Features

Recloose: Avoiding complacency, never boring

Having first risen to the attention of Detroit legend Carl Craig in 1997, Matthew Chicoine (aka Recloose) soon became a highly regarded artist in his own right, singing to Craig’s Planet E record label and performing with him in the Innerzone Orchestra. Upon releasing his debut album ‘Cardiology’ in 2002 Recloose toured the globe and on a trip to the New Zealand capital of Wellington instantly fell in love with the city (and a fine young lady). After relocating himself to the southern hemisphere he got to work on his follow up LP, ‘Hiatus On The Horizon’, which was released in 2005 to widespread critical acclaim. Recloose will play live with his band at the Beck’s Bar in Sydney on January, so don’t miss this rare chance to the performance in all its splendour!

You’re a trained saxophonist who began by playing and studying jazz, was that the first instrument you ever learned to play and who or what sparked an interest in you playing music?

I started on the piano and I suppose I initially got into music because my mom made me take piano lessons. I switched to the sax, later some guitar, then turntables, and finally production. I’ve always been drawn to music, it’s the thing in life that inspires me most.

When and how did you form an affection for electronic music?

I lived near and later in Detroit and heard a lot of music on the radio and from friends. Specifically Jeff “the Wizard” Mills, later Carl Craig, UR, Shake, etc. I was also listening to a lot of funk, soul, hip-hop as I was growing up.

Who or what brought you down under to New Zealand originally?

I met a beautiful lady who made me think ditching Detroit for the tropical island paradise of New Zealand would be a good move. It’s been interesting!

Per capita New Zealand appears to have a very high proportion of fantastic musical artists, how does the music scene there compare with the US scene that you are also a part of?

Detroit is more DJ/producer oriented. There a lot fewer people that I know of there who play instruments. Upon reflection there are lots but I think people had tended to stick to their own flavors for a long time in Detroit, but that’s been changing. Here in Wellington people tend to cross-pollinate a lot more and are very open to playing with one another trying new things.

You’ve collaborated with the vocalist Joe Dukie from the dub-soul group Fat Freddy’s Drop, when and how did this musical relationship come about?

It was like most of the collaborations that happened here, it was really easy! “Bro, wanna hook up on a track?” Simple as that. I coaxed Dallas onto a few joints for this album and he’s also played live with our band a few times. We’re currently negotiating some brand spanking new bangers.

Which artists are pressing your buttons in the scene at the moment and which artists pressed them in the past?

I won’t name specifics as it might take too long, but basically I am into people that tend to avoid complacency or obvious formulas. I hate being bored, I’d rather hate some shit than be bored with it, at least it’s elicited a reaction. Lately I’ve been playing lots of old music out and this has been inspiring me most. It’s not that I’m reacting against any current stuff, I’m just looking back at the moment.

Let’s get technical, explain how you go about creating a track, and which instruments, hardware/software tools do you use?

Start with a beat, lay some basslines and changes, drop some horns, play with developing sections, add sound effects and subtle stuff, call some musos and have them add their thing. Then take it all and mould it for way too long until it comes out right.

How will you go about recreating your tunes with the amalgamated Kiwi super group that you are bringing to Sydney?

It’s great fun and inspiring to play with musicians, especially if they’re dope! So I have no plans to stop, if we keep getting gigs than it will be happening…

How do you go about juggling the touring and performance life with that of a home life, what activities do you involve yourself in to achieve respite?

It can be pretty thick. I don’t have any interesting hobbies at the moment, unless you call watching lots of DVDs a hobby. I’m trying to get into squash or bikes or water polo or something soon.

Drugs and dance music, do you believe they have to go hand in hand, that there is a place for drug use in music?

I suppose but I think for me I’m feeling like an old ass guy and drugs don’t interest me any more. I’m sure there have been many to pontificate on this before, I don’t think I’ll have much to add to it. But if you do drugs at my gig you’ll likely miss a lot, I don’t think you need drugs to get into it. Unless of course a long island iced tea is considered drugs?

What’s your proudest musical achievement?

Having a great gig is really self-affirming but I think productions are the ones that reflect oneself the most. That said I’d say I’m pretty happy I’ve made songs like ‘Dust’ and ‘Can’t Take It’, probably my two favorites.

What advice would you give young up and comers trying to make a living out of music?

Be prepared to be poor for a long time, if not forever. Make real, real sure you want to do it, and also make sure you’ve got something new to say and aren’t going to rehash what somebody has said before you.

Hiatus on the Horizon is your second long playing artist release, what does the future hold for Recloose?

I plan to continue developing the band, potentially into something that transcends just playing my music but writing tunes for itself. Besides that I’m trying to spend as much time in the studio pushing ahead with my sound and secretly praying for a payday of extraordinary magnitudes!

Recloose plays the Beck’s Festival Bar in Sydney this Saturday, January 14th in Sydney and at Revolver on Friday 13th January in Melbourne.

For more info check out ITM Whatson. ‘Hiatus on the Horizon’ is out now through Peacefrog/Creative Vibes.