Matador Exclusive Front Cover InterviewApril 11, 2020
Dublin native Gavin Lynch aka ‘Matador’ is creating his own legend and we couldn’t be happier for him. His hard work and raw passion for what he does is truly inspiring. From DJ to Producer to award winning live Artist he is setting the curve on authenticity and originality.
Mike Mannix: Nice one Gavin, thank you for talking to us at Iconic Underground. Before we go into your current success today can we dig a bit into your early influences growing up in Ireland both socially and musically that eventually led you into dance music, what gave you the itch to mix?
Matador: I guess my first exposure to electronic music was via the wireless, listening to Radio 1 mostly – the essential mix with Pete Tong, and various other shows with Fergie, Judge Jules, John Digweed…..my thirst was then quenched by a series of different mix CDs from Dave Clarkes ‘World Service’, to Richie Hawtins ‘909 Decks & FX’ & Carl Cox’s ‘Fact’ series….mostly techno now that I look at it.
MM: What track or tracks did you first hear that made you think ‘fucking hell I love this’’ and how did it change your life??
M: There were quite a few in the initial stages, and in most cases, I didn’t know the names so it was a case of ‘discovering’ them in record stores around Dublin. A couple of records in the early stages that really got my attention were Adam Beyer ‘Remainings 111’, Jeff Mills ‘The Bells’, Dave Clarke ‘Red 2’, Midfield General ‘Coatnoise’….the list could go on & on….
MM: Whenever you got the funds together what was your first bit of kit and why?
M: Korg – Micro Korg was my first hardware synth because that’s all I could afford at the time. I used it for everything for almost 2 years, then I scanned eBay daily for months until I got me a bargain grey SH 101, then I really fell in love with synths, deep in love 🙂
MM: Was DJing your first love?
M: Yea totally, I had turntables at 15/16 years old, a crappy set of Omnitronic belt drives, and learned the basics on them. It was only 5/6 years later when I realised If I wanted to play a certain sound (deep dark techno) for a full set I was going to have to start making my own music, as I just couldn’t find enough of what I wanted to play at the time to fill 2/3 hours. So DJing was definitely my first love, I guess I started producing purely to feed my DJ sets.
MM: Do you remember the very first track you finished and how it made you feel?
M: Not quite if I’m being honest, but what I do remember being very excited by was one of my first classes in music production, learning how a ‘Redrum’ was programmed in Reason 2.0…maybe even an earlier version….but I remember being so excited, I just wanted it installed on my laptop so I could go home and start programming. I remember feeling very liberated. I was on the road to becoming a producer, and most important at the time was going to fill my DJ sets with my own sound.
MM: How pivotal a decision was it to enrol in a sound engineering course in Dublin’s Sound Training Centre and why?
M: This was the course I took after the introductory course I mentioned above. It was so very important. The first year focused a lot on recording acoustic instruments with bands or singer songwriters. Working with outboard and general engineering. It was only in the next 3 years we really focused on the electronic side of things. Having that understanding of acoustic instruments and how they are recorded, processed, mixed was the foundation I needed before jumping mostly inside the box for the following 4/5 years.
MM: Tell us about that chance encounter with the iconic talisman ‘Richie Hawtin’ and how that really did bring you up to the next level?
M: Meeting Rich for the first time I was very nervous, he was and still is an icon for me. Although we have become great friends over the years he still blows me away with his performances and productions. The night I met him in Dublin, I was the supporting act and opening the room playing right up to before him. Super nervous, but thankfully it all went well. We had a good chat afterward about music I had sent a couple of months before this encounter, and it was left at ‘Send me the new music when it’s ready’ which I did 5/6 months later, which then led to me signing 14 tracks in one clean swipe. Everything changed from that moment.
M: Not only are you an accomplished and successful DJ and producer, but you’re an accomplished live sound artist winning ‘Best Live Performer’ twice at the international DJ Awards in Ibiza in 2014 and 2016. Can you tell us more about that side of you and how you transitioned from studio production to performing as an authentic live artist working with hardware?
M: It’s always nice to get recognised for your work, and I worked quite hard to get my live set to where it was for those awards. I’d written a lot of new music and was playing at both techno and tech-house parties in Ibiza so I had to be super versatile as a live act, and most importantly had to have original music that worked in both scenarios.
MM: Do you have a usual routine when you hit the studio, when you’re in the mood for creating new tracks, from the analogue outboard, midi, samples and DAW you use and why? What is key in the whole production process?
M: My routine changes a lot, it has to otherwise I get bored very quickly and end up going down similar paths sounding like the last batch of tracks. Workflow can start from many different sources really…in most cases a new piece of equipment, a new plugin, changing elements in the room, or changing workspaces. I bounce between my main studio and a small writing room I have next to my main room.
MM: I believe you have an appreciation for Rupert Neve built hardware and have some tasty pieces?
M: I certainly do. I think for anyone training in this field any piece of Neve hardware is considered a gift to have it in your own studio. So when the time was right a few years back I invested in a 5088 and haven’t looked back, it truly is an instrument in its own right. I’ve never looked back to mixing in the box anyway 🙂
MM: What DJs / Artists / Producers are behind your ever-driving passion for the scene, and who would you like to work within the studio?
M: I work alone in the studio almost always, and anytime I’ve collaborated, it’s been over long distances. For instance, I collaborated with ARTBAT earlier this year and we never spent a moment in the studio together, all back n forth online with session files. On the other hand, I had Richie here in the studio for 2 days over the summer and the results were also fantastic, so it really can work both ways. I’m open to working with other producers once we are both on the same page. My dream would be to work with Brian Eno. That would be a dream come true.
MM: What advice would you give the aspiring DJ/Producer today on how to be creatively original in an already saturated market?
M: Every producer starts out trying to sound like someone they admire, and that’s absolutely fine until you get your skillset up to scratch. After that it’s very important to follow your own sound and path, this is what will give you an identity in a busy marketplace. Sounding like everyone else will only take you so far.
MM: You’re constantly in demand and on the move around the globe, what are your thoughts on the dance scene/underground today and where do you see it evolving?
M: I’ve been very lucky enough to travel and play pretty much everywhere over the past 8 years, and I’ve seen certain territories slow down, and some accelerate at astounding speed.
| The industry is bigger than ever now, it’s complex and some aspects don’t make sense to me at the moment. I think the internet has played a major role in creating people in this industry who are taking part for all the wrong reasons. In saying that, I feel fans are starting to see artists with real substance who can actually produce their own music out of love, as opposed to having someone else write their music in order to keep their socials and career ticking over, it’s lazy and displays an unwillingness to learn, and I just don’t get that”
MM: What have been your biggest stand-out festival/gig moments where you thought ‘fuck this is real, this is amazing….’?
M: I’ve had a few moments like that alright. Creamfields Buenos Aires was very special for me almost 7/8 years ago. I remember reading about it in Mixmag years ago and seeing the images, and it almost became a target for me, a goal. I had a great slot and it went off, maybe 8-10000 people going nuts like nothing I’d seen before, and the roars when I played Kingswing or Klay which were just released on Minus at the time, I had goosebumps for the full set, and felt extra special. I remember every detail vividly from that 60min live set.
MM: What’s the biggest life challenge you’ve overcome, and what did you learn from it?
M: Taking ‘the’ leap of faith. I was a chef before this, trained in catering college and worked in the industry right up to my late twenties. I just knew I had to take that leap of faith and spent almost a year in the studio, struggled with money but got through it, and on the other side was me signing to Minus and stepping away from the kitchen into my new career. This took a lot of courage, patience and most importantly support from my family and loved ones. Anything is possible if you believe, make sacrifices and work hard!
MM: You’ve just released your latest EP ‘Dynamite’ on your RUKUS label, and it’s absolute fire as to be expected! Have you been sitting on these tracks for a while, or is this new material inspired from a packed summer of gigs? Do you find touring inspiring when it comes to production, or just too distracting?
M: This EP was written not so long ago. I’ve been playing (DJing) a little tougher lately so I needed my own music to match somewhat. I’d just picked up a Devilfish modified 303, so both tracks came together pretty quickly with inspiration from that machine. Touring can be both good and bad for your production process, on one hand, you’re playing and listening to tons of other inspiring productions and styles which drive you towards creating, but on the other hand by the time you sit down to write you’re exhausted. So what you want to do is try to hold onto those inspirational moments on the road, get rested, and then get into the studio. A video can sometimes be enough to bring me back to a moment from the weekend, or listening back to the recording – all my sets are recorded, both direct and ambient so you can really get back to the moment with these various sources.
MM: You just played a gig with Tonnehalle orchestra in Zurich – that must have been pretty amazing, can you tell us more about the tracks chosen, and how you and they went about interpreting them?
M: Yes this was a fantastic experience. The plan was to take 6 tracks of mine. Keep some of the original elements that I would play live (mostly drums and bass) and the rest of the elements were played by acoustic instruments. We kept some synth lines in here and there which worked wonderfully. I feel the track ‘Air’ was the highlight, it was played with strings and brass and was just goosebumps from start to finish. It’s looking like we are going into the studio to record the official orchestral version of that track. This along with a few others will be a key feature in my new live show.
MM: What’s up next for Matador? Anything special already on the horizon for next year?…
M: Ha, yes! My new live show!!! I’m putting everything into this. We are in the stage design phase at the moment and I’ve never been so excited. This is a true vision for how I what the music framed, and I’ve been lucky enough to find someone who understands this vision with great ease. The music for this new live show will be bolstered by a new album which I’m almost 1 year into now. I’ve been in the studio almost every day I can be for the past year, and the results have been very rewarding. I’ve really worked hard on my skillset, learning more, trying new techniques and growing as a producer and musician. So I’m very excited to keep writing until it’s finished in full, and present what I feel will be my best work to date!!!
MM: Thanks Gavin!
‘Matador ‘Dynamite’ EP is Out Now on RUKUS. Look out for Skream’s debut EP on the label out in December’.