Interview: Mathew Jonson

Mathew Jonson has developed one of the most distinctive voices in electronic dance music, yet there is still no mistaking any one given track for another.

Both on stage and in the studio, Jonson’s fealty to analog equipment and real-time play—as opposed to mere playback—serves as a standardbearer for a kind of electronic music that goes way beyond the drag ‘n’ drop world of digital composition. With a keen understanding for the needs of the dancefloor and the universal laws of house and techno, he’s thrown out the rule book time and time again, sneaking tricks learned from electro and even drum’n’bass into minimal clubs, and loading up his B-sides with tracks that do what they please.

Despite his quick ascent through the ranks of the techno elite, Jonson hasn’t just stayed personally grounded. He’s devoted much of his energy to supporting his own close musical family, both in the groups Cobblestone Jazz and the Modern Deep Left Quartet, and with his Wagon Repair label, which he cofounded with Jesse Fisk, Graham and Adam Boothby, Frank Meyerhofer and Konrad Black.

Now Mathew Jonson is set to release the 84th edition of the famed fabric mix series, which was recorded live at the London techno mecca. In anticipation of the official launch party this Saturday, November 7, we managed to catch up with Mathew to speak on everything from his time spent in India to his soon-to-be time in Japan, and, of course, all things fabric.

If you are in London this weekend, make sure you drop by the club as Mathew takes to the controls with support from Craig Richards, TiNI, Sammy Dee, KiNK, Jus-Ed, and Subb-an.

“…let go of the illusion of control and security that we in the west grasp to so tightly.”

fabric 84 was a set recorded live last year on location at the club. Can you describe some of the practical aspects turning a recorded set into a release mix? What kind of technical elements go into it? How were you sure the set would translate as effectively into a CD/mixtape format?
To be quite honest, the live set was never meant to be a CD. It just worked out that way as I was able to capture a high resolution recording that night. Usually recordings of my sets sound pretty terrible out of context, as mixing 24 channels live is not very accurate in most clubs. So let’s say it was a bit of luck and also the fact that I have played Room 1 at Fabric many times – so I am used to the acoustics.

As I have been working with the club for so long, I had always wanted to be part of the mix series but didn’t think it would ever happen. This was due to it being more of a DJ thing. So I was really happy when their team was excited about releasing my live set. I would say the sound quality is not as good as listening to mastered tracks like on the rest of the series, but it does capture the feeling of the birthday party that people quite enjoyed.

What are your impressions on the fabric series as a whole? Especially given the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately nature of online streaming and such.
It seems to me to be one of the more famous mix series out there. Fabric is an institution that garners respect from around the globe. To be part of it is an honor.

In describing fabric as a club, you have said: “It’s just one of those few clubs in the world that everybody knows about and respects”. What makes it this way? What other clubs around the world would you say are in the same conversation?
Judy Griffith has played a major role in that I think. She has a real prowess for what is hot at the moment but also keeps the Saturday bookings surrounded by a familiar family of people. This makes for a party that you know will usually be good on any given night.

As for clubs that have a similar stature it’s a bit hard to compare as Fabric is it’s own special thing. But Berghain/Panorama Bar in Berlin is something that is different of course but also has similarities. I think there is something to be said about a large club that can survive in an industry where people are always looking for the next best thing.

Continuing on fabric as a club, when you walk into fabric for a gig, do you have a specific sound you know you will play on that occasion? Does this stay consistent from gig to gig there?
I always prepare something special. As I play there so frequently I feel this is really important. Much of the time it includes a lot more breaks that in other places I play as I feel the London audience appreciates it – thus the 3 versions of Decompression on the CD.

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