Matador, aka Gavin Lynch: Maestro of vinyl
Lynch remembers his first appearance at Melt in Germany, playing to 10,000 people, as a formative experience
The weekend before we meet, Gavin Lynch had been playing to 8,000 people in Holland. A few days later, he released his latest EP on Minus, the record label founded by techno kingpin Richie Hawtin, and as we talk, one of those tracks enters the Beatport techno charts. Soon, he’s got four tracks in the top 30.
That same week, he pops up in Resident Advisor’s Top 20 Live Acts of 2014 Readers’ Poll – for the third year running. It’s fair to say, things are happening for the Dundalk man known as Matador.
It has been a long journey, though. Bitten by the bug after watching DJs at local teenage discos, Lynch got his first pair of turntables at the age of 16. Soon he was commuting to Dublin to buy more from the old Abbey Discs store on Liffey Street. At night, the radio was opening him up to a world beyond the teen disco.
“For me, when I heard trance and hard trance and hard techno initially, that was the stuff that kind of triggered me – it got my ear straight away,” he says.
“There was BBC Radio 1, the Essential Mix, or John Power, Mr Spring on 2FM. They were the shows that would have grabbed my attention where I was like, Wow, what’s this about?”
After school, Lynch trained as a chef, balancing his time with nights out in the old Red Box on Harcourt Street. After working in kitchens for a few years, Lynch decided to go back to college, to study sound engineering at the Sound Training Centre in Temple Bar. It was here where he first learned about what went into making the records he was playing, learning the trade just as a new wave of digital technologies was reshaping the way techno was created and performed.
After graduating, he gave himself a year to make a serious career out of his music. He felt it was time to sink or swim.
“I stayed with the same sort of working mentality of the chef,” he says. “I’d start at midday and work until six or seven in the evening, then hang out, have dinner for a couple of hours, then go back in and work for another six or seven hours. I used to do that five, six, seven days a week pretty much that whole year because that’s all that was on my mind. It was paramount.”
It was a close-run thing, but the pressure of a deadline – a point of no return – turned out to be exactly what was needed and, fittingly, it was Red Box that was central to his success. Lynch was booked as the opening act there for a visit by Richie Hawtin, one of the biggest names in techno.
Enter the Hawtin
With Lynch having sent some tracks to Hawtin’s label a couple of months before, the Canadian came down early to check out Lynch’s set and was suitably impressed. The two stayed in touch and, with just three weeks left before he was set to give it up and head back to the kitchen, Lynch received word that Minus wanted to release his music.
“That’s the moment where it all changed. It became a reality and something tangible. It became a job where I was able to say, I’m definitely not going back in the kitchen, for now anyway. It was the full run up to it, that year, setting myself the year to do it, that really pushed me to where I needed to be.”
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind few years, with Lynch becoming a constant presence at Hawtin’s Enter showcases in Ibiza and elsewhere, as well as playing the festival circuit at events such as Awakenings, Melt and Time Warp. Lynch remembers his first appearance at Melt in Germany, playing to 10,000 people, as a formative experience.
“I was super nervous,” he says. “I remember just getting through it, staying focused, doing my thing and then saying, ‘if I’m after doing that, that stage there, everything has to be easier after that’. That’s the biggest it’s going to get. You just remember it’s your system, you know what you’re doing – it’s the music that’s got you this far.”
Lynch has just moved back to Dublin after a year in Berlin, having moved to the techno epicentre to be closer to Minus HQ. He says that, while he’s glad to be home, the move did him a world of good. After an intense period of working in Dublin, the break away gave him a fresh perspective on his music and opened him up to new sounds.
“You can buy new synthesizers and new instruments for your studio and that can change your sound a bit, but you can also change your sound by changing your whole environment,” he says. “A different studio in a different city in a different country; it’s a really good way of mixing things up. A change of scene, if you’re able to do it, it’s always a good thing. It’s always a good test of character.”
As good as Berlin has been for him, Lynch was always set on coming home to work on his debut album. He’s cleared the touring schedule until March, and is ready to hit the studio with a head full of ideas and a renewed love for the auld sod.
“It was a good place to be but it’s better to be home now,” he says. “It feels super fresh to be back. I’m walking around, I’m seeing new places all the time. I still have to explore. There’s a lot of new stuff to see.” Matador’s latest EP Play With Me! is out now from Minus