Tag Archives: ireland

PHEVER: TV-Radio – Glen Brady and Rhea Boyden talk to DJ Dean Sherry

24 Nov

Below is the soundcloud clip of me on PHEVER:TV-Radio last weekend with DJ Dean Sherry and Glen Brady aka DJ Wool. We were discussing the interview that Dean conducted with Glen last year which I transcribed, edited and published on my blog accompanying a colourful gallery of some well known Dublin DJs. This on air discussion took place right before Glen played a fantastic live set on Dean’s weekly PHUNK’DUP Radio show which airs Saturdays from 4 to 6pm on 91.6FM in Dublin or global via PHEVER.ie livestream. As always, I had a lovely time at the studio. It’s such a pleasure to be part of a friendly, inspiring, and creative radio collective.

Listen to phever_GlenBrady-RheaBoyden_Nov2017 by PHEVER IE #np on #SoundCloud

Photo by DJ Pablo C

Interview: PHEVER: TV-Radio’s DJ Dean Sherry speaks to Glen Brady aka DJ Wool

17 Nov

 

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Glen Brady

Transcribed, edited and with an introduction by Rhea H. Boyden

A little over a year ago I tuned into Dean Sherry’s weekly PHUNK’DUP radio show to listen to his interview with Glen Brady who is an Irish music producer, audio engineer and DJ. I was fascinated by the interview especially because Glen had lived in all the same places I had lived, namely Dublin, Berlin, Philadelphia and Northern California. After listening to the interview I  began reading more about the history of hip hop and break beat which I knew little about before. Dean’s interview was in depth and fascinating and included this incredible mix which was played after the interview to  promote Glen’s album ‘A Life in Breaks’ which was released shortly after this interview aired. Glen has had an impressive and successful musical career to date, living all over the world. He recently moved back to Ireland with his family after touring Europe as support for The Cranberries Acoustic tour in 2017 as part of D.A.R.K. He is now developing an act from Co. Wexford called ‘Blackwater Hardware’ with a release about to drop on Trax Couture.

A couple months ago I sat down and listened to the interview again and painstakingly transcribed and edited it in an attempt to turn it into a readable piece of journalism and add a colourful photo gallery to it. Below is the result. I had the great pleasure of being introduced to Glen right after I had spent the entire weekend working on the transcription.

This Saturday November 18th I will be joining Glen Brady and Dean Sherry in PHEVER: TV-Radio studios to hear Glen perform a new live set on air. He will also be DJing with Arveene in Izakaya in Dublin on December 10th.

Dean Sherry:  Today we have a very special edition of PHUNK’DUP Radio featuring an interview with Mr. Glen Brady, aka DJ Wool, who is one of Ireland’s finest expats now residing in sunny California. He has been based all over the world, including Berlin. He is one of the true originals to break away from the norm and do really well and is a true success story. His latest album is titled  ‘A Life in Breaks.’

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DS: Glen, welcome. We have been talking about this for a long time and finally I get you on a call, with an 8 hour time difference. You are in California and I am in Atlantic windswept Ireland.

GB: Where are you in Ireland, Dean? Dublin?

DS: I am. I am in North Dublin, the good side, ya know?

GB: Excellent. I am from Dublin too. I spent a good bit of my childhood in Castleknock and then in Ballsbridge so back and forth you know.

DS: Very good, you are circling good areas there. It is a pleasure to have you on air, I haven’t seen you in years, I think the last time I saw you might have been the Pod, and that was a long time ago. We both Djd there but never together but I have been aware of you for years and I am sure vice versa, so thanks so much for joining me today. We are going to talk about your origins, how you got started as a DJ and as a music producer. What was going on for you in the 80s and 90s Glen, what were you listening to, what were you doing and how did you fall into music?

GB: Well, like most DJs, music was a big part of my life long before I started DJing. It was what got me up in the morning and what got me through the day, you know? I think my first big musical moments were when I was about 12 or 13 like most people. I was in boarding school in Ireland and my parents were away in America a lot at the time. I had dark teenage years.

DS: Years of rebellion?

GB: I wouldn’t even say rebellion, I was just a dark teenager. I wasn’t a happy kid. I was away from my folks, so music really saved my life, and in fact, continues to up to today. When I was 12 and 13 I was really into The Smiths and The Cure. Talking Heads were one of my first big loves when I was very young and I was very influenced by the older kids at school. I was really into skateboarding at the time and that exposed me to a lot of what we would have called alternative music in the 80s and 90s. That is where I was exposed to The The, Bauhaus, The Wedding Present and a lot of Irish spin offs from all that, smaller bands who were playing around Ireland. That was kind of my start.

DS: And did hip hop not grab you around the same time?

GB: I think hip hop grabbed me before that.

DS: Grandmaster Flash and all that.

GB: I was in the States til I was about 10 years old, I spent a year or two in Ireland when I was about 5 and 6 in County Meath but my old man worked on the pub scene in New York, so I was going back and forth til I was about 10 and my father was a big GAA player in the States so we spent our Sundays in Gaelic Park in the Bronx. Anyone who knows Gaelic Park knows that the Subway circles the entire park about 50 feet in the air, so my first exposure was simply that those trains were all covered in graffiti. That area of the Bronx where my father lived and worked was just totally hip hop territory. I didn’t even know what it was and then we moved back to Ireland and I got into the music we discussed, indie and so on in my early teens and then I rediscovered hip hop later when I was about 15 or 16 with Public Enemy.

DS: Of course.

GB: And to this day, how they made their beats and how that was done is a very big influence on me and the music I make.

DS: And so would that have been a turning point for you? Obviously, you were listening to the alternative rock music of the late 80s. I would have been into slightly different music at the time such as Depeche Mode and more into the electronic darkness, you know?

GB: They were definitely part of it. But I see the industrial crossover there. Nine Inch Nails were around a little later. The older I get the more I realise that a lot of this music seems alike. And as you know, a lot of that music that was industrial and dark and electronic melded with the indie stuff and gave us a lot of spin offs and crossover that then became the Manchester scene.

DS: Exactly, and all that came out of Joy Division as well, that kind of sound.

GB: And they were using beats and sampling techniques that I then heard in a lot of hip hop as it moved forward and then of course I was listening to the Happy Mondays and Primal Scream. Massive Attack’s first album was a huge game changer for me.

DS: Was there an album or a song that made you go ‘Wow! This is the direction I want to take musically?’ Or can it all be traced back to Public Enemy?

GB: Do you mean how I went from ‘I really like music’ to ‘Okay, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life?’

DS: Yes.

GB: I was doing some vocals in a hip hop band in Dublin. I wasn’t djing yet and somehow in that band I got given a drum machine – an Alesis HR 16 – and I didn’t realise that a lot of these drums were sampled at the time. I remember the three albums that influenced me the most at that point were The Beastie Boys- Check your Head, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Enter the Wu-Tang.

DS: Had you received any formal musical training yet?

GB: Nothing conventional at that stage, no. But I went home with that drum machine and I guess I was about 19 or so and I programmed every beat on all those records.

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DJ Wool aka Glen Brady working his electronic magic

DS: Excellent.

GB: It took me months

DS: And they weren’t the easiest thing to program because they didn’t have a step sequence and big buttons like an 808 or 909 would have.

GB: No, to save each track you had to send each one out to a cassette tape and record the digital noises, that we hear as white noise and then you would have to play that white noise back into the machine to hear your beat again and of course you would never get the same thing out of it twice.

DS: Yeah, wow.

GB: And so around that time I was having personal trouble and had finished school and hadn’t gotten into college to do what I wanted to do. I was depressed and sick of Dublin. I was about 19 and I had a friend living in Philadelphia so I just got on a plane with about 35 dollars in my pocket and went there. I had a return ticket but I didn’t know when I was coming back again. A friend of mine had tried to kill himself, we had all been through the whole rave scene so I just legged it really. And when I landed in Philly I had a girlfriend whose boyfriend or housemate – don’t remember their relationship – had moved out, and left about a thousand hip hop 12s.

DS: And you inherited them?

GB: Yeah, I inherited them for the 6 months. When I went to Philly I started working and I worked all day and mixed all night.

DS: And was there a set of decks there?

GB: Yes, there was. A set of decks, an old battle mixer and all the records were marked by hip hop styles.

DS: So that was almost an induction by fire, I guess.

GB: Yes, and plus I had a fairly extensive record collection myself. I mean, none of us had a lot of money back then let’s face it, but a couple of times a year I tried to get into Abbey Discs and buy the records that I really liked.

DS: So you were kind of late getting into DJing actually at age 19-20, right? Because you kind of have to teach yourself and that doesn’t happen overnight.

GB: No, it doesn’t and I had those 9 months in Philly, but leading up to that in my late teens I had spent a lot of time with a few people who are still in the music industry. You might know Leo Pearson (from Future Bones) out in Monkstown and there was another guy named Joe McHugh who played in Sides and a couple other guys. Those guys were doing hardcore breakbeat and they had become my mates and I was from another part of town so I would just head over and stay in their gaff for the weekend and they had decks and records they were going in and out of record shops in Temple Bar – you know that one that was under the arch?

DS: Yes, I remember the one under the arch.

GB: They had really great records in there. And anyway, these guys had introduced me to really fast breakbeat mixing in my teenage years so when I got started myself, no one had ever showed me, but I had sat there and watched my mates mix for 5 years so I had an idea what I was doing when I went into it, and as I said I had been in a band before, I had done vocals. I hadn’t been formally trained but I was musical I guess, and so when I came back to Dublin I joined a band and I got a set of decks when some of my friends emigrated and that year when I was 20 and 21 I just spent the whole year in my flat mixing. I started touching base with people like Johnny Moy and others I would later work with and so within a year I was mixing. I wasn’t battle mixing, but I was able to mix.

DS: And what was your style of music, was it just hip hop or turn tablism? What exactly were you doing?

GB: Well, the mix I have made for you for the show today really tries to represent what I was trying to do back then. It starts at 90 BPM and ends at about 160.

DS: Excellent.

GB: And the challenge for that type of mixing is not to sound like it is cacophony of nonsense.

DS: It’s a journey.

GB: Yes, it’s got a vibe, you can’t just drop crazy stuff here and there and clear dance floors. At that time big beat was happening in New York, the breakbeat thing was happening in Florida, the electro breaks thing was happening in Philly, big beat was in the U.K. and even in Berlin there was a deep break thing going on.

DS: Are we talking mid nineties?

GB: Yeah, around 94 – 95

DS: Yeah, because I would have been big into the progressive type scene back then. I remember the break scene emerging at that time with the likes of Hybrid and a few other big artists but there was a whole other level because I remember going to see you guys, you did a show in the old Academy, it was called the HQ I think. Some brilliant shows, crazy Thursday night hip hop, but it wasn’t just hip hop it was a mash up of beats.

GB: Yes, a year or two before that, probably around 94 Johnny Moy and I started a night in The Kitchen called Whatever.

DS: Yeah, tell me about the introduction there, how did you meet Johnny?

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Johnny Moy

GB: I met Johnny when I was about 17 when the raves started. I started going to Sides when I was about 15 or 16.

DS: As we all were.

GB: Being creative, I guess I just wasn’t drawn to the regular clubs, they were pick up joints and places to just get drunk. I used to love going to Sides because it was more open-minded, you could be gay, straight, black or white. I remember you telling me about your early days in Shaft (a gay club) I used to go to Minsky’s which became Shaft.

DS: Exactly, that was before Shaft.

GB: Minsky’s was a hard core gay club. Very heavy stuff for a straight kid who didn’t have a clue.

DS: Yes, I was about 19 when I got asked to play in the Shaft and I had heard about the club and I had to tell my dad I was Djing in a gay club and could he drop me into town and he looked at me and said: ‘That’s a gay club, you can’t be going in there.’ and I said to him, ‘No, no, it’s changed,’ and I had to justify it to him. I mean, I was innocent too, but not that innocent, but in hindsight I was completely oblivious as to what I was walking into, but it was great and it worked out brilliantly for me. I loved it.

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Dean Sherry in the Shaft nightclub DJ box – 1995

GB: Yeah and the thing about it was, I was thinking about it after we spoke the last time, some of my favourite tracks now, I was hearing in Shaft and Minsky’s. I remember hearing MC 900 ft. Jesus and who was the guy in the Dead Kennedys who used to play with Sinead O’Connor? Jello Biafra, right?  All those songs like ‘Grow More Pot’ people think, gay club, must be 24 hours progressive but that came later, all these places, Sides, Minsky’s, Sir Henry’s and so forth were very eclectic, in fact, and I was always influenced by that and it was definitely all on the more housy side, but one of the main reasons I wanted to DJ in Dublin is because I had reached a point where I really didn’t like house music because I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it. So around 1994 I thought, right, I am going to start a club where we do something a little different. It wasn’t out of offence to anybody, it was just time to move on.

DS: That is a very brave decision for any DJ to make because at the end of the day you’re standing alone, away from the norm and you have to admire it because it will either work or it will kill you.

GB: Jeez, well I am guilty of that my whole life. That’s all I ever did.

DS: Trial by fire, mate.

GB: I think it is more stupidity than anything else and I am still at it. I do so much production, I mean even yesterday I had someone throw a song at me that they wanted me to do something with and I just hated it and I said ‘Dude, sorry, it’s just not a good song,’ and the guy was totally pissed off at me for saying that despite that fact that it had gotten 2 billion soundcloud views or whatever. It just wasn’t good.

DS: You just can’t teach musical taste, I have the same thing; people send me music and if you don’t like it, you don’t like it, you have to be honest.

GB: It’s true, but anyway that was how I got known because I tried different things I guess.

DS: You did sound, different, I remember it well. I remember being in the Pod with Barry Dempsey and he said, ‘Wait til you hear Glen, you just never know what he is going to play.’ We were standing there in the Chocolate Bar listening to you and it was great: it was different, it was funky and it was exactly the opposite of what we were doing in the big room.

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The Pod nightclub which was in the old Harcourt Railway Station

GB: Yes, I remember chancing my arm one night in the Pod in 95-96 when Martin Thomas was doing Strictly Fish there and he really wanted to stand out from what was happening so he hired me to play the Pod and so I did my gig and played a lot of R&B and stuff I knew I could get away with because people were just used to house and that is what they came for and at the end I threw on a tune that was the first crossover jungle tune – it was Alex Reece and it was a sort of housy tune but it was about 150 bpm and I thought, this is the end of the set, I am just going to chance it and I remember Rory ‘Panty’ was in the box with me and he turned to me and said: ‘They are gonna fucking kill you.’ But then 2 minutes later the whole place erupted because they had never heard music like this and that song became an anthem and was a huge hit. I remember getting off the decks and going back stage that night and it was a big deal that I had played a jungle track.

DS: Well, it had probably never been done up there before. And did you get into that jungle scene or was that just something that you dabbled in?

GB: For me it is breakbeat, it is part of what I do. The mixtape (made for this show) starts at 90 BPM and ends at 160 BPM. It was that sort of mixing that you go in and you could start with hip hop and end with jungle. You build it up slowly over the night. A lot of that technique was borrowed from watching Liam Dollard and Billy Scurry and Johnny Moy play techno. They would start out with deep house and then build it up. Billy especially does tempo changes effortlessly.

DS: Billy is a master at that.

GB: Billy is a fucking brilliant DJ. You know, it’s funny because the mix I did for you is totally different from what I am doing now because I haven’t played like that in 15 years.

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Billy Scurry

DS: Yes, I remember speaking to you and telling you the concept of what I wanted to explore here on my Origins series and you had a smile on your face and told me you already had it done.

GB: Yes, I was trying to showcase in that mix what it was like to play in The Kitchen in the 90s.

DS: Was The Kitchen your first major club residency? Because I know you got into the Influx thing with Johnny too?

GB:  Yes, it was a Wednesday night in The Kitchen and Aoife Nic Canna gave me the gig.

DS: Yes, Aoife is amazing, She is an unsung hero in this country too.

GB: Yes, for me she is seminal in the whole scene. She is important to what happened with good music in Ireland and she has empowered a lot of people. Her brothers are also great hip hop DJs and great friends of mine. I know a lot of people in Limerick who I love; Aoife lived there and funnily enough I ended up working a lot the past two years with a singer from Limerick: Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries. I mixed her new album ‘Dark’ which will be released sometime in the next week or so. I have come full circle because that album was co-written by Andy Rourke from The Smiths and that is the first band I liked as I told you earlier.

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Aoife Nic Canna

DS: Excellent.

GB: I had him staying in a hotel near my gaff here in Northern California.

DS: I love stories like that. I met Morrissey in Lillie’s one night and I gave him Barry Dempsey’s mother’s address and he came back and knocked on the door and woke his mother up out of bed… ha ha.. so let’s get back to you… I think the Influx years were very formative and that is what put you on the map in Ireland and on a global scale, am I right?

GB: You know, I loved playing in Ireland and I was very appreciative of those years  but there was no internet back then and I always felt like there was a wall between me and the U.K., America and Europe. And I loved DJing but I was actually just using it as a way to spend 12 hours a day in my studio. I can’t even count how many hours I did in the studio in those 8 years between 1992 and 2000. I had a studio down in Sheriff Street at one point and it was dangerous to leave that place after 7 o’clock in the evening. No messing, (It was gang territory) and if you left the studio in the night hours you were dead, so I stayed all night and mixed and wouldn’t leave til 9 o’clock the next morning.

DS: Yes, so it was a lock in.

GB: Yup, seven nights a week for years.

DS: And did you have a discerning moment on the production level? What was the first thing you managed to get signed because I know from experience that it doesn’t happen overnight.

GB: No way, and I am at it 20 something years and it still ebbs and flows. There were a lot of moments at that time. At one time one of U2’s engineers phoned me up and had me come in and remix a Howie B song. I think it was for Sony at the time.

DS: Yes, I have that 12 inch somewhere.

GB: And my name didn’t get on the promo at first and then I get my own record on promo without my name so there was a lot of good stuff happening but a lot of disappointments too. I had a track at the time on a big compilation called Common Ground which was kind of post trip hop London thing and they started taking me over to places like Turnmills and I got to play there, so that was just the beginning and then I did the DMCs in 98 which kind of got me out a little bit and then I started to do a bit of programming for REM because they were coming to Ireland a bit and then I decided between 98 and 2000 that if I was going to progress I had to leave Ireland.

DS: And unfortunately that is the nature of being in Ireland, isn’t it? It is an island on its own and I think any artist who wants to make an impression gets to the U.K., Germany or the States. It doesn’t always work out but I know Irish artists in Berlin who are doing well over there.

GB: Yes, I spent some time in Berlin too. I was there from about 2008-2012.

DS: And do you think there are more opportunities to get yourself heard in Berlin?

GB: I have asked myself this my whole life. There is no reason why anyone should have to leave Ireland to make it in the music business these days, in theory, but there is just something to be said for being in a city like New York or Berlin and being out 5 nights a week, at the clubs where the record label people are. People are more likely to work with you if they have got drunk with you, and if they are on your text or your snapchat. People are simply more likely to collaborate once they know you better.

DS: And you are not just cold calling and sending out demos.

GB: Yeah, and you know I felt it a bit again- the same isolation that I had felt in Ireland-  the past 4 years because I took a break from the way I was running my career and I moved up here to Northern California. But it wasn’t as isolating as it would have been were I just starting out here because I am established. And also the way we see music after 5 or 10 years of following it in Ireland is skewed. Let’s take a genre, Dubstep, for example, and someone is from Dublin and they love Dubstep and they are into all the artists and then you form an idea of what Dubstep must be like in London or Berlin.

DS: It’s a different interpretation.

GB: Yes, and in a way, that is your strength but it does separate you from what is happening. I notice it too, as I get a bit older that record label owners are very specific about the sounds they want for their labels until they put a record out that sounds a little different and it blows up and all of a sudden they are all about that.

DS: It is fickle.

GB: Very fickle. For me it was challenging to get out of Ireland when I was making music there.

DS: Tell me about some of the other collaborations you got involved in, some of the things that worked and some things that didn’t work?

GB: Well, if we go chronologically, I did a bit with the DMCs in 98 in Ireland and a bit of touring around and then I put out a 12 inch with Johnny’s label Influx that got me out a bit. I also did a 12 inch with Plant Records in New York. It had been started by Marcus Lambkin who is now Shit Robot and Dominique Keegan who is a publisher for Kobolt. That was the first DJ Wool release. They started Plant Records which shared an office with the DFA crew (James Murphy) and they put out one of my records and so I exploited that. That was the beginning of the new school breaks scene, Adam Freeland was reviewing my stuff.

DS: Adam Freeland is a legend.

GB: I moved to a new era then. That is when I decided to move to the States and that is when the DFA thing was blowing up, there was a whole electro clash scene, it was a whole world. I needed a break from the break and hip hop and I needed a fresh scene. It was cool for me. I started that band the Glass with Dominique around 2002 and I toured that around Europe and America until I moved here to Northern California in 2012.

DS: And from viewing your career from afar it would appear that you have settled into a family oriented life where you are enjoying your music again, but it also seems that you are someone who could never say they have found their sound because you definitely are someone who will continue reinventing themselves.

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DJ Wool album launch – Brooklyn, New York

GB: I am definitely a lot more grounded than I was because I was djing 5 nights a week for 20 years. I was taking every gig, going everywhere, especially my last 4 years in Berlin from 2008-2012- there wasn’t a weekend where I wasn’t in some pub in the south of France, or in Switzerland or Trondheim in Norway. And it was in 2012, I had just gotten married and I played a gig in Malmo in Sweden, which is one of my favourite places to play, a place called Babylon there and I had been playing there for years. And you know what? The gig was just shite that night. I played a party that should have been my kind of party, a breakbeat, hip hop night and I got on the plane the next day and thought I am knocking this on the head for awhile. I don’t know why it happened because I always just wanted to DJ, but I needed to rediscover what I was doing.

DS: I think you come back from that better though.

GB: Absolutely, It’s really important to take a break or else you are just mind-boggled. And so I actually just disappeared from Djing altogether for 4 years. I have put out a lot of records in the past 4 years and I have done a lot of collaborations and mixes and I have a live show, until now actually. Now that I have the record company I am motivated to DJ again so I am just starting to book shows again, but I am only booking about 10 DJ shows a year.

DS: The right kind of show.

GB: Yes, and then probably an additional 10 live shows. So the first show I am doing when I come back to Ireland is at Minus in Cork.

DS: Right, you will be back on these shores on a fleeting visit soon and I am hoping to have you live to the studio but I know you are busy.

GB: Yes, I am coming over for Dolores O’Riordan’s new band’s tour of Europe so they have asked me to come over for a few shows and right now I am working at the university here in Sonoma. I am the technical supervisor for performing arts. There is a fairly big symphony hall here, in fact I had to move my computer out of my office because there were 20 ballet dancers in there looking for something.

DS: Excellent.

GB: So that is my life. I am there more or less full time. So, I just want to play the shows that I know will be good.

DS: So tell us about the shows, what is coming up and when?

GB: So I am arriving in Limerick on September 15th and I am going to see Dolores’s new band on the 16th then I am taking the tour bus with them down to Cork to see them play in Cork, then I am playing Minus in Cork on the 17th which is my first gig in 4 years really. And then on the Sunday night I am playing in Izakaya with Arveene. (Billy booked that gig) Then I am coming back here for a few weeks and then I go to New York and I am doing a full live show with the album.

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Arveene, MC Shamon Cassette and Glen Brady at Izakaya, Dublin

DS: Tell us about this album ‘A Life in Breaks’ and the concept behind it. Fill our listeners in on what to expect.

GB: So we have been talking a lot about my origins and the album I am putting out now is kind of a concept I have had in my head since the mid nineties.

DS: The title alone says ‘Here is a little statement of my life.’

GB: It is definitely a statement of the early part of my musical life. And so as I was describing my new mix, the album does that aswell, there is some hip hop stuff of the 90 BPM variety and then it works its way up and I believe there is even a jungle tune on there of about 160, so the concept behind the album was just to crystalise that sound from the 90s that I was into, except the main difference is, there are no samples on the album and so anything that would have been a sample, I recreated with analogue.

DS: Brilliant.

GB: So it has a lot of analogue synths, modular here, analogue effects, stuff like that.

DS: So you are turning into Vince Clarke slowly but surely.

GB: I wish. There is someone who worked for Depeche Mode for many years who influenced me very much in my time in Berlin with the whole synth thing and he introduced me to modular and brought me to the shops and what not so I have had a good influence from that scene. Basically, so that concept I had for the album in the mid nineties….

DS: When does the album hit the shelves?

GB: October 21st

DS: Because I am going to drop in and promo some of the new album after we play your mix.

GB: So the album ‘DJ Wool – A Life in Breaks – comes out on Dither Down Records and Tapes from New York on Oct. 21st. It’s vinyl and digital so it will be out on all the digital stores and the vinyl in specialist shops or ordered online.

DS: Perfect. And just before I let you go do you have any message to young DJs and producers in what you are trying to do with this album.

GB: Well, I can say that this mix is made all from vinyl and then I edited it digitally and so what I would advise is to not get too bogged down by one person saying you should use vinyl and the other guy saying you should use digital. Pick the tracks you like and learn how to mix them properly. It is always good to pay respect to the past, so don’t lose the ideas, the artistry and the artform and I think my mix is a good example of how I started which was all vinyl, having said that, it is pretty difficult to make a 90 minute mix with changing tempos. Keep an eye on the technical but don’t get lost in it because it will come if you keep practicing. Ultimately, the thing one needs to remember about music, whether you are a DJ or a violin player, is practice, practice, practice. If you really like something, do it a lot and have confidence in yourself. Yeah, I am a purist, I have a lot of analogue synths, but I also have controllers and a digital keyboard. I have everything and I use everything. I mean, personally I think analogue stuff sounds better, but having said that I have heard tracks and I didn’t know how they were made and they sounded great.

Live Rig for Phever show

Glen’s live rig for PHEVER: TV-Radio show

DS: Very true. I have one more question. Where does the name DJ Wool comeI have a big curly head, and I was putting out a record for Plant Music for Marcus and Dominique and they phoned me up and I was out in Leo Pearson’s house in Monkstown and I said ‘It is going to be called ‘Glen Brady… blah blah…’ and they said ‘Ah, come on, with the wooly head on you, can you not come up with something better and I replied: ‘Okay, call it DJ Wool.’

DS: And it stuck?  Do you still have the wooly head or do you have a nice tidy haircut now?

GB: It’s tidy at the moment but you never know.

DS: Thank you so much Glen Brady. Our listeners are going to love this mix.

GB: The last thing I want to say is that none of this would have been possible without having come from Dublin. You asked me how I got out of Dublin and became successful elsewhere. For me, Dublin nurtured me while I learnt how to do it, so I just want to give a shout out to Dublin and everyone there and thank you Dean.

DS: Nice one, mate. Talk to you soon, buddy.

 

Credits:

Cover photo of Glen Brady by Rainer Hosch

Photo of Glen in studio by Simon Sun

‘A Life in Breaks’ album cover graphic by Lindsey Brady

Other pics of Glen and his equipment courtesy of Glen Brady.

All other photos throughout this blog unless otherwise stated taken by Rhea Boyden

Photos of Johnny Moy, Billy Scurry and Dean Sherry courtesy of Dean Sherry at PHEVER: TV-Radio

A special thanks to Glen Brady and Dean Sherry for their time, expert feedback and for providing me with graphics and photos.

 

 

Preview: Solas Festival in Aid of Pieta House

3 Aug

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last week I was cycling over the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin city centre and I saw a huge yellow truck that had the following written on it in bold lettering: ‘The finish line of darkness into light is where the journey starts.’ It was advertising the very important work that is done by Pieta House in helping and counseling people who have been contemplating suicide or who have been directly affected by suicide in their circle of friends or families. I was not previously aware of the work they do, but yesterday as I was cycling home I saw a man crossing the street wearing a t-shirt the same shade of yellow as the truck that was also advertising the work of Pieta House. Now that I am aware of it I am reading and learning more about Pieta House, which only survives and continues to grow because of community support throughout Ireland. Between 85 and 90% of its income comes from fundraising efforts.

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I spoke with Pieta House Fundraising and events coordinator Brian McEvoy who said: ‘Our round-the-clock services are provided by fully accredited therapists. We work to bring people from a place where suicide and self harm seem like the only option to one of comfort and hope.’ Brian also told me that since 2006 over 30,000 people have availed of the services of Pieta House and that there are now 11 centres around Ireland which offer suicide intervention services and four centres offering bereavement services. Brian also said: ‘Our vision at Pieta House is to develop our services in response to the needs of our clients and to achieve our goal of a world without suicide.’

This ambitious goal is being aided by many wonderful groups and activists around Ireland and if you are a fan of the very spectactular range of electronic music that Ireland has to offer then you too can make a difference and help fund the work of Pieta House by attending Solas Electronic Music Festival which will be taking place on Saturday August 19th at a secret location outside Dublin. The event is being organised by PHEVER:TV-Radio and Mystik and will be a mini one-day festival showcasing some of Ireland’s top electronic music artists and acts with the popular Loco and Jam, who are Derry’s finest Techno export, headlining the festival. I spoke to some of the DJs and promoters who told me themselves that they are motivated to take part in such an important cause for charity because they too know the pain of having lost loved ones to suicide.

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The festival will run from 1pm to 11pm with special buses taking festival goers to and from the event from various locations around Dublin city. The tickets are very reasonably priced at 35 euros which also includes admission to an after party at 39/40 Aaron Quay.

The collectives that are coming together for this cause include Melodic, PHEVER, Bookclub, Vision Collector, Stereo, RAW, Culture Shock, Mystik and many more. There will be over 20 Irish acts including Full Funktion, Arte Artur, Moduse, Frankie Moorhouse, Dean Sherry and many more spread across two indoor areas and one outdoor stage showcasing the very best in house, disco, techno and dub step. The festival will also be the official launch of the Irish Electronic Music Awards 2017. This event is strictly over 18s and the full line up and more details can be found on both the Solas and PHEVER Facebook pages. Tickets can be purchased via eventbrite.ie

Solas site map by Frankie Moorhouse

Solas Festival graphics and flyers by Raymond O’Connor

Review: Debut Panel at Cuirt International Literature Festival, Galway

6 May

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last Thursday morning I took the train from Heuston Station, Dublin to Galway. As we rumbled across the flat midlands past yellow flowering gorse and dark peat bogs, I felt sorry for the many new-born lambs who must wonder, indeed, what they have been born into as they gaze at the towering grey clouds and bear the unseasonally cold weather. I was wearing my finest winter coat as I sat on the train. ‘It’s nearly the first day of May, do I really need to bring my winter coat on this trip?’ I asked myself as I packed. Yes, I do.

The cold weather did not dampen my mood, however, as I was very excited to be heading to the Cuirt International Literature Festival which is only one of many festivals Galway hosts. This beautiful town in the west of Ireland is truly a hub of arts and culture. Cuirt (which is the Irish word for Court) runs for a week every April and has been held every year since 1985. It was founded as a poetry festival but has since expanded to include events showcasing many forms of literature.

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Several months ago I was invited to moderate a Debut panel at the festival and I immediately said yes to such a wonderful opportunity even though I had never taken on such a job before. I love a new challenge, however, and so I threw myself wholeheartedly into preparing for it. The panel was to include four writers who have just published their first novels and one writer of short stories who has recently had her first collection published. I received all the books by post from the festival organisers and I read them all with great interest in the weeks leading up to the festival.

Roisin O’Donnell was one of these writers and she has recently published a powerful collection of short stories entitled ‘Wild Quiet’ which deals primarily with multiculturalism in modern Ireland. As I sat on the train heading towards Galway I thought of her story ‘How to Learn Irish in 17 Steps’ which deals hilariously and tragically with the difficulties encountered by a Brazilian primary school teacher living in Ireland as she attempts to learn Irish. The character in the story also takes the train from Dublin to Galway and to the Gaeltacht to learn Irish. Before taking this drastic measure, however, she has attempted to learn it at an Irish school in Dublin: Step four in her story commands: ‘Enrol in Irish for beginners at the Scoil Ghaeilge on Dame Street. Classes should begin on an October evening sweet with the fragrance of rotting leaves. Most of your classmates will be Irish retirees in search of a new hobby. If they gawk at you and ask you why the feck a Brazilian girl like you is learning Gaelic, explain that you are a primary teacher with a master’s in education from Sao Paulo University, you moved here to Ireland because you fell in love with an Irish man, and that you must learn Irish in order to teach at primary level. Notice your classmates eyes glazing over (at this point you should probably stop speaking). Learn your first phrase in Irish, and enjoy the Gaelic words undulating on your tongue. Ta tuirse orm: the tiredness is on me.’ It was this section from this story that Roisin chose to read during our panel discusssion and it was very fitting and well received.

Roisin

Roisin O’Donnell was born in Sheffield with family roots in Derry. Her stories have been anthologised in The Long Gaze Back, Young Irelanders and The Glass Shore. She has been shortlisted for several international prizes such as the Cuirt New Writers Prize, The Pushcart Prize, The Forward Prize and the Brighton Prize. ‘Wild Quiet’ has been shortlisted for the Katie O’Brien award and longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

Our panel discussion took place in the lovely Galway Town Hall Theatre at 3pm on Friday April 28th and after I had introduced Roisin and she had read I moved onto introducing the four lovely debut novelists on our panel. The first to read from her freshly published novel ‘Harvesting’ was Lisa Harding who has written a shocking but stunningly brilliant novel that was inspired by her involvement with a campaign against sex trafficking run by the Children’s Rights Alliance. I had no idea before I spoke to Lisa and read her novel that Ireland is a destination for sex traffickers and sex tourism. The novel’s main characters are Nico, a sensitive, innocent, animal-loving 13-year-old from Moldova who gets sold by her family and trafficked to Ireland where she ends up in a brothel, and Sammy, a 15-year-old girl from a wealthy, but damaged home in South Dublin. Sammy escapes her abusive and alcoholic mother (and her father who is rarely home) by running away from home. She is smart and sassy and somehow views the brothel as a joke and a sick challenge until she gets pulled into all its horror. She and Nico meet in the Dublin brothel and form a bond to help them deal with the trauma their young bodies, minds and hearts are dealing with as they are essentially held captive as sex slaves. Lisa Harding has very bravely taken on a tough topic, and one we must face and contend with. It was estimated in 2012 that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year and with the migrant crisis this number is only increasing. According to Europol, 10,000 child migrants disappeared in 2015. It is, of course, impossible to really know how many young girls are forced into sex work and exploited in this way due to the extremely secretive nature of this crime.

Harding’s novel has beautiful prose and language and I found it especially compelling to read how she has turned a tough and very disturbing topic into art and has given a voice to the many young victims of sex trafficking. The oppression of these girls is expressed as Nico says: ‘The thing I want to say gets pushed back down and lodged in my stomach like a stone.’ Harding describes throughout the novel how the girls deal with the terrible trauma they are going through. Nico says: ‘My body is stiff and I have vacated it, watching the men hauling it. My body feels like it doesn’t belong to me, neither do my limbs, my hair, my fingers, my nails. Every part of me feels like it might float away. Sammy says: ‘I’ve kind of gone all floppy, like a rag doll, or this guy’s muppet. It’s like there is nothing inside of me.’ The novel achingly describes how the girls get lost in fantasy to escape their pain.

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Lisa Harding is an actress, playwright, and writer who completed an M. Phil at Trinity College, Dublin. She has had plays professionally produced and various short stories published in The Dublin Review, The Bath Short Story Anthology and Headstuff. Her works have been placed in various competitions including the inaugural Doolin Short Story Prize.

The next novelist I introduced to read on the panel was Alan McMonagle who has just had his first novel ‘Ithaca’ published by Picador. It is an absolutely side-splitting and hilarious novel that takes place in a town in the middle Ireland following the crash of 2008. It is set in the summer of 2009: ‘the summer all the money disappeared’. The novel tells the story from the point of view of Jason, a 12 year old who (like Sammy in Harvesting) has to deal with an alcoholic mother and a missing father. This story goes one step further however, in that the main task for Jason is to try and elicit from his mother, who indeed, his father is. He asks her if it might be Flukey Nolan (one of the many colourful characters in the novel with equally colourful names) and she says: ‘Tell me Jason, how old are you now?’ to which he responds: ‘Nearly twelve’. She just laughs at him and says: ‘Twelve years old and he wants to know who his da is.’ I absolutely loved McMonagle’s book because I have always loved dark humour, so once I picked it up to read it I couldn’t put it down again. His descriptions of the dreariness and depression of recession Ireland are fantastic, especially those of the town the story is set in: ‘Our town was slap bang in the middle of the country, miles from anywhere and built inside a hole made out of bog, weeds, and the soggiest soil you might ever see. If that wasn’t bad enough, we were surrounded by a dirty black drain that spent its time fooling everyone into thinking it was a river. There were two sides to our town. The rich side on the hill beyond the railway tracks and the side we lived on. The ghetto, Ma called it. I was walking down the back lane. Of all the places in the ghetto the back lane was the place to hang out. Anybody who was anybody on our road wanted to be seen out here, taking a stroll through the muck, hanging out by the ditch trees, making conversation about the Swamp in the wasteland beyond.’

Alan

Alan McMonagle has written for radio, published two collections of short stories (both of which were nominated for the Frank O’Connor award). He has contributed to many journals in Ireland and North America. ‘Ithaca’ is his first novel and has just been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award for debut novels.

The next novelist to read on our panel was Amanda Reynolds who is a teacher of creative writing living in Cheltenham. She read from the very beginning of her freshly published novel ‘Close to Me’ which is a gripping psychological thriller about a woman named Jo who falls down the stairs and loses her memory of the past year. Jo is afraid of her husband but she does not remember why. Amanda told us during the panel discussion that she thought it would make for an interesting story that when someone loses their memory instead of helping them to heal, you use it against them in deceitful ways. She certainly has a fantastic grasp of an interesting and intriguing use of narrative as Jo, her main protagonist tells her story in alternating chapters, both before and after her accident, building to a stunning conclusion. She really leaves you guessing until the end why Jo has such distrust of her husband: ‘My husband’s slow steady breaths and the familiar nighttime noises within the house find my ear. I pull the duvet around me and allow my subconcious to take over, unlatching from the present, an almost physical letting go. As I succumb to sleep the memories come, but I know they are unreliable; broken and unpredictable. The harder I search the further they retreat, but then something breaks through, at once unbidden and yet desperately wanted. As much as I crave the past, I fear it too.’

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Amanda Reynold’s gripping novel (which I read in a couple of days) has been optioned for T.V. starring a major Hollywood actress who will be disclosed to us soon. She has a two-book deal and is currently working on her second novel. It was so inspiring talking to her about her processes and her writing habits and it does not surprise me that such a thrilling story would be optioned for T.V. I will be following Amanda closely to see how these exciting deals work out for her.

The final novelist on our panel to read was Paula Cocozza who is a feature writer at The Guardian where she has covered everything from football to feminism. Her debut novel is the intruiging and unusual ‘How To Be Human’. Mary, the novel’s main character, develops a relationship with a fox living in her back garden in London. We are never quite sure what is real and what is fantasy in this story and while I have read different reviews of this novel, I like to think of Mary’s relationship with the fox as the perfect metaphor for an unconventional relationship which she craves being surrounded by couples after her relationhip with her boyfriend Mark has ended and he has moved out. I also see her relationship with the fox as perfectly embodying what we urban dwellers need desperately to really remain human; to regain a deeper connection to nature. Being single myself, I perfectly relate to Mary’s reaction to being at her neighbour’s Eric and Michelle’s garden barbecue party: ‘Her fellow guests were transforming before her eyes into the building blocks of family life, clicking into place as the day drew on. Had these couples been together when they arrived and she had failed to see them as such?’ The novel’s first sentence seriously grabs your attention: ‘The was a baby on the back step.’ The baby is Flora, her neighbour’s baby and how it got there is a mystery. Mary has a special connection to Flora throughout the novel; she babysits her and holds her at the barbecue. I would imagine that many single, childless women in their mid thirties can relate to Mary’s musings as she holds Flora, especially the line: ‘A baby: a passport to a socially accepted solitude.’ Mary is lonely and this novel deals with that loneliness, which is, very much a modern affliction: ‘Mary herself was barely a pinprick on the world’. Paula read spectacularly from her novel to us, her fellow panel members, and the audience seated before us in the Galway Town Hall Theatre.

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Paula has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was recipient of the David Higham Award. Apart from being a features writer for The Guardian, she has also been published in The Telegraph, The Independent and the Times Literary Supplement. When she finished reading we had a lively discussion on each writer’s driving inspiration behind their works, as well as discussing the differences in form and structure between the short story and the novel. I then opened up the discussion to the audience and before we knew it the 2 hours was over. We then went to the bookshop out front so that the authors could sign their books for the audience. It was truly magical for me to meet all these talented writers in person and get to know them a little after having spent 3 weeks reading their works. And it was a real honour for me, not being a novelist, to be given the fine task of representing them at this splendid festival in the magical town of Galway. I loved it, and I as I boarded the train back to Dublin on Saturday evening I felt very satisfied and inspired and I can’t wait to read more of all of their writings.

Photo of me on stage at the Debut Panel at Galway Town Hall Theatre courtesy of Cuirt Festival organisers.