Belfast via Waterford is an unusual route to the top, but it’s the unlikely path that Myler is already too far down to turn back on.
A crisp Saturday morning sees the always cheerful techno DJ greet me outside Burger King on O’Connell Street where he is quick to offer a lend of money for the wallet I’ve just lost on the Luas into town.
It’d be easy to think that he’s a fun loving disco DJ on a brief first encounter, but Myler’s sound is one of the most unforgiving on the island and across all of Europe despite the overpowering atmosphere of positivity surrounding him. He first emerged on our radars via Ansome’s notoriously eardrum-unfriendly label South London Analog Material and a close affiliation with Baas Mooy’s slightly (stressing slightly here) more accessible Mord imprint. Through that exposure, the Irishman has played the length and breath of Europe with some of techno’s biggest and most intense names.
While he could have ended up as one of the many well-known artists that have stuck with either label, he switched to an even more hectic homebase, the RA-described ‘comically fast’ Belfast-based promotion DSNT.
The collective are by far one of the most forward-thinking groups of individuals in all of electronic music at the moment, exemplified by their unique combination of clothing, artwork, records and parties.
In DSNT, Myler found a home that loved him as much as he loved hardcore music, with none of the pretence that comes with straightlaced techno and all the colour that comes with happy hardcore.
“That’s what I grew up on. The first thing I got into were ‘Bonkers’ CDs. From when I was 12, I was mad into ‘Bonkers’ and then I slowly started to calm down; I got into Eddie Halliwell, trance and hard dance through his earlier sets, and then hardcore came back around again. Techno was more of an afterthought.”
Sitting relaxed donning one of DSNT’s signature hoodies the morning after a gig alongside KRTM in The Soundhouse, Dublin, the producer stresses how the techno culture wasn’t exactly for him.
“I did go very deep for a while and I wasn’t having fun when I was gigging. I was conforming and making compromises because that’s what was being done at the time. I thought that’s what I had to do to get into the ‘scene’. Meeting up with the DSNT lads was like a musical liberation. I noticed that if I was playing a four-hour set in Berlin, during the last hour when I’d pick up the pace, that’s when I started enjoying myself and I thought, ‘Why amn’t I doing this all the time?’. That’s when I moved back out of techno and started playing more of everything else [Hardcore, jungle, gabber].”
Smiling at the mention of his favourite genres, it’s clear to see that Myler’s tangible enthusiasm towards fast music wasn’t made for the moodier tones of techno.
“I don’t understand why people are against niceness. I don’t get it. I got a little bit jaded with the scene for a while and that was the problem; I came from trance and hard dance and that was very much big energy, big rooms and big lights. When it came to techno it was a nice change, but all of a sudden it was just a dark room, it was great at the time for what we were doing, but I missed heading in and everyone being at one with their hands in the air,” he says, waving his hands as if he’s just heard ‘Adagio for Strings’ at peak time in a packed out club. “I don’t understand why people are so against it! I understand that there’s a really bad section of trance, it gets a bad rap because of what people are doing with it now, but that genre is special.
“There’s a reason that certain people ran dance music for 20 years, there’s a reason why Armin Van Buuren and Tiesto are who they are, it’s because they were amazing. I know they’re after selling out and I can even hear it with hard dance. It was the same as trance, where it was always aligned to go down the EDM route and I was a little bit heartbroken that not even a little splinter hung on to keep it real. The same thing happened with happy hardcore. We had people like Darren Styles come in and commercialise it up and it wasn’t the same buzz.”
In regards to the stereotypical atmosphere surrounding the music and its producers, there has been a change techno. Ansome’s South London Analog Material has had a big role in kicking down that door, with an unashamed ‘be yourself’ attitude that has turned a few heads, quite similar to DSNT, both of which have been instrumental in shaping Myler’s career.
“I was very lucky to land in the little cliques I landed in; DSNT and S.L.A.M., I’ve been very much adopted by the right people. I met Kieran [Ansome] first through techno, he started sending me stuff, I was already making stuff, I had a release on Fifth Wall, and then the scene really started to bubble. Ansome just blew up and me and him were really tight from the start. Then Ossian came into the fray and S.L.A.M. really jumped up.
“Playing S.L.A.M. nights is always next level fun. It’s always mayhem. We’re all on the same agency so at least three or four times a year it’d end up being the whole roster together in some country and it’d be lunacy. I remember we were in Paris and we were playing in La Machina on the Moulin Rouge and it was myself, J Tijn, DeFeKT, Bas Mooy, Paul Birken, Ansome, Ossian, UVB, there was a rake of us there!
“We ended up breaking the elevator on the way back and then we had to get the train to London the next day and play there. It’s a different level of craic. I love going to gigs and being professional but when you get to go and be with the lads it’s less of a job. I was very lucky to land with them, it was a big help with my musical liberation. Before I bumped into DSNT and the lads I was conforming with what I had to do.
“Ever since then I’ve had this notion of ‘fuck it, I just need to do me’, and I’ve been enjoying myself a lot more and it has helped my career boatloads! Ever since I’ve started acting like that is when stuff started popping. ‘Be yourself’ really is the best advice.”
Another shared idealism between both collectives is their no nonsense music policies. From the outside looking in, techno is nothing but a mash up of drums and not a whole lot else and that’s something Myler embraces. Oisin O’Brien, the mastermind behind DSNT, was very adamant in pointing that out when we spoke at DSNT’s 6th birthday event. “There’s a real culture of self-justification; people trying to justify the rave music they do as art or trying to justify its creative integrity. The reality of it is is that the music inherently has its creative integrity, it doesn’t need a story as to why. It’s banging as fuck and it’s an emotional release for everyone”.
Myler shared a similar sentiment, albeit a little bit more raw than the bossman’s,“People need to stop pretending that you’re not making music for a room full of people taking drugs. Ok, it is art, people are expressing themselves sure, but your job at the end of the day is to play to a room full of people on drugs. You’re there to feed the party,” combing his memory for an example, he gets a lightbulb moment.
“The last time we played in Galway!” He exclaims, pointing at me almost accusingly, given my ties to the county.
“I knew that the jungle me and Casper were going to play wasn’t going to go as well as we planned. I could tell by the crowd; they were not there to be intellectually stimulated by what Dillinga done cutting up this 16 bar break, nobody cared, they wanted to hear Zombie Nation!
“You’re just there to play music for people to dance to. The less people that take it seriously the better! There is a space for artistically-advanced techno and experimental stuff, but I don’t think it’s in a club. We’re there to dance, we’re there to party and most people are there to take drugs; it’s escapism, people’s lives are hard enough during the week they don’t need to be intellectually stimulated in the nightclub, you’re there to have the craic.”
The question of whether Aphex Twin-esque noise music has a place in the club or not brings us on to the much more pertinent subject of drink and drugs. Avicii’s untimely passing shed an overdue light on the overtly unhealthy lifestyle of DJs big and small, and has made the discussion a much more public one, not just a mention at an afterparty.
“I remember pain a lot. I know that standing in Charles De Gaulle airport with a raging hangover in a two hour long security queue before you get on an hour and 45 flight before you then have a two hour drive home isn’t nice. Maybe every three months I’ll forget, but there will be times when I’m sitting in the club and I realise that I’m getting too on it and I’ll start drinking water because I know the day after will be a nightmare.”
He shudders slightly at the thought of said French headache, but continues on, explaining that while he is most definitely a party-centric person, everyone needs a break.
“It’s expected of you, which I don’t think is fair. It’s very dangerous and I’ve seen a lot of guys get booked because people want to party with them. You show up to a gig and you have actual real life stuff to do tomorrow. I might need to go home and pay my car insurance tomorrow, I know you’re all off and here to party, but I’m actually working.
“I think there’s a happy medium. If I have a double gig on a weekend I try to keep it fairly sensible because there’s nothing worse than rolling around a bed in a hotel room wishing you don’t have to go to a gig. I see the dangers of it, I haven’t seen anyone fall victim to it, but we are from Ireland and I know genuine addicts and alcoholics. I haven’t seen it in terms of music, I have seen older lads that might have gone through it and come out the other side that are still playing but you can tell that they’re a little bit jaded by the club scene. The dangers of it are all too much, especially the drugs. I know it’s what fuels dance music to a degree.”
Like most conversations revolving around sessioning, the mere mention of it had us both laughing slightly uncomfortable at first. Leaning closer to the mic now, his tone darkens a shade as he treads down memory lane while dissecting our current relationship with drugs.
“It’s so disposable. I love the fact that the youth is in nightclubs and that the young people are into techno, if they weren’t I wouldn’t be getting paid! They take so much though, it’s not like the drugs are better or anything, I used to see it with the lads below me in school. It scares me to think of where it’s going to go.
“I used to say it when I was younger, a big part of my growing up with a clever relationship with drugs was because I was taught about it by my parents. There should be some sort of drug education classes.”
The openness regarding drugs from a young age definitely benefited the rave connoisseur, but we question whether the plethora of information available online surrounding drugs is as helpful as it seems or if it’s just to mask the widespread harm we haven’t witnessed the consequences of yet. On one side of the media we have open discussion about drugs and all their quirky aspects without really taking into account the downsides, while on the other we have only criminal coverage of drugs and a brushing under the rug of their use in society.
“I’ve put myself in crazy situations when I was growing up and I definitely could’ve ended up a lot worse. The education I got from my parents steered me in the right direction. I could be around that sort of thing but I didn’t have to be involved, I was never swayed by peer pressure, but I know that’s a big issue. Education is the real issue though. Not shoving propaganda down people’s throats but simply like; this is what this does, this is what it’ll do to you, this is where you can get it and this is what you can do with it. I think that is a major deterrent.
“You’re a product of your environment for sure, and circumstance can change things, but I know some pretty square people that ended up going down some severely wrong paths and there has to be something in your mind where you don’t have the right information or that you don’t see the pitfalls or haven’t been around them. Addiction is shocking, it kills life.”
The topic of addiction then brings him onto the other Irish population’s Achilles heel, alcohol.
“I was sober for five years, I don’t advise that either really. The main reason I started drinking again was because I was getting bad anxiety around gigs and I wanted to ease that aspect a little bit, I thought, ‘fuck it, I’ll have a couple’ and it definitely helped, I haven’t had an anxiety attack since and I don’t even need to drink anymore, I just have the option. I couldn’t even go out for a long time because I couldn’t deal with drunk people when I was sober.
“Addiction is very horrible, if it’s in your family, you’ll most likely have a slip and you won’t even realise until you’re neck deep in it. All of a sudden it’s a problem and it’s a very real problem. Especially for young people these days they’re way too nonchalant with drugs. There’s definitely dangers there when it comes to drugs and people need to know the pitfalls. It’s all fun and games until your serotonin’s gone and you’re going out and feeling like killing yourself for the rest of the week after but you don’t know why.”
The tea he bought for the pair of us has gone cold as our interview/conversation lasted much longer than we had initially anticipated. Despite this taking place two weeks before the aforementioned Swedish DJ’s death, our walk from the office to JD Sports (He was vocal in his excitement about getting a pair of shoes to add to his now growing collection) had us discussing how Avicii burned out on the biggest stage. Two weeks later he unfortunately took his own life in what was much less a case of ‘too much too soon’ and more so a case of a lifestyle that isn’t fit for any human being.
While Myler will probably never be one to shy away a bottle of Buckfast, his vocal awareness on the party lifestyle might keep some up-and-comers from slipping into the quicksand of addiction that often accompanies a life of partying.
We part ways, him on his way to cop a fresh pair of Nikes while I search in vain for a wallet that’s long gone; real life is most definitely a burden and the club takes some of the weight off, it shouldn’t add any extra baggage once the doors slam shut.
Photo Credits: Jasmin Bell
Myler plays Higher Vision, Navan Racecourse on June 30.