Minus Soldier Matador Takes His Techno Talents to Paradise Miami
Ireland’s reigning 4/4 royalty steps up at the Jamie Jones tropical bonanza.
Although his two-part Play With Me! EP has already dropped, you'll have to excuse Matador for not taking a moment to breathe it all in. That's because the Minus soldier's supporting world tour is fully underway, whisking him to upwards of 30 stops in just over two months across at least fourteen different countries. No matter how experienced or weathered the artist may be, that kind of tenacious itinerary takes its toll mentally, physically, and emotionally. How much it affects, is the question.
"It feels like I'm in the chair with my shrink already," Matador admits. "Touring is a goal that any electronic talent works towards, so the main thing is to remember every day that this is what it's all about. Even after a long haul flight, crossing separate time zones, no one at the airport to collect you, only three hours of sleep after the gig before having to hop on another plane... the adrenaline buzz at each show and meeting the fans is what keeps me motivated and then some."
It raises an interesting point however. Does being a live performer—as Matador is—make such a relentless touring schedule easier or more difficult than would be the case for a traditional DJ? On one hand, playing live keeps an artist sharp and on their toes night after night. On the other, it means there is no room for 'cruise control' when they aren't feeling the crowd, unlike perhaps a regular DJ who has the option of hitting the sync button and phoning it in.
Since being a live performer has always been his thing, Matador's not too sure how it compares to the other end of the spectrum. What he does know, is that over the years he's encountered every challenge in setting up his gear and getting the best sound out of the rig. In other words, the night sits squarely on his shoulders.
"When I start my set, I disappear into my music. Certainly I'm working in overdrive to bring something fresh each time, which means I don't get a minute off. Sure, this might be different than some other DJs," he explains. "Yet I know for a fact guys like Richie Hawtin are involved 110% too when they play, so I guess it really depends on the artist."
As the two halves of Play With Me! storm the charts, Matador finds he isn't lacking the fresh material he refers to. The second release for the pair spotlights nimble bass notes with colourful synth patterns on "DaHustle", stripped-back wooden hits on "Song 2", mid-tempo percussion atop pining cow bells on "I Gotcha", raw analogue lines unfolding over lively drums on "BSunday", and elastic beats against moody sci-fi textures on "Vagenda".
It must be thrilling to take this new music on the road and hear mixed audiences reacting in varying ways, especially when on a worldwide expedition. As far as Matador is concerned, that's the beauty of being a live performer. "Technology allows me to manipulate my tracks in a very similar way to how I do in the studio, so the possibilities to try things out in real time and then take them back to my workspace are endless. The boundaries are blurred and that keeps it natural for me.
Matador is also observing a consistency in how global listeners are responding to certain elements of his latest productions. "Wherever I play, the fans love the groove. Techno is an international language. It always blows my mind to travel and see folks who might never leave their country or continent, yet they experience the music in the same passionate way as those on the other side of the planet."
He's now returned to the Miami stomping grounds for another Winter Music Conference (WMC). This isn't Matador's first rodeo at the gathering, either. It's far from it. The celebrated Miami Music Week has become a favoured time for the Irish native. WMC always arrives at the time of year when he and his mates are emerging from hibernation in the studio, marking the beginning of the countdown to summer.
"Despite the chaos and intensity of the constant party, I always get to spend some quality time with friends and peek at what's happening outside the bubble. It's also the link between Europe and the Americas, which gives us a special perspective on what's going on before we head our separate ways and hit the circuit again."
Matador has got two buzzworthy official gigs at WMC this year, but the one causing all the fuss is his appearance at Paradise—the tropical Jamie Jones bonanza currently conquering the map. He shares the bill with top names in the house scene like Guy Gerber, Steve Lawler, Hot Since 82, Jamie himself, and a few Hot Creations pillars including Patrick Topping, and wAFF. Not exactly the dark, hard-charging, minimalist Minus techno with which he has become associated.
As excited as Matador is about the booking, it's reasonable to wonder if there is any pressure on him to stand out with his or change it up instead by playing with a lighter, bouncier edge. But it seems that Matador has few concerns. "My music touches the edges and perhaps even overlaps with some of those artists, but it feels a bit special to be the single person representing the old-school techno community on what will undoubtedly be one of the best parties to attend in Miami."
"Over the last two months I've taken time to write my debut artist album, which should be a real platform for the range of high-tech sounds that catch my ear. If some of the the tracks are ready, I may give them a test at Paradise because it seems like the perfect platform for something out of the ordinary. That might open some new ears up."
Label crossovers like this are nothing new to the industry. Take Richie Hawtin and Luciano's annual Minus/Cadenza mash-ups, for example. Or the Life And Death showcases which, in the past, have regularly held an open slot for guests like Maceo Plex, Dixon, and Magda. Paradise itself even invited techno heavyweights Marco Carola and Joseph Capriati to play their 2014 Ibiza season. In the end, it's about making a connection and expanding audience awareness.
If anything, Matador's hopeful to stick around after his set and hang out with the Paradise gang so he can further the relationship. "I've got a lot of respect for what they are doing, and hey, I hear they know how to have a good time too!"
Matador's 'Play With Me!' tour continues on:
March 28 @ Beta, Denver, CO, USA
April 1 @ Union-Prod, Seville, Spain
April 2 @ Mondo Club, Madrid, Spain
April 3 @ Ministerium Club, Lisbon, Portugal
April 4 @ El Row, F135, Barcelona, Spain
April 5 @ Circus, Liverpool, UK
April 6 @ Old River, Naples, Italy
April 10 @ Instyud Energetic, Warsaw, Poland
April 11 @ Ninkasi Electro, Lyon, France
April 18 @ FUSE 18th Birthday, Brussels, Belgium
April 23 @ Vicious Magazine LIVE, Madrid, Spain
April 24 @ Stereo Types, Luxembourg
April 30 @ Die Kantine, Vienna, Austria
May 1 @ Cafe De Anvers, Antwerp, Belgium
May 2 @ Komplex 457, Zúrich, Switzerland
May 7 @ Crossover Festival, NICE, France
May 13 @ miniNOVA, Globull, Switzerland
May 15 @ Steam, Miami, FL, USA
May 16 @ Hardpop, Juarez, Mexico
May 21 @ Bar Americas, Guadalajara, Mexico
May 22 @ Foro Norte, Mexico City, Mexico
May 23 @ Mysteryland Festival, Bethel, New York
May 25 @ Movement Festival, Detroit MI, USA
May 29 @ Verboten, Brooklyn, NY, USA
May 31 @ Forbidden Fruit Festival, Dublin, Ireland
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