While we were in Dublin for our show with Generator we spent the day with Sean Cooley and Kevin Freeney of A/V duo Clu. The guys talked to us at length about their own experiences in the city, what makes it unique, and what they saw for Dublin’s future. They showed us remnants of Ireland’s brief financial boom, the Celtic Tiger, in the disused office space in Smithfield that’s used for various artistic endeavours by the city’s creative community. We stopped off at the Bernard Shaw, one of Dublin’s favourite haunts, to talk to founder Trevor O’Shea about the changing landscape of nightlife in the city and roamed the streets stopping at a bunch of Clu’s favourite spots, most notably Capel Street’s highly esteemed 7D Cinema.
Dublin has had a quietly bubbling scene for decades but never quite garnered the same reputation as other capitals or even similar sized cities such as Manchester and Glasgow. The last few years especially have seen various Irish artists and labels make big strides at home and abroad. More established names like All City Records have continued to thrive alongside newer ventures such as Major Problems and Glacial Sound. Dublin acts like Clu, Sias, Morgan Buckley, Terriers and Shriekin have all had music released on various well respected international labels and it looks like the trend is set to continue into 2016.
This said, Dublin is hardly new to the international stage when it comes to underground music. Since the ’90’s the likes of D1 Recordings, Apartment Records and the aforementioned All City have been pushing acts from Ireland and elsewhere into the ether. The collaborative work of Mike Slott and Hudson Mohawke as Herald’s of Change saw release on All City as did work from heavy hitters like Flying Lotus, Onra and Dam Funk. In 2004 D1 Recordings released Fatima Yamaha’s “What’s A Girl To Do?”
, which only after being re-released by Dekmantel earlier this year got the reception it deserved. It’s worth noting that Dubliners have been hard at it abroad as well. Extended All City family Krystal Klear
runs his label Cold Tonic from London, while the likes of Mano Le Tough
has been putting his own music and music from fellow Irish expat The Drifter
out from Berlin on his Maeve imprint.
One can speculate various reasons as to the Dublin music scene’s understated reputation. Strict licensing laws dictate how late venues stay open and late licenses can cost a pretty penny, discouraging many proprietors from taking risks with what they program. Emigration has been an incredibly popular choice for Irish young people for more than a century, many of Dublin’s young creatives leave in search of work or more in places like London, New York and Berlin. Despite all of this, Dublin’s crowds and venues are consistently popular with international acts and travelling ravers alike and left-of-centre gigs and club nights are rammed more often than not. A crop of promoters using repurposed spaces and exploiting loop-holes in the law prove that the demand for something different is most definitely alive and well in the city. Dublin will bubble on, quietly or not, into 2016.