Tag Archives: PHEVER

PHEVER: TV-Radio interview: Rhea Boyden speaks to DJ Dean Sherry 

17 Dec

Here is the clip of me on PHEVER: TV-Radio yesterday speaking to DJ Dean Sherry about his in-depth interview with Irish electronic music pioneer Timmy Hannigan which I have transcribed, edited and published on my blog.

Interview: PHEVER: TV-Radio’s DJ Dean Sherry speaks to Timmy Hannigan aka Mr. Spring

15 Dec

Timmy Hannigan black and white

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

Last April, I had somewhat of a revelation. I was made aware, for the first time, of just how much work goes into performing a live electronic music gig compared to ‘just Djing’ which seems to me to already be a lot of work. I went to see Soundcrowd perform their 25th anniversary gig at the Button Factory, Dublin. I enjoyed the gig and spoke to several people who told me all about what it was like to hear them play back in the 90s. It was clear to me that people were there on a nostalgia trip. After the gig I went back and listened to Dean Sherry’s radio interview with Irish electronic music pioneer Timmy Hannigan. The interview below, which I have edited and transcribed, completely fascinated me and opened my eyes to the complexities as well as the talent, dedication, patience and passion that goes into performing these gigs. It is truly an insight into the life and work of a technical and electronic music genius.

Soundcrowd will be performing their final live gig on December 27th, 2017 at the Button Factory, Dublin.

Dean Sherry: Joining me today is a friend of mine who I haven’t spoken to in a long time, Mr. Timmy Hannigan. Timmy is possibly the leading innovator in Irish DJ culture and specifically electronic music. He is the number one pioneer of dance music and technology and the first published electronic artist in Ireland, altough unconfirmed, this is where all investigations lead. Whilst certainly a lot of DJs and budding artists were starting to experiment in the mid to late 80s and may have dabbled in electronic music straying from other genres, it was Timmy who purposefully released and published the first electronic track we can find record of anywhere: Carrier Frequency- Telecaster Man- Solid Records, 1989. I have had the pleasure of knowing this unique genius for many years since I was a teenager through record buying activities in Dublin and the early geekiness of the internet and chat forums, plus computing on early Apple macbooks, software and shared interests. Timmy is a self-taught wealth of information served up in a brilliant but erratic and introverted manner that takes a little getting used to and much laughter to get on the same level- but on that point we are well front and centre. From Djing spawned music production interest and shared time in Tim’s Bray-based music studio of wonders, to pirate radio and onto various live tour gig events all over the country. I hope these random collaborations and encounters continue until we are both hitting each other with walking sticks. I present to you now an insight into everything that is Timmy Hannigan.

TH: Yes, thank you Dean, it’s great. We don’t talk enough, but when we do I always leave in pain from laughing. Yes, on that point, laughter, we are indeed front and centre. Are you coming to the gig? (referring to the Sound Crowd XXV event 2017)

Soundcrowd graphic

DS: I am coming to the gig and we will get to that in a bit but first I want to cast your mind back to before 12 inches were bounced off your head. What was going on in your life in the 80s? What were you up to and what were you listening to? Was there anything of relevance in your life before electronic music?

TH: No, not really. I came from Rathcoole and my dad worked in a jam factory.

DS: Like ‘Pump up the Jam’ or the fruity jam?

TH: Fruity jam. He made jam for lambs and then we went to live with my grandparents in Bray. My mother had loads of sisters who used to babysit me and they were into disco so they would play a lot of records. We had a record player because my dad was into Rockabilly.

DS: So there was music in your environment?

TH: Yes, he would play The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and all these really pounding rhythms. He didn’t like The Beatles though, thank god. But when disco was played by my aunts and babysitters, I didn’t really like it because I thought that Roy Orbison was the best singer in the world because I was only 7 years old, but then my young ears were suddenly exposed to the Chic Foundation Productions and Donna Summer and hearing ‘I Feel Love’ being played by the babysitters was stunning. Every noise in it was alien. She sounded like she was singing backwards in Dutch or something and even though I didn’t understand it all, I remember being gobsmacked. And I didn’t hear anything as good as that for years. Then I was into other stuff – Adam and the Ants, ya know and I was into Ska for about a month. I went to Pres in Bray and you got beaten up at my school if you weren’t into metal. I didn’t like metal but I pretended I did. But then I heard ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC and it was just unreal. It was so heavy. It was like the rock and roll I had been listening to with my dad but this was really noisy and….

DS: More grown up?

TH: Yeah, that was it, and that was my mixed taste in music then. I had a little pocket money from making my Communion and so on and I used to buy records when I could, and being an idiot I didn’t know the name of anything, so I would buy things that had a nice sleeve or label, like stupid things to do with science fiction and whatever and I still have all those records and have sampled them all because they were all bad disco records such as ‘The Jeff Love Orchestra Plays the Theme from Close Encounters.’

DS: I have actually had the pleasure of rooting through some of your collection which is very obscure and all over the place. I mean you have some great hip hop and some great reggae in your collection, stuff that people wouldn’t expect to hear there.

TH: Yeah, well that was new music at the time and that is what I was into. It was mostly school friends that would turn you on to metal and so on but I was really into other stuff. I got the Human League album for Christmas in 1981.

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DS: Dare?

TH: Yes, Dare. Dare was so far ahead of anything I had ever heard and I didn’t know what it was.

DS: And it introduced a synthesizer to your young ears?

TH: Yeah, and I knew it was like Donna Summer but it seemed to be more regimental.

DS: More delivered?

TH: Exactly and more orchestrated. More put together and not so messy. I didn’t really like Gary Numan, for example. Anyway I got a summer job with My uncle Peter, who has since died of cancer, and he used to drive me around in the van and he was playing Kraftwerk’s album from 1980 because The Model was a hit then.

DS: The Man Machine?

TH: Computerwelt.

DS: Ah, the classic, of course.

TH: Yeah, that was the latest album and he bought it by mistake because he had meant to buy the album that The Model was on because it was Number 1 at the time. But that hit was from the 1978 album, but it was a lucky mistake because we played that tape over and over again in the van and it programmed me. That was 1982. And I thank my uncle for introducing me to that. I then had some more pocket money from working with him on the building site and I bought The Human League Dub album which was the instrumental 12 inches and B sides from Dare, it was called The League Unlimited Orchestra – Love & Dancing. So I am 12 years old and I am listening to Kraftwerk and the Human League and all the really dark dubs that Martin Rushent did.

DS: That is a bit of a revelation in itself. At the time I was listening to pop music and I got heavily into the likes of Depeche Mode and there were just certain pieces of music that you knew were opening up that would lead into something.

TH: Yes, I listened to Depeche Mode and I had ‘New Life’ but they weren’t great at the start and I hadn’t really connected to them yet. They sounded so cheap at the start.

DS: They did sound tacky in the beginning.

TH: They were all mono synths and a little DR 55 and they sounded like shit compared to The Human League who were just blowing everyone away. That summer of 1982, importantly my grandfather, who had been a musician, died and I inherited an open-reel tape deck and a clarinet from him. I couldn’t play the clarinet but….

DS: Was this the start of you becoming a gear hoarder?

TH: Yes, because the record player was part of a stack system: it had a separate tape deck, separate amp, big speakers and a deck.

DS: Which was the 80s thing.

TH: Yeah, and I was sick in bed with the flu at the time, I remember and I took the tape deck, radio and headphones upstairs and I started recording stuff off the radio, from Radio Nova and the pirates of the day and was trying to catch the tunes that I wanted because you know, there was no money to buy them really. And the action of using the pause button on the tape deck kind of fired something in me so I had two tape decks then, an open-reel one and I had some razor blades and sticky tape and all these bits I had taken off the radio so I wanted to take out the bits where the DJ was talking and extend the tracks and just by messing around I was able to do that. I was taking Yazoo tracks, for example, making long versions of the track with tape. And I spent about a year in my bedroom doing this and giving the tapes to my friends. I was making versions with stutters and machine gun edits and I wasn’t very good at it but it was better to do it on the cassette deck than using the razor blades because that took too long. Schoolwork wasn’t my priority. I got thrown out of Irish class often, so, as usual and I was hiding in the coats hanging up outside Irish class, avoiding Terry the headmaster, the head brother, who would give you a smack and send you down to the library if he caught you.

DS: The good old Christian brothers

TH: And so anyway, one day I am hiding behind the coats and I hear footsteps coming down the hall and I am fearing a beating, but it wasn’t the headmaster but this tall guy from a couple of years ahead of me. I was in about 2nd or 3rd year at the time and I spoke to him and he told me there was a local radio station, a pirate called BLB and he was going into the classrooms to see if there was anyone who wanted to get involved in a new radio show on a Wednesday for kids and I said ‘Yes, I love all that and I am really into music.’ and I pestered him and he told me I was too young and a muppet but I kept on hassling him until he took me down to the studio and they had a pair of Technics SL 1200 in 1983, two of them! And they had an Alice Mixer which had stereo faders, AKG mics, and a PR99 Revox tape machine.

revox-pr99-mkiii-327185

DS: And you actually remember all the kit that was there?

TH: I took one look at it and thought  ‘What do I have to do to be involved in this and be a part of this show?’ And they encouraged and supported me so I did the kid’s programme, and then in 1984 we got our own show doing dance stuff. I started swapping tapes through the mail, with American soldiers who were based in Germany, as they were taping shows originally aired on 98.7 Kiss FM and 92 KTU, Shep Pettibone & Tony Humphries mastermixes and so on, from AFN (American Forces Network) so I had tapes of The Latin Rascals and they were amused by my crude tapes, I was cutting up tracks by ABC and The Human League and pretty much rearranging them and stuttering them… I had a good collection. I knew who all these people were but I was pretty much on my own and I used to cut these tapes up and put them out at night on the local radio station, and then one thing led to another and I got sucked into being a radio DJ, but it was only because they had equipment at the station and because the station wasn’t your usual pirate radio station with the money going into someone’s back pocket, they put the money into equipment, and when I got there they had been going for a few years as a community radio station and pumping the advertising money back into the station, and the gear and equipment they had already amassed was mind-blowing. I had an uncle who worked in RTE who was a film sound guy and he used to go out with the tape decks recording location sound, and he had a Nagra, and had access to things like an EMS vocoder and Eventide harmoniser, and all this stuff that was used in film dubbing to correct mistakes or anonymise voices…

DS: Is that where you got that vocoder from?

EMS Vocoder

TH: My EMS? Yes, well it was bought in an auction, The revox I saw in the radio station was a couple of grand worth of tape deck.  But when you get into the likes of RTE or the BBC the stuff there is hand made by EMI and that is where I first saw some serious gear. We are not talking anything you can buy off the shelf.

DS: Yeah, it’s all customised. An uncle of mine worked in Avondale and they were making a lot of the jingles and stuff for RTE. That is where I got my first set of decks from so there were inroads there but the mixing desks there were customised and made by the BBC.

TH: Yes, exactly and so my uncle would bring me and my cousin, his son, into RTE and we would have a look and we would see CART machines and loop machines and they had the first digital reverb – an AMS or a Lexicon I think it was, and everyone was like ‘Ooh, wow! Amazing. Don’t touch it! You can look, but don’t fucking touch it.’ So these are all influences, and they just fire your brain so when other people wanted to play football or wanted a girlfriend I was down on the beach in Bray playing Defender or Asteroids if I had 10p, and hanging out on the beach the whole summer basically.

DS: So you got into games but I am guessing you got into computers at a young age too. Were you a Commodore 64 kid? But you obviously got into music sequencing soon enough, didn’t you?

TH: Well, I wanted a drum machine more than anything else and until you get real money you can’t have any of these things. I did have a home computer and my mates had ZX Spectrums, and my cousin had an Amstrad. I took a fancy to the MSX from Japan (1982 early home computers using Microsoft BASIC) at the time so I stupidly did not get a spectrum and have loads of games to play. I had the MSX. I had a Sord  M5 which had a great sound chip and had great cartridge games made by Namco and other Japanese developers, stuff like Dig Dug and Pac Man, and they were arcade perfect and I enjoyed that for 2 weeks and then got bored and tried coding for myself. I did write a drum machine with it, and it was a good noise maker. The first bit of real gear I got was a Vesta Kozo DIG420 sampler at about age 15 or 16 which had a digital delay, an echo, but it could hold one second of sound. It could freeze that second of sound, and you could play it back by hitting a button or by GATE in, and change its pitch with CV in.

DS: Wow.

MS basic

 

TH: This gave my tape mixes and the megamixes that I was doing an edge, and I overtook everyone who was doing it because they didn’t have a sampler. And so then I was banging away with this thing doing machine gun stutters that they could not do, because you could machine gun something by recording a kickdrum ten times…

DS: And replaying it.

TH: But to have a sampler you could tap with your hand and manipulate it. And so I just gathered gear and I was completely passionate about it.

DS: And was there anyone producing music, was there any one direct influence or was it all trial by fire?

TH: No, there was no one else doing it, we were really lonely. I was just hoarding the gear in the bedroom, doing the tapes and just playing around. I then left school and went to college when I was 16 and I just didn’t know what I was doing. I lasted about a year doing that and then I flunked. Legislation was coming through on the pirates…

DS: Is this where Radioactive came about or was there anything before that?

TH: Yeah, so in 1987 here I am flunked out of college, didn’t know what to do, but luckily had this studio experience and was making ads anyway for the pirates, and I thought ‘Well, hang on now, how many pirates are there?’ And AnoraksUK (a fanzine) had a directory of Irish pirates.

DS: It really was a golden era.

Timmy in his studio

  Timmy Hannigan in his studio

TH: It certainly was man, there were 2 or 3 in every town. But they sucked at making commercials and they all had rural accents, so I had access to all the guys who were working in Super Q and Energy, most of them lived in Wicklow anyway. Scott Williams and Tom Brown would pass by, and they had great voices. The original John Power, Mike Duggan, They were all living locally. So I converted the parents’ garage and started making ads, and we were very busy. We could not make them fast enough which is why I never make commercials anymore because I spent about a year and a half making up to 30 a day. I was only charging a tenner a piece.

DS: So it was all about the volume.

TH: Yes, and I made a lot of money very quickly and then legislation came and all the pirates got shut down and I had miscalculated because I thought once they all came back on air with licences there would maybe be about one tenth left, but they would have real money, but I messed up because I was visiting these guys when they were preparing to go on air, we were getting excited about buying equipment but I hadn’t realised that they were all building their own studios to make ads, plus they were able to attract proper talent – people with good voices, so basically my business plan to make ads for all these new stations failed.

DS: So a rethink was needed.

TH: Well, luckily Ray D’arcy came along with some work for Jo Maxi, and the BBC’s Dance Energy were over and they featured me and some of the people I was working with, Lisa I’Anson did some interviews in my studio and was very polite and kind. I had been hanging out in London a bit, there was a company there called Noisegate in Nunhead who were also making Jingles & stuff, but were making underground records too.

DS: So at this point you had started producing pieces of original electronic music?

TH: Oh yeah, but I was also still making ads and jingles.

DS: And what sort of monikers were you releasing these under because you have had a lot?

TH: No, um, well while I was doing all this I was exposed to the London scene as Double Trouble and the Rebel MC (Noisegate guys) had just had a number one, but it was a coincidence. I had known those guys for a year or so. They got big and had another hit and the Noisegate Studios crew were huge, and I had known them for years. There was an Irish DJ there too (Jim Cotter resident at Annabels), and one day Tac (RIP) played me Todd Terry, which changed everything for me. They were making acid records (Feel the Acid, Feel the Bass) and I thought ‘This looks easy’ so I hooked up with a couple local guys – Trevor Knight, who had a PPG Wave (The PPG Wave is a series of hybrid digital/analogue synthesizers built by the German company Palm Products GmbH from 1981 to 1987) and a Korg Lambda, was playing locally with a guy called Leo O’ Kelly (one half of a band called Tir Na Nog, who were probably Ireland’s first super group) and they ran a TR606 and a PPG synced when playing live, and they were banging out great stuff.

PPG-Wave22-Display-FatarKBD-small

DS: The PPG is a great device.

TH: So they were doing the band thing in local venues, and I was DJing, usually with  a guy called Peter Carroll, who I met at the local pirate station. Very nice guy who saw something in me & let me play. He was a big record collector at the time.

DS: Did you have any clubbing experience at that time in Ireland? Do you have any early memories of the DJs?

TH: No, not really. Around that time I would get a little slot to play and I would knock out a few tame acid records and Chicago Jack and the crowd hated it all they wanted to hear was ya know..

DS: Chart dance like Technotronic and the like?

TH: No, Meatloaf. They weren’t into electronic music, although I got slots and played little bits, no one cared.

DS: It only worked as a slot back then.

TH: Yeah, but as I said, I had tapes and had a sampler and had a proper archive by then, to make ads because I was reinvesting and I had an 8 track and SMPTE timecode, so I was using an Atari 1040 slaved to tape. This would have been before Cubase, so we were using PRO 24. So I was doing that and I made a record with Trevor and Leo in 1989 and we called ourselves Carrier Frequency, and it was an acidy record, and it got licensed which was kind of interesting because we had made it in a garage and didn’t really know what we were doing, but people liked it, and it got picked up and that is how Dance Energy, Ray D’Arcy and the rest of them found out, because Dave Fanning played the record and people noticed.

DS: And would you class that as one of the first Irish electronic records? Would you deem it as an Irish production?

TH: Oh yes, I think it was the first Irish club record. Barry Warner had been making sample based electronic music for a while – pop music – and he did club mixes and there were other people who were tinkering with it, but we specifically made this to be a specialist record.

DS: So Mickey Mac would have been all over you.

TH: He wasn’t playing club stuff on the radio at the time.

DS: Right, of course, that was pre Mickey Mac.

TH: Yeah, we came out in 89. But because of the D’Arcy connection and Joe Maxi and stuff, he also knew DJ Mek, and his band (MRC at the time), so I think it was Ed Darragh at the time suggested we all work together.

DS: And you were involved in the Scary Eire Project on the production level?

TH: Well, you see Ray knew them and they were desperate to make a decent demo because they only had a 4 track and they weren’t even called Scary Eire yet. So there were a number of sessions and demos got made and they did enough to form the Scary Eire, and eventually got signed to Island Records. So that kept me busy and a lot of stuff got done, but in 1990 they fucked off to England with their advance to work in bigger studios and party, and I was left on my tobler and I needed a bit of new business, so I then put some ads in Mark Kavanagh’s Fanzine REMIX.

DS: Had you already met Mark before? Had you been teenage friends because I know Mark grew up not too far from Bray, right?

TH: I didn’t know of him yet but I knew of the magazine, because I had been going into Billy Murray’s Abbey disks in its various locations since ‘82.

DS: Which is where I met you.

TH: Yeah, exactly. And Billy knew what I wanted and I bought all my stuff from him, so I would pick up the fanzine, and I put an ad in, and one day Mark just came out to say hi, and we hit it off because he was into the same stuff. He knew the Scary Eire demos and the things that I had been fiddling with so we just made a track one day and that was that. You see there are so many happy coincidences but the lesson to be learned from all of this that you do stuff, you get out, you meet people, you bump into someone and if you sit at home saying ‘Why am I not famous?’ then you are going to rot.

DS: Yes, you have to collaborate and experiment.

TH: Yes, do stuff! I mean the Red Records thing just exploded from there.

DS: So tell me about the inception of Red because it started out initially as an interest to release your own music, but you also licensed a few pieces of music which I don’t believe had ever been done by an Irish label up to that point, especially for electronic music.

TH: Red actually started in Mark’s spare room in his house in Ballybrack/Killiney. We were getting promos and he was playing them in The Olympic and I was playing them on the radio, on EZ103 in Wicklow town. But people couldn’t buy the stuff, and Billy was going mad because nobody could get them. So through our contacts and new contacts through selling our own material on export as well, we were able to get copies of records and wholesale them, and Mark was then into wholesale and was importing boxes of rare records and selling them to Billy, and that took off so well he had to move premises.

Records (Timmy)

DS: That became a lucrative business, didn’t it and a lot of good things came out of it for the DJ world.

TH: Yeah, exactly. And through all these activities and without really realising it, we seeded the scene because we brought in pretty much every record that you know as a classic as well as really obscure stuff that would not have been available otherwise.

DS: I am not going to get into the whole discography of it, but we are going to get to the event at the end of this because I know it is a seminal thing that is happening for you guys. Tell me about the live performances, you did Feile, you did big live performances as Soundcrowd. I imagine it was a technical nightmare but it must have been some buzz too.

TH: Well, no it was really worrying and just stressful and I hated doing it. I think we only really played live only 4 or 5 times.

DS: I did Ormond Multimedia with you guys. There were a few crazy gigs and some were better than others of course.

TH: Yeah, but there weren’t many because every time you do it, something gets broken or lost or you learn a lesson, so by the end of the run you are pulling your hair out. I mean, even after the first live performance I swore I would never do it again. I was still using a mac.

DS: And you had a couple of Moog prodigies that I don’t think ever worked right again.

TH: The Moog prodigy was an awful piece of shit. The Mac we had wasn’t even ours and it died because the screen couldn’t handle the heat and the moisture in the Ormonde, so it wouldn’t turn on. So I had one track loaded and I would start with that, The power light on the screen was just flashing and it refused to cooperate. So using key combinations, I knew that if I did for example, Command-F, it would bring the file menu up, and then I could go down with arrow keys to open a track.

DS: And you were assuming you knew the order of the tracks?

TH: I didn’t know the order and I knew I couldn’t take a chance so I played the next and went two down and loaded the next.. so never again! NEVER again! That was an embarrassment. That was live and I hate playing live.

DS: It is a headache. I have done it myself. Myself and Barry Dempsey played a live set and while you can sequence certain parts it never goes to plan. We played at Electric Picnic and we forgot that you may need an encore and we had nothing left to do. You can never think of everything. I want to touch on your studio because it is very impressive and you have built up some collection of really impressive synths and hardware. How do you keep it all talking to itself and keep it all in tune?

TH: Well, it breaks and then I fix it. Everything breaks all the time and you learn. I mean in all the Yamaha gear the power supplies go so you need to learn how to rebuild a power supply and once you have built one you can do all of them and that is how it works.

DS: It is a labour of love.

TH: yeah, and my 808 cost me 50 quid (iconic drum machine synth module by Yamaha). My first 303 cost my 90 quid and my second one cost me nothing. (303 is a bassline generator module by Roland that ‘invented’ acid house – that squelshy sound) I was in the right place at the right time. When people didn’t want things I was lusting after them. I wanted a 303 so bad and Pat Colgan of Futuresque records sold me his for 90 quid.

DS: And they are probably more like 2 grand now. Or at least over a grand.

TH: And they are pretty robust because they are a plastic piece of junk. I have a 303 Devilfish too (303 customised by Robin Whittle in Australia) and I think it was the 6th  one ever made. That is pretty serious business to have one of them, ya know. It was very early internet days.

roland-tb-303-devil-fish-34366

DS: And what is the prized item in your studio? What’s your favourite piece of gear? The 909?

TH: Well, I have modified mine a lot by this stage so it is a very unique machine and I love it to bits. But every piece of gear has its  thing that turns you on about it, and I appreciate that Ableton and desktops are all great and all, but that doesn’t fire my imagination. I need to take it out and play with it and experiment.

DS: And that would be my next question: what would you say to say to young guys here who are just sitting with a laptop and a load of VST instruments and a pair of headphones, obviously until they get their hands on a piece of kit and start experimenting it is never going to feel the same. What is your advice to these young guys, or indeed, what would you advise a younger you looking back?

TH: Well, with a younger me, there were no rules, so I think I did very well because there was no one to ask and we had no internet, but we at least had dial-up and bulletin board communities – we ran one for Scary Eire – So there was communication using computers from all over the world, and we were able to swap files and collaborate on things way back. We had been doing that since 1984. That was there but there were no rules in electronic music, and I got away with it because no one had done it before so no one could tell you you were doing it wrong. But, if you are stuck with your laptop and stuff, ya know, what will happen is, you will be thrilled and have a lot of fun and you will make a lot of tunes and it will be great but then something will be missing. And when I find something is missing, I buy a new toy or I dig out the toy I haven’t used in awhile or I try and do something different with the toy I have, and with a laptop you can’t really do that, and the real truth of the matter is, when you put your hands on something and have it make noises when you touch it and move it and you have a tactile relationship with this thing that makes noise, it creates a different path in your brain for your thought processes, it would be like if you kill your brain from drink or drugs and you are depressed all the time, learn to juggle or learn to play golf and you will cheer up because it will make connections in your brain.

DS: You are rewiring your brain.

TH: Yes, and if you wire your brain for a laptop to play Call of Duty you are making different things happen in your brain than if you play a guitar, for instance. Do your laptop stuff, have fun, but if you hit a brick wall get a toy and play with it and I mean there are just so many toys now, Korg make good stuff, there are fun guys doing stuff with arduinos, there are all sorts of midibox org kits you can build, and they are not expensive and they are an absolute joy. My God, there is so much fun you can get for 50 quid now.

DS: Yes, it’s very true. Okay Timmy, I don’t want to go keep you much longer but I want to talk about the upcoming gig which is the 25th anniversary of the inception of the Soundcrowd. Now you have done a hell of a lot more than just Soundcrowd. You have produced under various monikers and various names and you have worked with some really big names, but there is no point in me listing all of this right now because it is far too much to mention, so if you will, just tell us about this big event. It is a landmark as it is the first of its kind in Ireland because obviously you guys were there from the very start. Tell me what to expect from this event.

soudncrown

Timmy Hannigan and Mark Kavanagh – Soundcrowd XXV at the Button Factory – Dublin

TH: Well, we are going to DJ. Mark will be doing most of the DJing and I will aswell because I do that but the hard work has gone into going back to the original elements for a lot of things, including floppy discs and stuff for the Atari, the early PC and the old Akai S900 sampler discs, and a lot of them were corrupt and I had to resample things, but what I wanted to do was to make the noises again with the same gear, so I bought up a lot of the stuff that I had sold, really cheap because no one wants it anymore, it didn’t cost a lot which was great, and we have been working now for three months to get the music together which is done and now, the next thing is the visuals which will also be live.

DS: And is this something that you are generating aswell?

TH: Yes, all of it will be generated live, there will be a PC with the old 1992 software in it, the last revision of VOYETRAincluding 3 midi ports, an emulator 4, a Roland Sound canvas, A midiverb, a distortion pedal, a Quasimidi quasar and am Oberhiem matrix 1000, and of course the Roland TR909, and that is all we have! With all of that shit we are able to do this. Because that is all I had to make all those records. Fair enough, we have a SCSI drive now in the sampler, and we don’t have to use floppies, and we are going to play live. And when I say live, we are going to fucking actually play live. There will be no stems, no cheating, every single thing you hear will be live, on the fly and that is that. And so will the visuals. That is where we are taking it up a notch, because you can say what you like about people playing live, because I have been working with RTE now for 19 years and I have been into every major festival in this country and I have recorded and watched all bands and DJs and everybody play, but the only act that I have actually seen in my entire career that actually plays live, and I mean everything you hear is being generated on the fly and live is Orbital, Everybody else compromises, and I am not saying they are cheating because I have cheated myself at times.

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Soundcrowd XXV Live at the Button Factory – Dublin

DS: You have to sometimes, you know?

TH: Yeah, of course you do. You have to and stuff breaks and when you are going on tour it is mad.

DS: Yeah, there is only so much a group of people can play as there are a lot of elements in electronic music.

TH: And the two Orbital guys have real machines, sequencer, bang. That’s it.

DS: I would like to have their synth collection.

TH: Yeah, man, we have spoken about this.

DS:  Yes, we have spoken about this.

TH: So we are going to do an Orbital, and it will be one hundred percent live and it may break! I mean the average age of the gear is 25.

DS: Bit like ourselves!

TH: It might die and if it does die, I am going to get my knob out because we will be screwed.

DS: Ha ha aha ah ha ha!  Timmy Hannigan you are a legend. It is so good to catch up with you. I can’t wait til this live gig.


Further info on Timmy Hannigan:

With numerous production/release aliases including:  Sound Crowd, Mista Fantastic, Nitrogen, Profundo Rosso, Hole In One and more doubt more…

Track releases via: Spring Recordings (own label), Manifesto, West2, Southeast, Mostiko, Pogo House, DT & Unity plus others.

And at least 2 albums: the Fifth Nine & Voyager on Spring

Recordings https://www.facebook.com/mrspringofficial/https://www.mrspring.net/https://www.discogs.com/artist/7001-

MrSpringhttps://2fm.rte.ie/2fm-shows/the-spring-sessions/https://www.mixcloud.com/discover/mr-

spring/https://www.facebook.com/soundcrowdofficial/https://twitter.com/djmrspring

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXa53gBLBWw

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

Credits:

Soundcrowd XXV graphic art by Posterboy

Soundcrowd Button Factory photo by Michael Donnelly

Human League – Dare photo by Dean Sherry

Button Factory balcony shot by Rhea Boyden

All other images courtesy of Timmy Hannigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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: Hugo McCann’s ‘Best Sets’ on PHEVER:TV-Radio

21 Jan

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by Rhea H. Boyden

In the past few months I have been tuning in to Dublin DJ Hugo McCann’s ‘Best Sets’ show on PHEVER:TV-Radio which airs Saturdays from 6-8pm. His altogether excellent two hour mixes take you on a musical journey through the genres of progressive techno, deep house and tech house. On December 3rd I was tuned in when the following vocals really caught my attention: ‘I want to take this time to do a shout out to all the nations of the universe, to all the leaders of every land. This is the time for everyone to unite and stop this hate against each other.’ I was curious about this track and so I asked Hugo about it. ‘Yes, it is Luna City Express – Motherland,’ he told me. ‘I am glad you spotted it, as I consciously added that vocal especially in light of the current protests in Standing Rock.’ The powerful vocal continues: ‘Take the time, search your heart, show more love. Teach the children what their motherlands are all about. Stop the hate, love is the answer, education is the key.’

In the past few weeks, I have got to know Hugo a little better and he has told me more about the philosophy, literature and music that has inspired his DJing career that has now spanned more than two decades. ‘I try to impart the wisdom of Alan Watts where and when I can, especially by adding clips and quotes to my mixes,’ he said. Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British writer, philosopher and speaker who was best known for popularising Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. He wrote and spoke at length, especially on the topics of overcoming fear and really learning to experience the present moment. Hugo certainly has some great stories about how he has applied Watts’ Zen teachings to the trials and tribulations of everyday life. ‘I was recently at the dentist and had a terrible toothache and I was miserable and thought, this is it, I am going to lose this tooth,’ he told me. ‘And then I just gave up and let the experience be what it was. I let go of the fear. Suddenly things worked out for me. While other dentists had told me they could not save my tooth, this dentist turned around and said he could! And not only that, as I got chatting to him, he revealed that he was a pilot and he needed someone to choreograph the music to accompany his flight routine so we struck a deal; he would save my tooth and I would provide him his music in exchange.’ Most impressive. Hugo has inspired me to read more Alan Watts in the past weeks and I think the Watts’ quote that best describes the above scenario is this: ‘When you realise that you live in, that indeed you ARE this moment and no other, that apart from this there is no past and no future you must relax and taste life to the full, whether it be pleasure or pain.’

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Hugo is also a big fan of science fiction, fantasy and the Tao of Pooh which was what he read before he moved onto Watts’ philosophy. He has been collecting records and djing since the 90’s and he told me a bit about the exciting hunts he has been on over the years to find the best records and the tastiest tunes and also the dedication that has really gone into honing his DJing skills. He has held residencies at The Temple of Sound, Ormond Multimedia and The Kitchen nightclub (owned and operated in the 90’s by U2) among others, as well as DJing all over Ireland, the UK and also attracting promoters from places such as Thailand and Las Vegas. He set up his You Tube channel ‘Best Sets on the Net’ four and a half years ago and it has been hugely successful. He now has 56 thousand subscribers and averages about 100 thousand views a week and has had almost 19 million hits to date. It features world class DJ mixes from across the planet covering Chicago House to minimal techno and just about everything in between.

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Hugo McCann at PHEVER:TV-Radio Studios

In recent years Hugo withdrew from the DJing limelight to focus on his family and other commitments until he was introduced to DJ/Producer and PHEVER boss Dean Sherry  in the summer of 2014. Dean had just set up PHEVER:TV-Radio and offered Hugo a weekly residency. This has become his ‘Best Sets’ show that airs every Saturday from 6-8pm. ‘Radio has given me a platform to start playing and accessing music that never makes it to vinyl and this has been an interesting adventure for me. I rarely play out in clubs anymore, but when I do it is all vinyl. My radio show and You Tube channel have been my focus of late.’ Not only is ‘Best Sets’ gaining in popularity, but PHEVER:TV-Radio is growing fast too. I spoke to Dean who said: ‘There is so much fantastic new music coming into the inbox that I hardly have a chance to listen to it all!’ This is indeed very exciting. Dean Sherry has big plans for PHEVER for 2017 and it will be interesting to watch how both Hugo’s show and PHEVER as a whole develop over the next while. And while it is fun to get nostalgic and listen to the music of our youth it is also great to focus on what is happening right NOW (in the spirit of Alan Watts) and listen to hot new releases. ‘So what are some of your favourite new releases?’ I asked Hugo. ‘I would say my current faves are Taras Van De Voorde and Virgil Delion – December, Umek – Incinerator and Sergio Fernandez – Unforgettable Summer.’ I also asked him who he thought would be big in 2017 and who we can expect him to play on his show. ‘The big artists for me for 2017 are definitely CJ Jeff, Latmun and Ali Ajami if I had to just name a few off the top of my head.’ Excellent. I will certainly be tuning in to ‘Best Sets’ to hear more of the melodic and deep musical adventures that Hugo so brilliantly takes his listeners on every weekend.

PHEVER’s mission: To develop and educate new artistic talent and establish a standard of excellence that is recognised globally through its broadcast, media, publishing and performances.

phever.ie – TV-Radio global 24/7 91.6FM – The Sound of the Irish Underground SMS/Viber/WhatsApp/Mobile: +353 (0) 85 7833 733 TV/Radio/Events/Academy/Label

‘Best Sets’ logo graphic courtesy of Hugo McCann

Review: Rich Lane at Ukiyo

13 Nov

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last weekend Dublin music promoter Julie-Ann Smith hosted music maker and record-label owner Rich Lane from Stoke-on-Trent for a gig at Ukiyo. In the weeks leading up to the gig, the anticipation and excitement among my circle of friends and acquaintances was very apparent and so I felt it was an event that should not be missed.

Ukiyo, which opened in 2004, is a lovely Japanese restaurant in Dublin city centre run by Duncan Maguire. In addition to offering a varying Bento box and excellent sushi, they serve delicacies such as slow-roasted pork served with scented squash and the most delicious pan-fried hake and prawn gyoza served with a mouth-watering garlic and chilli dip. The restaurant has huge plate-glass windows allowing for perfect people-watching as you feast on the food or sip their cocktails that are expertly mixed by the friendliest of bar staff. As well as providing Karaoke booths downstairs, once the tables are cleared upstairs, a host of DJs hit the decks to provide further entertainment several evenings a week.

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Rich Lane 

One thing that especially excited me about attending Rich Lane’s gig at Ukiyo was that a lot of the people I have collaborated with or been introduced to in the world of Dublin dance music over the past year were also planning to be there. Ukiyo has become, and will likely remain, my local haunt because it certainly is a joy to have a place to go where I can meet my peers: others in their late 30’s and early 40’s and the bar was packed for Rich Lane’s set. Before playing Ukiyo last week, Rich was also a guest at PHEVER:TV-Radio on Hugo Mc Cann’s ‘Best Sets’ show. I spoke with Hugo and also with DJ/Producer and PHEVER boss Dean Sherry about their impression of Rich’s music: ‘Rich takes techno and house and slows it down and makes it more interesting,’ Hugo said. ‘Yes, and I really think he makes the transitions between the beats more interesting,’ Dean added.

Rich told me he really had a great night and was very pleased with the warm welcome he got in Dublin. He was Julie-Ann Smith’s guest last year for a gig at Pacino’s in Dublin and was delighted to return. He has been producing music for over a quarter of a century and has had a hand in producing hundreds of tracks. He is the owner of the record label Cotton Bud and also has a sideline in mastering. He does mastering for Sub:Sonic records, an Irish record label specialising in releasing a wide range of electronic music. The lovely guys from Sub:Sonic were at the gig too and Rich also played a few tracks released by them.

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On the night, Rich played many of his own tracks released by him on his label, as well as his lovingly recrafted and re-edited version of Sinead O’ Connor’s hit ‘Jackie’ from her 1987 album ‘The Lion and the Cobra’  which he made especially for the Ukiyo gig. ‘I love the relentless, driving tone of this track,’ he told me. ‘Its beautifully tragic, spooky and evocative lyrics and her uniquely passioned performance have always been spine-tingling.’ Rich also does the mastering for Logical Records from Spain who Julie-Ann Smith also hosted at Ukiyo back in September and he played a few tracks released by them too. It was at that gig that I first met Julie-Ann who has hosted various DJs including Craig Bratley, Duncan Gray, Chris Massey, Los Bikini and Javier Busto (of Logical Records). She told me she is really passionate about the music that Rich and all these guys make. ‘I love slow techno and chug’, she said. ‘A lot of it has a nod to acid house and I also love these dirty slow beats.’

I have been listening to Rich’s dirty slow beats whilst chatting to him and it has been a complete joy for me to get to know him better and also to discover that we have collaborated with some of the same people. He has enlightened me some more too on the process of mastering dance music. We also spoke of the the creative process in writing music lyrics and writing in general and the beauty of returning to unfinished work after it has been left alone for awhile. ‘My last track ‘Wolf in Shell Toes’ was on the shelf for about 8 years,’ he told me. ‘It was just sitting there waiting for me to add some lyrics to and then suddenly one day I was sitting in the pub with my kids with a notebook in hand and they came!’ he said. I love this too when suddenly you are filled with the creative energy to complete a project to satisfaction. You never know when it is going to happen, just as you never know who you are going to be collaborating with or who you will meet next. It certainly is an exciting journey. I will surely be keeping a close eye on Rich Lane’s work in the future, and of course, the work of the host of other amazing DJs whose work he does the mastering for.

Ukiyo Bar, Restaurant and Karaoke is at 9, Exchequer Street in Dublin city centre

Cotton Bud Logo courtesy of Rich Lane