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. 

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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.


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 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

Pics by Killian Broderick & Greg Purcell

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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.

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. 

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Dublin Ghost Signs

We all know every city has a heartbeat, but have you ever heard your city speak?


Ghost Signs are old building signage – subtle, silent souvenirs and glimpses into a city’s past. They represent changing times, trends and trading patterns.

They are the little clues to how the city and its people evolved, reminding us that we are one part of a long story.

Dublin Ghost Signs is dedicated to ‘capturing Dublin’s history through its old and fading signs’, recording signs that are often replaced, covered over or forgotten. I met up with founder Emma Clarke to find out more.


When I moved to Dublin (I’m from Cork originally) I used to be on just to get information on things. One of the threads on the Dublin City forum was Ghost Signs from Dublin and I started following that and spotting them as I was wandering around the city.

I started taking photographs of them and soon started to realise that they would disappear. There was one, in particular, that was up by Portobello College at the Georgian Restaurant so I took a photo of that one day and about a week later it was covered in hoarding.

That was when I started thinking that there was more to this.

I would find information about the signs that I was taking photographs of in bits and pieces, here and there, so I thought it would be great to bring that info and my photos together in one place.

As the site grew I realised I was documenting way more signs than I had time to fully research so the site has become more of a catalogue now, recording these signs for posterity, with basic information, location and that sort of thing, sometimes linking out to other sites.

At the same time as I was working on Dublin Ghost Signs, Antonia Harte was working on her book. We met at the launch and I was really happy to see her book out because she has done amazing research into about 50 signs around the city, with a lot of nice anecdotes and photographs as well. That’s a great resource to have.

When researching, I do an initial Google search. Often nothing comes up so then I check the street directories, I check the National Library in Trinity Library, I look at Antonia’s book, and in the Thoms Street Directory.

Dublin Ghost Signs really took off on Instagram. It’s a great way to raise awareness and it’s where I get most of my traffic from. It’s taken on a bit of a life of its own with people posting their own shots under the tag #dublinghostsigns. I think I’ve only put up around 700 images but there are over 1500 on that hashtag which is great. People come on and say ‘I never noticed them before’ or ‘now I can’t stop seeing them!’, which is great to hear

The wisdom of the crowd online is really useful too. I have had a few times where I’ve taken a picture of a sign in bad condition, have been unable to make it out, have posted it on Twitter and in 2 minutes someone has deciphered it!

Loads of people have also shared their memories of the signs with me in the comments sections. I think this is really important, to record this kind of social history, the sort that doesn’t get typically recorded in the history books.

Some of my favourite signs are the hand-painted ones. On Parnell Street, above the Post Office, there is The Well Known Boot and Shoe Retailer. I haven’t been able to find out any information about that but it’s one of my favourites because when you walk down the steep hill on North Great Georges Street it’s there in front of you in full view.

I understand the need to modernise but conserving these signs is an issue. There is some effort on the part of DCC and developers to conserve old buildings and ghost signs but I do think they could do more. Bewleys on Westmoreland Street is an interesting example of this – it’s now a Starbucks but they were ordered to keep the old mosaics and sign.  It’s great that they can both keep the building in use commercially but also retain the links to the past.

McBirneys (now Supervalu on Aston Quay) and the old Switchers signs on Brown Thomas are further good examples of protecting the building’s history and hopefully Clery’s on O’Connell Street – one of Dublin’s longest established family businesses, an iconic building, on a street which has so much history yet has seen so much decline and bad decision making – will receive the same special treatment in its upcoming redevelopment.

Emma’s Favourite Signs

Alex’s, George’s Street Upper & Stoneview Place, Dún Laoghaire

Alex’s was a once the “24 hour magazine king” of Dún Laoghaire. Now, pretty much all that remains of Alex is two ghost signs hand-painted on the side of the building.

Apollo House, Tara Street/Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2

I’ve always been intrigued by the Greek-style lettering of the much-hated Apollo House. Of course, Apollo House will now go down in history following the Home Sweet Home movement’s takeover of the building.

The Barley Mow, Francis Street & Mark’s Alley West, Dublin 8

The Barley Mow is a derelict pub which street artist, Fink uses as his canvas. Every time I walk past there is a different artwork adorning what would otherwise be a pretty sad building.

Beggs, Railway Road, Dalkey

I love the detail which you see in some of the doorway mosaics around Dublin such as this one in Dalkey.

J.O’G, Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2

This beautifully detailed mosaic entrance was uncovered during a refurbishment on Mount Street last year.

The Central Dairy, Stephen Street Upper, Dublin 2

This city centre shopfront regularly changes colour and purpose. One thing that always remains the same, however, is the old sign.

Williams & Woods Ltd., Loftus Lane / King’s Inn Street, Dublin 1

This fantastic corner sign is for Dublin’s old sweet factory, now home to The Chocolate Factory creative community.

The Irish Firm, Capel Street, Dublin 7

By day, you’d barely notice this sign above a sex shop on Capel Street. However, by night your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the neon ROCK shining above The Irish Firm ghost sign.

Kennan & Sons Ltd. Fishamble Street, Dublin 8

The Kennan & Sons ironworks was established on Fishamble Street in 1934. If you keep your eyes peeled as you stroll around Dublin, you’ll see their nameplate on gates and railings.

Ghost Sign, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2

I get very excited when ghost signs reveal themselves. I always hope that they can be somehow integrated into the refurbishment.

Ghost Sign, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2

Another part of the ghost sign uncovered at Lincoln Place in 2016 – the Irish Industries Association

Weaver’s Square, Dublin 8

Peeping out from under the render of a house on Weaver’s Square is the P l of an old advertisement.

City Saw Mills, Thomas Street, Dublin 8

The City Saw Mills (Kelly’s Timber) arch was originally built in 1881 and was a restoration project undertaken by Chadwick’s Builders Providers and supported by Dublin City Council’s Shopfront Improvement Scheme for the Liberties and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme. It would be great to see more initiatives like this one!

St. Patrick’s Female National School, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7

I lived close to Smithfield Square for about five years and spent plenty of time in the area, but only noticed this sign after I’d moved away and happened to be there one summer’s evening!

J. Tallon, Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

I love this old shopfront and faded ghost sign in Fairview.

The Moy, Dorset Street Upper, Dublin 1

This is one of my all-time favourite old and forgotten signs in Dublin. I’ll be genuinely upset if it disappears. I love everything about it – the lettering, the colours, the broken light. I wonder what it’s like behind the shutters….

Thomas Keogh Family Grocer. Tea, Wine & Spirit Merchant, Leonard’s Corner, Dublin 8

Following Thomas Keogh’s death in 1912, he was remembered in the Freeman’s Journal as “a man of keen judgment, successful in business, and at all times prepared to give assistance and advice to those engaged in the [licensed] trade”.

W. & R. Jacob & Co. Limited, Bishop Street, Dublin 2

The lettering of the old Jacobs Biscuit Factory sign was repainted last year and it has given it a new lease of life.

McBirney & Co. Ltd., Aston Quay, Dublin 2

A few months ago, I noticed that the I in this doorway had come away and a few cigarette butts had made their way into the space. I was happy to see recently that it had been restored to its former glory.

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Word Up Collective

Changing times bring creativity and collaboration for this new Dublin collective.


Ireland is in a constant flux of transition, and cultural shifts bring endless inspiration. When societies mold, mesh and change, it allows an explosion of coalitions, collaborations, and creativity. As new scenes and influences blend into society, they impact musical journeys.

Meet Word Up Collective – a new platform to promote the urban music scene in Ireland and to change how musicians interact, promote, develop and push themselves onto the Irish and international music scene. They take inspiration from overseas collectives and groups, fellow artists, as well as from immigrant influences on Irish music and society.

With a rock-solid roster of artists, led by music industry heavyweights Phil & Annette Udell, it’s clear that Word Up Collective is something uniquely special.

Describing themselves as “a Dublin-based collective of like-minded souls working in hip-hop, spoken word, R&B, rap, pop and related genres” – they believe no man is a musical island. Word Up Collective are heavily influenced by each other – it’s a symbiotic up-down relationship. There are endless opportunities to learn, collaborate or jump on stage with each other (as can happen at their monumental Bello Bar gigs). What makes Word Up Collective a sustainable success is the marrying of the creative and business elements within the music industry. There are lessons here for the Irish music scene – not just the urban music genre.

Find out more about Word Up Collective on their website or Facebook

Pictures by Dave Sexton from one of Word Up Collective’s regular showcases in Bello Bar

Phil & Annette Udell, Founders of Word Up Collective.

What was the lightbulb moment for an urban music collective?

AU: We wanted to promote that whole scene because we knew it was coming up through the ranks. We knew that the likes of Hare Squead and Rusangano Family existed – there was all these talented acts out there that needed help or nurturing or just a hand in getting a gig.  This is a new strain of urban music coming through and rather than the stereotypical gangster rap we have a new kind of Christian rap and Christian hip-hop coming through. All the lyrics are deeply seeded in gospel and it’s really interesting lyrically as well as live –  it’s an incredible experience. In the future hopefully, there will be a lot more of it and will be incorporated into the mainstream and not as sectioned off here as it is at the moment.

PU: There has always been that inner-city Dublin scene, what you have now is second generation of artists who have African parents. It’s inspired by where I came from in England, or grime in East London – where there is a tradition of making music within communities. I think the future of it will start to develop its own sound – you get things that work through. You have Katie Laffan working with Damola or Tebi Rex – they will all add their own twist to it.

What’s in it for the artists to come on board with the collective?

AU: It’s a collective that it’s not just the musicians or us – there are also songwriters, poets, spoken word, videographers – so it does have that sense of collective. It does offer them the opportunity to work with other people and learn from other people within the collective.

PU: We work on the media side as well – we send stuff out to radio and we do management for a couple of the artists. It’s not just a case that guys knew each other but no one has really worked together. You have a gig like tonight where people will jump on stage with each other – and that’s where it starts to get really interesting.

What has the reaction from the industry been like – highs, and lows?

AU: I don’t think there have been many lows to be honest, it’s accelerated and gotten better and better – we have had a lot of interest not only from Ireland but from abroad. We have never applied for funding as yet, purely on the basis we wanted to make sure that it actually did work. We don’t need it as such now, but when we go on to develop our record label…to get some money to record – that’s what I would look for funding for.

PU: Aoife Woodlock from Other Voices was at the very first show has been incredibly supportive, and she booked Dyramid to play on the spot. We have put tracks out to radio – the Aik J single did really well. Every song that they put out we help them, were not a label we are not going to put it out for them – but once they do it we are going to give them a nudge in the right direction. Lows? Some people don’t get it and there are a few rivalries – but we are all working the same end really. The Bello gigs have been getting better and better, and we have been doing Electric Picnic and Cork Jazz Festival too. It’s turning it into a business now for everyone that’s the next thing, all musicians are struggling to earn a living, so we want to try and find a way to make one.

What’s the biggest challenge for artists in the music scene in Ireland?

AU: I think getting heard outside the Irish music industry because it’s too small. We looked at other hip hop collectives, the likes of Doomtree in Minneapolis, and the underground hip hop scene in Germany and Paris which are huge. We try and make contacts there and actually swap over and exchange music and ideas, it’s the same ethos of the collective but take it outside Ireland and make sure it gets heard in other places.

PU: How to earn money from it –  earning money from music shouldn’t be a dirty word. We are putting Katie Laffan’s single out – will the public buy it or will they stream it on someone’s website? We have to try and find a way of turning that into something else and that’s the next step.  I think everyone in the industry is just trying to figure that out.

What advice would you give to someone who sees a gap in the market and wants to establish something?

AU: You have to be passionate, it’s not instant returns or rewards, this has been very fast to take off but you have to work very hard to push it. Social media does mean the world – one thing we did realise was that two older people managing a collective aren’t going to have the same voice as a lot of the artists in the collective. That too is where the collective works –  because they are the ones that can help us. Be very vigilant of everything that’s going on around you. Even from a management perspective be aware of your limitations – get everyone working to their strengths if you want to start something make sure you have the right people doing the right jobs and try and promote yourself in the best way you can.

What’s your vision for the next 5 years?

AU: Ideally to have our own stage at a few festivals, create more of a media and social media presence, whether that’s a Facebook live channel or YouTube channel and from that grow into a natural record label, as a platform to put out music.

PU: We would like to be the start of something and that in five years time there are people who go “I was there and that night in the Bello Bar” or “that night at EP”. When you look back and think it all kinda kicked of and became something –  because this is really important.


I moved here when I was 13 from Nigeria. I was listening to a lot of African and Nigerian music back in the day, and had a lot of huge Jamaican reggae and dancehall influence. I remember listening to artists like Majek Fashek, Daddy Showkey and stuff like that.

I used to write stories at first when I was like 8 or 9 years old. I was in boarding school in Nigeria for 3 years, when I turned 13 I came to Ireland. I seen some people doing music, rapping in Ireland, a lot of people from African descent doing the whole rap thing –  I always wanted to get involved. To be honest with you it was more like peer pressure – not peer pressure in a bad way, it was just a thing that everyone was trying this.

I have a strong hip hop background  –  I have bring that Jamaican flavour every now and then in my music. I do a lot of speed rap, quick flows and that kind of thing.

The first challenge was looking for a place to record, that’s what drove me into producing because I was not able to afford a professional studio. I just put some money together and bought my own equipment and set up my own studio from there. Other challenges were trying to connect with industry people and also building a fanbase.

Really believe in what you are doing – don’t derail from ideas you have or from the dream you have, but also be very analytical about what you are doing. I think it’s about finding that balance between being confident and believing in yourself, but also being very critical of what you do and always trying to improve as well. I think it’s quite difficult to actually find that balance, coz a lot of the time you can become too confident and you don’t want to listen to advice that can actually help you,  or being too critical and don’t believe in yourself.

Katie Laffan

I started playing the drums when I was 12 – weird drums like bossanovas and latins and stuff like that, that’s where I get the funky styles from. I found GarageBand on my Dad’s computer and I got obsessed with it. I then moved on to Logic Pro, and went to college since just to study music.

I started playing live about 3 years ago, and I got a band last year. Playing live solo was a bit boring, I wasn’t even enjoying it so I got the band, it’s gotten more gigs with the band so it’s obviously a bit better than what I was doing before.

When I was younger I was on the cover of Hot Press with this competition (The Big Break), yet I didn’t really know how to get gigs – it wasn’t in any book…that was a big obstacle to me. How do you get gigs?…what do you do when you record a song – who do you send it to?  – that’s only something we have learned in the past year.

I played a State Faces gig for Phil, he told me to send him my EP.  He just told me all about the collective and what they were doing and I just thought it was a brilliant idea. They are a booking agent in some ways, they help out with getting gigs, their advice is really important because they tell you when something is shit and they are honest about it.

(Portrait of Katie Laffan by Ruth Medjber)

Matt O’ Baoill from Tebi Rex

I remember getting a phone call from Phil one night in my room and being really excited.

He was putting together this hip hop collective and we were mad to get involved. We thought it was a good idea, the idea of a label and a collective.

We are really heavy on identity – myself and Max are crazy different.  I’m an Irish language enthusiast, involved in student politics, he’s a writer, debater, and a massive wordsmith. Even our look is different – I’m a pasty white ginger dude and he’s this black minority. We have this juxtaposition in our group where you wouldn’t expect me to do heavy rap, yet you wouldn’t expect him to do an indie vibe either. Identity is really an essential part of what Tebi Rex is.

Word Up Collective is a sense of community, it’s a sense of sharing an interest with people that are just as enthusiastic and as passionate as you are and you can see it. Everyone is so different and everyone gives something different to the collective, and then everyone uses it as a different outlet. They have pushed us along massively-  they give us the freedom to do whatever we want and supported it even if the idea is stupid or not.

Find out more about Word Up Collective on their website or Facebook

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