Electric Pickle has built an esteemed reputation over the years; the Wynwood nightlife spot was named one of the top 50 concert venues in the country by Complex magazine, and more recently, Rolling Stone named it one of the best dance clubs in the country. One of the reasons Electric Pickle has achieved such status can be attributed to SAFE, a regular night at the club that is “dedicated to underground music with the purest intentions.” SAFE has brought acclaimed electronic acts like Tiga, James Holden and Maya Jane Coles to host legendary DJ sets.
In celebration of SAFE’s sixth anniversary, SAFE will be hosting a DJ set by acclaimed DJ, producer and experimental pop artist Matthew Dear on Aug. 17.
Dear fell into the DJ scene in the late '90s when he began going to warehouse parties in Detroit, a city widely cited as one of the techno capitals of the world. Dear says at first “he didn’t get” techno but says he “kind of sort of found it.” He says he listened to albums like Homework by Daft Punk and compilation CDs of techno music, first indifferent to the music but then later growing to appreciate it.
“There was definitely a transitional period where I totally didn’t get [the techno scene], but I was making music, trying different things...Once I got bit by that whole warehouse techno bug, I knew all of a sudden that I had all of these machines and now I could make techno music, I could try this for a change.”
Over the years, Dear has assumed several aliases (Audion, Jabberjaw and False) under which he has produced music in addition to the work he has done under his own name. He says the monikers were necessary for him when he was first experimenting with different sounds.
“When I first started, I was hungry, really hungry [to make music]...I had all the elements to play this stuff and I was hearing all of this music too and so caught up in it all... I knew I couldn’t put it all [of this wildly varying music] out under my own name or else everyone would get confused, I would be confused and I would play live and no one knows what they’re going to hear. So there was the need for all of these aliases.”
In recent years, Dear has gained a large critical and fan following for his work with his band; his albums have grown more vocal-driven and more traditionally “pop” with each release. The term “pop” is used loosely when referring to his music; his deep-throated vocals and eccentric electronic style are far "stranger" than traditional pop music.
Matthew Dear readily admits he loves pop music; he raves about Kanye West’s new album "Yeezus" and speaks highly of Kylie Minogue’s “incredible pop sheen” when talking about why he chose to remix her single “Skirt.” He’s fascinated and is inspired by the “mega-teams of producers and songwriters” working together to create “little diamonds of pop music.” But he says despite his best efforts, it’s an art he has failed to master.
“The thing is I can’t make pop music. I’d love to be able to write some tracks for a really successful album or something but it always comes out sounding a little too weird. It’s always just a little off-kilter and things are just a little strange. That’s the only way I can make music and that’s how it’ll come out.”
Matthew Dear has played sets in Miami a number of times, primarily SAFE events and sets during Winter Music Conference. He says the Miami he has experienced during his visits contradicts its reputation as a superficial city.
“Miami’s completely known for that over-the-top [image]...this whole neon, fancy mindset people think is all about beauty and glamour. But the parties I’ve played there are normal, cool and down to earth. You get out of that other headspace and go there to have a really good time.”
Dear played his first set with SAFE several years ago when he did the closing party for the club Pawn Shop in downtown Miami. He says that Electric Pickle is one of his favorite venues to play and he feels the nights he has played as SAFE’s unofficial international resident DJ “get better and better every time.”
“There’s something about those parties [at Electric Pickle]. ... [At the Pickle] it’s not about size, it’s not about numbers, it’s not about trying to get a big paycheck or anything. It’s really about the vibe and the energy and there’s not a lot of other places in the country that you can get that kind of experience.”
He recently ended his stint touring alongside Depeche Mode, playing massive stadium shows on an international tour with the band. While he has yet to bring his live act he’s most known for to Miami, he’s currently in talks to bring his band to Miami Beach for a performance during Art Basel. But for now, he hopes that the Miami crowd appreciates the skills he can bring to a DJ booth as well.
“It’s not just going up there and playing music; it’s going up there, really trying to read a moment and connecting with people.”