GAVIN Lynch may have spent the last few months banging out techno at festivals worldwide and taking the controls as a resident at ENTER. in Ibiza, but the Dubliner is crashing back into domestic life in his hometown. When I call Lynch, aka live techno don Matador, he’s just moved back to Dublin from Germany a few days previously and he’s all set for a homecoming show of sorts at the Button Factory on Stephen’s Day — his first Irish show in over a year.
“It feels like I’ve come pretty much full circle,” he says. “That’s where I played my very first show way back when I was a student, in the Music Centre, so it’s a full 360 coming back. I’ve all the new music and there’s more coming up. There’s gonna be a wealth of new music on the night.”
Along with Phil Kieran over the last 10 years, Matador has become Ireland’s biggest techno export, kicking off in 2007 with early Aciitone releases Skywalk and Dancing in the Sun — timeless groove-based techno with a hint of Thomas Bangalter’s Roule 12-inches or the tougher end of International Deejay Gigolos.
He says that for a few years he was “just ticking over with releases here and there with Perc Trax, a mix with Cocoon and whatever, flirting with the idea of bigger things”. These bigger things grabbed him three years ago when he sent some tracks to the M_nus label. They soon filtered through to label boss and all-round techno kingpin Richie Hawtin, and this kicked off an exponential trajectory, beginning with his first M_nus EP Kingswing.
He says: “It was originally signed and released and then I wrote a new batch and sent that through. I signed up and went on tour and that was it, it was a very quick turnaround. I was on the road straight away, every weekend, with full support from himself. Right time, right place, you know, it all aligned.”
Three years and three EPs later, Matador is a M_nus mainstay, beefing up label nights along with Gaiser, Dubfire, Hawtin and co, and playing to thousands at festivals like Awakenings in Holland, and Tribaltech in Brazil — as well as his residency at ENTER. in Ibiza.
His new EP Play With Me! is a perfect 2am hand grenade, and the title track will tear the Button Factory’s soundsystem a new one on Stephen’s night. It’s held up by a trademark Matador bass pulse and a waspy synth lead that reaches back to early darkwave or EBM. His year in Berlin had a say in the sound of the new EP, whose second part is out in the spring, and he says: “One of the main reasons I went to Berlin was to write a chunk of new music, and the music reflects where I was — it was a cold, dark winter there.”
This dark electro touch has been with Lynch since he had an epiphany of sorts around 2001. After buying turntables when he was 16, for a few years he started playing progressive house and “trancey and hard house elements, which was pretty rampant around Dublin at the time”.
He adds: “Then I got introduced to Dave Clarke on his World Service One compilation. I remember being handed that at an after-party on a Discman, through headphones. I remember being just glued to it, and the following week I saw Clarke at the Red Box in town and that was pretty much me hooked on techno.”
These days Matador is rostered as a live act but says he’ll get back to DJing “at some point for sure”. Lynch has always got “one or two things on the go”, as he can only rely on himself for a set: “I can’t go out and buy new records to play this weekend, because I’m always playing live. If I wanna get new records for this weekend I have to write them.”
He can’t incorporate all his gear in the live show, saying: “On stage you’re limited, with the logistics of travelling, then there’s prearranging the stage area.” He a lot more does a lot more than pressing a few buttons in Dublin next week, as he says: “I just run a Livid controller as my main engine room, and a Maschine Mikro and an 808 and 909 on the side, as well as two laptops with different plug-ins and effects.”
It’s a set-up that has just earned him another place on the Resident Advisor top 20 live acts poll, with RA praising his “riotous grooves and infectious hooks”. He deflects the placing somewhat, saying: “It’s always nice to get acknowledged, but to get bogged down on your RA positioning or awards, it’d get under your skin a wee bit too much. The ultimate goal is writing music and making people dance. Once that’s at the forefront of your mind I think you’re gonna be alright.”
Originally published in The Star