The Wonderful Worlds of Blusher

Where does your imagination take you? For Aidan Wall, thoughts feed into music, art, writing and gaming – intricate realms are designed, detailed and described. Born in Dublin, now based in Amsterdam – Aidan has been releasing music under various aliases such as Soil Creep, Hipster Youth and Porn on Vinyl since 2007.  Aidan’s latest project Blusher, appears to be a creative crosswords. A forceful combination of electronic and folk elements from previous releases – a creative full tilt tapestry.  ‘I want my music to make people dance or cry – or both!’ If you have experienced the album Tren Rezno, you will know this objective has been obliterated. Soft, sharp, strange and satisfying…Tren Rezno is full of multi coloured contrasts. From the full force whack of Wake Up a Skeleton, the blissful brilliance of Bifo Ulrich, or the face fracturing PAy Up – Tren Rezno makes it through your veins with a vengeance. Serene yet sense kicking, Aidan has created another cosmos that we will keep coming back to, time and time again. We chat about Aidan’s creative journeys, processes, influences and how that album name came about.

Background

I started doing recordings in my gaff when I was a teenager, so when I was about 13 or 14 a friend in school said ‘hey download this thing you can record songs on it’ –  so I ended up getting Audacity. I pressed the red circle and did loads of layers of things. 

I was doing that for a couple of years – so I had an initial project doing folky music and guitar stringy sounds, while at the same time I was getting interested in electronic music. An internet friend told me to check out Fruityloops – so I ended up playing with that. That friend just recently put out an amazing album under their Nopomo moniker. 

I had these 2 parallel things where one of them would be the songs I would write on my guitar and then the other songs I would write on my computer – I was doing that for 10 years. Over the course of time, I had put out a few different albums on a few different projects. 

I had Soil Creep (pre Blusher), and that was when they started coming together a little bit closer. With Blusher the idea was that ‘I’m just going to put all the things together and not worry too much about whether they are a perfect match’.

It was actually a really nice time to be making music in a way, because I had always figured that it was a hobby. I was a teenager or in my early 20s when I was putting out stuff, so I was in college and living with my parents – I could just do stuff.

I wasn’t worried about it being a career. That was at the time where blogs were first getting popular and there was the idea that maybe you put your album out for free and maybe a blog would post it and 20 people would get to hear it.

It was nice, you’d find a lot of weird communities sharing music and you’d definitely find some people who liked your stuff and who would support you

Education

I ended up doing a PLC course after my Leaving Cert because I wanted to go to art college. I had originally wanted to be a graphic designer when I was 16 or 17… the teachers on the course were really encouraging and saying I would enjoy NCAD – that it would suit the way I think about stuff. I ended up applying there rather than doing graphic design.

After I graduated from NCAD I started focussing on writing a bit more than pursuing an actual art practice. For the past 2 ½ years or so I’ve been studying for a masters in Critical Studies in Amsterdam – it’s a Fine Art Masters focussed on writing.

I had started doing art reviews and game reviews back when I came out of college…and in this course I was like ‘oh you can write weird fiction or weird theory?’ So I started working on prominently that kind of stuff.
I was lucky that in my 4th year at NCAD they were open to me doing other things. I actually ended up making a couple of zines for my end of year degree show and they were about video games. They were half personal essays, half theory essays at that point. I’ve been wasting half my life playing games, so I thought maybe I can say something interesting about it from the position of being a weird time waster!

Studying in art college was a really great experience. It teaches you to think about what you are doing and you can apply that thought process to music.

So I can ask myself, what does it mean when I do this, what is its effect? Thinking back on some of the things I’ve done, it’s like I was sampling stuff I shouldn’t have been sampling.

I think within music now you see a more progressive look towards the politics of sampling – there are meaningful conversations. I feel really lucky that I get to study politics and cultural theory and think about cultural appropriation and things like this. It affects what I want to be working on musically.

Building Worlds

Gaming is definitely a strong thing in my life. The thing that I like about gaming and thinking about science fiction is, you are building an atmosphere – you can build this thing that someone has never built before. Particularly with my DDR radio show – it’s what I want to convey with it. I know music does that, but I feel l learn a lot from reading and games.

For the most part, I make tabletop games, non-digital games and role-playing games – you sit at a table and pretend you’re somewhere doing something or different deviations on that formula.

Collages

I’ve been making collage work since I was in my early 20s in college and I really liked it as an art form, finding nice shapes and textures and composing stuff. At the moment it’s another thing I’m working on that fits in with the other stuff.

My Studio

It’s funny, the music on Tren Rezno was made across a 2 year span – a lot of that time was non studio based. There are maybe one or two songs that were recorded in a studio on Middle Abbey St…back in the day! It was a shared studio, the first time I had a space to do music. Then I ended up going to Amsterdam and there was a lot of working on a computer as opposed to having an actual studio. 

Right now, I’m in a really lucky position– a friend of mine got a cheap studio in Amsterdam and there is enough space for 3 more of us. 

When I first starting making stuff it was nearly all computer and using Fruity Loops and then Ableton, which I use now. For Tren Rezno I used mostly virtual synths in Ableton but I’ve been accruing hardware for my live shows and working more with those.

So now my studio setup and workflow is a sequencer, drum machine, bass synth and a little synth. I enjoy having this workflow……it’s a lot more physical rather than looking at a screen. When I first started doing stuff it was all VSTs (Virtual Synths).

I still use a lot of that stuff when it comes to sitting down to make a song.

 

I think the snobbery around making music on computers is a bit of a hangover from an earlier time. But with that said, I know a lot of people who I really respect that are champions of that kind of stuff. I would never want to be a champion at the detriment of someone who didn’t have access to it though. I know a lot of people who make unreal music just using Ableton and samples and virtual synths.

Getting nervous putting my stuff out? Not quite –  as I don’t think I have ever put something out under my own name! I think I’ve played 1 gig where I used my own name…and that was a bit of a weird one to say the least!

All the time there was an anonymous aspect to having different monikers. I can’t go back to a lot of it now, but at the time there weren’t big stakes because it was just ‘hey I’m working on this song in the evening’ and after 6 months I would be like ‘oh this is an album’

Do I like anonymity? I’ve always treated it that each project is a different thing –  it’s why this stuff is not called Soil Creep. When that’s done I will move on to the next thing…so there is a nice aspect of a fresh start or a change – or it opens you up to do different things.  

Creative flow and approach

It’s a mixed bag. A lot of the time I will either hear something and think I want to sample this – mess around with it in Ableton and see what works. Sometimes that totally fails and sometimes it doesn’t. I will take a shell out of part of it and bring it somewhere else and start working on it. 

Sometimes I will hear something in a movie or on a video online – most recently I was watching ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’, and there was this lad who was like ‘the old guard is still in control, they’ve got to be removed’….so in my most recent song it’s a ridiculous techno song with this aul Irish lad talking.

For sampling stuff live, I like humming and whistling and so I cycle around with my recorder. There are songs that I have in my head that I just whistle to myself that I have never properly recorded….I’m nearly writing some songs for like five years. 

The way that I usually work is sometimes I will go two months without working on something and then in two months time I feel like I want to work on music and I will write loads of songs. I always have bits and bobs lying around… I like assembling things together and seeing how they work. 

If I hear weird noises I’ll try and record them – the track ‘Roof on the album …it was just me on a roof, and there was a fan humming somewhere so I thought I will try and sing along with this from the roof. Or the washing machine in my parent’s house – it was really rhythmic so I ended up using it as the basis for a song. I’m so regretful when I don’t record stuff I hear – it’s like ugh I wish I’d done that. 

Tren Rezno

I originally wanted it to be a double album, because there were dance aspects and then more ambient aspects, so I wanted one side where it’s ambient and another side dancey. 

Where did the name Tren Rezno come from? The name is after Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, as I have a bit of a soft spot for him. He’s always done stuff that is off the beaten path but also following his own trajectory of what he’s working on. I always thought it would be really funny to name something after him, so I just decided, I’ll just take off the last letter off each name. It’s funny..I had sent the link with the clips to a friend and she was like ‘oh Trent Reznor’s new music sounds pretty banging’.  

So when I did make Tren Rezno into what that is now –  I kinda envisioned it as a bit of a mixtape in a way. My original plan was that I was going to put it up as a free download, but I sent it to some friends and I think Robbie Kitt said I should send it to the Patrúin lads – and they really liked it! 

I sent it to them – we had been planning it and it ended up being nearly a year after we first started talking after it finally came out – which is usually the case with music stuff. 

Tren Rezno doesn’t have any distinct themes or anything, there is definitely a lot of bounces into different places and some of them were songs that I was just like ‘hey I want to make a dance track’. I would always say that my goal with a lot of the music is to make people dance or cry – or both! 

Naming the tracks? I don’t even know. I think sometimes I’ll be working on something in Ableton and I will just write down a name that will make no sense, and at other times it’s a perfect excuse to make a shitty poem.

It feels like a document or an archive of this two year period, of weird turmoil and a lot of change in my life. I feel like it’s a nice in-between, some songs are recorded in Dublin some are made in Amsterdam and some in both. 

It was incredible holding the album, the only personal goal I really had with music was to have something on vinyl, as I was putting stuff out on cassette for ages.  I love cassette as a format…but there is something about that big square! It was amazing, I almost didn’t believe it – it’s still a bit surreal. 

Album artwork

I can’t remember the exact process for designing the collages for Tren Rezno. They were made a year or two beforehand. I think it was Ros at Patrúin’s idea, he suggested that Mel Keane and I could collaborate on the artwork. 

It’s funny – it’s half intuition or something – it’s ridiculous that I will look at a piece of paper and move it five degrees and rotate it, and think oh yeah that’s it! It’s mostly playfulness. 

I would completely link collage work and my music together. The way I approach my music, it’s really similar to how I make collages. I will find and collect images I want, and then I put a few images that I want to work with aside. With music, there are some samples that I like and then I think ‘oh this chord progression works’ …and then it’s just muddling around with the materials in the same way. 

Recent work

My most recent stuff… I was lucky to be asked to play The Emigrant Disco back in December, and I thought I would love to prepare some new stuff for it. I ended up preparing songs that I haven’t yet recorded. The most recent song I made started out as one I made for playing out live which I then sat down and made into a song. For the most part, it is just playing around and seeing what works. I’m never quite like ‘I need this to be this’ – but I have a lot of tendencies that I like, like bass drums and acid. 

There isn’t a new album planned right now. I’ve been contributing a few songs to a few compilations, I did one for DDR and for Bandcloud, and I have one forthcoming on a Dutch compilation. I also recently did a song for the 101bpm project. 

I’m in the process of gathering and making the stuff and it could be that in 3 months I will put the junk together. Right now I’m kinda working on finishing college and making that my priority. 

Playing records v playing live

I’ve never done any big parties, the DDR Party in Galway was my biggest gig playing records –  it was so much fun, I really like mixing a lot. There is something trance like… when stuff is just working together. 

The one thing that is really nice when playing live is getting to listen to your own music really loud, and then seeing people’s reaction to it. 

I feel so lucky to be part of the DDR community, in Dublin, people say it’s quite difficult to excel as a DJ, that Irish people are always the support act, but I think it’s very different now. The DDR parties exemplify that.

Community

It’s funny –  I’ve been around Dublin long enough, so you kinda get to know everyone. I guess through being in NCAD there were a lot of people who were friends with people. 

Robbie Kitt and I would also go to a lot of the same gigs back then, late thousands – indie was still alive! There’s a weird overlap with people who make experimental music and the people that make dance music, they all like the same things, there is a natural comradery. 

I really miss it over in Amsterdam – I think Amsterdam has a big dance culture but it’s a lot bigger and a lot more impenetrable – I don’t really know the music scene there that much. I would know a couple of venues that do some interesting stuff and have a lot of friends who make good music there, but it’s not really comparable to the wonderful community here, it’s just so so magical in Dublin. Getting to see smaller local DJs get a headline slot is amazing and seeing the room go off!

Impact of social media

I had done a workshop in the RHA, a young writers workshop and someone who had been at that really liked the workshop, asked if I wanted to do one at IMMA (Aidan hosted a workshop at IMMA titled: Rebuilding the Self – examining how the development of technology has impacted on the relationship between photographic portraiture and identity, particularly since the development of social media and online profiles). 

I was invited in to give my perspective on the workshop’s themes. I’m interested in the idea of social media being like a spread of different ways in which you can present yourself, almost being a collage of specific elements of images and text that form a sense of yourself – how you want to present online. 

In terms of self-promotion, I know there is a lot of conversations about it at the moment in dance music.  Because I am this jack of all trades…I don’t really have a career from this – it’s three or four side jobs in a few different things – I have to be like ‘I’m doing this’ for people to know that I am doing x or y. That’s how I engage with my social media. 

I think social media has done some amazing things for some really amazing people who might not have found the opportunity otherwise. I think there will always be ways in which things are utilised in strange ways for strange means. I think you are lucky if you don’t have to rely on social media. A lot of people don’t have managers, don’t have booking agents, it is a really hard process when you have to do all that yourself. You have to remind people what you are doing. 

How mediums work together

Sometimes depending on what kind of context you are working in, there can be a literacy for certain things and not a literacy for other things. For example in the course that I’m in, there are some people who are working in sound, one person in particular, Luca Soudant, who is doing really interesting work with hardcore gabber music…and they are making this unreal music and also thinking about the theory of loudness and masculine noise. 

But for me I think I’ve always had a bit of a struggle between how different things I make fit together perfectly. I would sometimes do performance work with scripted performances where I use some of my music in the performance. 

It’s funny…I’ve always seen my art and writing as being separate, I like to think of myself as being an artist with an artist practice, but it’s also something that is a bit like a side job. I’d be lucky to get cash from it. 

For the most part, they only bleed into each other every now and again. I do see them as different. Ideally, I would love to be at the point where my three side hustles can become some kind of a coherent hustle. At the moment, they are all in their different places ..which is a shame because I love writing, I love making collages and making music, and it’s like you could nearly combine them. It’s difficult to know where to focus my energy on.

Most challenging mediums

I take a funny approach to a lot of stuff, I’m an incredibly anxious person. 

I think when you prepare music for a live show you can rely on the machines even if you do something wrong, it’s ok the music is there. A lot of times you can have something to fall back on. Sometimes performance stuff can be very vulnerabising – you just have to actually present yourself – it can be weird. 

The last performance thing.. someone had invited me to do a performance at a small art event. I was pretending to be a person who was a wrestler who used to be an artist…and then decided they were going to quit art because it’s too hostile so they went back to wrestling.

Follow Aidan on Soundcloud, Facebook and Instagram. Support Tren Rezno, pick it up online on Patrúin’s website here or in store at All City Records. 

Big thanks to Liz Rooney for the headshots, check out more of her work here.


TR One: Chicarlow’s Finest Talk Shop

 

Racks of enviable equipment and releases with labels such as Don’t Be Afraid, Bodytonic, Lunar Disko, Apartment and Photic Fields. TR One have been remixed by Lerosa and Juju & Jordash, mastered by Alden Tyrell and have collaborated with New Jackson and Phantom Planet Outlaws. This is not a studio in Berlin, London, or Dublin - but in Carlow.

TR One -  Eddie Reynolds and Dean Feeney, run a strictly hardware homestead. Known for their ruckus filled live shows and slick, savage releases - they are the perfect example of doing what you can, with what you have, with where you are. Eddie talks about the importance of community, finding your confidence and channeling your influences into your signature sound.

 

https://www.mixcloud.com/Bodytonic/bodytonic-podcast-tr-one-2012/

The Early Days

My introduction to music was through friends. I first met Dean at secondary school - he was a DJ and I was getting heavily into music at the time. I loved listening to Dave Clarke’s World Service, Richie Hawtin’s - Decks, EFX & 909, Jeff Mills - Live At The Liquid Rooms but especially D1 Records. The First 8 Years Of D1 mix from Active Service Unit was a major stepping stone for me - it peaked with that mix. It felt like I was the only guy my age in Carlow into this music, but it felt good.

I became obsessed with buying D1 Records from Rob Rowland, Decal, Decoy, Active Service Unit, Visitor - all the D1 classics. I was amazed that this deep Detroit techno was coming from Dublin and only an hour up the road from where we were. We started collecting records - travelling to Waterford to Rotate Records, up to Spindizzy in Dublin and Selectah. Looking at the art and sleeves on the way home on the bus is a good memory. I eventually saved up to buy my first set of 1210’s from a good friend who ironically bought them previously from fellow Carlow man John Gibbons - I still have them!

 

 

Getting Started

It was just the DIY ethos of music, seeing all the grainy pictures of old Detroit and Chicago producers with their drum machines - it felt like anybody could do it and we could do it.

They just made such an impression on us and we eventually got our first record released and it snowballed from there. We got more and more gear, more into the scene and into the Irish dance music culture.

Our first piece of equipment was the Yamaha SY77 synthesizer - a mouse actually crawled into it and shit all over it and destroyed the circuitry, that one is now in the graveyard somewhere!  Also the Jomox Xbase 09 - it’s a 909 clone but with a unique sound and I still have that - it’s one of my babies.

I’m not musically trained but I’m self-trained over the years - to anyone that is getting into production - it’s trial and error and you will find your own sound and you will realise what’s right. You make a lot of bad, bad tracks, but it’s a learning process like most things. We felt it was right and it was great  - but listening back it was heavily out of key and it was so bad ...but it was just the energy.. that feeling it gave you.

At the moment Dean is in Canada and before that he was in Cork at university and his life was down there and mine was up here and we didn’t make that much music together.

At that stage with me personally, any track I made it wasn’t good enough. I was comparing it to all the other great tracks I was hearing it every week. The anxiety was building up for making my own music, it was just unbearable and I just froze every time I turned on a machine. I was just eating myself up inside thinking it wasn't good enough.

Eventually, you get your head down and maybe you realise it is good enough. Dean will be back making music but I’m enjoying making music on my own at the moment ..it’s good to find your own sound and eventually, it should go back to being the two of us.

 

This is advice to anybody starting to make music or experiencing this right now, just stick at it, and no matter if you think it’s bad and you are anxious over your tracks, they are good. The fact you are putting creative energy into these tracks is amazing -  you are putting your time, thoughts, love and emotion into these tracks - that is enough. People have to sit back and realise the tracks are good enough and just give them time. All it takes is a friend or someone from a label to say that’s good and then your idea changes.

 

 

The Live Show - and the lamp!

The lamp is actually sitting in my sitting room now! When we got our live show on the road ..which was basically bringing our whole studio. ..it was an absolute nightmare but obviously great. The lamp idea came from one of our favourite movies of all time which is ‘Stop Making Sense’ and David Byrne had a lamp in one of his tracks. And we said we would take it like that, set it up beside us on the stage and make it our little calling card. It eventually featured on our vs Phantom Planet Outlaws record. It started out as a bit of a joke but then we got known for it. The lamp will always hold a special place in my heart!

With the sheer amount of midi cables, wires and jacks for the live shows, there was always something that went wrong. One classic story was in The Twisted Pepper - our battery ran out on our DX100 and we had to send New Jackson out to the shop to replace them. During performances sometimes things just don't work -  but it’s all part of the energy.

 

 

Hardware or Nothing

Have I ever used software? No, even the way I record.. after I put the structure and the spine of the track together, I always record live and in one take. I record as a live performance with live effects. If something is not right.. if the levels are off and I can't really change it, I have to re-record the whole thing but traditionally you have a certain amount of sporadic energy in tracks that happen on the fly and it seems to work so I stick at that.

The Creative Process

This is something I have been thinking about...subconsciously throughout the week or throughout the day you are picking up ideas..it’s like a track or an idea starts playing in my head on a loop and I think I have to try and get this.

But ironically I think this happens due to something that happens throughout the day....and it’s your brain and your mind.. it’s trying to transfer it to what you know best. That's the creative process...you have to get it into the studio.

The Studio

It’s all hardware-based which is a lot of maintenance but I just don't know any other way. I love the hands-on approach of making music. The MPC 2500 is the heart of the studio. From there I have a midi patchbay going to a Juno 106, a Korg Minilogue, a Jx8p, a TG500, a TX81Z, the Yamaha DX reface, JP8 amongst many other things. The TX81Z cost me 80 quid and it's such a solid little module. No matter how expensive your gear is, it's all about how you use the machine. The cheaper items always have such character.

I have about 7 mini channels going into that alone and then I’ve got a couple of drum machines, samplers, outboard effects units and a compressor. I’ve got the space echo which adds that signature fog to the mix. I will always start with the skeleton of the track and usually start with beats. Sometimes I think it’s better to start with the music elements and then work with your beats around it. But I’m so stuck in my process, I’m so used to it at this stage. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't, again for me it’s the live take and the live performance are something we have always done. That's why the tracks transfer into the live show so easily, we were used to that jamming in the studio. It has its pros and its cons, but it's the signature sound from TR One.

I’ve always wanted to have the foresight to realise what a track might sound like on a dancefloor but I just don’t have that. It has to please me - I’m not really sure what I’m looking for. You could spend 6-8 hours in a studio and the next day they just sound shit - your ears have just gotten so used to the loop.

‘Herd Of Trains’, the B side of ‘Living In, Now’, that came together in an hour and a half. We started off the MPC, we overdrove the kick drum in an effect and the effect was from the boss but that had no effect on it so it was just giving this crunch. It was kind of a random discovery, this crunch to the beat, and then we just took a lo-fi bass sample and looped it over and over to get that unique sound underneath it and it just enveloped from there. And then something like ‘A Month Has Passed’, that took me about 6 weeks to finish. I just don't know what it was about it - I was just never happy with it. But eventually, when I recorded it, I still say to this day ...that it’s the one track that I’m truly happy with.

When I listen back to tracks I've recorded I always turn my chair around and turn away from the monitors and look at the door, and it gives you a different perspective - so you are not focusing in on the speakers. In that moment you can almost think how someone else can hear it.

My biggest influence would be music itself. I’m obsessed with buying vinyl. It’s just hearing that one track that someone has done - it might be fresh and different, you are not necessarily going to want to do something the same as it, but it spurs you on to just think - ‘yeah - just get on with it’. There is so much good music out there, it’s just amazing ..and in turn, as well you think there is so much good music - what makes yours stand out? And then you think, do you want it to stand out, or do you just want to have it there? It’s nice to know it’s there - that you might have a bit of a legacy.

On Working with Labels

The biggest lesson from working with labels would expect and be able to take criticism for your music. It’s something that you do in the early days  - you put so much love, time and effort into music and someone just turns around and says no, it’s not good enough. But you have to be open and realise if you want your art to succeed in the world you have to let it go....you can't be too obsessive about it.

I have a good working relationship with Kenny from Apartment Records, for the release with Lunar Disko I knew Barry and Andy well so I just sent them the tracks. It helps that we all became good mates over the years. With Bodytonic, I have worked with them over the years especially Trev and Conor Lynch who I have the utmost respect for - it's nice to have another passionate crew there now. I was a big fan of the Don’t Be Afraid label - Benji is a great guy. I just said fuck it, I will send him a couple of tracks. It was during that period where it was very quiet and I had just come out of that lull of making music and I was starting to get confident in my music and to hear that he liked the music and that he enjoyed it, was really good. It comes back to my previous point, it’s good to have someone to challenge you ..there is a lot of back and forth - a lot of ‘can we do this to make it better’ and you come to the conclusion that you do want the best music out there.

The new record with Bodytonic

A favourite of mine is ‘From Me To The Rain’. I made that about eighteen months ago, it just really came together even the way the snare and the hats swing in it, it’s absolutely perfect and I love how the strings develop towards the end. Surprisingly, some tracks that you think are dead or you think are not good enough would be tracks that other people love. You are constantly surprised.

His Record Collection

My records span from some hip-hop to a lot of disco, a lot of old soul music and to classic house, Chicago house, Detroit techno into the deeper ends of techno. I have an unhealthy obsession with all Detroit based electronic music which influences my buying habits. I’m really into the Hessle Audio and Shackleton sound at the moment. UK Bass is exciting especially with the elements of techno intertwined. I find it impossible when people ask what your favourite record is - it’s like asking which is your favourite child... I can’t answer it! Every one of these records has given me a special moment. We are DJ’s first and foremost and a live act second. The question is will I, or we ever play live again..we definitely will play live again.. I’m just not sure when.

Sampling

Sampling is a fine art - people like J Dilla and Moodymann have made sampling their own. There have been a couple of tracks where you attempt to sample but you have to be very skilled at it. I would like to be better at sampling but then you hear people like Terrence Dixon who I read doesn't agree with sampling culture - it makes you think beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. That's what is so amazing about electronic music. Some people have a real talent for it, a real ear for it, and hopefully, it’s something I can work on in the future.

The Community Found in Music

The scene is very supportive, but because it’s small it’s almost a victim of its own restriction as well. There is only so much that can happen in a country this small or in a city like Dublin,  especially when things are restricted.

Again it’s great that the clubs are selling out every weekend but part of me thinks maybe the big clubs and the big names are not the way forward. It’s great to see so many young people into music but when they look back it’s just going to be a lot of faceless nights.

It’s crazy, the amount of people we have met over the years and you hold friendships with them. I have also now have a monthly show on Dublin Digital Radio -  it’s amazing how they are opening boundaries and are harbouring an amazing aspect of togetherness.

There is so much good music coming through now but it feels good but this country is not nurturing the talent like it should. These draconian licensing laws, you have 3 or 4 hours and that’s it. How can a DJ even build his own set in an hour, hour and a half? I hope we get traction with this ‘Give Us the Night’ programme. Realistically there is so much talent in this country - but there are not enough venues. There are not enough venues, not enough hours to play to develop a scene..therefore so many talented producers just give it up. You can see it over the years and why it happens and how it happens. I think it’s just time to change that, we need to nurture what we have here.

The Future

This year I want to get more music out than I ever did - there are a couple of things planned. I feel like it’s a good period, it’s a good time for me making music personally, I feel like this year could be something different. I’m also going to continue with my DDR show that I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Success?

My idea of success has gotten more realistic since our first record was released. Success is skewed in a way because success can be playing to 10,000 people on a weekend or playing in a different country every weekend, or it can be knowing your music is getting out there. I’ve always had this idea that maybe you might not become international, become mainstream, become big...but there is that one time where you think that your track was played by a DJ somewhere and there was someone on the dancefloor that had that moment -  they might be smiling ..and you get a bit of solace in that. Maybe that’s the best way to judge success.

It’s frustrating too because the way the internet is today -  it’s so full. You have to sponsor your posts on Facebook for them to be seen and that's just wrong. There is nothing wrong with that and I would never rule it out, but it just goes against the idea of being 17 years old and going into a record shop and discovering a record, looking up that artist and finding more of their records. Now there is so much good music released - which is great, but it’s very hard to balance that promotion aspect because you are not just a DJ or producer you are now a promoter and agent and a manager. Part of me just wants to be in the studio making music, I don't want to be that guy that tries to sell himself because it stands against what I want to do with music. But then you want to see people come and see you and you want to have gigs.

There is not a lot I could change going back to those early years because the journey I went on good and bad has helped shaped my music, your sound develops over periods of bad shit and good shit in your life or just music in general.

But my advice to anyone starting out would be definitely develop your own sound. Don't do it by the numbers house music, deep house, or thumping techno music...just jam with your machines and come up with ideas and don't be afraid to develop them.

Ask people for advice or their help. The mixing end of things is important - it doesn't have to be a perfect clean mix, to be honest, I think that’s a good thing -  if you have that bit of edge in your mix. A bit of distortion on the hi-hats or whatever or the low end that might be a little shaky..it’s giving you that signature - that taste of your own music, and that’s how I think artists can develop their sound.

Thanks to Barbara Reynolds & Liz Rooney.

This interview originally featured on bodytonicmusic.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3mo2N3DUAQ

 


Magical Mareh Festival

Mareh Festival - my perfect little paradise.

Imagine laid back vibes, wonderful weather and dreamy disco edits, topped off by a warm Brazilian welcome. Organised by Mareh Music, the 2017 edition was set in Cumuruxatiba, Bahia, on the North-Eastern coast. It’s a solid eight-day soiree where you can get your musical fix while enjoying that amazing aqua blue coastline.

Mareh’s luscious line-up cherry topped the tropical location. A choice combination of the peachiest international names joined local mainstays. Vincent Floyd, Idjut Boys, Lexx and Delia Gonzales aboard the Resident Advisor boat party, José Padilla, Darshan Jesrani and many more all signed up for the incredible 2017 edition.

Travel plans meant we only got to experience Mareh’s first 3 days - but what an incredible 3 days was had. Here are some of our memorable Mareh moments:

Rafael Cancian

Mareh was spread out over a number of lush locations, beachside Bar De Praia was where we had our first Mareh moves. We were welcomed by founder of About Disco Records Rafael Cancian for a solid beachside boogie full of the finest disco, standout soul, and fantastic funk.


Barbara Boeing:

Alter Disco collective and Gop Tun digger Barbara Boeing was another opening night knockout - she literally knocked my Haviana’s off. I found my hips zig-zagging to her set of bold selections and big Brazilian bass lines, and swapped shoulder dancing for salsa shapes.

Beats In Space Boat Party:

The Beats in Space boat party has become an annual event on the Mareh calendar - and for very good reason. Captained by Tim Sweeney and Rub-n-Tug’s Eric Duncan….our deck turned dancefloor was an outrageous aquatic adventure. A tropical, tune-filled, taps afff trip!

Mr Mendel:

After our afternoon at sea, Mareh went Dutch with Mr Mendel on closing duties. As per, Mendel brought heavy, heart felt heat  - while working those luring lush levels. We got sentimental with Sylvester, nostalgic with Peven Everett and dreamy during Ish.   

Mark Seven:

On our final night of Mareh the festivities moved to Reveioka for Tahira, Wolf Music and Mark Seven. Set on another stunning Bahian beach, surrounded by palm trees - this was my musical version of a death row meal. Mark Seven cast 101 emotions over 3 hours in the neon disco dome - there were tears, twists and triumphs. Seven is not just a champion record collector but a master of time: dropping ‘Night Dancer’ as the sun began peeking up through the coconut trees. This was Mareh at its most magic.

 

A visit to Brazil is an absolute must, and if you go, you simply have to make it to Mareh Festival. Etched on my heart forever  <3

 

Thanks to Felipe Gabriel for the photos. 

This article originally appeared on Bodytonicmusic.com

 


Dublin Digital Radio

Mainstream commercial radio has long dominated Dublin’s FM band. A small section of alternative and pirate radio stations such as Radio Nova, Jazz FM, and Power FM offered a satisfying substitute for predictable playlists, colourless content and advert overkill. While the major pirate stations have all but disappeared over the last ten years, following massive clampdowns or burnout, the advent of internet radio and podcasting has brought about a rock steady recovery for alternative stations. Dublin is once again all ears.

Dublin Digital Radio (DDR) launched as “a platform for groups that are underrepresented in current mainstream media”. With a diverse, sturdy schedule, consistently promoted via killer illustrated artwork (by Aoife Davis), they are on a musical mission to “break the mold with the medium of radio” and 9 months in,  have succeeded in acquiring audiences and harnessing diverse hosts.

DDR does not want to be a clique, a boy’s club or to be stifled by genres or bureaucracy. The station was founded by four but is maintained by the solid gold volunteers who continuously contribute valuable time and manpower.

We sat down with DDR founders Brian, Simon, Sean, and Breen and some of their regular hosts at Jigsaw (DDR’s physical and spiritual home) to hear more about the Dublin Digital Radio story.

Beginnings

The station has evolved into a very different beast to what we originally thought it was going to be -  in a great way. We started broadcasting in October 2016 but wheels started to get in motion in early June  - that’s when we really started to talk about it... it was an idea for years before that.

Together is Better

The whole idea from the start was to get different people from various music scenes together, that's definitely been my favorite thing  - meeting people who I never knew existed. You meet someone who plays Dub in a bar on a Sunday, you never knew that before and all of a sudden he’s doing a show here.

We wouldn't have gotten going without building a community around us early on. At the start we were asking people do you know where we can get a desktop computer or a mixer or do you know anyone that might be interested in a radio show, or do you know where we can get a space? So by talking to people and delving out into our own communities, we were able to build it - it was very much a word of mouth.

Programming wise the only things we say no to are things that there is already an abundance of, no one wants a station of just house and techno. But other than that -  we are always an open book and open door.

Our House, Our Home

We were really lucky, all we need is a space the size of a cupboard to operate the studio in. However, having our studio in Jigsaw allows us to operate both online and to meet our community through regular DDR events and parties in their downstairs space, here you can bring everyone together. We are so lucky, it’s so central, there are no time or noise limits.

The hardest thing we are continuing to deal with is finance, the only thing that’s holding us back from doing most things like buying better gear is having cash. Every party is a fundraiser, no one makes any money from this, every cent we earn goes back into the station.  

Let’s Get Political

One of the days that got the best feedback was the day Cathy organised for International Women's Day (Strike 4 Repeal). Dj’s like Kate Butler, Aoife Nic Canna, Dandelion took part - they are all pirate radio heads who were dying to get back on. Listening to it that morning, it felt like an outlet for something that’s happening in Dublin….they are not going to get coverage on RTE or coverage anywhere else  - which it didn’t.

Lots of other media platforms are scared to piss someone off, whereas you have the freedom here to do whatever you want to do which is the best thing.  

Social Responsibility

I would hope that inspired other women to get involved with radio. For example, The Gash Collective workshops that we facilitated a few months ago (offering women vinyl, CJD and production workshops) were full within a couple of days - it was all women doing the workshops and on the after-party lineup in Wigwam.

Future

Future plans? To keep going as we are going and see where it takes us. You see these pirate radio stations that do a couple of years and then they fall to the wayside, so I think longevity itself is a goal. I think how you do that is consistent quality radio, good organization, and getting fresh faces involved every now and again to stay relevant.

The worst thing in the world would be if Jigsaw closed, it would be hard to find another home that would be as accommodating, it wouldn't have the same atmosphere.

Jill Woodnutt

* I’m Jill Woodnutt from Dublin - my show is Staxx Lyrical. I play old school, underground & independent hip-hop along with some jazz, soul, downtempo and R&B.

* DDR is an inclusive platform for people to share their tastes, ideas and opinions. It gives full creative freedom to all the show hosts which is what I enjoy about it. DDR is important because it lets listeners hear uncensored discussions and music that might not otherwise get played on Irish radio. It's ran by people who volunteer their time and effort to let listeners hear what is genuinely exciting to them and I feel listeners really connect to that. DDR also runs different events to interact with the community - like the recent DDR X GASH Collective female music workshops.  

* The station has been growing nicely since it started and I hope it continues to do that ..I've started to do more interviews and discussions which has been fun - I'm currently lining up some more guests for the coming months.

Emily Carson

* I’m Emily Carson from Dublin. Each week on my show 'Vocal' I pick a famous female artist (usually one that was at her peak in the 80s/90s) and do a retrospective of their music, why they caught the public's imagination so much and what issues faced them as women during the period they became famous.

*It's been an amazing experience to meet so many new people and collaborate. Cathy Flynn (host of Getting Away With It) organised a full 24 hours of female-led programming for International Women's Day in aid of Strike4Repeal and it was both radical in its content and was a worthwhile opportunity to work together with other women. The day turned out great and I was really proud to be a part of it, the buzz in the studio on the night was also deadly.

* Seeing DDR come together so quickly, with such a swell of support from people who are all giving their time and expertise for free is a really positive reflection on Dublin. While there's been so much discussion in the media of bias or the bizarre requirement for 'balance' in some debates it's really refreshing to see a space where new and unheard voices can shine, unfettered by outside influences or parameters.

* I'd love to see the station get more subscriber support through their Patreon and for the studio to get equipment donations etc so the broadcast quality is as high as possible. The founders have great ambitions and a great ethos and I really hope the whole thing goes from strength to strength. I've really enjoyed researching and working on my show it but I'm going to give it a few month's rest while my day job gets a bit mad for festival season. I'm planning to return to it in July - maybe with an entirely new concept.

Gib Cassidy

* I'm Gib Cassidy - originally from Wexford, but living in Dublin 6 for many years.

* During The Elastic Witch Show I play a fairly broad range of stuff - I guess the show is primarily known for 80s post-punk, minimal synth, coldwave and all the stuff that those genres have influenced.

* DRR is a vital, much needed and true underground/DIY radio station. I never listen to commercial radio but I listen to loads of other shows on DDR.

* I think all cities benefit from having a DIY radio station. You'll find great local radio stations in cities all over Europe - why not Dublin? There's quite a considerable community vibe, pretty solid political element and above all though, is the music! So much great stuff that would never be played on commercial, playlisted radio.

* I'm going to keep plugging along every second Monday afternoon.. I'd eventually like to get more guests in,  I've had a few already and it's always been good fun. My 75-year-old Mum even texted me one time to say she was listening in and enjoying the show down in Wexford. I was playing fairly banging techno at the time!

Cathy Flynn

* I’m Cathy Flynn from Swords, Co Dublin, now living in Phibsborough,.

* My show is ‘Getting Away With It’, is every second Saturday 3-4pm. I play Indie/Alternative, post-punk, 80s and 90s one-hit wonders, Manchester bands, acid house, psych, synth...(whatever I want). My show has been described as "great music to clean to house to".

* DDR is a great example of collective organising, and is a real alternative voice in Dublin's music scene and media landscape - there is so many different kinds of music and shows and people. The sheer amount of variety in DDR is what is best about it to me. On a personal level, I am delighted to finally have an opportunity to be involved in running a radio station.

* I hope DDR continues to grow and be interesting. I also hope we get to throw more parties & host some gigs. I also hope to support other organisations & movements like we did with Strike 4 Repeal with our 24 Hours of Women's Voice's  day. Personally, I would like to start djing parties/nightclubs, which I haven't done since a brief dalliance back in the day. I would also like to produce some documentary shows.

Brian Mc Namara

* I’m Brian McNamara-  originally from Glasnevin, Dublin but moved to Galway when I was around five years old, returning to the bright lights of the big shmoke at the tender age of eighteen.

* I usually DJ under the name 'Breen' and my show on DDR is called 'Beneath The Bricks w/Breen'

*My show usually has a bit of everything from ambient, jazz, soul, afrobeat, highlife to some more heavier bits but in general I use the radio show to play stuff I don't really get a chance to play in da cloob.

* My favourite thing about DDR is that it's grown into a platform and a space for all different types of people to hang out, exchange music, give advice, discuss ideas and all that. There are people from different music scenes all hanging out together now which is great. It's also been nice to see people get gigs off the back of starting a show and seeing people with DDR beside their names on the gig posters. Without sounding like a massive dickhead, it does have that community/family feel, at least for me it does anyway.

* Hopefully DDR is providing something different to Dublin in terms of giving a platform to people, music, cultures etc. that otherwise wouldn't have had a platform to showcase their talents. I think (hope) we are contributing to the scene we have going here and if not we're trying our best anyway. We also throw the odd party so I think that counts for something.

* I'd like to see the station continue to grow the way it has been for the last eight months and increase the diversity of shows on offer. We are trying to increase our listenership, the broadcasting quality and the equipment we have but these things take time and money. Hopefully, we can convince more people we are doing something worthwhile. Most importantly I'd like the station to continue delivering consistent quality radio to all the listeners. In terms of my show, I just want to keep sharing all the great music I find. Simple as that.

You too can be part of Dublin Digital Radio’s community. Listen live, listen back on their website or do contribute to their Patreon which helps cover basic costs. Every cent will help sustain and support this much needed Dublin station.

This article originally appeared on thelocals.ie

Pics by Killian Broderick & Greg Purcell


New Jackson’s City

 

David Kitt has always immersed himself in all genres of music, which can be heard on releases under his own name. But following 'The Nightsaver' in 2009, Kitt realised he had to alter his artistic outputs. He found that merging all his musical influences into one channel was creatively exhausting so he sidestepped to a new project he would call New Jackson. This new avenue allowed Kitt to focus his love for electronic music on New Jackson, while his singer-songwriter work remained under his David Kitt flag. Ironically, by separating the two, he created unity - and has never been busier, with this year seeing the release of ‘Yous’ under David Kitt and 'From Night To Night’ his debut New Jackson LP.

From the cosmic chaos of Found The One, the subtle smash from Blaze All Day, the intriguing and enchanting Of A Thousand Leaves and the comforting rhythms of the title track, he doesn't just channel this creativity, he completely owns it.

Key to creating the New Jackson sound was the purchase of an SP 1200 sampler. Kitt explains "It's a sound I've tried to get close to for almost half my life now and the only way to really nail it was to get the machine itself. It's featured on so many of my favourite records by the likes of Premier, RZA, MF Doom, Daft Punk, Moodyman and Theo Parrish”

I sat down with Kitt to talk creativity, staying focused and what Dublin means to him ahead of his album launch in Dublin on the May Bank Holiday Weekend.

On the New Jackson sound

It’s been a gradual movement since day one, my first release was an instrumental, primarily electronic release and that is nearly 20 years ago, so it’s always been there. If you listen to The Nightsaver, it’s fairly obvious the signpost leading to this album. There are one or two songs in particular that could almost be on the New Jackson album, and there are a couple of songs on New Jackson that could be on The Nightsaver.

Why he’s most creative at night time

I’m just a bit of a vampire - a vocational insomniac. I remember Leonard Cohen saying something like not wanting the day to do down in debt, where you reach that point where you still haven't got anything from the day and refuse to be beaten.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYiz0NieKFY

Overcoming creative blocks and staying motivated

I find that exercise helps you with procrastination, that you run it out of you, you get through the noise. When you come back you have dealt with some of the stuff, rather than having 4 hours of sitting looking at something. It’s a balance.

Even younger people asking me ‘do you have any advice’, it’s just about showing up really. I put in 50-60 hours a week to music most weeks, and that’s really all it is - just showing up. 

His creative process

It’s both structured and playful, there is a thing that Seamus Heaney said about writing poems, that you write your way into something, and then you write your way out of it. And I always find that the more you get on the way in, the better - the easier your job is. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to where I will get as much as possible on the way in, because the way in is the initial rush, excitement, the creativity of the eureka moment - when you can kinda see it, but then, actually finishing it...if you don’t get enough on the way in finishing it can be very difficult because it’s not as fun, playful or exciting..and it can take months to finish.

Discovering new sounds and influences

Right now is as good a time for new and old music as I have ever known. They are just reissuing all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff from the past. Undiscovered stuff, and all manner of amazing stuff that maybe wouldn't have found an audience in its time. With that you have a lot of really exciting new music, like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, that really blew me away. Having All City as a record shop is a good one for going in, they know your taste and they can recommend stuff. Do I dig in shops or online? It’s a bit of both. I have a couple of sites and blogs that I go to regularly, but you can’t beat going into a record shop, it’s still the best way.

On his studio

It’s a combination of new and old - it’s mainly hardware like old drum machines and samplers, and then some newer modular bits, bits of electron stuff and a lot of old synths and some more modern digital stuff. It’s a hybrid of new and old really and I’m trying to bring some newer sequencing approaches to older equipment, and ultimately trying to make as much of it bespoke and have as much of your personality in it as possible.

On Dublin Bay being the backdrop to his studio

I remember when I was 16 or 17 being in Sandymount and thinking “one day”. My parents were always slagging me saying “you haven't made a penny but you yet have managed to live in Sandymount”. It was a really, really magical time. Just felt so lucky to be staring at the sea and across Dublin Bay. I think ultimately, everything about the house, my housemates were big music fans, there were records everywhere, you would be working on a track and you would come down and someone would be playing a jazz record that was in the same key and you would think I’ve to sample that. You would be straight back up, and there was this amazing library of music and a constant flow of interesting people coming through the house. And then the view itself, I had a listen back to some of the David Kitt stuff that I did when I was there, songy stuff and you can really hear it lyrically.

What Dublin means to him

With the city, it’s a love/hate thing - it’s where you are from and as soon as you are away from it even for more than a month you miss it so bad. Sometimes when you are here it can be too small, and you can’t get away from yourself or your history or your ghosts on every second corner, but I think the overriding feeling is one of massive love. It’s an amazing place, and you appreciate it more as you get older.

When he finally got that SP 1200 sampler

It was a very big moment, I borrowed one ...I’ve always heard it on records and thought “oh my god how do you get that sound” and tried to get it with sample banks that you buy for Ableton or different filters and plugins and stuff like that. It was an aesthetic that really influenced my work but I never quite nailed it because I didn't have the actual machine itself. I borrowed one from Paudi Ahern, just to make sure because I wasn't going to buy one because they are quite expensive, I wasn't going to buy it just on spec. And literally the first day it did exactly what I hoped it would do. I use it every day and it just brings me great joy.

On his other influences for ‘From Night to Night’

It’s a long journey, it goes back all the way to being an 18-year-old going to see Billy Scurry in the Temple of Sound...It’s not like it’s a retro record or anything, it’s a fresh take on some stuff that’s been with me a long time.

Why 'From Night To Night' was chosen and the title track

It just summed up the album as a whole. It came right in the middle of making the record, it was after my first time playing in Panorama Bar and there were a lot of friends over for it and my girlfriend and stuff, and it was just one of those magical weekends that kinda sticks out.

I suppose there are certain things with New Jackson that I already feel like I’ve kinda ticked a few boxes, that I wasn't expecting to ever tick. I’m playing there for the third time in a few weeks, and there is a part of me that wonders how long I can sustain the nocturnal approach, and so and also I kinda was very aware that this is going to be my last time living in a house with a bunch of music freaks. I thought it was a good title - from the night shift to the night people, to my fellow vampires and to the night itself.

The album's artwork

I bought that picture from an exhibition of Rich Gilligan’s about 8/9 years ago, it’s a polaroid actually of his wife's parents house in West Kerry. I was struggling a bit with the artwork and I was just sitting at home one day and I just thought that’s it..that’s the cover. And Donal Thornton did this thing with the design that really lifts it as well. It’s a lovely collaboration between everyone. Rich has just done a video for Anya's Piano, and he’s someone that I’ve been working with for a long time, he did the cover of The Nightsaver too. I’m just really happy for it to be him. It’s one of those things that wasn’t that difficult in the end.

 

On approaching All City Records

I’d been trying to get Olan (All City label boss) to release something of mine for a while, so I was like “ok I really have to make my case" and I think Olan really thought I was giving him stuff in a really willy-nilly way - him and maybe 8 other labels, and seeing what stuck. But it was actually genuinely head and shoulders above any other labels that I wanted to work with and a lot of that is just instinct really. So when you actually start working with someone that's when you see what it’s all about and it’s been a very fruitful relationship.

It’s actually the first time I think in my whole time working within the music business where I have been more or less left to my own devices and completely trusted as an artist. And there is a level of respect between both people that makes things simple and fruitful; and we actually got quite a few releases planned for David Kitt stuff, New Jackson stuff and another new project that I’m working on. The Lock In is me and Tim Wheeler from Ash and an old friend of mine Conor Creaney, it’s a lot of synths kinda stuff that we did about 3 or 4 years ago that I’ve been sitting on that I just sent to Olan, he really loved it we are going to be releasing some of it on All City Records soon.

Thanks to Sarah Doyle for the fantastic images

Find out more about New Jackson on Facebook and support them on Bandcamp here. 

This article originally appeared on www.thelocals.ie