sure to get it while the gettin’s good, and don’t forget to enter to win a pair of tickets!