We’re all aware that electronic music is going through a purple patch at the moment, both worldwide and in Ireland. The current crop of artists that’re making waves worldwide are reflected on a somewhat smaller scale here at home. We have a huge number of local talents, especially within house music, that’re definitely making waves both online and with shows around the country with some going further overseas too.
Up until now, this has all been well and good, but many of these artists’ opportunities have been given to them months after working incredibly hard in terms of releases and DJing. We recognise the talent when it first pops up, but many Irish DJs and producers only get bigger slots and headline shows when their demand is entirely proven and there’s little risk of the night not going well, which isn’t a bad thing given the risk that goes into running club nights in the first place.
Of course, this sort of thought process seems fairly normal in a highly competitive clubbing landscape but at the same time, the reason this system is in place is because of our out and out reliance on international talent. It’s great that we can bring over headliners from overseas, both big and small, but it severely diminishes the value and integrity of ours acts here at home.
Stranger told us in an interview that a much deeper problem exists in his home country of the Netherlands, which to many of us is considered a haven for electronic music:
“It’s not that common that people in Holland get the same chances as me. Everyone is focused on the headliners from abroad, so eventually there’s a lot of people doing very good stuff and you just don’t see them… In Holland, there aren’t so many people taking these responsibilities. They have a lot of strength to push [small artists] and they don’t, which frustrates me!”
It’s getting trickier and trickier to attract people to clubs week after week with international acts given that there are so many coming from so many different genres to so many different clubs.
We have a huge bank of young and up and coming artists that don’t get the chances they deserve. The strain we put on our existing and ‘recognised’ Irish artists only serves to dilute their brand and make it even more difficult for them to be booked overseas when they’re booked so frequently here. It’s almost as if you have to do your time on the local circuit, become popular online to the extent where you have to be booked and then you’re chewed up and spat back out after you’ve been pitted against the world beating artists that exist at that space in time.
If we all decide that the focus needs to be put on local artists then we can really cultivate a self-sustaining scene, because at the moment we’re booking act after act and generating superstars that’re soon going to be mirroring the heights 90s pop stars reached under the mainstream’s gaze back then. That may seem like a crazy statement but just look at the hype surrounding the likes of Denis Sulta, Peggy Gou and Mall Grab (Stories surrounding them always do well on the site). Gou is now being sponsored by Nike and she was treated like a true star from when she landed to when she departed. More of the same behavior was on show in Habitat for Mall Grab’s show and as regards Denis Sulta; a Garth Brooks/Croke Park scandal is well and truly a realistic possibility in the near future. Of course, this isn’t taking away from these artists, but idolising them in the way we do hampers the development of our own.
We can also tell from writing the articles and the local content that we publish on the site that people are definitely interested and happy to see people from Ireland doing well, but we need to translate it into tangible success and start giving these people real life shows and encouraging.
As promoters, we’re not just saying this because it’s what we’re doing, we’re late to the party too but we’re seeing the difference it’s making in terms of people’s openness to seeing new Irish acts, but also to the acts’ credibility on a larger scale.
KETTAMA has returned from a 3 date tour of China earlier in the year and is on the bills alongside Mall Grab and Hammer, Tommy Holohan has had his tracks supported by Mall Grab himself as well as Dax J and Randomer. Shee is headlining Hangar’s warehouse in a couple of weeks time and now has two shows under his belt over in France and there are many more such as Adamant, LPM, Boots & Kats, Karl Guest, George Feely, Cailín, Casper Hastings, ELLLL, Orange Tree Edits, Pear, Sage and Daser. The talent is definitely there and it’s definitely being exposed on a huge scale, but instead of talking about it and then blowing up international acts into pop stars we all have the power to turn the current Irish scene into the Chicago or Detroit scenes of old. That might seem like a drastic stretch but the interest and talent is definitely there, we just need to develop it appropriately.
Words: Sam Greenwood & Cóilí Collins