“Uh oh, there’s a tunnel. I’m going to lose you in three seconds” — followed by silence and frantic redialing.
Wednesday at 9 p.m.
The Blind Pig
Matthew Dear was driving to Denver, which meant mountains and, consequently, dead zone tunnels throughout the tricky terrain. Needless to say, Dear’s interview with The Michigan Daily was a bit rocky given the circumstances. Nevertheless, Dear was able to provide an insightful look into the steps to his success and into the mountains of Denver.
Dear, an electronic avant-pop artist, has been on the road promoting his latest album Beams, a groovy, glossy, funky thing that floats and glides, unable to be pinned down as having any one sound. In a way, Dear will finally be coming home on Wednesday to the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, a place he holds near and dear after living here as a University undergraduate and several years past graduation. But while Dear has spent a substantial amount of time away from the chubby squirrels and Saturday football debauchery, he’s more than excited to come back.
“It’s amazing,” Dear said about returning to Ann Arbor. “It’s definitely going to be one of the top shows of the tour, just because of the energy and the people there. It’s always fun to come back to the hometown.”
While Dear also performs under the monikers Audion, False and Jabberjaw, those are reserved for his vocals-free electronic work.
It’s no surprise that Dear has several on-stage identities, given the lyrics of Beams that admit, “It’s alright to be someone else sometimes.” But for concerts under his own name, Matthew Dear gets real.
“When performing as myself, it’s a bit more personal,” Dear said. “When you’re doing something as Audion as a DJ, it’s more about escaping yourself when you’re going to the dance floor … You’re kind of there to escape reality. Whereas when you’re there performing with the band, it’s more about connecting directly. When you’re on stage with a band, you’re presenting something that’s right from your soul.”
This isn’t to say that there won’t be a substantial amount of grooving in the crowd on Wednesday, Dear explained.
“The last time we played (at the Blind Pig), there was such a great energy in the crowd,” Dear said. “Pretty much the whole crowd was dancing and totally rocking out and having fun. I’m really looking forward to just having an amazing party.”
Of course, the show is in Ann Arbor, so Dear won’t exactly be partying with strangers.
“My old bass player and drummer who performed with the band in the very beginning will be at the show,” he said. “And there might be a surprise encore where they come up on the stage and it all ends with a total free-for-all.”
Beyond the nostalgia, Ann Arbor has played a vital role in Matthew Dear’s career, serving as a launch pad into everything musical during his “grassroots-y” undergraduate years.
“I met these guys at a record store called Grooveyard,” he said. “I just put up a little poster that said, ‘I wanna make music. Here’s my number. Call me.’ And I got with some techno guys up there so it was very person-to-person, very personal.”
“There was such an amazing little group of people living there at the time,” he added. “And it totally changed the way that I made music and my ability to make music. I think there was an energy there that was exactly what we needed as a label to get started.”
But it wasn’t enough for Dear to simply make music in Ann Arbor — he went ahead and co-founded Ghostly International, a record label based here. So how does one (or two, rather) go about creating a label from scratch? As Dear explained, it turns out that going to a good old-fashioned college party may be a viable first step.
Dear described meeting Sam Valenti — “the true owner of Ghostly” — at a house party.
“He met me right around the time when he was forming these ideas about the label, and I happened to be someone who had a total desire to put out as much music as possible. So I was more of the musical creative side, and Sam was the foundation. It was a perfect pairing.”
Since then, Dear has certainly succeeded in his music-making desires. Now on his fifth album, Dear has played shows from London and Milan to the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (under his techno moniker Audion), and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.