MATMOS INTERVIEW 1/04

Recently while on honey moon in San Francisco me and the Mrs. got a chance to check out a special live performance/art installation of Matmos called Work, Work, Work. They setup there studio/living room at the Yuerba Buena Center and then invited everybody in for a listen. Then in addition to just listening they might ask you to help make a song or they would have a different guests who they would jam with them every night. The Matmos duo (M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel) aren't your traditional electronic hipsters. These guys like to use abstract sounds from mundane objects such as cameras, cards and 5.00 guitars to the insane like liposuction or electrical interference generated by laser eye surgery and combined them with cool synths and beats in such a way that it just all fits together. I guess that's why Bjork tapped the duo to work and tour for Vespertine. Needless to say if you ever get a chance to see these guys live they rock or you can bring "The Civil War" into your home out now on Matador records. We got a chance to ask Drew a few questions so lets hear what he had to say about Matmos.

Matmos


Dr.Strangelove: How did Matmos begin?

Drew: We met in 1989 or 1990. I was a go go dancer at a gay bar
called Club Uranus, and I had a sampler and was already doing solo
noise/cut-up stuff. Martin was in an industrial band called IAOCore
that I had seen live at a punk rock club called Gilman Street. We
became boyfriends and bandmates more or less simultaneously and that
was eleven years ago, or is it twelve? We're hazy about the date, but
our anniversary is Halloween so that's easy to remember. When we
started out we made noisy 8 bit mono musique concrete stuff, and very
blatant attempts at rave music, both of which were superfun to make
but they didn't quite work. Undaunted, we kept going and going and
gradually the two halves came together (musique concrete sound
sources w techno based sequencing) and something started to take
shape that felt organic.

Dr.Strangelove: I was lucky enough to hear you guys perform the opening night for your Work, Work, Work show at the Yuerba Bueana Ceneter. I also heard you create the musical psychoanalysis of one of your first gallery visitors, how did the rest of show go?

Drew: It was incredibly draining and demanding, obviously in terms of
our time, to commit to 97 hours of presence in the gallery, and to
start everyday by having to make a song and to end each day with a
three hour improvisatory performance, but it was really rewarding and
fun, and it took on a cool, cumulative power as the seventeen days
wore on.

Dr.Strangelove: Are you guys living out some sort of civil war fetish on your latest album? Yankees or Rebels?

Drew: Well I grew up in Kentucky which was a neutral state during the
early stages of the Civil War, so I'm not sure where that puts me.
Politically I would have to side with the cause of the North, but
having grown up in a place that culturally regarded itself as
Southern I am torn on this one as I think I have a Southerner's
suspicion of the East and West coast culture bunker mentality. My
family is largely from Alabama and I am named after an ancestor who
fought for the South; to my shame my family owned slaves and so it's
the source of a really uneasy, tense awareness of a personal link to
our country's great founding crime of slavery. That said, none of
that was really on our minds when we made the music on "The Civil
War"- the title emerged very late in the process. We knew were
working with both English and American folk music traditions and
wanted something that could float ambiguously across the Atlantic.


Dr.Strangelove: So who are some of the people and groups that have influenced you and that are a must listen?

Drew:
Can "Tago Mago"
Nurse With Wound "Sylvie and Babs Thigh High Hi Fi Companion"
Throbbing Gristle "20 Jazz Funk Greats"
Pierre Henry "Variations for A Door and Sigh"
Steinski and Mass Media "We'll Be Right Back" / "The Motorcade Sped On"
Einsturzende Neubauten "Kollaps"
Mauricio Kagel "Tactil"
Meat Beat Manifesto "Storm the Studio"
Perrey and Kingsley "The In Sound From Way Out"
Dick Hyman "Moog"
David Byrne and Brian Eno "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts"
Moebius & Plank "Rastakrautpasta"
Laurie Anderson "Big Science"
Kaotic Chemistry "Drumtrip"
Acen "Trip II The Moon"
Merzbow "Batztoutai with Memorial Gadgets"

Dr.Strangelove: Can you talk a little about the visual aspect of your performances?

Drew: Martin makes the videos that accompany our shows, and when we're deciding which songs to play we try to focus on pieces that aren't strictly electronic to avoid that static feeling of staring at people as they stare at screens. Electronic shows can be dull as ditchwater if you aren't careful.

Dr.Strangelove: With all the attention you two have had lately what has changed?

Drew: When we started out we were making the music only to please ourselves and we didn't really think about its outcome or who would hear it. We try now to insulate ourselves from that while we're working because we don't want to pander to people's expectations or harden into a cliché, but that gets harder as you continue with something. Having made five albums, there's a sense that each time you need to keep pushing yourself, and that gets increasingly difficult the longer you've done something, you get more attached to certain strategies, certain sounds.

Dr.Strangelove: If you guys had your own Matmos line of action figures what would they be like?

Drew: It's funny you mention that because we're talking to Hasbro
right now. No, we're not, but there are two bubble bath bottles
shaped like action figures which we keep in our bathroom because they
kind of resemble each of us- Martin looks a bit like the Robocop one
and I look a bit like the Noddy one. So there's a balance there, a
robot side to things (computers) and an elf side to things (hurdy
gurdy).


Dr.Strangelove: You had mentioned you do a little bit of djing from time to time, what's that sound like?

Drew: A mess, sometimes a good mess, sometimes it just sounds inept.
We're not technical Djs at all, we just play music that we're in the
mood for personally, it's a bit selfish maybe. At the last event we
DJed at, a Gold Chains and Zeek Sheck show that was a benefit for
Matt Gonzalez' Green Party bid to be San Francisco's mayor, we
played: Alice Coltrane, Bow Gamelan Ensemble, Isaac Hayes, Kas
Product, Glass Candy and the Shattered Theater, Errorsmith, Housing
Project, Amanda Lear, DJ Honet, sumatran and javanese pop music, The
Human League, The Cars, Starter, the disco theme to Battlestar
Galactica, a cover of David Allen Coe's "Convoy" done in a Kraftwerk
style and some PIL.


Dr.Strangelove: How do you guys make peanut butter and jelly?

Drew: I have been on the Atkins Diet for the past three months so my
sandwich would consist of peanut butter with no bread (carbs) and no
jelly (sugar is also a no no). So I'd have this kind of fucked up
minimalist remix of the traditional PB n J.

Dr.Strangelove: And last but not least, If a moose, a rabbit and santa clause go into bagel shop what comes out?

Drew: a horribly furry onion bagel with salmon and pelts and claws and stuff?


For more information on Matmos check out http://www.brainwashed.com/matmos/