Born in Belfast and currently part of the legion of Irish producers currently residing in Berlin, Cromby held a residency close to his heart at Shine Belfast for quite a while before heading to Berlin, where he boils it down perfectly to feeling like he’s now “working to live” and not the contrary. With a Boiler Room appearance, sets at Panorama Bar, The Warehouse Project and with several slots at Denis Sulta’s AVA Castle Party in Belfast earlier this month, more than ever he’s definitely one to watch.
Just finished embarking on tour with good friends Sally C and Brame & Hamo, he’s an inaugural artist of Sulta’s brand new Silver Selects label, and with another release on the way with a label undisclosed but “exciting” for him, he’s definitely on the rise. The lead track Futurola is a hard-hitting, jacking house track that packs a fierce bass line and emotive punch, something that seems to be consistent throughout all of his productions and sets. We caught up with the Belfast born producer to see what he’s been up to.
When did you start producing?
“I started when I was around 16 just messing about on Ableton. Back then I never really took it too seriously, I would be making things on and off for a few years and never really committing to it or making too much progress. Even though bits and pieces were finished and out there, personally I feel I didn’t really take it seriously until I made the decision to start buying hardware and move away from the DAW to an MPC around 3 or 4 years ago. For the record, i’m not a ‘hardware is better than digital’ melter [laughs], it was just my own personal choice of route to go down.”
So, you were a regular dancer at Shine Belfast and then you became a resident there, can you tell us about that? Was that an important club to you, or Belfast’s scene in general?
“Yeah, I started going at a young age, there was nothing else like it at the time for me. It was such a big eye opener and opened my mind up to new sounds and firmly placed my thoughts on house and techno going forward. It’s shaped a lot of artists from Belfast – Bicep, Hammer etc were all regulars when growing up, it’s an institution. I was lucky enough to go on to play regularly and become a resident which was always a dream from the first time I stepped foot on the dance floor.”
You’ve been included on impressive line ups like The Warehouse Project, Panorama Bar, and more. Where would be your dream place to play?
“Yeah i’ve been very lucky to have had a lot of great gigs and amazing experiences at such an early stage in my life. Really thankful to be playing Robert Jonson at the end of October which was always a dream along with Panorama bar. Apart from those I would love to play at Bassani in Tsibli, i’ve heard amazing reports and to see the solidarity of the people after what happened there earlier this year is really inspiring.”
What difference have you found between Belfast and the places you’ve lived like London and Berlin? Is there anything that Berlin makes easier in terms of producing, DJing, getting along with making music?
“I feel like i’ve definitely found my feet whilst living in Berlin. The cost of living is still relatively low, it is rising though. I’ve been able to afford to have a studio and have the time to focus on music. London always felt more like I was living to work rather than working to live so I decided I needed to make a change and Berlin was always a place I’d wanted to live. I left Belfast when I was 21 and my mum still did my washing so no comment on that one [laughs].”
“I was living to work rather than working to live so I decided I needed to make a change”
Your productions seem to have a consistently raw or bass heavy house sound, do you have a process to your productions, or a consistent style or aspect you like to emphasise?
“I never really set out to make anything with an idea in mind. I just turn on the MPC and start jamming see what comes out. I love 90’s house and techno and would listen to a lot of older labels such as Relief Records and Peacefrog. A lot of tracks on there have that sound aesthetic, some are just raw drums and bass lines. So it’s maybe a product of surrounding myself with that style of music, mixed with using some of the same equipment that would have been used on those tracks. The MPC 2000xl definitely adds a certain character to your drum samples which I love.”
You’ve recently been signed to Sulta’s newest imprint Silver Service. You were the first artist to be signed to it with your EP Futurola due to be released soon. How does that feel? How important do you think labels are to artists these days? It seems some artists are heavily emphasising starting their own label, while others are more comfortable being on other labels.
“Yeah it feels great, the tracks had been sitting on a hard drive for a while, i’d only let a few close friends hear them. They were a bit different so I hadn’t really thought of any labels they would suit. So when Hector heard them at a party and asked me to release them it definitely gave me a boost of confidence in my own productions.”
“Labels can really important, as a small not so well known artist it can really help you be heard or give you a break to help kick start your career. I think artistically starting your own imprint makes loads of sense. You can put out whatever you want without feeling constrained to the thought of having to make something sound like a certain ‘sound’ to try get it to fit on a certain label – which personally I think is a load of rubbish, it inspires a same-y bland theme. The freedom inspires new sounds and ideas to come to the forefront, it’s definitely something I want to do soon enough.”
“The freedom inspires new sounds and ideas to come to the forefront”
Favourite place to play or favourite show so far?
“Thats a hard one but to broaden it to a country, Ireland hands down! In terms of a favourite show, one in recent memory that really stands out was at one of the Waffles parties we did at Greissmulhe earlier this year. I run it alongside Sally C and Tiarnan from Brame & Hamo. It was pretty wild, it was one of those sets where every track came naturally, the crowd was on top form, and the music just seemed to flow through you, no thinking involved.”
Anything in store for the future?
“After the Futurola release I have another release coming out in November on a label i’m very, very excited about. It will be a single from me along with with two excellent remixes.. Feeling ‘pumped’ about that one.”
HAAi recently spoke on some things she learned during her residency at Phonox. What did you take from being a long term resident at Shine? Do you think residencies shape a DJ?
“Yeah I think it definitely helps you hone your skills. Reading a room is one of the most important things I think, watching and anticipating what way you need to take it, which can constantly change so you need to be on the ball. Practising regularly with the same crowd and room, you really get to know it well and it puts you in good stead to transfer that to different environments.”