Depending on whom you ask, Matthew Dear is a DJ, a dance-music producer, an experimental pop artist, a bandleader. He co-founded both Ghostly International and its dancefloor offshoot, Spectral Sound. He’s had remixes commissioned by The XX, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Spoon, Hot Chip, The Postal Service, and Chemical Brothers; he’s made mixes for Get Physical’s Body Language and the Fabric mix series. He maintains four aliases (Audion, False, Jabberjaw, and Matthew Dear), each with its own style and distinct visual identity. He straddles multiple musical worlds and belongs to none—and he’s just hitting his stride.
Matthew Dear’s 2003 full-length debut, Leave Luck to Heaven, is a suite of sparse, wickedly funky house laced with Dear’s deep, distinctive vocals, and includes the much-loved single “Dog Days” (voted one of Pitchfork’s Top 100 Songs of the Decade). The record was met with rapturous acclaim from both the dance-music establishment and the critical press, including a four-star review in Rolling Stone. The 2007 follow-up, Asa Breed, is a considerable departure from Heaven’s dancefloor excursions, incorporating the polyrhythms of Afrobeat, the irreverent pop sensibilities of Brian Eno, and the austere beauty of Krautrock. More four-stars reviews followed (Q and Mojo magazines), and Dear subsequently began touring with a live three-piece band, Matthew Dear’s Big Hands, in which Dear acted as frontman, commanding the stage with a Bryan Ferry-like swagger and a gentleman’s grace.
Today, Matthew Dear finds himself in a unique position. His highly anticipated third album, 2010’s Black City, is the culmination of years of hard work and experimentation, a darkly playful sound-world that envelops the listener like the arms of a malevolent lover. After over a decade of exploring pop’s outer limits, Matthew Dear now inhabits a rarefied corner of the musical universe: no longer tethered to any one genre, respected by his peers, and blessed with a bottomless well of creative energy. Now is Matthew Dear’s moment, and it sounds like nothing else.
Derrick May (born June 4, 1963), also known as Mayday and Rhythim is Rhythim, is an electronic musician from Belleville, Michigan, United States. He was an only child born in Detroit and began to explore electronic music early in his life. Along with his Belleville, Michigan high school friends Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, commonly known as the Belleville Three, May is credited with developing the futuristic variation on house music that would be dubbed “techno” by Atkins.
Currently working out of Berlin, Kevin McHugh has spent the last decade living in the German capital or New York and in a sense; these two metropoleis represent the contradiction at the heart of his Ambivalent persona. On the one hand the reckless freedom and hedonism of the Berlin subculture, on the other the more considered, conceptual approach of its New York counterpart. As a result his idiosyncratic sound lies somewhere between the two, a precarious balancing act that manages to infuse stripped down, finked up minimal techno with a distinct sense of purpose, often defined by a pearl of an idea around which his skeletal grooves revolve.
After growing up in Washington DC on a balanced diet of Acid House, Go-Go and Punk, his active involvement in the electronic scene began in New York in 2002, producing a series of memorable parties for Creative Time in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Fusing house and techno with experimental multimedia and urban installations, Kevin was quick to recognise connecting patterns of value between these art forms, with temporal, physical, spatial and minimal elements among the most obvious common denominators. If one person embodied these principles through music it was Richie Hawtin. The pair were soon working together, co- producing the Plastikman show at Mutek in 2004. The planning process meant spending the best part of a year in Berlin during which time Kevin assimilated into the scene. Energized, he returned to New York and besides co-presenting the Nerd Tank on East Village Radio, he began working on his own compositions, which quickly led to a debut release on Camea’s Clink label in 2006. His event organising activities also intensified, buoyed by the network of DJs and producers he’d met in Berlin.
It was after one particularly intense party that Kevin set to work on a new track. Extreme images from the event were still flickering across his mind as he picked up his studio mic and, in a flash of inspiration, laid down a twisted, one-sided conversation in a single take. He passed the resulting track to Troy thinking it was just a bit of fun, a tongue-in-cheek parody for his friends to play. Within days Richie was telling him – the track was blowing up, the dancefloor reaction to R U OK was unbelievable. What followed was beyond his wildest imaginings as the track went global, topping charts around the world aided by Ali Demirel’s tripped-out video interpretation. By 2008, the gravitational pull had become too strong to ignore and he returned to Berlin, hooking up with the Minus community and embarking on a non-stop schedule of live shows and DJ gigs. 2009 also saw him join the line-up for the London Contakt special as well as the release of several remixes, a JPLS collaboration and his own follow up EP is 5.
2012 holds even more promise for Kevin, with back-to-back releases. Ambivalent by name, ambivalent by nature, Kevin McHugh insists we shouldn’t read too much into his ideas, but as long as he continues making such bold musical statements, that stimulate the instinct and intellect in equal measures, he’ll just have to get used to the attention.
“The curtain went up before I knew I was on stage.” -Ambivalent aka Kevin McHugh