About Matthew Dear
Matthew Dear can’t be pinned down: He’s a DJ and a singer-songwriter, a rock star masquerading as a techno producer and vice versa. Born in 1979 and raised in Texas, Dear discovered Detroit techno—his first great revelation—upon moving to Michigan as a teenager. He got his start as an artist in the late '90s, under the influence of Europe’s artfully austere club movements. He was soon recording hypnotic, spartan tracks under a variety of aliases for labels like Ghostly International (which he cofounded while studying at the University of Michigan), Richie Hawtin’s Plus 8 (as False), and Berlin’s Perlon (as Jabberjaw). Dear offered an unusually playful spin on minimal techno: Just listen to the scratchy, loop-heavy techno-funk of 2003’s “Dog Days,” an early instance where his distinctive voice would play a central role. But minimal focus proved antithetical to Dear’s restless curiosity—he soon shunted off his peak-time techno explorations to his Audion alias, landing at least one bona fide classic in the form of 2006’s “Mouth to Mouth,” a blast of unhinged euphoria so giddy it seems almost menacing—a mix of emotions that goes to the heart of all his work.
Under his own name, meanwhile, Dear began crafting an increasingly idiosyncratic take on electronic pop, sculpting squishy, tactile productions informed by disco, house, and New Wave around his deep-diving baritone. 2007’s Asa Breed heralded the first major landmark of his newfound style, balancing punchy dance-floor tracks (“Neighborhoods”) with opulent ballads (“Deserter”), eerie vocal experiments (“Will Gravity Win Tonight?”), and Afro-Caribbean accents (“Elementary Lover”). (He toured behind this record with a proper rock band—Matthew Dear's Big Hands: full drum kit, keys, Dear on electric guitar and vocals.) On 2010’s Black City and 2012’s Beams, he continued to expand not just his sound design but also his emotional range, pushing all kinds of contradictory buttons in the process: sinister, hedonistic, sexy, desolate—often a dark mix of all those at once, over bumpy, slow-motion grooves that reeled like seasick disco. With 2018’s strange, thrilling Bunny, his experimental impulses and pop instincts proved all but inseparable, resulting in the catchiest hooks, the most irresistible grooves, and the most compellingly emotional terrain of his career. Of its title, he told Apple Music, “Bunnies are cute, they’re playful, they’re disobedient, they procreate like crazy,” noting the animal's associations with Looney Tunes, Playboy, and LSD. “They’re allowed to be a little of everything.”
BORNApril 4, 1979