We asked six of your favourite local DJs at Boxed Off what their opinion on Irish dance music culture is.
From what could change, to where it can be in the future. Gareth Elliot and Jake Dodd caught up with Dan Stritch, Jack Dunne, Paul Jennings, Jack Thompson, Luka Kolona, Long Island Sound member Rob Roche, Boots and Kats member Ciaran Martin and Alan Byrne who gave their opinion on the subject.
The three questions are:
1. The Scene – How do you feel the scene in Ireland is doing right now?
2. The Changes – If there is anything you could change about it, what would it be and why?
3. The Future – Where do you see the scene going in the near future?
The Scene – “It’s awesome. You’ve got so much happening right now in terms of every genre apart from hip-hop & trap etc. But in terms of the electronic scene anyways, you’ve got venues like The Button Factory, Hangar, District 8 pretty much coming close to selling out every week. For such a small city, population wise, to have that many people coming out and having people travelling from Galway, Cork every weekend is great. I think it’s only a matter of time before you have people coming across from Manchester, London to our gigs.”
The Changes – “The hours subject is obviously so worn out. I’d like to change that of course, but what I would take from that positively is people are coming in from doors till 3-3:30am and giving it their all for the time they’re there. That is a benefit of having a shorter time and a decent after party scene. It’s something that we can live with.”
The Future – “It’s a tough one. I think it will be stronger than it is now. It’s hard to say though where it will be sitting… But saying that, that’s the beauty of this scene. There’s no definitive answer of what it’s going to be like in a year.”
The Scene – “I think the scene is very strong at the moment, there are tonnes of extremely talented DJs and promoters, plus a huge interest in good quality house and techno music in Dublin. Although in some areas of the scene I would like to see more creativity, not just another run of the mill techno night.”
The Changes – “You can notice even in Berlin they marked Berghain as a cultural landmark. So if higher authorities took on how important club culture was in Ireland I feel it would have a great effect on everything linked in with it.”
The Future – “I think techno would be less popular, I feel it would go a lot more underground than to what it is this year. I also think local collectives will be booming more than ever. For example the Inbhir lads brought Liem to the Wiley Fox. Stuff like that stood out completely to every other gig in Dublin.”
The Scene – “I really like what people are doing these days. But saying that I feel there should be a bit more focus on the residents. There’s no point in booking all of these huge headliners and paying 20 quid in, where you can go see lads like Niall D’arcy, Frankie Grimes, Colin Perkins and the likes who are just as good as some of the people I’ve seen DJ.”
The Changes – “It’s tough to say as Enda Kenny doesn’t give a rats about Dublin nightlife. They don’t realise how much money they could generate in revenue from it. You see the thing is they think that we are just people that take drugs and that stuff. But there’s a huge business end of things to it as well.”
The Future – “I’ve been playing since I was 17-18. Stuff goes through the changes. For example I used to play with Welcome playing hip-hop, grime and stuff the odd time. It’s kind of all music trends. But from being involved in the scene for a while now I can definitely see it’s moving in a very positive direction.”
The Scene – “The scene is really good. But I think it is quite driven and focused by techno and Ireland is standing out for that reason right now. Myself, being a huge house enthusiast, I feel there should be a bit more of a focus on international house acts and local collectives.”
The Changes – “There’s not a lot I would change on the scene to be honest. Other than what I mentioned above more house acts. But in saying that the opening of Wah Wah is going to open up loads of opportunities and almost be the gateway for house to flourish in Dublin again. There’s not many places in Dublin that are going to capture an intimate gig like Wah Wah will.”
The Future – “It’s definitely moving in a positive direction. The scene itself has moved so forward and is being recognised internationally now by many. It’s so good to be apart of the growth of it.”
The Scene – “I think it’s in a strong place at the moment. There’s a lot of competition in Dublin, that has its positives and negatives. You see promoters taking big risks with some big acts which are clashing with other nights so that’s good for people going to the clubs. We’re spoiled for choice in that sense but it’s not good to see promoters lose money either. I think another thing which is popping up this year is the scenes out of Dublin with the likes of Limerick, Galway and down in Cork are growing rapidly as well. I played in Galway on Thursday night and had a great time. Sometimes when you play down the country it’s very hit and miss in terms of how underground you can go. The way I see it, there are good nights popping around the country where people are taking a bigger interest the underground stuff, it’s great to see. I’d even say that the scene down the country is influenced by the Dublin culture. In some cases promoters from around Ireland come up to Dublin and that’s where they first experienced it and they bring that back down with them.”
The Changes – “I’d like to see the clubs open until a little bit later but obviously you can’t do that due to the amount of stuff that’s going on with the government, I think it’s one of those things that should be looked at but the people over that area don’t have much interest in the scene right now. It doesn’t help either that some people who aren’t involved in the scene have this bad perception of things, some think that there’s nothing but violence as a result of people getting too drunk but I haven’t seen a anything like that in years. I don’t know if there’s anything else to change, we’re in a good place.”
The Future – “I don’t think there will be as many nights. There’ll probably be fewer acts booked to play every weekend as a result. The crowd who hit the clubs may also see a slight change, some people just go to nights now because everyone else is going and they don’t seem to have much interest in the music side of things, that’s fine but I can slowly see that trend fading out. So at the end I think the scene is still going to be in a good place. It’s moving towards London and Berlin and expanding out of the country which is great to see happening”
The Scene – “Compared to this time last year I feel it’s sitting in a very good place to grow. I think in previous years there was a lot of bigger names completely dominating the scene. None of the smaller collectives were getting any kind of space, especially when the Twisted Pepper and Lost Society closed down but I think people are starting to just find ways around it and some great DJs coming out of them. So saying that I can gladly say the local collectives are absolutely killing it.”
The Changes – “Dublin definitely needs more venues… More smaller, intimate ones. It’s hard for any local collective to make headroom for themselves as there’s fuck all venues to even do so in. But some of the bigger clubs have been renting out individual rooms on bigger nights and I can’t praise them enough for that. It means the smaller collectives have a chance to showcase their stuff while also piggybacking off bigger nights to give them a bigger kick”
The Future – “I’d like to say I see disco making a come-back as techno is definitely dominating at the moment which is clear. Everything runs in cycles though so it’s hard to tell what will be next. I think as well that there seems to be a resurgence and push of the general vibe of a party. Rather than saying “Go and see this and go and see this guy” lets just go and have a bit of craic.”
The Scene – “It’s absolutely great. There’s a lot of young and also well-established collectives pushing out new ideas constantly. I feel Ireland can be a bit overlooked at times in comparison to some other major European cities with their thriving nightlife scenes. But I can definitely say in Dublin that there is a seriously high standard too among local DJs and also on the production front. If you’re not playing well, it will be noticed.”
The Changes – “I definitely feel limiting the amount of support DJs who are playing before an headliner could be a positive change, so Rather than having multiple DJs playing 45 minutes to an hour set, have one person playing a two hour set to really build a crowd with their own record collection, this is something I’d like to see a lot more in Dublin.”
The Future – “It’s a refreshing thought, there are so many brands bringing such big and also smaller acts over week in week out which is amazing for our city. It’s great to witness as if you were to look back years ago when there was essentially a limited amount of promoters who were bringing over these international artists they were never frequently visiting as we are fortunate enough to see every week! So it’s definitely moving in a positive direction and I really look forward to seeing more progression within Ireland and Dublin over the next few years.”
The Scene – “There’s no denying how much the Irish scene is thriving at the moment. It’s crazy to think that Dublin can have so many international acts playing every week. I’m much happier now with the scene than I would have been six or eight months ago. I really felt like the intimacy had been taken away with the loss of so many small clubs. Now with The Wiley Fox getting more consistent use from Mutate and Inbhir and the new Wah Wah Club in the Grand Social things are looking good again for those looking to book or see an artist who may not sell enough tickets to warrant a bigger venue here. It’s also providing more space for budding artists to get some stage time. There’s some great work going on outside Dublin too. Bastardo Electrico in its 14th year now and the Minus guys in Cork, Republik in Waterford, Subtech in Limerick, The Basement Project in Galway, Mechanical Jazz in Tullamore and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. More and more nights starting in the most unlikely of towns and venues. It’s great to see promoters in different counties working together to bring an artist over for a few shows all across the country. If the scene is to survive we need that community element.”
The Changes – “There’s a few things I’d probably change. I’d really like to see promoters pushing the envelope a bit more with bookings. As I’ve said already I’m sure the venue restrictions have had a big part in that over the last while so hopefully that will change now, but there’s so much more out there than what we are being exposed to. I mean if you’re not in the habit of going to Europe a few times a year to catch a gig then you really are only getting a brief snapshot of the overall picture. I’d like to see a bit more respect from the punters towards DJs too. I’m noticing this thing creeping in where people seem to more concerned with all their mates knowing they were at the gig as opposed to them enjoying it. It’s all selfies, fire emojis and that “woo woo woo” thing. I find that so disrespectful. I have no idea how I’d go about combating that, I don’t think anyone does that’s why it’s happening so much, but something needs to change. This one is personal to me so it may not apply to everybody, but I’d really like to see more people playing records. What’s starting to happen now is because so few people are playing records, venues aren’t prepared for someone who is. It almost works against you. I’ve had sets cancelled because the venue wasn’t equipped to accommodate a vinyl player. If you’re a promoter or venue owner who makes a living from running events centered around DJs and electronic music it is a cardinal sin to not have access to, and be able to correctly set up a set of turntables. It’s where the whole thing started and it must be preserved.”
The Future – “It’s hard to know isn’t it? There always seems to be a hint of uncertainty as to whether this will all last or for how long. There is a massive increase in the amount of Irish producers getting tracks out there at the moment. I can see a lot of labels being set up here in the next 12 months or so to cater for that. I also think more and more live artists are going to come out of the woodwork. Playing live is really catching on and I’m already aware of a number of guys doing it here so that can only increase, which is very exciting. Even if the international bubble bursts, as long as promoters continue to run gigs and support the local talent we will always have a great scene here.”