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November 15, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-15

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 15, 2010 - 5A

Dear takes the stage at Ghostly anniversary

Electronica singer-songwriter Matthew Dear returns to
hometown for a concert and some Zingerman's
By Kristyn Acho I Daily Music Editor

What began in a University dorm room has morphed
into Ann Arbor's oremiere record label

"Last time we were (in Ann
Arbor) we went to Zingerman's for
lunch and then we went to Road-
house for dinner and then Zing-
erman's for lunch the next day,
so we've got Grizzly Bear beat on
that one - you better write that,"
Matthew Dear said in an interview
with the Daily.
It's no secret that when famous
acts like Grizzly Bear roll into Ann
Arbor, they often drop in on the
A2 mainstay. But for a University
alum like Matthew Dear, a quirky
spot like Zingerman's means more
than mammoth-sized sandwiches
and small-town charm. For Dear,
it's synonymous with the city of
Ann Arbor itself, the place where
the techno talent and indie cross-
over laid the foundations for his
While attending the University,
Dear met Sam Valenti at a party.
After becoming fast friends over
an affinity for electro beats, the
two decided to create the now-
thriving Ann Arbor record label
Ghostly International. From
there, Dear started DJing at par-
ties and eventually moved into
But according to Dear, he and
Valenti never expected the type
of success they revel in today.
For them, their accomplishments
serve as a simple reminder of how
far they have come.
"Sam and I have been at the
club before, and we hear a record
of ours playing and it feels really
good," he said.
"When we got into this we were
like 19 or 20," he added, "so to hear
stuff like that is really cool."
Dear is currently situated in
Brooklyn, N.Y. And though Ann
Arbor is starting to look like the
Brooklyn of the Midwest these
days, Dear is still nostalgic for his
Ann Arbor roots.
"Brooklyn has a lot of Ann
Arbor-esque characteristics com-
pared to Manhattan, but it's a bit
more in-your-face. Ann Arbor is
essentially a lot more laid back,"
Dear said.
The often-insufferable strain of
living in New York proved to be
inspiration for his latest endear-
ingly dark album, Black City.
"I think I get influenced by the
pressure of living in New York and
making music in that kind of envi-
ronment," Dear explained. "I usu-
ally sit down and turn on all the
machines and computers and start
making noise and see what hap-
pens. I don't really like to precon-

Ghostly International, a record
label that calls Ann Arbor home,
turns 11 this week. Despite only
being in its
it has a lot to
show for its International
time here, Anniversary
boasting a
wide range of COnCet Feat.
music, musi- Matthew Dear
cians and even
some art that Tonight at 9 p.m.
lies outside The Blind Pig
the realm of Ticketsfrom$12
music alto-
Monday night, the Blind Pig will
host an anniversary celebration
concert featuring three Ghostly
artists: Matthew Dear, Mux Mool
and Osborne. Their styles are
diverse, but are only a glimpse of
the dynamic output Ghostly has
managed to foster. The label is a
continually evolving entity, and its
business today is as vibrant as the
genres it records.
Ghostly's beginnings, however,
were much more modest.
"A long time ago in a dorm room
in Couzens Hall on the hill, I had
the idea to start a record label," said
Sam Valenti, the founder of Ghostly
International, during a TEDxUofM
presentation last April.
Much to the benefit of Valenti's
dorm room dream, he met Mat-
thew Dear, who would help bring
Ghostly from concept to real-
ity. The two began working with a
local DJ called Disco D, and their
collaboration resulted in Ghostly's
first release, a 12-inch single called
"Hands Up For Detroit," in 1999.
Valenti wrote in an e-mail inter-
view with the Daily that he and
Dear were still undergraduates in
their dorm rooms, and the record-

y Teddy Papes I Daily Arts Writer

ing process was as erratic as would
be expected, requiring several dif-
ferent kinds of equipment in vari-
ous locations.
After that 1999 release, Ghostly
continued to expand. Tadd Mulli-
nix, who makes music under many
different aliases including Dabrye,
was one of the next artists to join
up with the group. There wasn't
a specific direction in which the
label was headed and Mullinix
helped cultivate the wide breadth
of music that Ghostly would even-
tually be known for. He was ini-
tially approached by Valenti for
house music, and responding to the
request, Mullinix gave him demos
of his house music as well as other
styles he had been experimenting
"I'm not sure if (Valenti) had a
strict plan for how the label should
sound," Mullinix told the Daily.
"And after that point, when he
came back to me, he said,'I want to
sign these other styles.' And that's
where the label branched out to be
sort of a multi-genre label."
Valenti's senior art project at the
University was "Disco Noveau," a
compilation album of electronic
musicians that was orchestrated in
part by Mullinix. This, accompa-
nied by Mullinix's and Osborne's
solo work, fully established Ghostly
as a major player in the electronic
music scene. As the Ghostly crew
left the University, instead of relo-
cating to a big metropolitan area, it
set up shop as close to home as pos-
sible, here in Ann Arbor.
The expansion of Ghostly has
been substantial, but not with-
out careful consideration. Jeremy
Peters, Ghostly's Licensing Man-
ager, spoke with the Daily about
the label's growth in response to its

"There have been opportunities
for us to follow a trend," he said.
"We have sort of shied away from
that in order to grow more steadily
and more organically."
With a changing marketplace,
Ghostly has not only remained con-
stant with its loyalty to its home
town, but also with its relationship
with its artists.
"(Valenti) has been consistent
in terms of what he likes to do
with me. He's very open minded
and listens to my ideas," Mullinix
said. "The way that (Ghostly) has
changed is that I've been able to
see (Valenti) execute his vision and
fine tune what he wants Ghostly to
do and how it responds to things
like the digital market."
There is a relationship between
Ghostly and its artists that provides
a lot of freedom, and it can be heard
in the variety of styles explored.
As the label grows, Ghostly does
not intend to sacrifice its initial
goals and foundations for short-
term success.
"We try to keep the roster small
so we can really focus on each
release," Valenti wrote. "It's a new
era where the label is more of a
partner with the artist, less of a
Ghostly's success has led to the
opening of offices in Los Angeles
and New York, but its heart still
remains in its home town.
"Ann Arbor has been a part of
Ghostly for over 11 years now,"
Valenti wrote. "There are new stu-
dents coming (to the University)
every year, who I think would love
what we and our artists are about.
A lot of Ghostly started as late
night library sessions, coffee shops
and spending time at the record
stores. It's been a perfect place to
grow in."

ceive my songwriting ideas. I don't
sit down with ideas I came up with
on the guitar or anything."
While Dear used to use his
acoustic guitar to aid his songwrit-
ing, the instrument now serves
another purpose.
"I used to when I was younger,
but I don't do that anymore. I still
like the guitar but that's something
different. I think I just do that for
more kind of meditative therapy,
like sitting on the couch and hug-
ging my wife."
This year's Black City has more
of a brooding, haunting quality
than previous records like 2003's
Asa Breed. And whether or not this
mood shift was Dear's intent, it is
definitely apparent on his latest
"I think it's reflective of the
mood shift I was talking about,"
he said. "Going to New York and
being a bit more inundated with
humanity and surrounded by a
lot more stressors in life, but in a
good way. I think it kind of influ-
enced me to make music differ-
One of the most striking quali-

ties of Black City is the stark
juxtaposition of themes of love
(sentimental soul spilling on
"Gem") and overt sexuality (lusty
double-entendres on "You Put a
Smell on Me"). .
"All of my music is going to have
those two opposing themes. I don't
know. I think I am a pretty sexu-
ally charged human being, but I
am also love-charged as well. Even
my electronic techno stuff had
the blending of those two," Dear
explained. "But again, Asa Breed
was a bit more laid back, being Ann
Arbor material, and Brooklyn's
Black City is a bit edgier. So that's
how the darker side of love made
its way onto the record."
Dear's avant-garde pop hasbeen
compared to the likes of Talking
Heads and David Bowie. But Dear
doesn't necessarily see himself in
that way.
"I find myself influenced by a lot
of things that influenced them in
terms of music. Especially on this
record, groups like Cluster and
weird '70s stuff that made its way
into Bowie's sound (influenced
See DEAR, Page 7A

Inside' economic disaster

SeniorArts Editor
All right, so it's been two years
since our country was devastated
by a complete economic melt-
down, and we
the people are *"1H
mad as hell. As
with the after- INSIde Job
math of any life- At the State
altering crisis,
we need someone Stay
to blame, and just
saying"Bush did it" isn't gonna cut
it anymore. Who can we turn to in
the dead of night to direct our rage
- to throw out terms like "deriva-
tives" and "credit default swap" in
authoritative Helvetica, to show
us what happens when Hollywood
sticks it to the man?
Never fear, citizens. Director
Charles Ferguson is on the case
with "Inside Job," the latest prod-
uct of the "Here's where we went
wrong" documentary subgenre
(which enjoys a boom whenever
the rest of the world screws the
pooch). Ferguson, who previously
helmed the Iraq War doc "No End
in Sight," rakes some muck right
onto the doorstep of the finance
industry for its supremely unethi-
cal lending practices, which had
grown more and more unchecked
since Ronald Reagan deregulated
the banks during his presidency.
From the perspective of some-
one who's not in the Ross School
of Business and doesn't neces-
sarily understand all these fancy
phrases, here's the movie's case, in
brief: During the housing bubble
of the mid-2000s, the banks that
lend out money to homeowners
packaged various mortgage pay-
ments together with other types of
loans to create collateralized debt

were the
profit ev
the bank
on home
to make
deals w
and lend
money ti
At th
against t
in other
ingly enj
deals ani
failed. T
movie st
a "tickin
It's a
footage t
to comm
here we
But afte
ing shot
how we.
there ar
ries fron
by the

ns (CDOs), which they (and it's odd that the only such
n able to sell for a larger story presented is that of a fam-
en as the investment risks ily that doesn't speak English). A
much greater (because small segment on an executive's
s no longer needed to rely five-private-jets lifestyle is nicely
owners paying them back enraging; "Inside Job" could have
money, they could make used more of that.
ith much worse credit What's also curious about Fer-
out larger sums of their guson's technique is the extent to
han before). which he inserts himself in the
e same time, firms like film. Though he keeps himself
Sachs were betting behind the camera and hands nar-
:he toxic CDOs owned by rative duties off to Matt Damon,
e companies like AIG - we often hear the questions he's
words, they were know- posing to his interview subjects
gaging in shitty business as well as his response to their
d then profiting when they answers - sometimes all he'll say
he crash itself was, as the is "Wow, OK" or "You can't be
ates over and over again, serious" before the scene changes,
g time bomb" that finally as if his incredulous reaction is
I when all these risky all the proof we need that these
s reached critical mass. guys are crooks. It's an unneces-
sary, self-serving flourish. No one
is honestly going to think, "Well,
financial lobbyist Scott Talbott
guson s new seems like he's only .acting with
Wall Street's interests in mind,
w iii enrage but I'll have to hear Charles Fer-
guson's reaction to his comments
ou for the before I'll know for certain."
Still, these are quibbles of style,
htL reasons. not of content. "Inside Job" is
an incredibly hard-hitting and
informative attack on people
lways amusing in docu- who deserve it, and it doesn't go
es like this to see what easy on either the Bush or Obama
he filmmakers will rely on administrations (take that, every-
iunicate non-visual ideas; one who was planning to accuse
get color-coded revenue this movie of bleeding-heart lib-
flowcharts and overhead eralism). The pure rage within the
pans of tall buildings. film is almost overwhelming, but
r a while the technique at least we get great C-SPAN foot-
too isolating. The build- age of Michigan's own Sen. Carl
s only draw attention to Levin opening a can of whoop-ass
never go inside the head- on Goldman Sachs. And if you do
of the gailty parties, and happen to be in the Ross School,
e very few personal sto- it's not too late to consider a career
m those actually affected in a more ethical line of work, like
banks' greedy practices baby seal clubbing.

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