Recloose: Coming out of hiding

Mad Racket’s Simon Caldwell had a little e-chat with Matt ‘Recloose’ Chicoine prior to his upcoming return to Australian shores for eagerly anticipated DJ dates.

SC: You’ve just come back from a European tour, right? Tell us where you went and what went down…

R: We took six musicians from New Zealand and picked up a keyboardist in the UK as well as a tour manager and assistant. In a 12-seater tour van we proceeded to hit gigs from Glasgow to Bristol to Bologna, back up to Brussels and Berlin, and finish off in Sweden. It was a pretty mad trip, but for the most part we had lots of fun and put on some really good shows. I think the audience was pretty surprised by the fact we were actually more of a futuristic funk band than a techno laptop thing or the like. As such it sometimes took a minute for this to sink in with the crowd (especially after following a banging DJ) but we were always able to woo them by the end!

SC: Last time you visited you were with your full live show. Are you still focusing on that side of things? Is that part of an ongoing musical evolution for you or more of a tangent?

R: When I kicked it off I wasn’t too sure if it would be a short-lived project, but so far we’ve had a considerable amount of success with the band, especially here in New Zealand, so I think we’re going to stick with it. It’s a lot of fun for me and the rest of the members to do funk, disco, techno live, as none of us really did this sort of thing before and it’s unique for New Zealand. That said I’m still right into rocking my ones and twos (records don’t give you shit! Unless they’ve been abused of course?) and producing deep beats in the studio?

SC: The title of your last album, ‘Hiatus On The Horizon’ kinda suggested to me that you were going to take a break. I guess I got that wrong! When did you come up with that title and what does it mean to you?

R: ‘Hiatus’ in the album title was just a nod to the fact that I took a long time to get my album out, and the ‘Horizon’ implied I’m a long, long way from home. In fact it’s meant to be a bit ironic though, I think developing the myths of one’s home can be quite funny especially if people don’t know shit about where you’re from. It happened when I lived in Detroit (‘So like are you constantly dodging bullets?’) and still happens here (‘So like do you guys have TV? What language do you speak? Do you hang with hobbits?’) Why not fuel the myth?

SC: The single ‘Dust’ with Joe Dukie was absolutely massive and is still a favourite. Any plans for more collaborations with Mr Dukie?

R: Just spoke to him last night in fact. He’s busy as hell of course with his Fat Freddy’s project having blown the [email protected]#(*$& up, but we’re both really into doing a few more tunes together. We’ll likely try to write some stuff together from scratch this time which may be more fun (instead of giving him a track, he sings, I produce and mix). To be continued?

SC: A lot of interviews with you have focused on the move to NZ as being central to your changing ‘sound’, as though your physical environment necessarily affects your creative process and output. What’s your take on it?

R: Your environment definitely has an effect on your creative output, but then again I don’t like to overstate this point. I think living in ‘clean green’ New Zealand has enticed me to do less synthetic techno-type tunes to a degree, but I think being around musicians with a whole different set of influences has effected me more. It can be a two way relationship as well, I’m just a drop in the bucket here but think my sensibilities have rubbed off on some people here too which is cool. Like a handful of musos are actually open to techno now, getting into synths and MIDI, whereas before they would have broke out in hives at the mere mention of these taboo things?

SC: Coming from Detroit and then leaving to bigger and better things is a familiar theme to Motor City residents, and I guess must cause some resentment. In particular, many artists have relocated to Berlin and other European centres. How do you feel about the ‘brain drain’ of Detroit’s musical talent? Going to NZ must be perceived slightly differently, yes? How have you been received on return visits?

R: Yeah, it is a recurring theme for sure, but it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out why it happens. To be honest Detroit is a simultaneously blessed and cursed place, and seems to be more cursed than blessed lately. It is the best place to develop life experience, to live in ‘the shit’, to meet people that carry little pretence or airs, to interact with passionate people. But it is still a shitty place to live. I think people who stay in Detroit might grumble about those who leave but they do it under their breath, and when you return you always get the love. And I think that’s an important point, most people who leave eventually come back. Nobody who has left Detroit for creative purposes has necessarily abandoned it, they still have a place for the city in their hearts.

SC: I won’t mention the tape/sandwich story (oops, I just did!) but I am interested in the input of Carl Craig to your career. I believe he was also present when you mixed down ‘Hiatus’? Is his more of a technical input or an ‘extra ear’?

R: Carl’s involvement with Hiatus was just luck, he happened to be in the country and spending some time hanging out when we were finishing the album. He had a couple good listening sessions with us, added his two cents which was helpful. It was great to have him there as we had mixed the first album together back in Detroit in 2001, it seemed appropriate?

SC: Do you see a point when you will be referred to as Reclose from Wellington? Is the Detroit tag important or not?

R: The Detroit tag is usually pretty useful to be honest. Wellington is coming up in the world of music, but Detroit has been a legendary musical mecca for a long time and guaranteed a better marketing tool. Not to say this is all the tag means, there is a weight to being labelled from Detroit as I think it implies a certain approach to music and sound inherent in the music you play.

SC: Finally, tell us a few tunes that have been rocking your world lately and what kinda joints you will be dropping at the bowling club in all its Bowl-O-Sonic glory?

R: I am definitely planning a mash up of sorts and I’ve been listening to lots of different things. I’m bugging out on lots of obscure go-go records I picked up on a recent trip to the states, as well as some weird boogie joints. Also have been trying to keep up with the happs in Detroit as well as what’s coming out of camps like Rush Hour, Raw Fusion, the West London massive, etc.

Recloose returns to Australia this month:

Fri May 26th – Revolver, Melbourne
Sat May 27th – Mad Racket, Sydney