We sat down with Limerick’s Chaz Moloney ahead of his live show at Racket Space this weekend. Moloney’s lust for creativity through running events, labels, community initiatives, and live performances is something that runs deep in his blood—a true innovator and vanguard of the underground.

Chaz Moloney has emerged as one of Ireland’s most exciting newcomers in 2024, despite having been a staple in the Irish techno scene for the past decade. Inspired by the many landscapes of underground culture, Chaz has tirelessly pushed the boat out for himself and his city. His bohemian attitude seeps into every facet of life, bringing a handcrafted approach to the many projects he’s been involved in throughout his years involved in club culture.

In many ways, Chaz is a bit of an unsung hero of the Irish techno. Often celebrated in his hometown of Limerick for his tireless work with his former party Touch Of Techno, which welcomed the likes of DVS1, Ben Sims, Special Request, Benjamin Damage, Cleric, FJAAK, SPFDJ, to name a few at their hallowed club nights. One of Chaz’s more recent projects SIONNA Music and Arts Festival was one of the most forward-thinking club-style events Limerick has ever seen, adopting a vacant venue and transforming it into an ambiguously smoke-filled playground for techno purists.

Aside from running club nights, Chaz has been an accomplished DJ for quite some time now, playing at various festivals and club shows across the country. He is also part of a duo with long-time friend Shee under the moniker Midweek, a subtle ode to Limerick’s vibrant midweek scene at the demise of weekend parties. The pair had a tremendously successful run of forward-facing bass-heavy tunes, which earned them a spot at AVA and support from BICEP.

Fast forward to 2024, and Moloney has ditched DJing for the time being and pushed himself headfirst into live performance, creating yet another new challenge for an artist who thrives on adversity. Chaz’s journey from his studio to the stage has not been simple; after months of isolated discipline, Chaz can hold up his hands and say he has created a sound and concept that is truly unique, a sentiment that is dear to him. After many years of being the backbone of Limerick’s techno scene, it’s now time for Moloney to shine a light on his own art. This isn’t a comeback story as Chaz never left, but it may be the start of an illustrious career in live performance.

Max Heyraud speaks with the Limerick-based artist about his newly coined live show, the Limerick scene, his conceptual club night Hardware and more.

You’ve had a fruitful last few months as your live project has come together. How are you adjusting to regularly playing live as opposed to DJing?

Yo, thanks very much! Yeah, things have been pretty good lately to be fair. I’m definitely enjoying being out playing regular shows again. Things were pretty grim there for a while, throughout COVID & also while I was developing this project but you gotta take the rough with the smooth. I guess I couldn’t have been out regularly gigging while doing the intense research and development I was doing last year. I’m enjoying the whole process a hell of a lot, to be honest! There’s definitely a lot more work involved in performing live. The days & hours leading up to a show seem to just be manic! I need to go over stuff all the time, making sure things are sounding good, making sure everything is working properly, my machines are set correctly, backing up flash disks etc. On the day of a show, I gotta essentially pack up a studio, move it to the venue unpack and set it up again. But as I said it’s a fun process for me! There’s nothing like the butterflies I get when I’m putting my octa track into its flight case and about to head to a show!  

Can you give us a bit of an insight into your live set, what are you using and how are you using it?

This will be fun hahah! So I use a good bit of Elektron gear. Mainly because I just love the workflow of their machines, once you figure it out! I use an octa track mkII to; process all the signals from my various synths & drum machines, and play back audio samples I’ve made on Ableton like shaker loops, Vox shots, drones etc. The Octatrack also acts as a looper so it will sample my modular case in real-time and then I can switch from the live feed to the recorded loop and change up what’s going on in the modular case without the audience hearing it.

I also use the octa track as a performance mixer to do things like high pass the master channel, mute channels, low pass drones, side chain my modular system etc. The final thing I do with the Octatrack is use it to sequence a polyphonic voice in my modular case via midi. Traditionally, modular voices are monophonic, that is they can only play one note at a time so If used my modular sequencer to sequence my poly voice I would only be making use of one voice instead of the multiple voices available in this module. The poly voice is called poly cinematic and I use the octa track to play chord shapes into this voice to create these like long dissonant drones which are sent into an eventide H9 reverb. This is really great for building moments of tension.

To the left of my octa track is an Elektron Analog Rytm MkII. This is where my main kick, rumble and one-shot drum hits like; claps, rides, hats etc. come from.  Besides this, I have another Elektron box! Yup elektron! This one is called a model cycles, it’s an FM-based groove box and it’s just a crazy little beast to be honest. I mainly use this for generating poly rhythms with toms, hats, metallic percs etc.

My modular case has its own sequencer, Erica Synths black sequencer.  I use this to sequence Erica Synths Bassline Module & Mutable Instruments – Elements module. The rest of the modules are just filters, a low pass gate, some overdrive, a mixer and the poly voice I mentioned earlier. I use an Eventide H9, (I bought this in the car park of Aldi in Ennistymon, sketchy business!) for reverb mainly. Finally, My master signal passes from my Octatrack into an OTO Boum for saturation and compression to glue the mix together and beef it up before going to the front of the house.

You’re bringing your live show to Racket Space next month for your first headline show in Dublin. You’ve been active on the scene for many years, this must feel like a long time coming now.

Yeah, for sure! It does and it doesn’t to be honest. We’ve been doing our own thing in Limerick for years and I guess when you’re not actively involved in the local scene in a city like Dublin, you really have to work hard & pull something special out of the bag for people to turn their heads your way and invite you to come play a show in their city. I think the important thing is that you work in your local scene, try to build and nourish something there first and the bigger shows will come down the line if you’re doing something cool.

You’re bringing a full audio-visual display with you to Racket Space, how important is having an immersive space to accompany your live sets?

Yeah, my friend Roisín Berg will be coming with me from Limerick! Roisín did the visuals at our Limerick show in December and absolutely smashed it. We set up a fish eye on the top of my modular case and projected a warped, glitched-out feed of me playing the modular mixed with Rosins designs onto a screen behind my head which was trippy as f**k! But to come back to your question, I think having a comfortable immersive space for techno in general is what our craft boils down to! That is essentially what we are trying to achieve with every performance, show or club night we put on. People need to feel comfortable to express themselves freely!

Live sets are still fairly nuanced in the Irish club scene, how has the response to live performances been from fans?

Yeah, it’s been great man! People seem to love it to be fair. I guess it’s something relatively new to the current demographic of clubbers & seeing a modular case blows people’s minds sometimes for some reason haha. I was chatting to a few people after my Fuinneamh performance and they said they just loved how Raw it all sounded which is cool to hear back. Yeah, I guess it’s just a relatively new thing to a lot of us here haha.

How much of your live sets are improvised?

So at the moment, I have a general structure to the show and I improvise within this structure. I have a bank of prepared sequences, on each machine that carries voices, that go from number 1 to number 16. So how I interact with each sequence is up to me. Like for example each sequence or part as I call them, will have a drone available within it but it’s up to me if or at what point I’ll bring in the drone. And this is similar to every element that’s in contention for each particular part. So I’ll be mixing and jamming with everything. My drums are really improvised. I think I have something like 8 different drum patterns on the rytm and I just swap between these as I see fit. For example, if I’m on pattern 3 the clap is going to be on every second downbeat and if I swap to pattern 5 the clap will be on every downbeat and so I just kinda know what’s in each pattern so I’ll improvise with them throughout the set. It starts to become muscle memory after you’ve done it enough times. Similarly how I build up tension and release is improvised. I’ll start mixing in a drone and then mute the drums or the kick, if the drums are muted here I’ll swap to a different drum pattern maybe or unmute some rides or claps and then swap the mutes so the drone gets muted and the drums unmute to “drop” a section. I think it’s really important to have control over all of these things because for me, if the timeline of the set is predetermined then it kinda takes the fun out of it but also I want to be able to stay in a groove if I can feel the crowd is really feeling it at that point. It’s all a constant work in progress, to be honest, and I’m always working to make it better and add more elements of improvisation to it. Each set I’ve played has been very different from the previous one and I’m really enjoying the progressive nature of this style of performing. For now, I’m happy with where It’s at but I think I’d like to be at a point down the line where I’m showing up to clubs with a completely blank sheet. I did a fully Improvised performance at Limerick Noise Collective last week with nothing prepared and I really enjoyed that process. So I think down the line this is an avenue I want to pursue. 

Speaking of improvised performance, you recently set up a new club night in Limerick, ‘Hardware’, with Brawni. Can you tell us a bit about the concept?

Yeee! Shout Out the Brawni fella! So myself and Brawni have been friends for a few years now and we spent a lot of time together over the summer making music and jamming, preparing a live show together for culture night in King John’s Castle. It was a really great time & I guess that process and show sparked a desire in both of us to continue working together but also to develop some sort of a community centred around electronic music & the arts in general in Limerick. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some of our core collectives close up shop here over the last number of years. It’s just not an easy game to be at anymore. And so the artists in our city have fewer platforms to showcase their work now more than ever. I was lucky enough to build some relationships with Belltable Theatre over the years and recently they have allowed us to start using the space as a club every now and then. We did a trial event in December and it was a roaring success from start to finish. And so with a new space secured, we knew it was a perfect opportunity to bite the bullet and start this project together.

The concept of the show is to get artists from different backgrounds to come together and improvise together in front of an audience. So for the debut show, we have 2 techno artists myself and Rustal, an ambient artist in Paddy Mulcahy & Eletronica & UK bass artist in Brawni. The aim is to create deep club & techno music so it will be fun to see the artists that are not from this background performing under this guise. The stage will be in the centre of the room giving the audience a great opportunity to see how we are all using our gear. We’re putting a big emphasis on the whole production of the gig to make it sound, look and feel like a proper club. The space in the theatre is so cool it genuinely feels like a really nice club in there when the seats are removed and there’s proper sound, light & haze going. We’re trying to utilise the space as best as possible so The cafe downstairs in the theatre will also be showcasing local artists. For this one we have Feile Na Greine boss man Jack Brolly playing some ambient music to contrast the sounds of the main room. Finally, we saw this as an opportunity to showcase & support local visual art! Visual artists have the same struggles as we do in Ireland in that they can’t find space, there’s not a whole lot of opportunity etc. so this is an integral part of our mission statement. My pal Ohhi Ohno has been doing a great job organising & curating this element of the project and the lineup of visual artists they have invited for this show is:  Alt For JesusDiabhall 666FannylanderGlossy BoiManky & Ohhi Ohno themselves.

D.I.Y. appears to be central to your approach as an artist, from live performance to prior work as a promoter, label owner, and now launching a new club night. How vital is it to have complete creative control while exhibiting your art in various formats?

Ya, I think that is a core value of the wider electronic music scene here as a whole, to be honest! We don’t have a whole lot of resources to make things happen here in Ireland and for that reason, I think the resilience of our scene in the face of all the adversity we face is truly inspiring. It’s really not easy to do things in this country! But we always find a way to throw parties and play the music we want to listen to no matter what. Our dancefloors are governed by so much red tape that a lot of the time you have to just go do it yourself. There’s always an empty warehouse or sand dune that you and your friends can go to. I think it’s extremely important that you have full creative control and stick to your vision! Do what you want to do, uncompromised & eventually people will take notice & things will happen. 

You’ve been an integral part of the Limerick scene for over a decade; how is it now?

Ya, it seems to be really coming back around recently to be fair. It really ebbs and flows down here and I think the pandemic really messed things up here for a while. Some great younger guys are booking in and running good parties here like the Equinox crew! Of course, the mighty DIE crew are still in operation, doing things right as always! So it’s just good to have that beacon of hope there, there’s someone showing the younger guys in college what an underground party should feel like. The arts in general are really thriving here, to be honest! It seems all my friends are absolutely killing it with their work at the moment, like 40 hurtz & Hazey just played the main room in Berghain! SHEE is absolutely flying and some fantastic up-and-coming artists is starting to emerge now too! I’d actually be here all day trying to name everyone. For a small city with not much going for it we really crank out quality art. So it’s a really inspiring place to be right now… not that the city itself is inspiring… but the people here are an inspiration! Other than that we are so buzzed that a new venue has opened its doors to underground dance music down here and given our scene a new lease of life! So big thank you to the guys at Belltable for the trust in that one. It really feels like the start of something really special here! 

Your live set has met with high praise from some of Ireland’s most revered names in techno, have you got any plans to release any of your jams as fully-fledged tracks? 

Ah, thank you very much! Yeah, I’m working hard at getting my output up this year. I felt like that really took a hit last year while I was developing the new show. All of my energy went into learning this craft and I didn’t actually get to record much music. I’m actually going to release the video from my belltable show in December today with this interview so you can now watch the show over on my YouTube channel! I struggled during this performance with monitors and a lot more and wasn’t going to release this video at all. But I’m trying to get better at letting go of work!

What does the rest of 2024 hold for you?

So obviously the Racket Space on 1st March with Pageone & Fuam is the next big headline show! Definitely come down if you’re around it’s going to be a great night of techno! I’ve got some shows around the country that are going to be announced in the coming weeks so keep your eyes locked for them too, we’ve the debut hardware show in Limerick on 16th March and I’m currently in the middle of mixing down my next EP that will be 4 to 5 tracks of some new and old techno productions! 

You can purchase tickets to live at Racket Space here.

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