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Waking Hours: With producer and performer Gavin Lynch


Gavin Lynch aka DJ Matador. Photo by Gerry Mooney

Gavin Lynch aka DJ Matador. Photo by Gerry Mooney

Gavin Lynch aka DJ Matador. Photo by Gerry Mooney

Currently, I'm based in Berlin. It's a beautiful city and a super-exciting place to be, particularly for what I do. I produce electronic music, and then I go on the road to perform it live. I moved here in September 2013 with my fiancee, Nicola. The label I'm signed to - Minus - is based in Berlin. Even though all you need is an internet connection to be in contact, there were a lot of meetings. I feel you can get a lot more done face-to-face on a weekly basis.

Nicola and I run our own company. I write the music and then I produce and perform it, while she works in the background with all the numbers and paperwork. My German is quite limited, but fortunately Nicola is good at it. Usually I get up at 10am, and that's because I've been working the night before. Berlin is quite a cold place, and it gets dark quite early in the evenings, so your daylight hours are limited.

We live in Prenzlauer Berg, in the north of Berlin. It's a quiet area, outside the circle where all the action is, and that's where I want to be. In Dublin, we lived in quite a few noisy environments, but this time we wanted somewhere that I could write music and somewhere well insulated, so I could make plenty of noise and not worry about neighbours. We live in a top-floor complex, and that's where I have my studio.

In the mornings, I get the coffee machine going straight away, and then I might have an Eccles cake. They are big on their bakeries over here. Then I go up to my studio. During the week, my day-to-day schedule is studio-driven. I have a big computer and various different synthesisers and keyboards and drum machines. I'm like a one-man-band, because I take the product from the start to the end point, where I hand it over to the record label.

That's what I've done with my most recent EP, Play with Me. When I'm in my studio, I wear headphones and I work at reasonable sound levels. You have to think about neighbours coming in from work. I work all day, usually from 10am until 6pm. I don't look at the clock. I love what I do, so time just flies.

Initially, I studied in Cathal Brugha Street to be a chef. I used to work in the Schoolhouse Hotel and, later, in the Mermaid Cafe on Dame Street. Even though I decided that being a chef wasn't something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, those years in kitchens have stood to me. A strong work ethic was drilled into me. Now I have no problem working a 16-hour day.

I left my job and went back to college to study sound engineering and music technology in the Sound Training College in Temple Bar. I was very driven, and I had goals set out. Five years ago, I got an opportunity to play in the Tripod Club as a support to Richie Hawtin. I got talking to him and he said that I could send him some music when I felt that it was ready. I was hungry to get ahead. I locked myself in the studio for six months and wrote the guts of two albums. After I sent 16 tracks to him, he signed them all. I went over to Berlin to see him, and we made a plan. Since then, I haven't looked back.

At weekends, I could be performing anywhere in the world. I've done quite a lot of weekends in South America in the last few months. That would involve leaving Berlin on a Wednesday night, flying into Madrid and then on to Santiago, Chile. We arrive on the Thursday morning, and the promoter will pick us up at the airport. Nicola always comes with me. Then we'll go to the hotel, check in and relax. I always try to do some sightseeing. We go for dinner and then we head off to do the show. I usually wear a black T-shirt and jeans.

I perform with my laptop computers and two midi-controllers. A lot of the time, the concert is outdoors, and occasionally it's in a huge airport hangar. My set times can vary from 11pm, or sometimes I can be starting at 4am, or even 6am for a sunrise set.

In Brazil, I played at the Dream Valley Festival where you have crowds of 10,000 to 20,000 people. You'd be a liar to say there are no nerves when you're walking out on to a stage in front of a crowd that size. The flow of music throughout the night is very important. You don't want to play something too crazy at the start. In most cases, everyone is up dancing, and if they're not, you're in trouble. The age of the audience ranges from 18 to people in their 50s. Nicola is always standing in the wings as I perform.

In the earlier days when I was coming up, you used to see more drugs, but now the electronic-music scene is a much cleaner place. A lot of big businesses invest in these shows and we get the same production values, with lights and stuff, that you'd see at a rock concert. A lot of DJs, myself included, look after themselves. You have to, because you're putting in the hours. It's impossible to be missing a night's sleep, so it ends up being very clean-living. I'd say I see the same amount of drugs that you'd get at a rock concert in Dublin.

When I'm performing my 90-minute set, I give it everything. When I walk off the stage, I take a deep breath. It's a mixture of exhaustion and excitement. Not a day passes when it doesn't cross my mind that, 'Jesus, I'm really doing this'. Then I go back to the hotel, have a shower, stick on the news in the background and fall asleep. Usually you have to get up for a very early flight because it's on to the next place, or home. Initially, I thought it was going to be rock 'n' roll, but I'm getting older. I learnt that you get a lot more done when you go straight to bed after a gig.

In conversation with Ciara Dwyer

Matador is one of three Budweiser Dream Job judges. They will shortlist the top five entries and the public will vote on who they believe is the worthy winner of the €50,000 prize fund. Anyone over 18 years can apply on the Budweiser Ireland Facebook page. The application phase is open until February 4. See also matador.official

Sunday Independent