Matmos is M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, aided and abetted by many others. Currently based in Baltimore, the duo formed in San Francisco in the mid 1990s, and self-released their debut album in 1997. Marrying the conceptual tactics and noisy textures of object-based musique concrete to a rhythmic matrix rooted in electronic pop music, the two quickly became known for their highly unusual sound sources: amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, water hitting copper plates, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, rat cages, tanks of helium, a cow uterus, human skulls, snails, cigarettes, cards shuffling, laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions, balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones, Polish trains, insects, life support systems, inflatable blankets, rock salt, solid gold coins, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal. These raw materials are manipulated into surprisingly accessible forms, and often supplemented by traditional musical instruments played by them and their large circle of friends and collaborators. The result is a model of electronic composition as a relational network that connects sources and outcomes together; information about the process of creation activates the listening experience, providing the listener with entry points into sometimes densely allusive, baroque recordings.
1: Astrologically speaking, I’m a LEO / DRAGON.
2: I love the idea of nature and leaving natural spaces alone, I donate money to natural conservation societies, but I hate camping, or really any extended period of time in “nature”.
3: Last night, a charming fan of my band made us dinner. He is a professional “forager” for Michelin-starred restaurants. He served us tiny pine cones. They were delicious.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The pleasure I get from listening to sound.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
In high school, I fell in love with a boy who was a drummer. I wanted to do whatever he did. So, I decided that I was a musician, too, and I have held on to that ever since.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Alice Coltrane Journey in Satchidananda
Robert Ashley Perfect Lives: Private Parts
Dorothy Ashby The Rubiyat of Omar Khayam
Holger Czukay On the Way to the Peak of Normal
Francois Bayle Erosphere
Of course, listing 5 records as “favorite” is absurd. Music “ranking” is ridiculous.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
At the moment, I’m quite hungry and I’m associating it with delicious bockwurst mit senf. Shortly I will go find some!! I suppose bockwurst isn’t really a Berlin sausage, (?) but that’s what I want, anyway.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
With my friends, drinking coffee and “talking shit”. Terribly un-intellectual answer, but true! Sometimes we talk shit intellectually.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Storytelling, perhaps, perhaps we would wind up inventing music on the way.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
“Sounds Like Ray Coniff” in a thrift store in Oslo.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Drew Daniel. It’s a proven quantity! If it’s not broken, why fix it?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I very much enjoyed performing Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives “The Backyard” for Mimi Ashley at the Issue Project Room.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Quite important! I rely on crutches to walk, and there is no shame in walking, however one does it.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I do, I don’t know much, I’m not really in touch with them. I hope they’re at least amused! My brother Werner once commented, “Martin all your music sounds like insects eating things”. I could not disagree with this general synopsis.
MC Schmidt performs at TIME TIME TIME at Berliner Festspiele on Sunday, 24th March 2019!
Photo © Drew Daniel