Looking for a pop platform
Balance Beam - Matthew Dear

“I try to make pop music, no doubt about that, but it’s coming through a weird little warped lens,” Dear tells Clash. “It’s one-part chameleon, one-part intuition, figuring it out on my own. I dunno, I’ll never get it right...I have to be pleased with what comes out. Can’t fight it, but I can keep trying,” he laughs.

Comparing Matthew Dear’s 2003’s debut ‘Leave Luck To Heaven’ to new opus ‘Beams’, progressing from spindly but smooth house and techno rhythms, to something that includes road trip punk funk, indie synth oddity and pop-not-pop both charming and depressed (that’s also backed by a full band when played out live), is simple evolution at work. Times change, and it shouldn’t be a big deal that he’s forced to defend. “I cannot ask fans to like one album more than another,” he argues. “What happens with albums is that they reflect me at a certain time or at that ingestion of music; for the fans it also reflects where they are in their lives and what it meant to them.”

2007’s ‘Asa Breed’ is arguably where precursors to ‘Beams’ become more visible, cemented on ‘Black City’ where Dear ups the vocals from part-time status and begins keeping his head upright and away from the dancefloor. “I wouldn’t want people to expect me to stay with that (debut) sound; it’s impossible because I’m not listening to that music all the time now and it’s not happening in my life. I don’t listen to past albums and sit back and wonder whether I could’ve changed something; there’s no reason for that.”

The Texas-born, Michigan-raised, Detroit-educated producer never has a problem giving himself some me-time despite a wealth of other projects and sidelines. “Well, right now I need to do an Audion project, but with my stuff, it’s ongoing, constant; there’s never a fear that I’m not gonna be focusing on that first and foremost - that trumps everything else.” Confirming that he has timetabling down to a systematic tee, “with my albums there’s always an overlap. I would say a good third of ‘Beams’ was finished or nearing completion when ‘Black City’ came out. So there’s always this overlap where I have enough back catalogue to draw from, so that I’m not totally writing from scratch and worried about filling any gaps.”

Words by Matt Oliver
Photo by Dom Smith

The full version of this interview appears in the September 2012 issue of Clash Magazine. Find out more about the issue.

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