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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Local Voices: Andre Obin

Photo by Ricardo DeLima

Andre Obin is both a friend of Basstown as well as half of Matters & Dunaway, a local band that is unique to its allies for its team of Obin and Tom Gallagher. Combined, they are a tight unit of bass guitar, vocals, and electronics which wax nostalgic on some of Squarepusher's less IDM days. For the past year, Obin has been working on some solo work, and is currently getting known all over Boston for both his recent signing with Moodgadget (a subsidiary of Ghostly International) as well releasing Colorwheel. Andre makes real spaced out techno for people that like a little melody and a little thoughtfulness on the dance-floor. There are definitely nods to Underworld in this music. I'm hoping there is an anthem like 'Two Months Off' hiding in Andre.

1. Any interesting reason why you chose music...or did it choose you?

I was exposed to music at a very early age. My Dad played bass in blues bands, my grandmother played classical piano and my Mom has always been a fan of new age music. Metal music was a huge part of my adolescence. I've always used music to draw something out of me, whether it helps drive me through a work week or relax late at night. At this point, I need to create music for a little while each day or I start to lose the plot.

2. Have you DJ'd much in the past? Do you still?

I used to DJ years ago, but at a certain point, my commitment to production and performance took precedence. I'm not saying I won't ever DJ again, it's just that I get so much more fulfillment from creative genesis. Plus, Boston is very privledged to have a slew of great DJs like Erik (Baltimoroder), Baldur (DJezus), Jamie (DJ Die Young), Alan [Manzi], Billy [Kiely], Julian (Redfoxxx), etc., so yeah, it's not like people are begging for my return to the booth!

3. What about your equipment?

In general, I love my bass-guitars and guitar. For strictly electronic gear, I use Ableton Live, Reason, a Nord Virtual rack and an Electrix Warp Factory vocoder. A few people have recently told me that I'm developing a signature sound. . . I think part of that comes with the tools that I continue to go back to in Ableton, and the Nord provides certain classic elements like arpeggiation and filtration that I more or less obsess over.

4. Tell us about the upcoming release of Colorwheel.

An indie label in Brooklyn called Moodgadget will be distributing Colorwheel digitally within the next couple of months. The two gents who run Moodgadget work for Ghostly International, and Danny Scales, the artist behnid the cover designs for Matthew Dear, contributed the artwork for Colorwheel. I really dig the artwork. It feels good to collaborate with artists with a similar vision and appreciation of experimental music.

5. You have a few projects with a variety of monikers - Andre Obin, Matters & Dunaway, Isolation Reel - do they all take on different personalities or, technically, ways of creation/production?

Yes, absolutely. Matters & Dunaway is my collaboration with Thomas Gallagher. Naturally, collaborating means more specific functions for me. With M&D, I tend to focus on bass riffs, keyboard melodies and lyrics, while Tom handles the beat production and drumming, synthesis and fine-tuning. Organic instrumentation and the two different personalities make M&D sound and feel like a "band" experience both live and recorded. Solo, I work through a couple of different channels from day to day, depending on my mood and energy level. I have a lot of unreleased music that I would consider shoegaze. I think the shoegaze feel, especially the vocals, comes through in the music that I'm releasing under my own name. While the production
is farily tech and pretty hard, I think the overall result is lush and extravagant. It all probably stems from emulating my favorite bands and artists like Underworld, Slowdive and Boards of Canada.

6. Who are some local DJs and rock bands in Boston that you really love?

For the DJs, see my answer to question 2. Seriously, people living in Boston and Cambridge should be honored to have so many great DJs living in the area. For individual songs, I've had Tom Gallagher's marvelous remix of a Boston band called Anthems for Odyssey on repeat recently. To be honest, I'm somewhat out of touch with the rock scene right now. I used to have much more of a grip on good bands here when I was playing with Eyes Like Knives. It's really a question of making more time to go see indie rock at the Middle East, TTs, and Great Scott. It seems that I spend most of my nights out at the Middlesex Lounge soaking up the electronica.

7. If you were given $10,000, what's the first thing you would buy towards music (note: weed doesn't count!)?

Cheeky of you. My list is always full with things to keep an eye out for. The first major purchase would be a new bass-guitar amplifier as the Kustom tube amps are now officialy fried. I'd love to buy a new synthesizer, probably a Novation or Korg model with sweet string sounds. An Ableton controller would be up next. I would also like to upgrade from Ableton Live 6 to 7 as soon as 7 has a new compressor for proper side-chaining. I could use an acoustic guitar for the kitchen. OK, answering this question is starting to make me sad, so I'm going to move on.

8. What kind of differences do you see in the Boston techno and rock scenes?

As I said, I'm a bit out of touch with the rock scene currently. If there was a Boston band that could blow my fucking doors off, I think I would know about them by now. Techno and electronic music in general are permeating Cambridge more and more and for good reason. Techno is a great release, and we got some people here that can really lay it down night to night. I'm looking forward to the next wave of Boston indie bands with edge and drive. Rock n Roll will never die. If people leave a club sweaty with dilated eyes, it doesn't matter if they saw a punk band or a techno dj, you know they enjoyed themselves.

9. Anything else?

I'm looking forward to the My Bloody Valentine reunion shows in London next Summer, and you really should go see Control at the Kendal Square Cinema before having to settle for the DVD!

Audible: Andre Obin - "Colorwheel (unmastered)"
Audible: Andre Obin - "Premonition"
Audible: Andre Obin - "Response Systems"
Myspace: Matters & Dunaway
Label Site: Moodgadget Website

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