- 29 Apr 19
As the He’s Electric column comes to a close, Will Kinsella reflects on the huge changes in Irish dance music over the last five years.
Five years ago, I delivered my first column to Hot Press. It came at a time of change for me, as I had just launched my first education project, the Artist Development Program. Elsewhere, I was running shows with Claude Young and Detroit Techno Militia, and also working out of a studio in the Bernard Shaw. Looking back, it was a very exciting time.
It was also a period of change for Irish electronic music: that summer, District 8, Hangar and Opium Rooms opened their doors. In a period of six months, the landscape drastically changed for the good. There was more competition, bigger spaces and bigger names coming to the city. Within a year, pretty much every major artist in electronic music was on their way to Dublin.
Prior to that, there were fewer spaces and smaller parties. A generation had come of age listening to electronic music and there was a genuine appetite for the big room experience. For the first time in 14 or 15 years, there was a high volume of 18-22 year olds going to electronic music shows on a weekly basis.
When I was graduating from DIT in 2005, it was the polar opposite. I had spent four years setting up and building the DIT DJ Society, and as a group focused on electronic music, we were in the minority. It was exciting and refreshing to see what was going on.
Over the coming years, I watched and reported on a growing scene. By 2015, you could see a shift in festival programming. Forbidden Fruit was that year headlined by Richie Hawtin and Adam Beyer, whereas the year before, it was the Flaming Lips. In the coming years, for the first time in nearly a decade, we would see the emergence of electronic festivals such as Boxed Off, Higher Vision and Fuinneamh. Pygmalion, meanwhile, had begun hosting shows in the iconic Powerscourt Townhouse, with acts such as Sven Väth.
An-Ibiza based Irish promoter by the name of Eoin Smyth also began to make an impact. After the closure of Space Ibiza in 2016, he founded Game Over with Dave Browning. Together they put on Pure Carl Cox at Privilege, which sent shockwaves across the island. They followed that up with their new concept, One Night Stand.
It has been amazing to see Irish artists such as Matador and Mano Le Tough conquer the world of dance. Sunil Sharpe, DeFeKT, Doug Cooney and Pineal Navigation are also releasing incredible records. In addition, we’ve seen labels such as Vision Collector and Distrackt Records emerging from the underground.
In this time period, my Hybrasil project has grown. Last July I moved to Berlin, and I recently released with Sian’s Octopus Records. Elsewhere, I have my first EP with Radio Slave’s label Rekids Special Projects due for release on May 10. I have also begun releasing vinyl on the Hybrasil label, with the Calculator EP on the way, and I will soon be launching my online music production school, Elevator Program. With things changing the way they are, I felt the time was right to focus more on my studio work and hand the reins to someone with a fresh perspective.
It has been an honour to serve my peers for the past five years and report on an exciting time in Irish electronic music. I would like to thank Hot Press founder Niall Stokes for his contribution to Irish music over the past 41 years, and my supervising editor Roisin Dwyer. It has been a real pleasure working with the Hot Press team and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to do so. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for reading – it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Why work under an alias?
I found it easier to work under another name. When I first began doing shows in 2015, Richie Hawtin had already been playing my music. I was appearing on line-ups and people thought I was from the continent – it was a lot of fun. I revealed it was me just before my live show with Sven Väth at Pyg / Powerscourt in 2016.
Most memorable shows?
Performing before Jeff Mills and the RTE Concert Orchestra at the Bord Gais Theatre, and playing live on the Amnesia Terrace with Carl Cox and Adam Beyer with One Night Stand. Also, being announced on the Pure Carl Cox line-up with Carl, Joseph Capriati, Nicole Moudaber, Cassy and the Martinez Brothers, and playing at District 8, Life Festival and Boxed Off back home.
I released vinyl with Break New Soil, Off Recordings and Kling Klong as well as my own Hybrasil label, and my track ‘Lady Nada’ was selected as one of Beatport’s Top 50 Techno Tracks of 2018. Elsewhere, recording a live mix for John Digweed’s radio show Transmissions was pretty special.
Recent and upcoming releases?
I recently released ‘Lemuria’ with Sian’s Octopus Records, and ‘Inanna / Time To Change’ hit online stores in March. I also featured on the District 8 VA vinyl release. In terms of upcoming stuff, I have a vinyl coming out with Radio Slave’s ‘Rekids Special Projects (RSPX)’, and another new vinyl coming out on my Hybrasil label, titled ‘Calculator’, with a digital release in April. I also have an EP with Sian and Aardy’s Hydrozoa on May 27.
Parting words of advice?
Whatever it is you do, be the hardest working person at it. If your goal is to be a successful artist, you need to allocate 15-40 hours of your week to it. If you don’t have enough time, get up earlier in the morning and make sacrifices. Ultimately, this whole thing comes down to work ethic. One percent maybe get that lucky break through a track or a hype moment – the rest of the industry is made up of people grinding out results. There is no shortcut.