We speak to the iconic musician ahead of his gig tonight at the Mancunian art and music festival
Originally founded as a festival that explores 'the territory between creativity and technology', this year's killer lineup sits right on that cutting edge. The streets, sights and sounds of Manchester are energised for 4 days over the FutureEverything weekend, from Tim Hecker's out-of-the-ordinary organ recital in a church to Amon Tobin's AV spectacular via an arts programme and conference in the Grade I listed 1830 warehouse. One of this years highlights promises to be Matthew Herbert's 'One Pig' performance.
The title is taken from his new electronica album which true-to-form takes the 'ordinary' sounds of life, death and consumption, but this time hones in on those of a humble Kent pig whose aural journey from farm to abattoir to plate is captured and used compositionally. We spoke with the avant-garde musician on the occasion of this particularly visceral collision of process and politics...
Dazed Digital: What's your process – fast and messy or slow and considered?
Matthew Herbert: All of the above.
DD: Internet: help or hindrance?
Matthew Herbert: Great for research, appalling hindrance when you're actually trying to do something.
DD:What's the piece of tech you couldn't live without?
Matthew Herbert: A sharp knife.
DD: Where's the best space / situation you've ever performed in?
Matthew Herbert: Best building is the Casa da Musica by Rem Koolhaas in Porto, although the Sydney Opera House is pretty extraordinary. Best situation was probably Climate Camp at Kingsnorth
DD: What/when/where did you start experimenting with sound and music?
Matthew Herbert: Formally with a 4 track tape machine as a teenager.
DD: How has the scene changed since you started, and how has that affected how you work?
Matthew Herbert: The possibilities of technology are now vastly ahead of the imagination required to use them to their potential. Music is so conservative considering the tools we have at our disposal. My work as a consequence has had to abandon synthesizers and drum machines otherwise I just get sucked back to the familiar.
DD: What annoys you most about the music industry as it stands?
Matthew Herbert: The prioritisation of the immediate over the permanent.
DD: A single moment that changed how you think about making music?
Matthew Herbert: Recording myself biting in to an apple at home with my first sampler in 1986.
DD: Top visionary of all time?
Matthew Herbert: John Cage
DD: What you're scared will disappear in the digital revolution?
Matthew Herbert: Context.
DD: The thing that keeps you awake at night?
Matthew Herbert: Small noises.
DD: What one thing would you say differentiates the good from the hackneyed in terms of music production?
Matthew Herbert: The reason why someone was making the thing in the first place. Too many times it's do first, think later. It should be the other way round.
DD: Best record label in history?
Matthew Herbert: Island
DD: The one musical event you wish you could have been at but weren't?
Matthew Herbert: Castle Morton. I went to every other free party that month but had a University assignment I had to do that weekend. I'm still annoyed about it.
DD: What's your favourite sample/sound that you never told anyone about?
Matthew Herbert: A recording of a vasectomy operation.
DD: What does the future hold?
Matthew Herbert: The end of cheap oil and with it, every assumption we've based our lives on. Plus dramatic climate change and of course total economic collapse. It's going to be great.
DD: To you, what's everything?
Matthew Herbert: It can only be one's family.
Matthew Herbert: Friday 18th May 2012 at Royal Northern College of Music, 124 Oxford Rd, Manchester. Doors between 8.30pm-10.30pm, tickets are £16 + booking fee and are purchasable via SeeTickets and RNCM Box Office.