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Music and sound pioneer Matthew Herbert, at the Goethe Annual Lecture – Hearing Beyond

Image: Matthew Herbert, photograph by Chris Plytas


Matthew Herbert, artist, musician, producer, DJ and founder of Accidental Records, his music is known for ignoring the boundaries and mangling the conventions traditionally associated with electronic music. He remains one of the few independently-minded artists who continues to test the boundaries of what constitutes music – across his records, film scores and live performances.


Run Riot caught up with Matthew Herbert ahead of his lecture at the Goethe Institute as part of their 60th anniversary this year.


Ben Romberg: Matthew, how are you? Hope you are working on some exciting new things?

Matthew Herbert: I’m nearly at the end of a record made from a horse skeleton that tries to bring the horse back to life through music, but in parallel tells the story of music from bone flutes to electronics. I’ve also done the score for a film called ‘The Wonder’ with Florence Pugh which is out shortly.   


Ben: You are well known for some incredible film scores, are you now planning to sit behind the camera as a producer as well?

Matthew: I’m writing now but nothing in production yet. I’m interested in the intersection between sound, music, and narrative. for example, how sound recordings are embedded with multiple stories and perspectives and am keen to use that as a device in fiction.


Ben: Can you tell us about the event taking place at the Goethe Institute this month?

Matthew: I’m going to give one of their annual lectures about new approaches to sound and how they can help us understand (and hear) the world in a different way. Talking about how systemic listening can lead to meaningful action.


Image: Matthew Herbert, photograph by Manuel Vazquez


Ben: How are you connected to German culture? Why have you decided to contribute to the Goethe Institute’s 60th anniversary?

Matthew: I have a love and respect for Germany. as a country it has been incredibly supportive and welcoming to me and others in my position. Our grandparents were at war, but now we are friends, and this is a triumph of love over hatred, of collaboration over separation and is the key to a better world, particularly when considering the existential threat of climate change.


Ben: You said that music has undergone a revolution as people and producers now make records using anything that can make a sound. How does this change the music making process for you? 

Matthew: It raises ethical questions that composers haven't had to answer before. For example, if I make music out of a piano it is a lot less complicated than making music out of a car crash or the post-mortem of a Russian soldier.


Ben: What are the new possibilities that you've seen opened up by this revolution in music in recent years?

Matthew: Improved processing power and data storage has allowed us to organise a lot of sounds in unique ways. I’ve been making music out of 20,000 dogs or 10,000 horses sounds. Something impossible to do a few years ago. My next project is an album made of one billion sounds. 


Ben: Who has caught your ear recently - what artists have inspired you?

Matthew: I’m a big admirer of the music and artists surrounding the Nyege Nyege label in Uganda.


Follow Matthew Herbert via his multiple channels, here


Find out more at Matthew’s lecture at the Goethe Institute on the 1st of December, tickets are available here


Image: Matthew Herbert, photograph by Chris Plytas

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