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Words by Phelps

The 2010 offering from Brooklyn’s Matthew Dear is altogether infectious, raw, and sexually powerful.  Luckily, Black City is a record, not a disease.  You can take it all in sweaty and safely on Tuesday when he (finally) brings his full band set to U Street Music Hall.  What you do afterward is your call.  Dear’s first attempt was canceled in the wake of DC9’s closure but U Hall seems the more appropriate setting for his self-professed sonic assault that rock clubs can’t always handle.  The first signee to Ann Arbor’s Ghostly imprint since its inception over a decade ago, Dear and friends helm a label that pushes the envelope of style and design from music and art to slick gadgets and writing tools.  We caught up with him briefly last Thursday to discuss Ghostly, the latest record, and what we can expect tomorrow night.  Get excited.  (Check Marcus Dowling’s extensive and informed interview here from last May and some shots from BYT coverage Winter ’09 here.)

Catch Matthew Dear live Tuesday night, 1/25 at U Street Music Hall.  Doors 8pm.

BYT: Finally making it to DC on this tour!  So you’re touring with a live band – is that a first?  How many people do you have with you?
Matthew Dear: We first did it on the Asa Breed tour, we did Europe and the US with a 3 piece but now we’ve added a horn player, so it’s a whole new beast.

BYT: Is that how the album was created, with live/full band shows in mind?
M. Dear: Well making music is just what I do, it’s how I pass the time.  So, all year I’m making songs for the record and then I send the files to my guys and we start to rehearse.  Everyone brings their own style to the songs and there’s definitely some rearrangements.

(Ed. note: We want to clarify that Matthew writes and produces the finished albums. The band is not involved in the recording process. Matthew sends the “songs” to the guys before rehearsals start and they think of ways to play them live.)


BYT: In the middle of this record, there are a few songs – Little People (Black City,) Soil to Seed, You Put a Smell On Me – these are hard driving, sensual songs –are those songs eliciting the sort of visceral reaction I’d expect in a live setting?
M. Dear: You know, yea, the album is so polished, so for the live show we’ve attacked those with even more energy and the crowds are certainly into it.  Little People (Black City) is such an opus, and we’ve been doing that near the end so sometimes I wondering if I shouldn’t just start with it.  I’m pretty winded by the end of that one.

BYT: One of the last times you were in DC, you were at a dance club with a DJ setup.  Talk about the different types of venues you’re opening yourself up to with the live band treatment.
M. Dear: Well it takes some planning, I definitely need a lot of bass.  A lot of rock clubs, a rock band can go into and bring their amps and sound great but there’s a lot of low end in my set so I’m counting on the house to help.  I’ve definitely heard good things about this venue in DC.  People show up who think of me as an electronic artist or DJ and they’re not wrong – it’s what I’ve done before, and I think sometimes they show up and are like whoa, I thought you were DJing.  So they just need to open themselves up to what we’re doing.


BYT: As a co-creator of the Ghostly label and brand, which has now become as much of a style and design hub as a record label- are you still based in Ann Arbor and working hands on?
M. Dear: I live in Brooklyn now but I met Sam Valenti right before the label started and I became the first artist so yea I guess I am co creator or co founder or whatever, from the artistic side.  It’s always been about groups of friends who enjoy hanging out and each others art.