Midnight’s Son

Electronica maestro Matt Darey finds beauty and balance in music

DJ, producer, founder of Darey Records, composer of popular electronic music radio shows Nocturnal and Nocturnal Sunshine, avid snowboarder, world traveler and professional partier—no matter what the title, U.K.-bred and -based Matt Darey will return on May 22 to one of his favorite cities in the world to spin at Tao Beach and show off the talent he’s been perfecting for the past 20 years.

You recently completed your 300th episode of Nocturnal, which features a variety of artists. But what do you most like to listen to, personally?

I don’t listen to anything like the music I make. I listen to Télépopmusik, Tricky, Portishead, Björk—classics like that. Electronic music always fascinated me.

I grew up with rock, too. I’ve always been U2’s biggest fan. I’ve never liked the kind of pop music you get nowadays; a lot of it’s got no soul, it’s sort of manufactured. You get these hip-hop artists or pop artists who all of a sudden pop out of a big talent competition.

You have manufactured your own side project, Urban Astronauts.

It’s produced electronically but sounds like a band. I write the music, usually with the singer. I do all production hands-on; it’s my outlet, it’s more like real music, band music, as opposed to electronic sounds. I need to do both to keep it interesting. It needs to be balanced. A lot of electronic music sounds the same.

Do you play any instruments?

I play the keyboard. It allows me to create any sound because you can connect the keyboard to a computer and do anything from synthesizers to string arrangements to whatever. But the guitar in the band is real. You can’t fake a guitar.

Will you take Urban Astronauts on tour?

Yeah that’s the plan. I have auditioned a band, and they’re ready to go. It’s definitely something I’ve set my sights on, doing some live stuff. I’ve just been on tour as a DJ so much.

What places do you look forward to the most?

I’m biased toward places that have mountains, the snowboarding places. I play in Aspen [Colo.] or Lake Tahoe [Calif.] from time to time so I’ll go skiing and stay there for a week or so. As for the cities, I have fun in all of them. I actually spent a lot of time in Vegas. I enjoy the fact that you can go out every night. I’ve always been a bit of a partygoer. I’ve made a career of it.

Which nightclubs do you like to visit when you’re out here?

I’ve been to them all. Vegas is different, it’s a bit touristy and everyone is glammed up—it’s just fun. I spent quite a lot of time there, and then I had to get out because I ended up going out every night.

It’s a problem everyone deals with when they visit or move here.

Vegas is kind of like living in Ibiza [Spain]. Especially now that there’s so much electronic stuff going on, so many clubs and bars and restaurants. When I had to get out and get work done, I’d go and stay in a lodge on Mount Charleston and live the simple life—it’s like being in the French Alps.

As a DJ, it’s your job to be out late and partying often comes with that. How do you stay healthy and energized?

I do like to party. … I’m always at the after-party, and that’s half the fun of the job. Some DJs are very professional and fly in and fly out, but I can’t do that. I have to stay. In fact, I usually instigate the after-party! I have Mondays off, and throughout the week I do a lot of active stuff. I’m an outdoors kind of person so they kind of balance each other out quite well. I know some people that don’t have that balance and they party hard and die out pretty quick. You have to have that balance.

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At the tender age of 14, a blue-eyed Brit named Zen Freeman got his first set of turntables. At 15 he played his first club, and since has landed every gig from the Cannes Film Festival to becoming music supervisor at L.A.’s famous Soho House. A Hollywood resident for the past 10 years, Freeman has rubbed elbows with the best, including Paul Oakenfold, and to many, he has become the electro icon’s protégé. Thrice monthly, Freeman sweeps through Vegas, opening for the big dogs at Perfecto and guarding the decks during Ghostbar Sundays.



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