interview Matmos

Matmos is a Baltimore-based duo made up of Drew Daniel and M.C. (Martin) Schmidt. The two have been making conceptual cut-up computer music for over 20 years with critically acclaimed albums like A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure (2001), Supreme Balloon (2008), Ultimate Care II (2016), and Plastic Anniversary (2019). The duo’s new album, The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form was made with the help of 99 collaborators, including artists such as Yo La Tengo, Oneohtrix Point Never, and clipping., who were all given one instruction: The music must be 99 bpm. Sam Tornow chatted with Matmos over Skype on August 14th, one week before the album’s release. They discussed the scope of the project, music created by a UFO cult, the duo’s past teaching careers at the San Francisco Art Institute, and more.

Sam Tornow: Hello!

Drew Daniel: Hello! Is this Sam?

Yes, this is Sam.

Drew Daniel: Can you see and hear us?

Yes I can! Here, I can turn my webcam on, too.

Drew Daniel: Great! Otherwise, we’ll just be looking at ourselves the whole time, which is vainglorious and narcissistic, and an interview about your own music is sort of narcissistic enough, I think (laughs).

Well, to be completely honest, in these Skype and Zoom meetings that are happening more and more, I spend too much time looking at myself, fixing my hair, etc.

Drew Daniel: Well, I think we all look great! I have lowered my seat, so that it’s the same height as Martin’s.

Martin Schmidt: And I’ve lowered my expectations.

Drew Daniel: He’s 6 foot 2, and I’m 5 foot 8, so you shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that we seem to roughly be the size. 

OK, I’ll take note of that.

Martin Schmidt: And speaking of fucked up optical illusions, what is with that map [on the wall behind you]?

I’m sitting on my bed with my computer also on the bed, so this (lifts computer up) is eye level.

Drew Daniel: Ah, okay, okay—

Martin Schmidt: Whoa, whoa, whoa, now I see. 

Drew Daniel: We thought you just had some fucked up parallelogram map that—

Martin Schmidt: Which I was like, that is fucking cool, but then when you moved your head, the other frame is perpendicular. I was like, OK, that’s probably a lens, not a really fancy framing job.

Drew Daniel: Things are slanted and enchanted.