Pear is one of a number of house music labels emanating from Dublin at the moment. With that being said, the collective-turned imprint aren’t just another fly on the wall, they’re shaping the sound of the city one release at a time. A brisk afternoon in Dublin seen us catch up over food after one half kept us all waiting outside All City Records…
Fionn Fahey swings around the corner at the bottom of Crow Street, the home to All City Records. His haircut took ages and Nevan Jio half-heartedly scoulds Fio for his lack of time keeping, but he quickly laughs it off by pointing out that Nevan’s jumper looks like it’s his Dad’s. The dynamic between the two is more unique than their respective styles; for a second they seem like an average pair of friends having a slagging match outside of a record shop.
The shop window acts as a backdrop to the duo’s back and forths and in the thick of it all lies a salmon and blue poster advertising the ‘Pear PAL Vol. 1’ launch in The Bernard Shaw. This is the third EP on wax that Nevan and Fionn have fathered under their All City Records-offshoot label. What once started as a small club night is now slowly becoming a dominant force in a rapidly shifting Dublin electronic music scene.
“I just started it to play out more. I was playing in my room and stuff and I wanted to play out more so I started Pear, that’s basically it. There was no intention to start a label at all, the only thing I was thinking about was playing,”
Fionn explains while two bites deep into a Pablo Picante burrito. His brief pause from his meal allows for Nevan to get one or two more mouthfuls in before he unloads on how exactly his involvement in Pear came about, and how the label side of things was born.
“What happened was, Fio started Pear in around 2015. About a year later, we bumped into each other in the Shaw and he asked me if I wanted to play at the night and then we started DJing together, there was no intention as regards the label.
“What happened then was, I went into All City looking for a job. I’d been kind of working there part time, and I said hey look can I get a job in here. Straight away Olan [O’Brien] said no. I was really disappointed and then he said, ‘I can give you a label’. I thought he was joking at first, but then he went on to say that he was wanting to start a house label and asked would we like to do it under Pear. We spent about a half an hour hashing out ideas and then I rang Fionn. The last thing he expected was for me to say we had a label.
“From there, we always wanted it to be an extension of the club night; whether it be music that we played or friends that we DJ’d with. It was probably bound to happen maybe a good few years down the line.”
There are several nights in Dublin that are similar in many ways to Pear, given the amount of talented DJs that inhabit the city at the moment. But Pear’s addition of a label is definitely another string to its bow, it’s more-so a stamp of legitimacy for not only their collective, but the music currently soundtracking the city at the moment.
Jio takes a quick swig of his Pepsi, “Given that the label is an extension of the club night it’s more for legitimacy, we found. With the club night after about one or two gigs, myself and Fionn sat down and asked ourselves, ‘What do we actually want to do?’. We didn’t want to do it half-arsed. Once the label then came into play, people started recognising it, not even just in Dublin, because the record has hit different parts of the world. We do a radio show too and a monthly slot on Dublin Digital Radio, it all just gets more eyes on it and people recognise how much work we put into it all.”
Pear is most definitely the product of musical passion but Fio and Jio have made the most of the tools in front of them. Fionn’s sister, Cait (who is a talented DJ in her own right), happens to be behind their recognisable designs, not to mention their obvious connection to All City as well as their aforementioned regular radio shows on Radió na Life and DDR. With all of that support it’d be forgivable if they sat back and watched it all come together, Fionn gave an example of how they’re not about to do that.
“I was just sitting in my room messaging people on Facebook looking for tracks and I messaged him [Big Miz] and he got back to me straight away. He sent me three tracks and they were all amazing and I said we’d take them and it was all done in about 15 minutes! I signed Big Miz to Pear on Facebook while I was in bed, still in my jocks.”
Even with someone the stature of Big Miz on board two EPs deep, world domination isn’t exactly the goal in Jio’s eyes.
“When we started off the label, artists like Big Miz weren’t on our radar at all, nor was Robbie [r.Kitt], it was actually a compilation we had in mind, which later became ‘PAL’. Fionn and I set out to find unknown Irish artists, or any artists. We went onto Soundcloud and really dug deep in search of good music. That ‘PAL’ EP literally took the guts of about five months, to get it compiled and narrowed down. It was about learning how to approach an artist, them sending you tunes and listening to it and then going ‘Is this right?’.
“We’ve been rather fortunate with most of the music that we’ve been sent so far because we’ve been happy to use it. In terms of contractual things, we get Olan to help us with that. We deal primarily with the A&R.”
Fionn’s burrito is now nothing but a distant memory and while he has less to focus on, Nevan is still quick to answer whether the label compliments the night or whether the night is the thing that benefits the label.
“I guess the basis of Pear is the club night. We try to do that monthly and that’s what I look forward to every month. The label helps that. When we launched the label in Tengu around October, that was one of the best nights we’ve had and that was the label complimenting the club night. We did Big Miz and that was fun and we’ll be doing the launch for ‘PAL’ in the Shaw. It’s all feeding into that and it’s giving us more chance to celebrate things and DJ.”
A quick pause gives Fio a chance to chime in.
“We’re playing in Cork at the end of the month, that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the label. We’re playing on a boat party on the Thames in March too! There are a lot of things where I don’t know whether they would’ve happened if we hadn’t started a label.”
With the cold getting the better of Nevan’s meal now, the floor is open for Fionn to expand on who Pear’s dream artist to release with would be.
“Mr. G… But there’s absolutely no chance of that! No one really in particular, just to be able to release really good music.” Alas, Jio’s food is now dead in the pan too and with no distractions and a full stomach, he emphasises how Pear is still a local thing despite the growing international recognition, and how they plan to keep it like that.
“We want to get local producers, in Dublin or in Ireland, to submit tracks and that’s what we’ve found most difficult! We want to give people a platform across Ireland to release music. Not strictly house music; we’re not a strictly house or techno label. We’ve never set our sights on releasing big artists, unless we get the idea into our head then we’ll email them for the craic (or message them on Facebook and sign them in 30 minutes). There isn’t anyone in particular in mind, it’s about growing our label so that people come to our parties, people are buying the records and we’re having a good time.”
The current electronic music landscape in Dublin is as welcoming to new ideas as it ever will be, which begs the question, would Pear have worked in the same city five years ago?
“I don’t think the sound we are and will be pushing with the label was that big five years ago. Labels that have stood the test of time like Lunar Disco and all, they’ve been doing that for 15 years or so and their sound isn’t that ‘in’ or whatever. The lads running them have a passion for it so they’re going to keep pushing it.”
Fahey interjects. “At the same time, five years ago we would’ve been 15.”
We could sit in the Clarendon Market burrito place all day entertaining all of the ‘what-ifs’ that surround the label, but one thing that is most important to both of the young DJs is making sure they’re not only shining a spotlight on the current crop of talent, but ushering along the new class of producers in what seems like an endless sea of Ableton-fluent youths.
“I don’t really produce, Fionn would be more experienced at that. Some of the feedback we’d give people who send us tracks, well me, Fionn might have a different take, but it’d be to personalise a track and make it your own. I know from friends sending on tracks that people can be ruthless; they won’t get responses or any feedback. We love giving feedback, we give feedback as regards what we would look for for our label.
“There’s such a saturation in the market at the moment; you walk into All City, you go online on Juno and there are so many records out at the moment. The biggest challenge for producers is how do you stick to stick to a particular format of dance music while making it your own and making it stand out? For us, we don’t care about innovation, we care about fostering a sense of community between people that enjoy the same thing. It’s a good time to make music, especially dance music.”