Machine Listener

Members / Instruments Matthew Gallagher: Samplers, Sequencers, Synthesizers, Field Recording

Years Active 2014 – present

Latest Release Headfooter released on Unifactor Tapes

Favorite Local Artists In my opinion you can’t really discuss Cleveland without talking about Akron, Kent, Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Athens, and Oberlin. Ohio is one of the richest states for experimental and underground music in the world and it’s all totally interconnected. Some of my favorites are: Jeremy Bible, Jeff Host, Witchbeam, Moltar, Frank Upson, J. Guy Laughlin, Amanda Howland, Profligate, Noah Depew, Bone Thugz, David Russell, Eeny, Tiger Village, Shohki Mask, Mourning [A] BLKstar,  NRML GRL, Kyrie Gentilcore, Let’s Fight!, Fluxmonkey, Watchword, Emeralds, Karl Vorndran, SSS, Dromez, REW, DJ Dr. Quinn, Actual Form, 9-Volt Haunted House, Hydrazine, Aaron Dilloway, Ann B Klorox, Robert Turman, Isabelle Rew, Andrew Elaban, Seth Graham, Mooke Da God, Ben Oblivion, Yohimbe, Skin Graft, Jim Donadio, Giant Claw, Attack Attack!, Serrated Slump, Cloud Nothings, Mint Clad, Jim Matzorkis, Bee Mask, Kay Depew, Mothcock, Swordheaven, Galen Tipton, Eve Lenker, Zack Kouns, Bobb Hatt, Trippie Redd, Nothing Phase, Butt Naked, v1984, Lisa Miralia, Wasteland Jazz Unit, Ghost Noises, John Wiese, Sam Goldberg, Our Unseen Guest, Kyle Kidd, Envenomist, Plague Mother, Pauline Lombardo, Whorlweaver, John Rookwood, 1auxy, Coarses, Halfadder, Kid Cudi, High Aura’d, and sooooo many more that I’m sure i’ll remember and be bummed I didn’t include later. Ohio’s music scene is undefeated. 

Current Albums on Repeat Autechre – Elseq 1-5, Five Star Hotel – Unreal Neutrals, Maral – Push, W00dy – Headbanging in the Club, Dubstep All-stars Vol. 8 mixed by Distance, and Neil Young – Harvest Moon. 

Currently Reading Evolutionary biology non-fiction. I’m really into Cetaceans (currently whales etc.) right now. They used to be these weird hoofed racoon-like animals. Eventually food scarcity forced them to wade for shellfish and over millions of years they became what we know to be modern day whales and dolphins. I think it’s really deep that life started in the ocean and migrated to land, but cetaceans returned to the sea. 

Favorite Venue to Perform Digital Art Demo Space in Chicago. Such a fun venue run by a collective of video artists. Great sound system, lighting, virtual reality experiments, and there was a hot-tub inside the venue too. Truly a bizarre and special place to gather, play and experience music. I wish it was still around, but all DIY venues have a pretty short life-expectancy and that’s OK. I think DADS was operating for about 4 years. 

The best kept secret in the city Asia Town 🙂

Biggest Inspiration Nature–mainly insects and plants, but I love all animals… except for ticks and black flies. Fuck ticks and black flies.

Tell us about how this project got started?

Machine Listener started in 2014 in Oberlin. I discovered I could record EMF radiation with a phone pickup and would walk around town with headphones and a field recorder taking EMF recordings of random electronics. The name speaks to my interest in generative processes. It’s really fun to set up a complex modulation system that will iterate different sounds over a long period of time. Oftentimes I find myself setting these systems up and just listening for a while before performing anything new. Hence, Machine Listener. 

Are you working on anything new / specific at the moment?

I’m currently taking a quick break from music to just chill out, focus on making some money and move. 

What would you consider your best local show experience?

Honestly, my warehouse venue R&D hosted and produced the best shows I’ve experienced. My proudest accomplishment with R&D was that it introduced a lot of people to their first experimental music or rave experience. Something about it was just good at drawing a lot of people who weren’t already plugged into the scene. I have no idea why or how this happened but it was so cool to see such a diverse crowd at every show. We booked really eclectic bills too so you’d have shows with noise, punk, techno and so many other formats. It was so fun 🙂

How do you balance music with jobs, partners, children, etc.?

There is no balance lmao. Art consumes my entire existence. I’m a single, self-employed visual artist and musician with no kids and no plans for starting a family. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life as an art freak plumbing the depths of self-expression and consciousness 🙂

Previous Bands?

My favorite band I’ve been in was called Le Creuset with Moltar and myself. We had some really interesting process based techniques for making music like loading the same samples into both of our samplers so it was really hard to tell who was making what sound. We had pretty glorious generative results that were documented here:

Experience working with a label?

I’ve worked with a bunch of fantastic DIY labels like Hausu Mountain, Moon Villain, Unifactor, Imprint Eyes, SKSK, and Tusco/Embassy. It’s genuinely so sweet when someone believes in your music enough to put resources toward manufacturing and promoting an album. I used to self-release a lot of music and I think I might want to get back into that. It’s nice to have 100% control over the presentation of an album. 

Craziest memory from touring?

There are just too many to list but I am always floored by how the DIY community nationwide comes together to organize and make these shows happen. It’s a TON of work and a really special phenomenon. 

What does Cleveland or Akron have to offer aspiring musicians?

Affordable living is the big one there. I don’t think most institutions truly value or understand the arts. The underground community has to pick up so much slack to make things happen. 

What’s the next move?

I’ll be moving to Pittsburgh in August. It’s time for another adventure 🙂

*Cover photo by Amber Ford

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