Q&A With Mathew Jonson, Playing at Electric Pickle this Friday
Canadian-born producer Mathew Jonson is one of the more virtuosic and boldly innovative figures of contemporary techno. Boasting a masterful and nuanced command of electronic studio production, early breakthrough tracks like "Decompression", released on Richie Hawtin's Minus label, earned Jonson worldwide acclaim as a producer in the early 2000s, when he staked his pivotal role in the burgeoning minimal techno scene.
His experimental forays into jazz and live electronic improvisation have led to genre-bending collaborative work with The Modern Deep Left Quartet and Cobblestone Jazz, and as co-founder of Berlin's esteemed Wagon Repair label, he continues to impact the sound of international techno as both a producer and cutting-edge tastemaker.
Mr. Jonson will be performing live this Friday night at the Electric Pickle, along with resident DJ Will Renuart, and LINK residents Danyelino and Simon Wish. Crossfade had a chance to catch up with the man on his way back from a summer date in Ibiza and headed for the Americas. Read our Q&A with him after the jump.
New Times: You are a prolific musician and producer who has been very musically active since childhood. How did you first get into music?
Mathew Jonson: I come from a music-oriented family, so we were always surrounded by all kinds of musical instruments. I picked up drumming when I was 7, in a marching band, so that was probably the first time I took an instrument more seriously. After that I started in with classical piano when I was 10.
As a solo producer you are highly-regarded for your intense individualist vision, but you have also worked successfully in collaboration with other producers and musicians, most notably for The Modern Deep Left Quartet. How does working in a band compare with working alone for you?
MJ: Right now we are doing a Cobblestone Jazz album. It has the same members as MDLQ. There is a different feeling when you get a bunch of your friends in the studio. Everyone brings their own ideas and experience as musicians to the table. For instance, with Cobblestone we have Daneul Tate, who is an accomplished jazz player on the Rhodes and Vocoder.
You are known to be an avid lover of analog, owning a formidable hardware studio where you produce all your music. Do you strictly use only analog equipment for production, and if so, why? How do you feel about software-based music production tools and what (if any) part do they play in your work?
MJ: I love the sound of analog equipment mainly because you are hearing a round-sounding oscillator rather than a digital waveform, which is made up of squares. There is always room for digital sounds too, though they just have a different purpose. When it comes to anything in the bass frequencies, for me it has to be analog.
Tell us about relocating to Berlin, why you made the move and what role that city has played in your experiences and development as an artist and a techno producer?
MJ: I moved to Berlin because there is a good music scene there and I have lots of friends that I can collaborate with. It's also a great place to do A&R for my record label Wagon Repair.
We are very excited to have you in Miami and are looking forward to the live Mathew Jonson experience, considering the complex and cutting-edge quality of your records. What can you tell us about your live M.O.?
MJ: I bring a fair bit of gear with me when I play, Usually a TR909, SH101, Machinedrum, 32 channel mixer, effects, etc. I write all the drums live and mix between parts from the studio and my records. All the parts are separated so my shows can have a new sound every time.
What does the future have in store for Mathew Jonson?
MJ: A Cobblestone Jazz album, and a new EP entitled "Ghosts in the AI" will be out soon. I'll be traveling to Tampa after Miami, then Burning Man festival. From there I go to Lima, Peru, and then Medellin, Colombia.
Mathew Jonson at the Electric Pickle, Friday, August 29, 2009, 10 p.m.-5 a.m. 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami.