That which is not said… may as well be told in music. Under the moniker of TWINS hides multi-talented US producer Matt Weiner, proactive merchant of finespun cold wave and EBM-infused tunes whose back catalogue largely speaks for itself.
Through an array of top-shelf releases for the likes of Clan Destine, Crimes Of The Future, Ruralfaune’s Synth Series, Unknown Precept and his own imprints, CGI and DKA, Weiner’s laid the foundations to a sound signature both endearingly retro and stylishly timeless, preserved from the transitory vortexes of real-time hype.
Ahead of the release of his latest full-length effort, ‘New Cold Dream‘, due out on 25th October via Brooklyn’s 2MR, we caught up with Matt to discuss the roots and shoots of his intricate audio-visual universe, countless studio endeavours and the cathartic power of music. Stream the bouncy ’80s-pop burner ‘Misuse‘ down below.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"Creating music is a very therapeutic process for me and it’s something that still feels very urgent to me in a way that most other stuff does not"
Hi Matt, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Your new album, ‘New Cold Dream’, is about to be released in October on 2MR. Please tell us more about your approach on this record? What feeling do you want to convey through this album?
TWINS is an acronym for That Which Is Not Said, which is direct reference to the power that music has to allow me to both feel and express (and sometimes even begin to understand) all of the confusing, muddled emotions that build up inside of me.
I often struggle with putting my feelings into words and music has become the main way I seek to understand myself. As such, I am really only ever conveying my given emotional state at the time of writing and recording the music, but seeing as the emotional states that we all experience are informed by what’s going on in our lives and in the world around us, and how we cope with the countless factors forever out of our control.
So, in that sense, I am conveying my own outlook on life and the world. An outlook that is never truly static save for when it gets printed to tape.
It’s your second full-length release for 2MR following last year’s excellent ‘That Which Is Not Said’ LP. How did you and Mike Simonetti get in touch in the first place?
2MR had been working with several of my friends here in Atlanta to release their music, and when 2MR put out the vinyl compilation of select tracks from the ‘Harsh Riddims‘ vol. 1 & 2 comps, one of my tracks ended up on there.
As such I had been in contact with Adam and he invited me to play their Lot Radio show when I was in New York for a gig. Shortly thereafter Mike and Adam came down to Atlanta and I DJ’d with Mike at the Sound Table.
Adam crashed at my place and they spent an extra day in town to hang out and I was playing them some demos and they asked if I wanted to do a TWINS record for 2MR.
But way before all of that Mike had done one of his ‘At The Juncture of Light & Dark‘ mixtapes for Harsh Riddims, which is really what sparked the events that I described.
You’ve been releasing a dizzying amount of music over the last decade. How do you explain this productivity? Is it reflective of the way you envision the writing / recording / issuing process or more of a contextual happenstance?
I don’t really know how to explain it beyond just being stubbornly obsessed with making things, especially music. Creating music is a very therapeutic process for me and it’s something that still feels very urgent to me in a way that most other stuff does not.
When I get into creative spurts I tend to let many of the loose ends in my life begin to fray at the expense of spending as much time as possible working it out until I’m happy with it, health and sanity be damned…
"I’ve been making movies longer than I have been playing music. Growing up, my friends and I would use any camcorders we could get our hands on to make all kinds of both stop-motion and live-action little films together"
Aside from being a highly productive musician, both solo and through collaborative endeavours (Pyramid Club, Featureless Ghost…), you also run CGI Records and co-operate DKA. How do you manage keeping up with everything?
It has gotten more and more difficult to keep up with everything as time marches on. I would say that it was perhaps an unconscious way of trying to get my inner control freak to calm down by making him so overloaded with commitments that he had to just be okay with a more on-the-fly approach to things.
Throughout the past 6-7 years of trying to manage all of these endeavours at once I have learned that it’s actually impossible to do so much and to truly do it right.
I am actually going to be focused far far less on the labels going forward and am ready to invest more in myself and my music, because I have also learned that I am ultimately far more interested in working on my own music than I am in releasing the works of others, not that I have any regrets about so doing.
CGI Records just recently celebrated its 20th release, a tasty six-track effort from Polish producer FOQL. How do you envision the label’s future?
I envision it, currently, as an indefinite hiatus. There won’t be any sort of grand announcement about closing up shop or anything, the web store will stay up, but the production of new releases is going to stop unless I end up feeling inspired to pick it back up again.
I am very proud of records that have come out on the label, I simply cannot support the artists I’m working with in a way that they deserve and I don’t want to carry on like that.
As can be experienced from the videos you shared along with the album’s announcement, the visual side of TWINS seems to be almost as crucial a component as the music itself. Where do you draw your inspiration when it comes to the videos/artwork… etc.?
I’ve been making movies longer than I have been playing music. Growing up, my friends and I would use any camcorders we could get our hands on to make all kinds of both stop-motion and live-action little films together and I even got my undergraduate degree in Film & Video.
As far as how it relates to the TWINS work, It’s largely just imagery that pops into my head as I’m reading, laying in bed, driving, or watching something.
The video for ‘Lie Awake‘ in particular relied more on the narrative of the lyrics than most videos I’ve done, so in that case I took a lot of inspiration from the lyrics themselves and tried to visualise an interesting way to crystallise those feelings on screen.
With both the videos and the artwork I aim to create something that sets a thick, heavy mood and can allow you to become immersed in another world for a little while.
A world where things can make sense without being laid out down a straightforward path, feelings can be experienced without having to be labeled or identified, a world that creates connections between pathways inside your mind that have never interacted before… which perhaps sounds lofty but I think there are various stimuli that we all interact with every day that are already doing this in a large variety of ways and means, I am just trying to do it in my own way.
"When I get into creative spurts I tend to let many of the loose ends in my life begin to fray at the expense of spending as much time as possible working it out until I’m happy with it, health and sanity be damned"
What was the last movie you particularly enjoyed and why?
I recently watched Baby Cart At The River Styx (part 2 of the Lone Wolf and Cub series) for the first time in over a decade and it was great. What particularly struck me about it is how slow paced it is and how much of the film is made up of completely unnecessary, bizarre, moments that are devoid of dialogue or plot elements, just really out there music and imagery.
It’s extremely hypnotic and transportive and the complete opposite of the way most entertainment tries to assault your stimuli. I was able to completely lose myself in their world for certain moments and it was truly an epic feeling.
Let’s trace back to the roots of it all, how did your love for electronic music come to be?
Sophomore year of high school my best friend Charley was determined to break the attitude I had been raised with that “real” music was made with “real” instruments and that electronic music wasn’t something to be taken seriously.
He ultimately succeeded and between him and our friend Chris we went on a very intense journey through all kinds of music that led us all to one day listening to CAN and realising that all gates really are open…
Did you grow up in a music-loving family, or was it more of a solitary process learning about music and how to make it?
Both of my parents take an active interest in music, always playing it loud throughout the house on weekends when I was young. They both have learned and played instruments throughout their lives but purely for the joy of playing music, not in any professional sense.
In general they have been very supportive of my obsession with it from the moment they saw that I couldn’t be pulled away from it.
Who were your musical heroes as a teenager? Do you recall the first record you ever bought?
There were quite a few different heroes for me as a teen, musically. Mouse On Mars, Broadcast, Prince, Miles Davis, and Madlib all stand out in my memory, but nothing had quite an impact on me like Joy Division and the first New Order LP, ‘Movement‘, that many would consider to be the third Joy Division LP.
Between those records and CAN’s first few albums I feel lucky to have experienced them at the age that I did. I don’t remember the first record I ever bought but I do know that when I was about 8 or 9 the first tape I ever bought from a record store was the cassingle of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)‘ by The Proclaimers.
Which artists have your interest these days and why?
I got to hear the new Divine Interface record that he just finished and will be releasing soon and it’s completely on another level from most music I’ve heard lately.
Body Of Light’s new record is amazing as well, the production, songwriting, and vocals all hitting my soft spots. Bustié put out a record this year that is a much more satisfying and forward thinking take on Nitzer Ebb style EBM with a dash of synth punk.
Stefan Ringer has been consistently putting out some of the best house tracks I’ve heard recently. HIDE is one of the best live bands ever.
"With both the videos and the artwork I aim to create something that sets a thick, heavy mood and can allow you to become immersed in another world for a little while"
What’s your studio currently comprised of?
I do almost all of my writing on an MPC, although I’ve been using my Digitakt more as well lately since it offers a different way of approaching the writing process, which I like.
Otherwise it’s just a lot of synthesizers, keyboard and effects boxes, a coupe of microphones, a Mexican Stratocaster, a Fender Jazz Bass, a Tascam M320 console that I use on the front end before everything goes into the sound card to be multi-tracked into Ableton, where I then edit, mix, overdub, etc.
What’s the one piece of gear you’d take with you on a desert island?
As much as I don’t enjoy the act of making music solely on a laptop (which is not to say that amazing music isn’t being made on them all the time), I would have to choose that because if I only had one piece I’d want the one that can do literally anything.
What makes you happy?
Playing a good live set is pretty much at the top of the list.
What pisses you off?
What was the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
Lately I’ve been more on a record purge than a record kick, as my collection reached chaotic levels of disorganisation and I was realising how many records I would grab when looking for something else that I didn’t want any more.
What will you be up to in the coming weeks? Any gigs lined up in support of the album’s release?
Yes, lots going on. Tomorrow we start filming the music video for “Misuse,” this Friday (20 September) I’ll be playing in Denver, CO for the first time.
Then the following Thursday I cross the Atlantic and play at OT301 in Amsterdam. While in Europe I’ll also be performing in Berlin, Leipzig, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Bristol, and London.
When I get back to the US I play in NYC, Raleigh, NC, and a release show in Atlanta. There is more in the works but that’s what I can say for now.
New Cold Dream is released via 2MR on 25th October, pre-order a copy from Bandcamp.
Photography by Stefania Antonucci
1. Lie Awake
2. At Your Door
3. Silent & Alone
4. Alive Inside
5. New Cold Dream Pt. III
6. Misuse (Intro)
8. Slow Decline
9. New Cold Dream Pt. II
10. Left Behind