Matthew Danger Lippman showcased an eclectic mix of glam, hip hop, funk, and punk on his debut EP REFRESH 2 DEATH in 2017. Now he returns with his new single Be True, a track laden with dark synths, and simmering vocal harmonies. He’ll release his debut full length ILL later this year. We talked to him ahead of his show at Zone One at Elsewhere on 2/27.
Your music is so eclectic, do you find combining styles easier than trying to fit into one genre?
Definitely! My solo project these days is kind of the synthesis of all the shit I did for fun before I put myself “out there” — the stream-of-consciousness, the goofy punk and rap tracks, the experimentation. I kind of put all that in the periphery for a few years, and putting it up front all together has been liberating. I always gravitated to the auteur artists — the Kanyes, of Montreals, Princes. The ones who could claim any style as their own.
Which is your favorite Prince album? We know he’s a big influence on you.
1999 was the high school “drinking 40s in the attic” album; Dirty Mind was the one to open me up to the possibilities of home recording; but Sign “☮” the Times was the one that really changed my life after he died. There’s been kind of a weird focus on Purple Rain postmortem, and he gets slotted in as an artist for the “MTV generation,” but whatSign does is so removed from that. It’s Prince unleashed: you’ve got the pitch-shifted anxiety-funk of “Housequake,” the downcast synth-y balladeering of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” the head-splitting sax-punk “Hot Thing.” Focusing on the vocal layering in “Adore” gave me a crash course in recording. That album got me deep into the “recording auteurs” phase of my listening — now I really listen to nothing but Prince, Todd Rundgren, and Trent Reznor. I just wanna absorb that sense of complete ownership over the track dynamics.
How is playing a solo act different to playing in a band? Do you feel more pressure now?
I love doing solo shows. I put them off in my teen years out of a deep-seated fear of being ignored, I think. But now I find them really liberating. It pushes it away from music, even — it’s all crooning and jumping around and interacting with the crowd, trying to take ’em off guard. It feels more like some mix of stand-up and one-man-show variety hour. It’s kind of removed pressure from the equation entirely. My show is me, y’know?
However, these days I got my band the Buff Boys backing me up for my New York shows. And they add so much to the dynamics. Dylan Maida on keys, Arden Yonkers of Milkweed on bass, Dan Keegan from Wild Pink on drums. They’re joining me on this show and on all shows on this April tour.
Which is your favorite song to play live and why?
These days my secret weapon during the full-band shows is our cover of Chet Baker’s “Everything Happens to Me.” I think it can take a bit for audiences to acclimate to what the hell I’m going for — I give ’em punk and glam and hip-hop at the onset and I try not to present it with any winks. So when the full band comes in with the jazz chords and I start crooning, I can feel the audience start to relent a bit. It’s always the “jump the shark” bit.
Also, the closer, “Punxx”: by the end it’s just full-on me & crowd harmonizing, primal scream-style. If you’re reading this and you’re gonna be at a show: SING ALONG! Cuz that’s what takes that bit to the next level.
How about playing in Brooklyn? What do you do and where do you go on show days?
So much day-of is frantic train-hop prepping! I’m from Buffalo, where you get in a car and drive to the venue and hang around. I keep my equipment in a couple different places, so I’m always phoning up friends for gear favors day-of-show.
Who’s your favorite new act? Who should we be listening to?
So many of my friends released great albums and EPs last year. I apologize for any I’m missing, I love you all! Last year alone: Wylie Something’s Genuine Moments, Radiation Risks’ Goodbye Money, Ex-Pat’s Does Life, Jelani Sei’s LVNDR TWN, Milkweed’s Summer Jamz, Oh Oh Ecstasy’s Nightlife is For You, Dean Chatham’s Blue Vs. Red….
Then this year dreamPuP has an album, Hah. (a band I play guitar in, actually) has an album, and I have an album I’m putting out! It’s called “ILL.”
Interview by Fred Desmond