I've always been into music since I was a little kid; my brother always had loads of instruments around the house. I remember being about four years old and my dad bringing home an oscilloscope- like an old TV screen, you played music into it, and it shows you the wave form across the screen- and just being obsessed with it, he had to take it away from me after a couple of days. And I've always been mad into music since then. I got a computer when I was a teenager and a set of decks at eighteen or nineteen.
-What were your influences going into music?
Oh God, that's a very hard question. Well, I mean, I'm into all kinds of music; everything like old Rock n' Roll, 80s tunes, House music, Hip-hop, Reggae, Techno, Drum & Bass, whatever. But I don't know, my taste probably changes every few years, so there's always something new that catches me every few years. There's so many, I've a hugely varied taste in music, so to pick out one or two examples is probably impossible. I can think of a few different albums and times down through the years that might have changed my taste in music. I remember hearing "Kid A'' for the first time, it's a good one; it's off the Radiohead album. I got it the first day it was released, and hated it, thought it was the most horrible thing I've ever heard- "Where are all the guitars gone?''. And then I went to see them doing the opening gig of the tour the next night, and just wanting them to play all the old songs, going "What's all this new shit with the synthesisers?''. And then they played that "Idioteque'' song, and the whole place went completely bananas, and I was just like "Aha!''. I've had millions of moments like that through the years. Maybe I mightn't like a kind of music at first, because I don't get it, and then it just clicks with me. It's difficult to name off a list of influences.
Was there anything special or unique about the environment you developed in? Was there music in your family?
There was a little bit of music at home. I didn't have a mad musical family, but my mum would have always had a few records floating around, my brother had a guitar and stuff. My friends would have been really into music when I was in school; we had a band going. Came to Galway then, went to college, and started going to a lot of gigs, things like that. I moved over to Scotland then for a year and was mad into record shops over there, mad into buying loads of tunes and hanging out with lots of people and learning things from them. I probably experienced my first few proper massive sound systems over there.
-How different was the scene in Scotland?
It was much bigger when I was living over there, maybe six or seven big decent night clubs with stuff going on. On Tuesdays there would be something happening in two or three places around town, or every other night of the week. But I think it's changed a lot over there since the recession; it's been a few years since I was last over there. It's a much bigger scene- Galway's a small town. Five or six years ago you were able to have two or three big gigs on a Saturday night, but these days it's difficult enough to have too many big gigs on without coming into issues with money and other things. But things are picking up now again. I mean, that was a great night out on Saturday [Panda Dub gig]. Two years ago, it would have been hard to get that many people in a hall that size. It would be very stressful putting that gig on, poor old Munki would have lost his shirt two years ago doing that; and I know people did try to put gigs on.
Is there any moment you remember from gigs that stands out? Any funny memory?
Once again there are loads of them, so it's kind of tricky to pick one. Some of the best ones are, I suppose when we built that sound system, had some mad experiences with it. I remember a good one with a girl who had frizzy hair sticking her head into the bass bin, and all the hair on her head going "zoomp!''. That was pretty funny. I've got to do some great gigs, different festivals and support for different big DJs, and playing on some fantastic sound systems as well. I got to play on the Revelation, Rootical, the Firehouse Skank from Dublin; another good old classic Reggae sound system. And a few other brilliant people like Funktion-One and Void. I've done a lot of gigs in the past few years, so there are a lot of memories and it's hard to pick one shining example when there are thousands of them which are great. I do remember playing at the Sundown Gathering a few years ago, that was really good craic. It was a small little festival, really nice with a small crew of people and friends, that was it. I much prefer smaller, more relaxed things, than big massive high pressure gigs. They're fun as well, but they're not as much fun. I don't like to do too many gigs that it becomes like a job; for me it's mostly like a hobby, because I like music and enjoy doing it.
What was the first record you ever bought?
I would have had loads of tapes and CDs, used to have a 4-track and weird things like that, before I started buying records. I think the first record I ever bought was probably "Super Discount'' when I was living over in Edinburgh; French House music with Etienne de Crecy. That would have been my first record, but I'm not quite sure. I can't remember. I used to have thousands and thousands of tapes at home when I was a teenager, but I think my mum threw them all out when I left home. I suppose there was always loads of music around when I was young so, I was listening to music for years before I started buying them myself; my brother, my sister and my parents would have been into music themselves. The thing is lot's of people don't even buy music anymore. If you're under the age of twenty-five, it's probably a strange concept to go spend twenty quid on a CD. I spent loads of money for years and years and years buying music, but I haven't spent as much buying new music in the last few years, because I've been buying loads of equipment and getting the sound system, studio and stuff together. And I'm not exactly a rich man. I always try and support good music. It's funny, I've met some young DJs now who have probably never bought a record; it's a strange concept. I actually started DJing when you had to use records, there weren't any computers, they were just starting to become something and you could only get a few proper programmes on them.
-A lot of people put stuff on Soundcloud and get their music there.
Yeah, there's kind of a quality thing then though. It's grand if you're listening at home on your hi-fi, but if you're listening to it on a proper massive PA high quality high fidelity sound system, you totally hear the difference between something that's ripped off Soundcloud or a CD, or vinyl. I'm not necessarily a vinyl purist but it does work better on big rigs for some reason I can't explain.
What do you think are the main challenges to becoming a DJ today?
I'd probably say the exact opposite, that it's never been easier. All you've to do is download some computer software, get the tunes off the internet and mix them together fairly simply- it's not that hard to do. But the thing is then; I suppose you often see that everyone's a DJ, like anyone can do it. I remember coming back to Galway from Edinburgh a few years ago and there was only a handful of people in town who would have a record collection and could put a gig on with it. Whereas now, anyone with a laptop is a DJ; and there's nothing wrong with that, it's actually a great thing. I don't think there's anything wrong with it at all. The more people do stuff, the higher and further they progress. True talent will always come to the top, or well, hopefully it will.
-Would it be harder because everybody's doing it?
Yeah, but if you're good at it it's fairly self-apparent. Everyone can tell, all you have to do is play in front of a dance floor of people. If people like it, good. If they don't, you're not that good. Music is subjective, but there are some people who are into a lot of different sounds, and everybody's going to love them because they have a quality to it. I was on about a guy yesterday, I'd love to bring him over here to do a gig, but I was then thinking that not many people would really be interested, even though I think it's brilliant music.
-What's the style of music?
A Dub Techno guy, Cold Tear Records; A Lithuanian Dub Techno label, it's brilliant there's really nice stuff on it. But it's really spacey, chilled out mellow stuff. It would be great to bring him over but you wouldn't get three hundred people to go to a mellow, spacey Dub Techno gig. Maybe you could get it in as part of something much larger, a big festival.
What has been your favourite festival experience?
I remember playing at Life Festival years ago doing a mad live gig, all my own original music mashed up in a weird way, it was crazy. And being really nervous about it beforehand going "is this going to work? Are people going to start throwing bottles at me?''. They didn't, and it was nice, I remember thinking "That was pretty cool''. Or that Sundown one was quite nice as well, with just a gang of my really good friends. My favourite festival experience...I started going to festivals when I was fifteen, so I've gone to an awful lot of them down through the years. They're all brilliant, I always try and have a buzz at every festival. There's always something nice to take away from everything, you know? Some are better than others. I do remember one of my favourites was playing with my good mate Dom in a church, a run-down place, with the Firehouse Skank Sound System. That was great craic, we were in this big massive church, it was the start of the festival so there weren't many people around, just a small group of our friends. Favourite festival memories...generally all the best ones are the small ones with a small group of people. Just having the craic with your mates, having somewhere to gather together and listen to music.
People sometimes bring up questions of originality when it comes to electronic music, about sampling and reusing sounds; some say it isn't original or creating anything new. How would you defend this style of music?
It just depends on what you do with your material. Some people do sample things in an extremely uncreative boring way. I don't think there's anything wrong with sampling really- maybe there is if you just blatantly rob the hook from a rap or pop song, rap it on your own and pretend it's yours and make loads of money out of it. You should perhaps do something to credit your sources. But the way technology works these days, and also the copyright law works as well, it only protects the person who wrote the lyrics and the person who wrote the lead melody of a song. But if you're- say one of the most famous samples of all them, the funky Drummer from the James Brown song, or the A-men break- that's a drummer playing that tune, but even if they were to claim all the royalties that were due for it, not a penny of it would go to the drummer who played the tune, it would go to the record company. That's kind of funny. But also with sampling, you don't have to take sound and use it exactly as you found it, you can manipulate it into any other sound. I can take a tiny snippet of sound and make a full drum kit out of it, a bass line, turn it into a piano, from a microscopic section of an old Elvis Presley tune or something like that. You could make it into whatever you want, and to say that that's all the creativity that comes from the original things, it's a bit funny and strange. I think as well, it's a kind of grey area that needs to be worked out; like the internet and how it has changed the model of music that you can reach. It might take another ten or fifteen years to sort out another system. I think mostly, copyright stifles; the control of knowledge stifles creativity and progress. The way university systems make you pay for knowledge; it just holds prisoner to something only the privileged and wealthy can get.
And if you take say, Reggae music. Jamaica is famous because it never had a copyright law, so all the old Studio One classic tunes were all ripped off a hundred million times by every single producer in the country, who did their own classic version of it. You'd have different MCs, who would voice different tracks; it's a fantastic tradition that nobody ever complains about, and nobody ever thought anything was wrong with it, and it led to a massively rich varied musical history, because of the lack of control. The people who never really benefited were large corporations, record companies- there are only a handful of them that own most of the major distribution channels. Most of it just serves the interests of the big guys rather than the small guys. People go on about "the music industry's changed'', but it hasn't been around long anyway, it's only in the 60s and 70s when massive music industries in the UK, the Top 30 sort of thing took off, so it's around for a few years, and now it's changed to something else and it just needs to deal with this; in the 80s, once the copies of sampling machines were made, that was basically ending copyright law, because the potential is there, it's just going to happen. So to stop people exploring them and doing their thing is a stifling force.
What are your plans for the future? You mentioned a studio?
Well I'm after moving house a few times in the last few months, so my studio is in boxes in my bedroom, packed. In my home years ago there was this big massive garage, and it had a fully decked out recording studio, it was brilliant. I learned an awful lot of stuff by doing that. But any plans for the future...I feel like I need a bit of travel, I'm feeling a bit Galway-ed out of it at the moment. It's a beautiful place, I love it but...
-It's too small, in a way.
It can be. I've got a few things to do for the rest of the summer and then I think I might get out of here, spend a few months hanging out in Morocco in the depths of the winter. I don't really know what my long-term plans are; a few festivals for the summer, and just keep doing what I do.
If you could stage a rave anywhere in Ireland, unlicensed and free, where would it be? Your only limitation is the weather.
I'm kind of deeply involved in the practicalities of doing stuff all the time, and there are a lot of things to consider. The most important thing is that you're not bothering anyone around you, that you're not going to harm the place where you're doing it, and that the people are going to be safe and have a good time- that's very important. You'll get through the weather; you won't get through something very dangerous in the environment that could hurt people. But, anywhere you could have a buzz and get away with it. I've played at some fairly weird and bizarre places. Some good ones are beaches, boats, and just being in the outdoors with a nice crew of people in nice weather, you can't beat it. When you're doing an outdoor unlicensed thing, I'd have a small party for a few of my friends, with a battery powered sound system. Keep things simple. It's only when you start getting massively grand plans that problems start to happen. Once you get loads of people you need to start taking things seriously; they would be my primary considerations that you look after the place, and the people.
Do you think there's anything about Galway that promotes the growth of electronic music? Or makes it easier to develop?
I suppose that would be presupposing the fact that it's easy to develop electronic music in Galway. But, it's a good place to start; a very vibrant population, beautiful, artistic, everyone has some sort of creative energy. That's why a lot of people are attracted here. It can be tricky to find venues to put gigs on for electronic music sometimes. You'll meet lots of people that are into it, but if you want to actually get out there and do it, it can be trickier. But I suppose that's always the way unless you have the connections, the contacts, and you've actually shown a bit of dedication for a while. Then the opportunities might come to you. It can be hard enough for young people to try and get somewhere to put a party on, but it does happen if you keep trying.
-If you have a house, that's it, you could put one on there.
You can, depending on your neighbours. There are a lot of badly built houses in Galway that are made out of cardboard, growing giant mushrooms on the walls. And the neighbours with generations of students living next door driving them demented with their noisy parties. Once again, you have to look out for your environment. But look around, we're sitting by a beautiful sea looking at the hills of Clare, the sun is shining; on a day like today Galway's one of the best places in the world to be. Mightn't say the same in the middle of January.