Taking a look through the lamp’s lens.

The lamp could well be one of the most overlooked objects in the modern world. It’s fair to say that most, if not all, of us have had a run in with a lamp – be it the struggle to reach from cosy blankets and bypass cups or whatever other breakables that inhabit a bedside locker to switch it off before bed, or lethargic-ly reaching behind couches and chairs in the sitting room for the plug while your mind is still half way in the sleep dimension after dozing off in front of the TV.

The lamp has been overlooked for its role in many different forms of media. In films, the lamp is always hastily turned on whenever the protagonist’s home is broken into and it has often witnessed some of the most iconic domestic action scenes we have come to watch in the cinema or on the TV. It has helped 100s if not 1000s of writers get through the small hours of the night and helped even more readers read the words that the lamp illuminated when they were first written. In fact, as far as things with one solitary use go, a lamp can go a long way as regards lighting up situations, that need that bit more of a solitary setting.

So what business does a lamp have in a nightclub? 100s or 1000s (Depending on the venue) of people all packed into one place in order to let go of their external lives and express themselves and have a good time

With the lights off. 

So who dragged the humble lamp into this club setting? Wasn’t the lamp there to bring light to creative and educated spaces of learning and expression? In short, yes. There are no lamps in nightclubs – for the use of, or directed at, the club goers.

This lamp in the club can be found in the DJ booth, lighting up the tools at the hands of the DJ who’s role in the club is arguably the most important out of everyone there. Of course, with that being said too, not every club has a lamp for their DJ, but for those that do, the lamp probably hasn’t been changed for quite a while, meaning that if it had a conscious memory, that lamp will have seen it all.

This exploration into the lamp’s eye would be one that would depend on the venue, given that it centers on the music being played, but if there were a ‘Lamps Association’ with a mainframe of clubbing and DJ memories taken from the Lamps front row view, it’d be a special one.

From hearing a residents’ set repeatedly once a week, with only a mild peppering of new songs each fortnight, to shedding light on the arsenal of empty bottles after a washed up EuroTrance star’s drink rider has been drank, the lamp has the seats the person banging onto the booth with the flash glaring on their phones has always wanted. It has seen the most masterful of mixes; transitions from genres and songs that, side by side, would seem alien to the naked ear, and has been there for all the sloppy inebriated mistakes, not to mention highlighting all the unnecessary extra feet in the booth – eager friends on the guestlist, managers/agents, overanxious club staff or that one ‘unbelievable’ DJ in the crowd that has managed to barge up there in an attempt to go back to back with one of Ibiza’s highest paid act. For something as monotonous as a lamp, in the monotonous settings of a DJ booth, it brings light to the moments of magic and chaos that everyone else in the club don’t have a clue about.

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DJing technology is advancing quite quickly and while most decks and controllers have their on lights on board, the lamp is still a necessary tool in those dingy and dark venues all over the globe. It has to play second fiddle to the phone flashlight when a cable has come loose or when someone’s USB has gone AWOL, the lamp is still always there. Imagine all of the back to backs, unreleased and never released tracks being played by the top dogs in the industry, or the lads that never had the courage to go for it themselves.

In recent times, it has been accompanied on stage by a GoPro, however not every club has the finances or motivation to record their disc jockey’s set. Visually, the GoPro’s role in the booth is one that will allow many club fans to relive, or see for the first time, some historical moments in time to come, however it only shines a light on the glamorous side of the club and the DJ landscape.

The funny thing about clubs is that no matter the amount of add ons and extra lights and speakers, GoPros and *insert fancy technology here*s they can get their hands on, the essence is all the same. Someone with a good knowledge of music playing songs to please the crowd, the decks to play the songs on and a lamp so the DJ can see what they’re doing on the decks themselves. They’re the basic necessary tools and anything on top of that is up to the selector themselves or the club if they feel like they, or the DJ, are outgrowing their current surroundings.

There are clubs with no desire to promote their DJs however, no want to improve their experience, where in truth, the only assistance the DJ has in furthering their brand and sound is that single solitary lamp that’s letting them see what everyone else is hearing.

https://soundcloud.com/c-il-collins/colean-mix-205?in=c-il-collins/sets/co-lean-mixes-numbers

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THE BIG 50

It’s always good to celebrate events, milestones and even the slightest of victories. Given that The Ankle Breaker is celebrating its fourth birthday today, it’s a very personal celebration for me, the writer and creator. Thankfully, I’ve derived the most personal way of sharing this accolade with you, the reader, and that’s by offering up my top 50 albums. Hopefully you all disagree with my 50 and spark up your own internal debates as to which collection of music is your favorite.

Obviously the blog has taken a musical turn from its sporting origins, but many of the albums below have soundtracked some of my own sporting events as well as having their own roots in sport. It’s a real trip down memory lane, the avenues only just passed and some places where I’d need a map to get back to.

THIS IS OBJECTIVE I’M NOT SAYING MAJID JORDAN ARE BETTER THAN NAS

enjoy

50. Tongue n’ Cheek (2009), Dizzee Rascal.

At the time, I didn’t even know what Grime was, but this will always have a spot in my heart, it was surprisingly the first album my Mam bought me and later served as a spark to a love for UK Hip-Hop and Grime.

49. Dynamic Drift (2015), The Expert.

The only Hip-Hop beat tape on the list but one of the finest in the land. Produced by Irishman The Expert and is the soundtrack to Dimes After Dark.

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48. Discovery (2001), Daft Punk.

I listened to this the whole way through (1hr 1min) for the first time in my parents’ car while they ‘would be a minute’ in Dunnes.

47. Illmatic (1994), Nas.

46. 1977 (2013), Kolsch.

Religiously played for a solid two weeks after moving out of the house for the first time. A Tech-House bible.

45. B.4.DA.$$ (2015), Joey Bada$$.

Sticks out distinctively for the time it was on while I was sweeping the back path and the NY native’s aggressive bars reflected my equally aggressive and totally inefficient method of sweeping. Seriously good and refreshingly reminiscent of old school New York rap, the album cover says it all.

44. T R A P S O U L (2015), Bryson Tiller.

I snapchatted about how good this album was to a friend (Who will make another key appearance) as he simultaneously snapped me the exact same thing.

43. Don’t Do What We Did (2015), The Manor.

You can listen to my interview with The Manor here.

42. The Bitter Truth (2014), Collie.

Didn’t even make the list due to the fact that we have same name, songs like ‘Lazy Bones’ should be Irish folklore, impressive collection of Irish Hip-Hop from one of the OGs.

41. Majid Jordan (2016), Majid Jordan.

40. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Kanye West.

‘Lord Knows’ is one of my all-time favorite tracks, even with a Rick Ross verse. The album says so much about Yeezy because he manages to get the best out of every artist that features on it; We’re talking Nicki Minaj and Ross’ best verses.

39. OF Tape Vol. 2 (2012), Odd Future.

The only collective compilation on the list with arguably the best album art.

38. Young Fire Old Flame (2015), Wretch 32 + Avelino.

You can listen to my interview with Avelino here.

37. King Push – Darkest After Dawn Prelude (2015), Pusha T.

Really strong album for a ‘prelude’, the finale of ‘Sunshine’ with Jill Scott is incredibly powerful, especially given the topicality of the song in America today. Watch the film that accompanied the album, starring Pusha himself, below.

36. This Life (2012), The Original Rudeboys.

Legendary Irish music.

35. Are You Experienced? (1967), Jimi Hendrix.

34. I Told You (2016), Tory Lanez.

Sounds like a full length feature-film with piercing vocals from the Toronto native to go along with cinematic skits between most songs that act as a timeline between events that’re discussed in each track.

33. The Incredible True Story (2015), Logic.

Similar to ‘I Told You’, Logic’s sophomore album tells a story through skits, but the bars are out of this world. Given that it’s space-themed that makes complete sense. One of those albums you can listen to in any mood.

32. Boxed Out (2014), Detroit Swindle.

While I’m not intentionally tying these together, they’re doing so! This is THE album I listen to when I can’t think of anything else because of its feel-good vocals and disco feel. Underrated piece of work, especially given the rise of disco at the moment.

31. Blank Face LP (2016), ScHoolboy Q.

Best rap album of 2016.

30. Still Brazy (2016), YG.

Best Gangster rap album in a long time. I’ve never sang along to an album on my first listen but vividly remember screaming FUCK DONALD TRUMP right before having a shower.

29. Konnichiwa (2016), Skepta.

First and only album I’ve had a listening party for. Sat in a room with around 9 others beside a sub-woofer taking in the long-awaited Grime masterpiece at near full volume despite sound complaints.

Man

Better

Know

28. Electric Ladyland (1968), Jimi Hendrix.

The second and last rock album on the list.

27. You’re a man now boy (2016), Raleigh Ritchie.

First listen was accompanied by a timely walk down the canal by Ward’s on one of the nicest mornings in recent memory in Galway city. Pulsating vocals and incredible production. You can listen to my interview with Raleigh here (Ironically the sound editing was done for it in the Silent Zone of the library).

26. The Life Of Pablo (2016), Kanye West.

See no. 40.

25. 99.9% (2016), Kaytranada.

Seamless electronic-hop album that overtook Kolsch as the soundtrack to the walk to work for the guts of a month. You can read my article on Kaytra’s effect on music here.

24. At.Long.Last.A$AP. (2015), A$AP Rocky.

Still in debt to Lord Flacko, as this album is the sole thing that pulled me through a 1,800 word essay in the twilight hours of the night.

23. Rejovich (2013), Rejjie Snow. 

The only EP on the album, but every minute of the 16 count. The Dubliner and Prince of Irish Hip-Hop’s first offering has a special place in my collection. First introduced me to all the country has to offer rap-wise and would later keep me sane while working in a factory in Clare.

22. Born Sinner (2013), J.Cole.

More on Cole later.

21. Goblin (2011), Tyler the Creator.

Bought this as a present for someone and had one listen before I gave it away and it gave me the creeps. After a year or two and a greater understanding of Tyler himself, it became one of my favorites has accompanied many procrastinatory hours.

20.  Blonde (2016), Frank Ocean.

I hate hype beasts, but this album officially baptised me as one. That line on ‘Nikes’ is possibly the first shot at Carmelo Anthony that hasn’t made the Knick fan inside me cry.

19. Watch the Throne (2011), Jay-Z and Kanye West.

The album symbolically ties in with the fact that my Dad got me this; Hov and Jay: Paul and Cóilí.

18. 1988 (2014), Lethal Dialect x JackKnife J.

The highest ranked Irish album on the list and the most important in terms of Hip-Hop here. A complete symbiosis of lyrics and production that could stand up there with most top international works.

17. (Cross) (2007), Justice.

Listened to ‘Minute to Midnight’ in and around midnight the first time.

16. Made in The Manor (2016), Kano.

Dozed off on my first listen and it felt like Kano himself was speaking to me through my earphones. Cutthroat lyrics that paint a bleakly uplifting picture of inner city London, accompanied by stunning visuals, show an honest side to London. You can listen to my interview with Kano here.

15. The Blueprint 3 (2009), Jay-Z.

The purchase that probably inspired my Dad’s future ‘Watch the Throne’ investment when he exclaimed ‘JAY-Z?!’ at his 15 year-old son’s choice in the middle of HMV. Money well spent.

14. Thank Me Later (2010), Drake.

The sole Drizzy album on the list. Was bought in the back of a Biology class off the aforementioned friend from no.44. Read more on me and Drake here.

13. The Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), The Weeknd.

The more I listen to this, the more I like every song, after just being interested in the popular singles at first. Such a good album it inspired Aoife Walsh to go to the effort of buying the physical in order to play in the car.

 12. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012), Kendrick Lamar.

I first heard of K Dot through SLAM Magazine (The number one influence of The Ankle Breaker) and this transatlantic pointer was the biggest influence on my current taste in Rap music. It goes without saying that this is one of the finest pieces of modern music and in my opinion miles ahead of ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’

 11. Blue Lines (1991), Massive Attack.

3AM realness.

10. Boy in Da Corner (2003), Dizzee Rascal.

This is the first in the top ten for two reasons. It is carried heavily by ‘Brand New Day’ which just strikes a cord like no other with me, and also because it will never be replicated in terms of genre significance and sound. Simply put, the truest Grime album ever.

9. Invaders Must Die (2009), The Prodigy.

The first physical album I ever bought and an absolute birth of fire. The Prodigy will always be my favourite band and this album consolidates their ever-relevancy.

8. Wolf (2013), Tyler the Creator.

Got me through Leaving Cert and is easier listening than ‘Goblin’. The whole album tells a twisted story imagined in Tyler’s head that makes it one of the most unique albums ever.

7. GA10* (2007), Groove Armada.

The only ‘Greatest hits’ on the list but it’s more than that. A compiled two-disc mix of their best uptempo and chilled songs. A really unique listening experience that prompted me and my Dad (A Van Morrison fan) to blare it full volume driving through Spiddal.

Scenes.

6. Alive 2007 (2007), Daft Punk.

The only live album on the list but this makes every other live album look like elevator music. Often played when going to bed when the radio was out of service. And that is serious business.

5. Ready to Die (1992), The Notorious B.I.G.

The first non-commercial rap album I bought and one that led me down a long path of Hip-Hop obsession. No one tells stories of violence, love, poverty, drugs and money like Biggie and it’s hard to think anyone ever will again.

4. Homework (1994), Daft Punk.

This is definitely one of the most transcendent albums of all-time across all genres. It doesn’t carry with it the cheesy vibes of plenty, if not most, older Electronic music, but still holds onto the grainy basement feel in which it emanated from. Such a great debut from Dance music’s (In Pa Doran’s opinion) most influential duo.

3. Experience (1991), The Prodigy.

It took me years to get my hands on this but found it in Gamestop in the Pavillion shopping centre in Swords. Similar to ‘Homework’ it is kind of a one and done for the band in terms of style but definitely has era-linked sounds to it. A ravers bible and by far the most frantic album on the list.

2. Our Version of Events (2012), Emeli Sandé.

It’s a cop-out to call yourself a fan of vocals given that basically any properly functioning human has appreciation for a good voice. This album stands out surprisingly for not the emotional adolescent nights it didn’t accompany, but just the standout feeling of emotion on the album itself and the variation of styles within the album itself, rather than being a compilation of complaining or moaning. Symbolic in some ways that it is roughly the same age as The Ankle Breaker and that it’s follow-up will be released in the coming weeks. Also chilling was the fact that myself and Evan Campbell found one sole CD in the Decks in Boiler Room (Galway’s home for heavy-ass Techno) with ‘Clown’ on it, along with a Mall Grab tune (?)

1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014), J. Cole.

*Deep Breath*

If it was possible to fully put this album’s significance into words, there’d be no point for the album itself, given that it goes to another level in terms of lyricism and storytelling. ‘Apparently’ is played after any positive event, I’m not lying when I say I know every single word and I’m bordering about 200 plays. The documentary to follow was equally unique in the insights it gave into Cole’s production of the album, along with the release and tour. All around the best thing I’ve ever listened to. (So far)

Double Platinum.

No Features.

Hope you enjoyed that highly introspective lists and don’t be shy to get in touch to share your own favourites in the comments below or on Facebook.

Peace.

Interview: Cassidy The Patriot.

The Montreal Electronic/Trap scene remains one of the fastest growing and invigorating genres and communities in the music world. To a very select few, it may seem like just another faceless group of bedroom producers and DJs, but to most their unique and enthusiastic outward personalities have drawn people further into the encapsulating sound that is slowly becoming the theme of the Francophone city.

One of those currently putting the city on his back thanks to mesmerising synths and stinging basslines is the mild-mannered and polite Cassidy the Patriot. While the pulsating nature of his music may lead you to believe him to be an enigmatic figure, he comes across as a focused and talented individual. I caught up with him for an entertaining chat over FaceTime to get to know the man behind the dreamy Trap sound.

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What got you into music? Which genres did you listen to initially and has that changed over time? 

Back in High school I listened to a lot of 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, that was the first album I actually bought at Zeller’s, I used to listen to a lot of gangster rap; 50, The Game that stuff, that was the first genre I listened to. I’m definitely listening to more mainstream stuff now like Meek Mill, Drake, Ty Dolla $ign, French Montana, Travis Scott, all the big guys.

What brought you down the electronic route? I find that with your type of Trap music along with the rest of the Montreal scene, stands alone and is much more Electronic based than Hip-Hop. 

What brought me down the Electronic path was literally being in the city of Montreal. We have things like Piknic Electronik, ÎleSoniq that have really motivated me to try to make music that would appeal to these people because that’s really what it’s based on. I just wanted to try something new, something out of my comfort zone, outside of Hip-Hop, Trap and R n’ B.

What got you into producing? 

I would definitely say curiosity. “How do you get all the instruments into a track? Is there somebody playing each instrument?” That’s what I thought in the beginning. Then I went into detail and noticed that people are actually making this stuff on their laptops in the comfort of their homes, ‘Bedroom Producers’. After that, I found my passion, this is what I want to do.

Was there any moment where it clicked with you that this is what you’ve wanted to do, or was it gradually over time? 

Definitely the recognition that I’ve been getting, it feels good, when people actually listen to my music and they like it. It’s that motivation that makes keep you doing what you’re doing because you’re obviously good at it. If people enjoy listening to your music then that’s obviously a push to keep going. If there was one thing that has really kept me going it’s the fact that I like success stories, in terms of seeing where you started and where you’re at every year. “What am I going to do this year? What will I do next year?”

Do prefer producing tracks solely on their own or producing with a vocalist? 

I used to produce for artists during my first couple of years of producing. I would say slowly and slowly, I’m transitioning over to being my own artist, I feel like I have more creative control, more control over what I want to hear. That’s why I went down the avenue of making my own music and releasing them as instrumentals.

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Given the immediacy the internet has injected into the music industry, is it difficult to develop your own style as there isn’t as much time to grow as there used to be? 

Yes it was a difficult little two or three weeks to get into creating your own sound and to stop creating what’s already been created. What I’ve found is a little niche market, I’ve never heard that sort of music combined together, Electronic with those sort of Hip-Hop basslines. It’s something that I can dig into further. It is kind of hard in the beginning because you’re basing it off of people you’re listening to at that moment, after that you start developing you’re own sound, implementing your own knowledge and expertise into it. Once you find it, you find it.

Why do you think there are so many bass-y/Trap producers coming from Montreal? 

Canada has a lot to prove. It’s not a country that was known for its music before the big acts came out like Bieber, The Weeknd and Drake. All of a sudden it’s like the spotlight is now in Canada. We can make music, and we can make it good. Now that we have the spotlight on us, we’re going that bit further to show the world  that we can make this type of music and that we can make it extremely good as well.

Da-P, Tommy Kruise, Kaytranada, High Klassified all come out of here. We all started a niche market, it’s not something that’s familiar all around the world. That’s what the goal is, taking a genre of music and exposing it to the world, obviously if the world loves it, they’ll listen to you and keep coming back for more. I find that we have a really strong foundation in terms of the artists I’ve just named, it’s a strong team. It’s just a matter of time before it goes worldwide. It’s starting to build traction, it’s only going to grow from here.

Do you have a certain plan for the future, what’re the next steps you’re going to take as an artist business-wise? 

The next step would be getting into venues and performing for live audiences. Everything is great and sound behind a computer. I won’t lie, I love being home and making music, I’m not that much of a social butterfly. That would be the next step, giving the fans the opportunity to see you in your true form. They can see what they can see but they won’t see a 3D version of you unless you perform. I am planning on learning [How to DJ], that would be the next step.

What would the Cassidy The Patriot DJ set sound like? 

I would definitely play some Lil Yachty. Meek Mill, Drake. I’m a crowd pleaser. I listen to a lot of music but they would be the heavy hitters that I’d play. Nothing random really, I’d be pretty straightforward, no curveballs.

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A Lil’ Boat X Cassidy collaboration would be interesting.

Who would be your dream collaboration? 

Definitely, Defintely Kaytranada! I’ve always looked up to his music, what he’s been doing. He comes from Montreal, everything points towards him, it’d definitely be my dream collaboration. Getting him on maybe a production standpoint or something. Even if he added an instrument to one of my tracks that’d be amazing. As long as it’d say Kaytranada contributed I’d be happy!

You can stream Cassidy’s latest EP ‘Poutine’ here, and check out the rest of his Soundcloud stuff too!

99 Souls interview.

It was one of those nights where late Summer and early Autumn had come to duel in the dull urban air, brought to being by a sea of endless streetlights. This natural collision took place unassumingly around me while I strolled down towards the Radisson Blu hotel which itself brought with it an air of constancy, unaffected by its climactic surroundings. Of course, I’m not one nature’s most intense spectators, this wasn’t an evening stroll to take in Mother Nature’s grasp on the concrete jungle, but a slight observation in anticipation of catching up with the originators of the anthem that was released in the dampened Winter of last year which blossomed neatly to transition Spring into Summer, 99 Souls, who were due to play in the Loft venue above the Seven bar here in Galway.

There’s no avoiding the fact that there are many acts that’re here today and gone tomorrow in terms of commercial success, and while to some degree one would be forgiven for thinking the same of the incognito duo of ‘Soul’ and ‘Jo’, it’s important to remember they’ve skipped by the common pitfalls that bestow most acts similar to them, all while not doing an awful lot to the naked eye. While there have been a number of prestigious remixes for the likes of Blonde, Snakehips and Clean Bandit along the way, their patience in terms of a follow up single to the Brandy and Destiny’s Child-sampled ‘The Girl is Mine’ has been much more so well planned and goal driven, than anxious and disorganised. Here’s what they had to say about that amongst other things.

 

Could you give me some sort of insight into the average day in the life of 99 Souls? 

JO: ‘Each day is a bit different, we’ve got a lot of gigs and shows at the moment, we’ve done a lot of festivals. Also, we’re in the studio a lot making music so I guess there isn’t really an average day, but they’re always full of music.’

SOUL: ‘Lots of travelling!’

What’s the weirdest place you’ve been to over the Summer?

S: ‘I don’t think there’s been anywhere that weird. Corsica was nice, we went to New York for the VMAs. That was cool, we seen Kanye, Alicia, Swizz Beatz, we were sitting next to Desiigner.’

What’s the highlight been of the Summer, what was the one thing that stood out? 

J: ‘There were a few live shows that were amazing, Parklife was incredible, Reading and Leeds were both incredible.’

S: ‘Common People and Wireless, Reading and Leeds I guess, Corsica was nice, we’re heading off to Dubai soon after the Summer, October. I think that’ll be good.’

How has playing so many shows over the Summer influenced your live set, what tricks or has there been anything you have picked up through the shows?

S: ‘In the UK it stayed kind of similar, but in the UK with a lot of the bookings we get, the rest of the lineup will be a bit EDM-y, we always play to the crowd so it depends on where we play. In Europe we don’t really play EDM, at the last European festival we did change it a bit but we didn’t go completely screechy EDM.’

How does life differ now and before ‘The Girl is Mine’ was made and released? 

J: ‘It’s kind of strange because it’s very different because we travel a lot more, but in some ways it’s very similar, we’re still making music everyday in the same way that we were, so it’s kind of hard to answer. We’re a little bit more comfortable financially than we were, I was making a living as a Jazz musician, I’m still doing some Jazz gigs. Everything has changed but nothing has changed!’

S: ‘I got fatter. Always on the road eating big fat meals, it’s never healthy stuff. When you get home you keep that pattern up, a lot of Deliveroos. Yeah, I’ve put on like a good stone or so.’

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Has it become easier for you guys to navigate through the music industry, especially since you’ve worked with the sample you did for ‘The Girl is Mine’?

S: ‘I guess we got to where we are with ‘The Girl is Mine’, because we could navigate, so I guess you learn new bits and bobs here and there. Maybe before we knew how to navigate it like we do now, but people are more open to you, people answer their phones faster and reply to their emails faster!’

Given that you’ve still only released the one track, you haven’t done what many before have in giving away too much too soon, has that been an intentional ploy to build the brand and momentum? 

S: ‘There’s been a few different factors. Anything we do we want to make a statement and we don’t necessarily want to be pigeon-holed as a ‘UK dance act’, we want to be seen as a serious global act, so we always want to make sure that every step is the right step. With that song, the samples took so long that it ended up taking a year to put out, that has pushed our timeline back, we’re getting ready to put the next single out, we’re just looking for the perfect feature but at the same time, the remixes show that we can do more than just pop records.

Before single 2, we wanted 30,000 Twitter followers and 50,000 Facebook likes so we’ve hit those targets, we did have certain goals to build more of a fanbase. If you come out with a big hit and follow it up with another big hit, you get too hot and you can burn out and there’s a few people that I think have done that so we’re happy to take our time. We’re in a position as well where we’re not trapped into a deal. The record is licensed from us, we’re self-managed so we don’t have short-term labels forcing us to do singles because they need that money for their annual accounts, we don’t need to do anything, we just strike at the perfect time.’

 

With the Tech and House scene growing so much, would you ever go down that road in order to brush off some pop-y stereotypes? 

J: ‘Musically, we come from quite an acoustic place. We love artists like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, anyone called Bob <Soul interjects by specifying that Bob the Builder doesn’t make the hallowed list>. I mentioned I’m a jazz musician so to be honest, we’re kind of pushing towards the more musical side, we love Dance music and we play quite a lot of that stuff in the live sets but in terms of our own singles and what we’re trying to do, we’re definitely trying to keep it musical. That soulful side is really what we’re trying to focus on.’

Do you think that the more popular artists and genres within the Dance music scene did enough to fight the closure of Fabric in London, which was more so a blow to the underground scene? 

S: ‘I’m hoping it’s not going to close down, I hope there’s going to be some sort of appeal and that it’ll stay open. I’m not from London but when I used to go to London, that was the place I went. I think the last time I went it was about a month ago and Chris Lorenzo was playing there. In the taxi on the way in Kiss FM were playing the original ‘The Girl is Mine’ and I walked into the club and Chris Lorenzo was playing his remix of it, so it wasn’t a bad farewell! I’m hoping it stays open, I guess people have their own scenes and their own agendas so they support what they see fit. It was a champion of underground music.

I just think what’s happening to nightlife in London is terrible, it’s not just clubs. In Westminster they don’t let Subway toast certain subs after 11pm. I wanted a Subway melt and they couldn’t toast it. There are ridiculous council laws because they just want people to go home so they don’t have to spend extra money policing at that time, all the people in their nice new high rises need quiet, London is becoming a sterile city I guess.’

J: ‘You can tell Soul is passionate about Fabric, but he’s more concerned about Subway toasting sandwiches after eleven, so lets get on that campaign. Lets talk about what really matters!’

What effect do you think the closure will have on the younger generation coming up in the UK as fans and artists? 

S: ‘We were just in New York and I grew up on Hip-Hop so that’s kind of the Mecca when it comes to Hip-Hop. It was kind of disappointing that you couldn’t do anything Hip-Hop in what was the Mecca of Hip-Hop that I grew up looking towards. You can’t go to a record shop anymore because all the record shops are gone. You haven’t got people doing ciphers in the park anymore, it’s like culture has shrunk. I think it’s really disappointing. There has to be more stuff in person and less stuff moving online, I’m a big champion of that. Our music, we want it to be meaningful and we want it to have lyrical content but at the same time there’s something important about musicians that make people dance and have a good time. My favorite thing to do is to go out and go crazy in a club!’

You can catch the interview in full tonight on Dimes After Dark on Flirt FM 101.3fm or on flirtfm.ie!

Excuse my French.

*Disclaimer*

This piece contains personal opinion, something often associated with offending the hierarchy of society and the ‘PC’ people among us. Reader discretion is advised.



For some reason, the phrase Je suis Charlie will forever remain synonymous with free speech and standing up for one’s opinion. It may seem easy to hashtag the french equivalent of I am Charlie and feel content with our own uprising against creative oppression. Of course the events that prompted this upheaval against censorship were incredibly maliciously and unheard of before and something that is completely incomparable with the methods of censorship we all usually experience from day to day. Typing three words on social media won’t desensitize the world we live in.

Anyone can be offended by anything. 

In today’s society there are words, noises, pictures, phrases and whatever other types of media-esque terms and objects being produced and pumped into cyberspace by the second, which means that it’s beyond simple to find anyone that may support your views, however absurd or offensive they are. The converse of that, is that it may be even easier to find someone that finds your views/statements/beliefs offensive to them, however mild or unoffensive they are. It may not be pleasant to say it, but it can be argued that we live in a cushioned society where it’s perfectly fine to be offended by someone or something, despite that person or object’s best attempts to remain opinionatedly neutral. In fact, the heavy hand of censorship is so quick to slam down the offender rather than the offended that it has become a guessing game as to what content can be maintained as unoffensive and not complained about to ombudsmen and censorship bodies.

The one positive of this mousetrap-esque censorship model is that it has promoted the growth of self-publishing media. There are podcasts and blogs out there for every kind of interest, which is both good for the fanbase and the producers, as they act as great launch pads without the restraint of hand-on-mouth censorship. As good as freelance media is, they are only a blip on the radar in comparison to the established juggernauts that have come to terms with social media and the internet as a whole. When it comes to these establishments, however many hours, euros/pounds/dollars, effort, tears and anything else that someone has put into an enterprise they want to promote, share and get out there into the world, don’t matter if that particular enterprise can be perceived as offensive to the soft, bubblewrapped public that consume that media’s output. The cutthroat nature of business does not mix well with the butter smooth mentality of the public, so when someone wants to slap lawsuits and complaints at a money-making corporation, the easiest solution is to throw whatever is prompting the negative attention to the side and cut ties with it.

When’s the last time you’ve seen sponsors stand behind athletes when they become embroiled in public controversies? When’s the last time you’ve seen a newspaper stand up for a questionable headline?

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I amn’t an advocate of confrontation or being offensive. You have to take people’s sensitivities into account when addressing any topic or when giving your opinion, but there’s a clear difference between empathy and having to restructure your thought process around potential offensive grey-areas. The reason everyone’s heightened sensitivity is a problem is because we are surrounded more predominantly by advertising and content that is geared towards our interests. The media we receive as consumers comes through a digital pipe and many things that may broaden our interests and make us think differently are pushed to the side as they cannot gain traction due to people’s hesitation’s surrounding independent media’s propensity to offend.

In my own humble opinion, one of the only remaining means of putting one’s opinion on a credible platform is music, in particular rap music, one of the most maligned genres for years. First off, rap songs have incomparably the most words, therefore allowing them to convey the most meaning. Secondly, rap music tends to come from the most oppressed members of society, giving a voice to the voiceless, be it NWA screaming Fuck the Police, or Kendrick Lamar outlining the inner struggles of social housing and the effect of the Ronald Reagan era on Section 80. I don’t support conspiracy theories and that sort of thing, but it’s clear to see that the stigma attached to rap music is somewhat pushed by the mainstream due to the truths that much of the music contains. It stands up to authority and isn’t afraid to offend. With that being said, the image rap music has garnered itself is in no way a figment derived from thin air. Today’s most notorious spitters have still managed to drag down the credibility of the rest through distorted drug lyrics and stupidity off the mic. Not only that, but the music is incomprehensible, ironically leading Desiigner to name his debut ‘album’ New English. 

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It’s offensive to put them side by side.

Refreshingly, YG’s new album Still Brazy has managed to win back some authenticity to the gangster rap section of Hip-Hop. This ties in neatly to the subject of censorship, as YG’s new body of work is the perfect representation of what society is now allergic to. yg-still-brazy-album-cover-artThe album provides a clear snapshot into the trials and tribulations of a gangster’s struggles after becoming a millionaire through his talents in the rap game.
With that being said he doesn’t do so with the red tape of censorship in mind. The album isn’t for everyone and that’s completely understandable, but the early Hip-Hop aspects of it are very reassuring as he plainly addresses his recent shooting, ‘friends’ asking him for money and a certain track aimed towards Donald Trump. His unrelenting brashness is something that’s become extinct given the watered down way we talk to each other. ‘Keeping it 100’ is a phrase that may have lost it’s meaning due to pampered teens on Instagram and Twitter, but it still has a key importance in society when sometimes things need to be said how they are.

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Don’t be racist, facist, sexist and seriously harmful to anyone. Support what you want. Say what you want. You’ll find an ear to listen,but just make sure it isn’t regulatory.

2046

Je suis fier d’être irlandais

After an uncharacteristically warm period, Murphy’s law ensured that the day Ireland played their first game of the 2016 European Championships, it rained. The murky grey skies painted a disconcertingly comfortable backdrop to a day that was mildly unfamiliar to the Irish public, despite the fact that we took part in the 2012 edition of the competition as well.

Wandering around Galway city on my own in anticipation of the 5 o’clock kick off, the city had an eerie buzz as the Boys in Green geared up to take on Sweden. Waiting for my lethargic friends to make their way into town so we could decide on a place to watch the match, I made my way down to An Tobar, where they were showing the game outside on a TV.

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In a country where beards are a fashion statement and not a mark of masculinity like they were back in the days of the Dubliners and where men now consider white jeans a suitable pair of pants, it is mildly fair to say that the Irish culture has changed somewhat since it developed many of the traits that put the country of the map many years ago.

One of those traits that hasn’t changed, however, is the country’s singularity in its support or hatred of the Boys in Green. The Irish national soccer team’s participation in a major competition is something that sparks a unanimous interest among the public that has only been achieved by Glenroe, Love/Hate and to some extent Conor McGregor. Not even the Irish Rugby team captivate the Irish like the footballers, despite their success.


My fondness towards soccer has had its highs and lows and while I could sit down and watch a football match whenever, it has been a long time since I’ve had that burning passion within me ignited by whatever is going on in front of my eyes. Growing up playing soccer on the tarmac of Scoil Sailearna’s yard, I dreamed of wearing the Green jersey (Along with a number of club ones), like many of my classmates, and by the looks of it, those gathered around the TV on the temperate and damp afternoon. The sloppily mazy runs at lunch that ended up with accusations of being a ‘glory’, scraped knees and the odd goal along with all the other heroics of lunchtime football may have contributed to the moving feeling within me as Ireland faced off with Sweden but I was still puzzled as to why I was so affected by people kicking a ball on a pitch in France.

The crowd that had assembled was predominantly male with two seasoned dogs in attendance as well as a few tourists, who had been mystified by the culmination of pint holding people hypnotised by men in green and yellow running around on a screen. My phone vibrated and I was called upon to join the rest of the lads in a bar in Eyre Square. The crowd inside was much older yet the childish glimmer in their eyes was shared with the prior group. Jeff Hendrick rattled the Swedish woodwork with a thunderous effort and the onlooking patrons groaned in unison. James McCarthy miscontrolled the ball in the centre circle and was immediately slated by everyone all at once. There was a hidden understanding between us all that allowed us to scream and cheer like we’d scored ‘next goal wins’ when Wes Hoolahan emphatically slotted home the opener, yet openly show our disgust when Ciaran Clarke headed the ball into his own net.



The walk home along the canal allowed me to go over what had happened amongst all of us watching and reacting in the pub and on the street. It dawned on me that my own fascination that prompted me to jump off my seat when we seemed like scoring and almost drop my glass when we were in danger of conceding, was that the team was like a window to my childhood. Even more complexly, was that the window in question was one looking into my perceived future as a child, as a professional footballer representing my country. On a grand scale then, even just for me personally the Irish soccer team is a collection of players representing what I spent hours in my garden mimicking. Maybe it was this feeling that we had all shared some sort of similar footballing dream, however short, big, realistic or far-fetched, all of us there had some experience of the beautiful game during our youth that allowed us to latch on as a collective and get behind the team.

The Ireland that I grew up in not too many years ago is a lot different to what it is now, and the Ireland my Dad grew up in is definitely not a shadow on what we have in front of us at the moment. Seeing the national team going up against the big dogs in football is something that links with our heart strings and pulls them even more intricately than Messi dribbling by Jerome Boateng. When Shane Long buried the goal that sunk Germany in qualifying it drew all of us together as a nation because any cultural divides or differences we had were eliminated due to the fact that there was a bit of Shane Long in all of us at some point, be it running around our garden celebrating to the blades of grass or in an under 18 cup final. The same goes for the low moments, our drubbings at the hands of the aforementioned Germans or Spaniards or Italians, they all hurt us just as bad as that gut-wrenching PE game we lost in the dying moments.

It was this unanimous support that allowed me to sit wearing a colourful snapback and an Adidas tracksuit in the same vicinity as a furiously simply-dressed old man that would usually malign me for what I was wearing, given that in his day I would’ve looked completely out of place. In some ways, pubs represent the generational divides in Ireland, some of which have been greatly accelerated by the growth of technology which makes one culture virtually alien to another. It is then refreshing that Ireland’s participation in the Euros has allowed us to come together as a nation and celebrate or criticise our country’s performances in ways that haven’t existed in a rather long time.

The sense of Irishness that flowed through all in attendance was something even more powerful than a John O’Shea clearance and something that was melancholically unfamiliar to me and some of the other people witnessing not only a sporting but cultural milestone.


The game ended 1-1. There was still a static sense of magic in the air as we strolled back home. I texted my Dad to let him know what I thought and Evan was soon on the phone to his explaining the team’s shortcomings and his worries ahead of the unsettling ties with Belgium and Italy. I know my older brother had also dissected the game with my Dad soon after that. Even though we may all have physically grown up, the only thing that allowed us to speak unfiltered and naturally to each other with no hesitation, was the game we cherished since our most infant stages.

I’m proud to be Irish.

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8 Reasons why you should be listening to The Manor.

A year after releasing their acclaimed album Don’t Do What We Did, London trio, The Manor (Johnny Dutch, Scotty Stacks and Danny Graft), have managed to pull themselves from the brink of self-imposed retirement to a rather established spot among the flourishing UK Urban hopefuls. Even though I’ve just labelled the three, they’re defining characteristic is their uncategorizable sound which makes them stand out from a host of artists that have jumped out of the cracks to hop on the respective Grime, Garage and Hip-Hop bandwagons that are currently heading full-speed ahead, out of England all over the musical world. These three everyday London lads have managed to encapsulate the sound of where they’re from with the most uncommon approach, while drawing on a host of common influences, all while maintaining a confidently-humble opinion of themselves.

To celebrate their undefinable manner (Pun intended) here’s eight reasons you should look up The Manor’s work, in their own words, as we recently caught up over the phone.


1. Their Album embodies every aspect of The Manor.

DG: ‘It has been a long journey, we did five years grafting, knocking about, we did a lot of free mixtapes. It’s the first time we put a proper album to paper. It’s the first time we had original production we had Yanaku, Drifta, Sweeli, District. For us it was a culmination of five years work, it was brilliant, we’re just enjoying it man.’
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JD: ‘We wanted to have a South-East London sound, we didn’t think it had been done yet. With Yanaku, it was the first time we were in a position to make that sound, he’s a South-East boy himself he lives in Bromley near to us, we feel as though we crafted it with him. We made sure it was right before we put it out, but it was just something we needed to do, we needed to make something that was from The Manor. Before it hasn’t really been from The Manor, we’d been putting our own spin on things from other productions, this was really from The Manor, this last album’.

2. They’re versatile because of multiple varied influences.

JD: ‘We’ve got tunes for the Grime fans. We know Grime as well as anyone else. The new tunes do sound very Grimey, there’s bits that do sound Yanaku and a bit more bird-friendly as well, but we know how to adapt to each fanbase’.

SS: ‘That’s the thing, we grew up listening to Grime, Old school Hip-Hop, Garage and House, so I suppose the music we’re making now is a product of the influences we’ve received over the years’.

JD: ‘My influences are Paul Weller, Jamiroquai, Common… I think any artist worth their salt is only a culmination of their influences and their experiences and I feel as though we are not scared of bringing our influences and experiences to the table whereas other artists may not like to bring up the fact that they listened to Five back in ’98 (“They’d shit themselves” – Danny), we listen to everything and we want to bring all of that to the table.’

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Noughty boys Five, whose haircuts and clothes are worryingly similar to today’s styles.

3. They’re 3 different personalities that represent similar but different backgrounds. 

SS: ‘I think that’s why it works. Although we’ve got very different personalities, we all come from the same area and similar backgrounds. We talk about the same things, we all put our spin on it, but we all put represent a different sub-culture within the bigger picture which is our local area.’

4. They’re paradoxically laid back and serious about their work. 

DG: ‘Every tune to a certain extent is a bit of a piss take. No one’s that serious, if you’re making a song, there are serious elements, you’ve got emotional connections to what you’re saying, but you’re making music. You ain’t sitting there in an office, you ain’t sitting there at a desk, you’re making something that is a laugh, something that means something to you but in the end of the day you’re making music, it ain’t serious’.

JD: ‘You’re always striving to make a song, it’s not about having a hit, it’s about having a song that people can get together with in 20/30 years at a family barbecue or Christening and it gets everyone on the dancefloor. That is my sole goal, as any artist it should be, to get people to get people together’.

DG: ‘Make a Panda isn’t it?’

5. They streamed their album on Pirate radio. 

JD: ‘Nostalgia is a huge part of our brand. Looking back to the 90s and bringing people back to a good place. Pirate radio is something that hasn’t really been manipulated or exploited by people going forward and we thought to ourselves “Let’s try make something credible on Pirate radio.” Our songs altogether may not make as much sense and we needed something to bridge it together and we thought Pirate radio would be the right medium to do that. The night before we released it [The Album], we told all of our fans that we were going to stream it so they had a chance to listen to the album. We thought the best way, as seen as we had the Pirate radio skits [Between songs], was to go to a website and put it out on Pirate radio, so we did it that night and before we knew it, we had thousands of listeners, listening to our show which was good. When we’re pressed for time we come up with some mad ideas’.

6. Despite recognition from their idols, they’re focusing on developing their own generation. 

SS: ‘We’ve got our heroes from the garage days, your MJ Coles and your Wookies and obviously Zed Bias. Mike Skinner’s been a massive influence. As much as it’d be nice to collaborate with those people, we want to meet people like us, who have been influenced by those people and that’re now making music that’s a product of that influence and they’re the people we want to collab with. We wanna collab with the next Mike Skinners, the next Wookie, the next MJ Cole.

That music was hugely popular. Yanaku, his idol is Zed Bias. I’m sure there’s lots of people who’re following their passion now because of the passion that was created by those artists that they idolised in their youth. It’s just a matter of us finding those people.’

7. They’re representing London and the UK their own way. 

DG: ‘Grime to me, is a London sound. People have started to look at London now. That’s all it is for us, it’s a London thing. It’s a London sound, it’s influenced by London music, Grime, Garage, whatever. People are now looking at London’.

JD: ‘At the same time, at gigs in the past, we’ve had people down from Leicester, Bolton, Scotland and all sorts of places… There’s a like-minded bunch of people out there, a lot of people that feel the same way we do and we’re talking about the same things they’re talking about. We wanna bring everyone to the table. Let’s have a party with everyone across the UK that thinks like us’

8. The Manor is bigger than the trio, it’s about the fans. 

JD: ‘Our fans are our family. 100%’

SS: ‘People see the videos, they see the characters that we’ve made out of our mates and they realise that our fans are The Manor. As much we’re The Manor on the face of it, we’re ALL The Manor, all the like-minded people are The Manor so, as much as our fans are our fans and we love them for the support they give us, they can come down to our shows, they can be in the videos. They represent The Manor as much as we do, we’re just the voice of it, but The Manor is a lot wider than the three of us. We’ve had some laughs with them. We love all of them, they’re a massive part of what they do’.


With a developed and recognized sound to call their own, as well as a number of talented producers to go along with their clever and entertaining lyrics, plus a busy festival schedule including a stint at Wireless, The Manor will soon be up there with the idols that have had such a strong role in developing their sound.

The changing landscape of Ca(ytra)nada

99.9% was Kaytranada’s debut album, but only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Canadian producer’s potential influence on the musical world.


It’s not far-fetched, from a foreigner’s perspective, to say that Canada is currently undergoing a cultural upheaval. The NHL Playoffs are without a Canadian for the first time in 46 years. The Toronto Raptors have made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Drake is in the middle of an assault on the charts after the release of Views, his latest blockbuster album, in doing so, introducing Hip-Hop to a bunch of new ears. The Weeknd has just descended the mountain of success that came his way following the eerie R n’B masterpiece that was The Beauty Behind The Madness, while Tory Lanez and PARTYNEXTDOOR begin to ascend their own. We all know very well what Justin Bieber has achieved.

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While all of this goes on, while Skepta launches his album in Toronto, while the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron and all, get stopped by customs (Such is the support for the Raptors), another cultural revolution is spawning from the one already taking place in front of us.

Kaytranada released his debut album 99.9% on the 6th of May, a week after Views. Even though Kaytra’s offering hasn’t reached the chart heights and sheer volume of fans that Drizzy’s piece of work did, 99.9%‘s importance in the wider scale of musical things may well outlast what was in some ways just another Drake album. Despite the 6 God’s maturation, Kaytranada has achieved something Drizzy has searched for his entire award-filled, money-making career,  sheer individuality. In fact, Kaytranada’s sound is so rare that it’s completely reasonable to relate it to that of Pharrell Williams’. His musical style is incomparable and unique that the only comparison left to make is one with the Happy producer, whose musical imprint is on par Mexico city’s Carbon footprint. Although Kaytra has yet to exhibit his vocal abilities on his own tracks, his productional savvy is as sonically visible on tracks like The Internet’s hit Girl as Pharrell’s is on Numbers which featured on Skepta’s grime bible, Konnichiwa. 

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Born in Port-Au-Prince in 1992, Kaytranada (Kevin Celestin) was raised in Montreal, Canada. He began DJing at 14 and producing shortly after that. Like a lot of Canadian artists many of his musical influences came from the states, as well as his Haitian roots. Despite America’s footprint in Kay’s music, it’s clear that he has honed in on developing his own style rather than reconfigurating old ones. On the ‘about’ section on his Facebook page, the genre reads ??? Even though he isn’t as mysterious to the media as his other Canadian counterparts, Kaytranada’s personality is maybe even more complex than his mind-boggling music. He is clearly shy in nature, but he still possesses a Pharrell-like audaciousness, a tongue-in-cheek factor that allows the guy to dance with robots in a music video without anyone questioning it, while still remaining silent and reserved enough not to be labelled cocky or over-zealous.

99.9% itself moves as seamlessly as his famed Boiler room set while each song still tangentially maintains its own credibility and relevancy among the sea of beat breaks, disco-vibes, vibrant house-inspired drops which come together at times to form a futuristic Samba vibe, all while still falling within the realm of Hip-Hop. It is the perfect culmination of Kaytra that we have come to know so far, but we all know that there is much more to him than the 18-track, uplifting project. Only Kaytranada could bring Craig David, Vic Mensa, Aluna George and GoldLink (To name but a few) together on an album without it seeming like a gimmick. 99.9% could get a crowd in the disco-obsessed 80s moving as easily as it gets hipsters and house-heads dancing today, it transcends time as it does genres, so even though Drake may be experiencing current relevancy, Kaytra’s beats and futuristic-looking-back sound will more than likely give people something to have more than One Dance to in the future.

Not only that, Kaytra has collaborated with his brother Louie P, a rapper, on a joint project entitled The Celestics, where the duo’s funky vibes criss-cross lyrically and instrumentally, showcasing the producer’s ability to maintain his individuality while catering his beats to the vocal capabilities of his brother.

 

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Although it’s easy to revel in his individual musical brilliance, it’s even more jaw-dropping when you think of Kaytranada’s potential, given that he’s only 23 and managed to collaborate with the slew of big name artists that he has already. He came up along with a number of DJ/Producers through Soundcloud by remixing old soul and R n’B classics and later giving us his own offerings, yet neither his remixes nor his original work can be confidently placed into already-existing genres.

Kaytranada’s productional emergence isn’t the only one of note coming out of Canada or Montreal for that matter. His solo success and exposure has helped shine light on the likes of High Klassified (Whose interview with The Ankle Breaker can be read here) and Da-P, both of whom have heavier bass drops along with their own distinctive styles. ‘In terms of their style, even though they are in the same scene, they all had a time where they were searching for their own style/sound in order to differentiate themselves from the others. I find that the fact that they are having fun while doing it helped a lot, also the fact that they are their own competition and don’t compare themselves to others.’ Da-P’s manager told to me over email. He also explained their influences. ‘ it differs from one another, but music ran in each of their families which explains their influences; from their culture to video games to the music industry growing up (influenced by a lot of the pioneers).’

He went on to describe the scene’s development as a whole ‘They were all doing this as a hobby at first, until they were regrouped by the ArtBeat Montreal platform, which really was the start of the Montreal beat scene. It has benefited them a lot, since it has created a bond and friendship between them. It also helped people realize that there is a lot of talented individuals in the Montreal scene. It also created a certain interest outside of the city and opened doors for a lot of producers throughout Montreal.’

Kaytra’s success is only the first chapter in the book that is being written by Canadian producers, as well as underground rappers. The talent emerging from all sides of Canada in terms of sport and music should only act as motivation for all of those creative hopefuls looking to make a name for themselves, especially the large migrant population in the country. With OVO now making definitive waves in the Hip-Hop world due to the commercial success of their lyrical mastermind, Kaytranada is spear-heading a new wave of talented producers that may yet generate even more influential (Sound)waves amidst both Hip-Hop and Electronic genres, all while creating a genre to call their own.

 

 

Lunch with Blonde.

The strangely welcoming moniker of Blonde is one that oddly suits the Bristol duo of Jacob Manson and Adam Englefield. Despite the fact that only Adam is Blonde and that there are no hair or hair-colour related references in any of their deliciously tropical anthems, the simple name somehow encapsulates the ‘feel good’ vibes that surround the colourful album art, melodic vocals and vibrant music videos. In fact, any adjective associated with feeling good, smiling, happiness (The list goes on), can also be associated with Blonde, the music, the image and the artists behind it.

On a typically unpredictable Irish morning after their blowout set in Carbon Nightclub that went from the deepest of house, to Basement Jaxx and Moose T, Adam is waiting happily in the foyer, while the mildly lethargic Jake arrives a few minutes later, anticipating lunch before they depart for Dublin on the next leg of their tour of the Emerald isle. One would assume due to their exuberant musical image that the two would order a pineapple each, sprinkled in *insert tropical fruit here* while drinking from coconuts, an omelette was enough for Adam, although Jake subtly maintained a bit of ‘Blonde’ on the table with a smoothie to go along with his salad.

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Jake and Adam (Centre) with Ervin O’Donnel and Gerard Mannion, the Maze DJs who supported Blonde for their set in Carbon Nightclub. You can read the Maze DJs blog here.

Despite the multitude of adjectives and labels used to describe Blonde’s sound, Adam isn’t too fond of being tied down to one option in terms of making music ‘To be honest we don’t like to be tied to one genre really. We like to be able to make loads of different types of music, you’d never hear it, but me and Jake make so many different types of things, I don’t think we’d ever really want to be pigeonholed in that genre’. However, with Adam being the founder of Eton Messy, a YouTube channel that acted as a platform for many of the so-called pillars in the new UK house scene, there is a certain loyalty to it too ‘We do feel quite protective about it because that scene’s been part of our lives for the past four years, so we do feel really proud of that.’ On that note, working with Craig David on their new hit ‘Nothing Like This’ (Which they performed on BBC Radio 1’s live lounge before setting off to Ireland) has been strangely nostalgic ‘The funny thing is, the music that Craig was involved with at the very beginning has influenced the scene that we’re involved with now, it’s kind of come full circle really, so it’s quite nice that’.

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The two boys vibing with Craig David in the video for Nothing Like This.

In the era where the internet rules all, it’s difficult at times to tie down a fan base that’re focused on Blonde itself, despite the exposure that the online world has given them, the fast paced nature of it all can be their enemy too, says Jake ‘I think the songs are a lot more well-known than the brand, so I think it’s important for us to unite all the songs under the brand so that people start putting two and two together and realising all the stuff that we’ve done’. With that being said, Blonde wouldn’t exist without the internet. It’s very well documented that the two met online through Eton Messy, and both Jake and Adam were in agreement that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the World Wide Web ‘No. I [Jake] think the internet has democratised music in quite an interesting way, because one of the main selling points for Blonde when we were going into record labels, back when we first started, was the amount of hits we managed to get organically on the internet. It kind of stopped being a tool for labels to promote things and started allowing you to sort of prove to labels that you were worth looking at.’

Getting signed, collaborating with masterful vocalists and selling out nightclubs abroad is something all DJs dream of and it’s something that Blonde are quite literally in the middle of. ‘It’s definitely surreal, to a certain extent, no one gets into DJing or producing to not have success. Everyone who starts DJing in their bedroom dreams of big clubs and having their music recognised by thousands of people so, I mean it’s kind of what you always hope for, but not something you can really plan for.’ Jake says, as he sips on the mauve coloured smoothie, decorated by Blonde-esque lemon sections. Adam’s omelette, despite the meal’s French origins, maintains some degree of Englishness on the table, a key aspect people often overlook about Blonde given the pair’s overtly Caribbean sound ‘That’s the thing, all the tracks we write are very summery and uplifting and that’s why in a lot of the music videos that we’ve had done they’ve been shot in Mexico City etc. but they were made in dingy bedrooms with the rain pattering on the window. We do [Make darker/rainy music] but you’ll probably never hear them under the Blonde alias because it’s not really fitting.’ Adam adds as he decorates the egg and ham concoction in ketchup.

After having their flight delayed the night before and needing to be out the revolving doors of the Meyrick hotel within an hour to hit the road to the country’s capital, Adam knows the importance of timing all too well, especially in today’s no nonsense electronic music market ‘Certain songs would work better at different times in an overall campaign or different times of the year as well, so many times you see comments on videos “If this was released in summer it would be the summer anthem” and things like that, especially with the music we make, it’s very summery and festival-like, so you’ve got to get the timing right.’blonde.jpg Adding to that, Jake points out that Blonde’s success was no fluke in terms of timing and planning ‘There’s definitely pressure [To follow up successful hits] but we’ve always been thinking two steps ahead, there’s never been a point where we haven’t known what the next two singles could be, we’ve always had a huge pool of music to choose from, we’ve got about seven songs at the moment which could all be the next single, we’re narrowing that down because as you get closer to release date, you polish one up. A lot of this music such as, ‘I Loved You’ was written probably about close to two years before it was released, ‘All Cried Out’ was about a year and a half, so when it comes to releasing music you need to keep working on the song up until it goes out, because otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t sound current anymore’

As the plates were slowly vacated of their contents, the two looked forward in time and discussed what they would like to be remembered for ‘You know what, the thing that I’m [Adam] proudest about the Blonde project is being the soundtrack to people’s memories, you know people might look back at Ibiza 2014 or 2015 and they hear ‘I Loved You’ come on and it takes them straight back to that moment. If people are still having those visceral memories like that being brought back forty years from now being brought back by songs like that, it’d be wicked.’ Jake, while sifting through the salad in front of him, delivered a much more music-focused response ‘‘I Loved You’ really got us on the map, but obviously the song writing was already done, it was a sample that we used from an old Tamia track, but ‘All Cried Out’ and ‘Nothing Like This’ are completely original songs. No part of those songs existed before we wrote them and that, to me, is the craziest feeling, that we’ve completely created something new and that means we’ve actually added something to the culture, we’ve put songs out into the world which have resonated with people and had success. Even if the songs themselves, in their current forms, don’t last, maybe someone will sample aspects of them or be influenced by them in the future, and in that way we’ve already made a stamp that’s our own’.

While the plates left conflicting crime scenes, one, the bloody remnants of a ketchup-laden omelette and the other being the scant stalks of a salad, washed down by the contents of a glass looking like it had been dashed in Amethyst Dulux paint on a rainy day, Blonde have already left a mark on the English dance music scene, in the shape of a big colourful smiley face, whose grin is only going to widen as time goes on.

An open letter to Drake.

As one of the most polarizing figures in not only Hip-Hop, but music as a whole, Drake has been an enigmatic figure in my life as a fan. After years of his music my personal jury is still out as to whether I can truly say I like him and his music or not, the numbers don’t lie, he doesn’t need my support, but here’s an introspective look at me and Drake’s troubled and somewhat one-sided relationship.

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My first sonic encounter with Drake was when I popped Thank me Later into my CD player in my room back when I was about 14 or 15. Given that to me all there was was R-A-P and no such thing as the broader spectrum of H-I-P-H-O-P, the sultry opening piano note above the scenic firework noises was mildly disconcerting to a rural Irish Rap fan whose knowledge of the culture was radio-centered, with a knowledge that narrowly stretched from Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West to The Notorious B.I.G and Tinie Tempah if my memory serves me correctly. This in turn, was always going to be a rocky introduction to me, whether he was Drake or Loyle Carner. Looking back, if it was me now that had heard the opening track, Fireworks with Alicia Keys, it wouldn’t have thrown me as much as it did that evening in the suitably dimly lit room in Inverin. My newly-found lyrical love was questioned by his candlelit harmony and I didn’t really understand how it was in the same bracket as The Blueprint 3 and Ready To Die. Therefore, to me, an uneducated rap fan, Thank me Later, really stood by its name as I never made it to the end of the record that evening and it’d take me a little while longer to revisit the Canadian’s first LP. My early impression, ‘He’s better when he raps’ was both as unfair and as it was true (Something I still stand by). I bought this CD for five euro in third year at the back of science class off of Johannas whose means of obtaining it would make for a story in itself. If the Canadian crooner achieved one thing, it’s that I’ve thought a lot more about Aubrey Graham than I have about whatever we did in science that day.

At 19, I can say that Thank me Later is one of my favourite albums, both for the memories it brings back and the music itself. Drake later snuck into my music collection again with Take Care, which right now, I’m going through a transitory phase of liking and hating. The album has some of Drake’s hardest numbers in Underground Kings and We’ll be Fine, yet they’re cushioned by the numbingly lush tracks throughout that aren’t my personal favourites. In terms of lyrics then, do we we even know if Drake wrote them? The question of ghost-writing, ownership and creativity is one that only adds to the 29 year-old’s complexity as a musician and an individual, which I’ll get back to.

What makes Drake so likeable? 

You could bring Drake home to your mother, he could play with your little brother, chat about sport with your dad, have a laugh with you, impress your friends and be a hit with the girls. I don’t know Drake and I (Probably) never will, but from what I can gather he never manages to make himself out to be an asshole or overly confident. At the same time, this contributes to the side of Drake that really gets on my nerves. You can’t please everyone. Or maybe you can and we just haven’t realised. Drake, despite his overall niceness and versatility, is uncategorizable. Now this isn’t why I don’t like the guy, far from it. He’s a rapper and has the lyrical skill* to prove it. At the same time he’s as raw and emotionally unstable as a troubled R n’ B singer. He hops on a Metro Boomin’ track and steps down onto a mulled wine-esque Noah ’40’ instrumental, as easy as you or me walks down a flight of stairs. There’s a certain air of confidence and lack of vulnerability about Drake that makes this talent lack validity and makes Drake’s multiple styles and personalities seem transparent rather than tangible.  October’s Very Own belongs to no genre and can’t be tied down, yet seamlessly struggles at nothing from Trap to Dancehall, which paradoxically makes the likeable ‘6 God’ seem disingenuous. How does someone drop Jumpman, Hotline Bling, Back to Back and If you’re Reading This it’s too Late all in one year? For me, of course it’s a talent in itself to be that versatile, but it makes his lyrics pretty hard to believe.

Then again, his ability to stay current and in the public’s focus is his biggest selling point, ‘If you look at Drake, he releases something every month, to just stay relevant and stay in the limelight, which is hard.’ Sean Walsh of the Original Rudeboys said to me, which is totally correct. There’s a Drake for everyone, but sometimes I find it hard to like any of them.

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On a sidenote, I will never ever forgive the guy for his shameless habit of bandwagoning in terms of sport. If you love a team support them and them only, otherwise don’t make it so public.
Then we get on to the touchy subject of Drake and lyrics. Before this is addressed there’s a few things to take into account. Drake isn’t as good a lyricist as the Cole’s and Kendrick’s out there, BUT his music isn’t as popular as it is because of its lyrical content. The guy’s career has blown up because of hits like the aforementioned Hotline Bling, Hold on We’re Going Home, Find Your Love, Take Care and many more, not to mention his propensity to sing his own catchy hooks and the overall uniqueness of his music. With that being said, Drake is a rapper. His marketed uniqueness relies on the fact that he’s a rapper. Being a rapper requires you to write your own lyrics. ‘If you ask any kid that’s interested in rap, I guarantee that they’re trying to write rhymes…. if they like an artist like me or any other artist, they’re not going “I gotta find someone to write these lyrics for me” that’s not the first thought that pops into their heads because it’s painted as these rappers are doing it themselves’ Hopsin said to Vlad TV when discussing whether Drake having ghostwriters is a good or a bad thing. It’s hard to disagree with him either. It’s one thing if Drake sings someone else’s lyrics on a hook because the guy sings rather well, however rapping is something that everyone quintessentially accepts as something that’s your own, so if you’re rapping someone else’s words you’re only singing karaoke (Ironically that’s the name of the second track off of Thank me Later,  which talks about his life growing up). The numbers don’t really lie in terms of the fact that Drake has managed to create special music and it should be celebrated that a Hip-Hop centered artist is at the top of the music world, however if that artist is only miming someone else’s lyrics then isn’t the spirit of Hip-Hop, the realest and most genuine music, being misrepresented?

Maybe Drake was right all along that ‘The truth hurts and those lies heal’ and that if we all stayed obliviously content with the fact that maybe all of his words aren’t his own, we’d sleep easier at night. Sadly, of all fans, Hip-Hop fans like to get pissed off at a wide variety of topics and ghostwriting is one that won’t fly as easily under the radar as some other Drake mishaps that scraped by most Hip-Hop heads in the past.

He has impressively blended his two pervading styles into a head-turning mixture of raw Toronto Trap (Where commendably, the lyrics are audible), and for once it’s sort of clear that Drake has finally developed his own style that can be solely attributed him, despite its clear influences from all corners of Drake’s growth as an artist. This is a guy who came up as a product of YMCMB, as well as Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Tyga, produced two star-studded albums featuring Jay-Z, Rihanna, The Weeknd and Rick Ross to name a few, then took over the radio repeatedly since 2013 with a refined sound, beefed with Meek Mill, started his own empire in OVO, had multiple public friendships with the likes of Skepta and Future, released a project with Future after a week of collaborating and then shutdown the month of April in anticipation of his latest album Views from the 6. He has put Toronto on the map and by doing so has symbiotically carved his own character and musical personality, centered around the Canadian metropolis. At 29, is this Drake in his theoretical final form, or is this just another ploy to make us think we’ve finally cornered him and so we can finally slap that label on his blissful smile or is he just another step ahead of us?

His evolution from the piano-fueled emotional manipulator to radio and 6 God has been impressive, despite its hint of invalidity, and is certainly something that should be respected, however as far as me and Drake go, I’m going to stay sitting here watching his moves rather than singing along mindlessly.

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