Published Aug 22, 2012Matthew Dear's music has always been an inventive hybrid of techno and pop, but Beams, his forthcoming album, is his most indie-friendly release yet.
"I'm definitely embracing more of my other influences," the Detroit-raised musician tells Exclaim!, "using more traditional rock instruments in the studio and sampling real drums as well, and just having more fun with the dynamics of the song and exploring different ways to make a song."
The resulting album has a much more organic feel compared to his previous albums, such as 2010's Black City, but Dear's production methods haven't really changed that much.
"When I write a song in the studio, it's just me. There's no real musicians that come in and play on the album. It's really just me noodling around in the studio, playing little bits and pieces of bass and guitar and sampling drums, but when I play live, that's when real musicians come out and help me do it."
This move towards the organic might be in part inspired by Dear's recent relocation from NYC to Upstate New York, where his lives with his wife and is surrounded by lush forest.
"I'd been living in the New York City area for about six years, so it was just time for a change. My next neighbour is about a quarter of a mile down, and my neighbour on the other side is about half a mile down. It's really quiet and peaceful but close enough to New York City, so I can work with artists from the city."
Another recent -- and surprising -- influence on Dear's music is the work of singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and John Prine, whose direct and politically charged lyrics are, on the surface, a world apart from the music of Matthew Dear, but nevertheless have provided inspiration of late.
"I think a lot of these guys like Townes and Bob Dylan or John Prine, they're singing about these people and it's almost like they were living in their kitchen with them," says Dear.
With much of those artists' work written in a time before the internet mediated so much of our daily interactions, Dear muses over whether such unselfconsciousness is even possible today.
"In that song 'Sam Stone,' Prine sings about a Vietnam vet who comes home and gets hooked on heroin. Can anyone write that now having met Sam Stone on Facebook? Prine was out there, going to diners and restaurants and seeing hardship."
What impresses Dear the most is that these singers were getting their subject matter from hearing these stories on the streets.
"People were actually talking to Dylan and Townes about their friends and their relatives that were going through this. I'm not trying to say Townes lived everything he sang about, but he got a lot of these stories being on the ground."
Fans of Dear's more electronic work will be happy to hear he's planning another minimal techno record under his Audion moniker, due for release sometime next year, as well as continuing to find time for his A&R work with Ghostly sister label Spectral Sound.
For now, Beams will be released on Tuesday (August 28) via Ghostly International, and you can see his upcoming North American tour schedule here.
Also, head here to read more from Exclaim!'s newly published Matthew Dear interview.