Recloose interview: From Detroit to Aetearoa
Monday, 23 January 2006
Recloose, aka Matt Chicoine, was already celebrated as the rising star of Detroit's electronic movement when he did the unimaginable. The DJ-cum-producer emigrated to Wellington, home to Fat Freddy's Drop, to be with his Kiwi girlfriend. Chicoine doesn't pretend that the transition has been easy but, with Aotearoa now hot cultural property, he's emerging as an important envoy for a fertile music underground.
Like Detroit, New Zealand is on the margins and so, in some respects, Recloose is in his element.
"Not being stuck in the epicentre of culture allows you to digest a lot of different things and not be overly influenced by any one thing and oftentimes you can come up with something quite clever or new because of that," he posits.
Born in Massachusetts, Chicoine studied English Literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor - close to Detroit - and it was in this vicinity where he forged a rep for himself as a hip hop DJ. Then known as DJ Bubblicious, he experimented with his own productions - and, while working as a grill cook in a deli in Detroit's Eastern Market, surreptitiously passed his demo to Carl Craig, who swiftly signed him to the much lauded Planet E Communications.
If in the mid-'90s the Motor City was associated exclusively with techno and house, then Recloose broke with tradition, ushering in a bold eclecticism. His 2002 debut, 'Cardiology', was a composite of jazz, hip hop, soul, funk and electronica.
Last year Chicoine followed with 'Hiatus On The Horizon' - led by the DJ favourite Dust - on the British Peacefrog, having amicably parted with Craig.
Between records, Chicoine became a first-time father. He needed to acclimatise to his new environs in Wellington. As such, Matt bonded with local musos - and vows to continue collaborating on future LPs.
In spite of the glowing reviews, Recloose wonders if he didn't take too long recording 'Hiatus', describing it as "overdeveloped". "I listen to it now and I think, Oh, it's really great ideas, but maybe I just spent a little bit too long on it, I didn't need to make everything perfect - or try to make everything perfect. Mistakes are sometimes quite cool and, you know, what's a mistake to one person isn't to another."
Chicoine is concerned, too, that residing in distant NZ, he should sustain his international profile. "As you get older doing music you realise that you have to think years ahead and you have to think about your career and longevity and keeping your name out there, because this industry is quite fickle. It's really easy to fall off the map and then trying to claw your way back onto it is quite difficult."
At any rate, since 'Hiatus' the expat American has been touring with a full live band, complete with vocalist. When not operating the sampler, he plays saxophone. Chicoine admits that his early stint as turntablist in Craig's ambitious Innerzone Orchestra was invaluable experience. Nevertheless, Recloose's show is different.
"The band is first and foremost a proper band - it does not really consist of any dominating electronic equipment," he illuminates. "It's all live music triggered by live human beings.
"Basically we're reinterpreting the music off my last two albums and a couple of covers in this live band setting, so it ends up sounding like a jazz/funk band playing techno music, in a way.
"It's really about bringing dance music to people via a high-energy band."
HIATUS ON THE HORIZON IS OUT THROUGH CREATIVE VIBES.