Once dubbed a “captivating electronic artist” by Hot Press and included on the Irish Times‘ list of 50 People to Watch in 2023, DJ and producer Chósta (real name, Conor Kelly), sat down with Post-Burnout‘s Aaron Kavanagh at Dublin’s Kaph café to discuss his new, debut album Twilight Transmission, the inspirations for the narrative and creative throughline of it, collaborating with Fears and Jape, his opinion on modern radio, streaming services and the Dublin City Council, art, becoming an electronic musician, self-releasing music, and many, many albums.
I mean, I guess the first thing I’d ask you is, like, what got you started? What got you into electronic music?
Oh! It’s a long story! [Laughs] Because I feel everyone’s music origin story sort of differs, I guess. But I’d always have pretty eclectic taste in music, from when I was a kid. I think maybe, nowadays, it’s more…it’s a bit easier to have a diverse taste in music because of streaming services; like, you can just…you’ve got playlists, and it’s so easy to just, like, whack together a playlist of, like, ten songs that you like, and they could all be from all genres. But I dunno, like, I felt when I was younger – like when I was a teenager – it was a bit more everyone had their finds.
A lot of people had to find their music tastes. You’d either like indie rock music or, like, rap music, or…but, in school, I don’t know why, I always just sort of liked different things. I was one of the few lads in the school who could set up…hang out with guys who liked rap music and then also hang out with guys who liked Metallica, so…[Both laugh]. I was like one of the few lads in my school who were accepted by both tribes, I guess. But, in terms of electronic music, I would say, like…I had a couple of mates in school who had really good taste in music, and they put me on the right path because, when I started listening to electronica, it was probably like really bad, awful, commercial, Tiësto-style electronic music. [Both laugh] Just because that was what was in the charts or whatever. Or, like, Skrillex or whatever. But then, I had a couple of mates who put me onto cool stuff, but I’d say maybe one of the most defining moments for me listening to music was – I used to listen to Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio show back when he used to do that – and I remember one evening he played “Untrue” by Burial, and it just, it blew my mind. I never heard anything like that in my life. And I guess that just set me on the path of discovering Aphex Twin and Four Tet and Pere Ubu and artists like that, so. But, like, I still – even to this day – I still have a really varied taste in music.
And I think that shows. [Laughs]
Yeah. Even these days, like…I dunno. I wouldn’t really…at the moment, I wouldn’t say I listen to that much electronic music at all. Or not “electronic music” in a conventional sense.
Well, when it comes to, say, learning an instrument, I think people understand what it means to learn a guitar or drums or violin or saxophone, right? But what does it actually mean to become an electronic musician? Like, what’s the actual…what’s the, I guess, growing pains?
Getting…well actually, it’s actually easy getting started these days because everyone has a fuckin’ laptop. But, after that, is when the fun starts! But I was quite a…I’d say I’m a relevantly late developer, now. I only started making music when I was in my early twenties. So, like, I was in college and I was studying journalism and I just…I eventually got a laptop that was good enough that had software on it…that I could download software to, and I got Logic and started making tunes on that. But, for a long time, everything was awful; like, everything was shite, man! I didn’t make a single good track for a long time, but that’s part of the process. You just watch a lot of YouTube videos, I guess. Like, I watched so many YouTube videos of different people – different producers and people – explaining their process. Because I wouldn’t of…I’m sorry. I go off on tangents a lot, so just bear with me a minute!
No, no! Go ahead!
It’s weird because, when we were kids…– my brother is eighteen months younger than me – when we were younger, my brother played five instruments. I never played any instruments as a kid. He went and studied music, got a degree in music and then a master’s in Music and Visual Art. Now he’s a visual artist, a video editor, all that sort of stuff; he went down the visual path. I studied journalism and I ended up making music, so it’s weird how it works out that way! But, even now, I bare…I badly play instruments. I’m not very good at playing instruments, like, I’m much better at just…Like, if you gave me an hour and gave me the option of, like, sitting down at keyboard or something or just finding a sample and just doing something mad with the sample, I could make you something way better in a half-an-hour with a sample than, like, sitting down at a keyboard.
Even now that I’ve started…Like, I recently bought a Juno-106 synthesiser and, like, I have to kind of progress a little bit, ironically, since it’s a little bit different. But even with that, it’s [Laughs] just so much easier to go onto YouTube and get a sample and do something mad with it, man.
When it came to studying music – so, it was kind of self-taught, autodidactic sort of stuff….
… – and, like, when it comes to that, did you look at, like, music theory or did you just kind of go based on instinct? Or were you actually, like, studying music…?
Oh, man! I haven’t a fucking clue about music theory! [Aaron laughs] Like, I could barely tell you a chord progression, man. It’s just all from my ear.
Yeah. That’s perfect.
But, when you start off, sometimes you think, “Oh, shit. Like, I need to know all of this stuff.” Then you figure out that there’s so many artists – like, producers that I really respect and idolise, guys like Madlib or J Dilla or Four Tet, people like that – like, Four Tet played in a band but Madlib and J Dilla, like those old school hip-hop producers, those all just used samples and, I’d say, they have limited knowledge of music theory; it’s all just what sounds good to your ear, I guess.
So, that’s part of the process, is that you just have to find out what you actually react to, what actually moves you when you make music, I guess. For a long time, yeah, it’s just sort of like…I think you can get in your own head and you can kind of be like, “Oh, shit. I need to know X, Y, Z,” and, in reality, you kind of just slowly figure these things out, I think. Now, I would, I would…not to say I wouldn’t like to know some music theory because, I mean, I’m sure it would be helpful but, I dunno, there’s other aspects of making music that I find I need to get better at before I start worrying about music theory and shit like that! [Laughs]
Sure. When it comes to, like, sampling, I mean, we’re kind of in a lucky environment. I mean, you can look at, like, Freesound.org or something like that. Like, there’s a plethora of…like, there’s a library there that probably wasn’t there when…
Yeah. I use a site called Splice, which is just, it’s a goldmine.
Yeah. But, like, when I was listening to your album, there’s like samples from, like…Orson Welles, right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
There’s samples from all over the place. And, like, there’s a really good one – I just wrote it down, actually – from “Vox,” which was a woman saying, “Well, there is right enough, but, I mean, this part of Dublin, for me, is never going to change. This means the world to me. This is my part of Dublin, and it’s a part I’m never going to give up,” and it’s like you can find stuff like that just by searching, but when I think of someone like – like, you were mentioning Madlib – but people like [Dr.] Dre or like DJ Shadow or someone, was doing that…
…like back in the ‘90s and early 2000s…
It’s funny you should say that; Endtroducing… by DJ Shadow was a massive album for me because when I discovered that that was all samples, I couldn’t believe it!
Like, “How is he doing this? Like, what? Like, what the fuck is he…?”
It’s insane. And that came out in, like, ’96, I think?
Yeah! It’s madness! Like, it’s absolutely batshit crazy. It’s the same with The Avalanches – do you know The Avalanches? Like, their debut album was the same. Like, the reason it took so long for that album to get released was because they were trying to clear…they had something, like, 1,050 samples they had to clear. But it’s funny you mention that sample on “Vox.” So, what I love about that sample is, right…The first couple of people asked me about that when I first….– I think I played it at a gig last year and somebody asked me about it – and I was like, “You know that sample is actually from a vox pop on RTÉ, an RTÉ News broadcast from 1982?”
So, it’s a guy, eh…- I can’t remember the host’s name but I still think he works for RTÉ now – but he’s going around Dublin during Christmas time and he goes up the Henry Street and Moore Street markets and he’s interviewing different stalls and, for the most part, it’s really wholesome; it’s all, like, kids going in with their mams and dads to see stuff at Christmas, like see the lights and all that.
But they do interview one stall on it – the one who I sampled – and it’s this woman and she sold ceramic plants…ceramic flowers. It was Christmas decorations, ceramic flowers, and her whole family had done that from, like, I think it was the 1930s or something, but she was the last person on Moore Street who was still out selling those ceramic flowers; all the other stall owners who were doing the same thing were gone. And that’s sort of like, talking about Dublin [and] how it’s becoming gentrified, and that was in the ‘80s! It’s just so mad how…like, I just assumed, like most people, that “Ah, the gentrification of Dublin’s only been happening in the last decade or something,” but it’s actually been going on way longer.
Yeah, I think it’s, like, post-War capitalism…
…really bringing it in.
Pretty much, yeah. And, like, it’s just mad watching it because some of the…some of the streets…in the video, I was like, “Ah, fuck, Dublin looks different and then it doesn’t actually look different, in a way.” Because it’s still the same streets but the difference is that, the people who are running stalls, they are all just fucking [gone]. Like, we shot the video for “Vox” around there because my mate who took the video – my mate Rob [Maguire] who took the video – his mam…his whole family had stalls on Moore Street, as well. And, when we went back, there’s just fuckin’ nothing left.
It doesn’t look the same, yeah.
There’s only eleven or twelve stalls on the whole street. It’s crazy.
Yeah, and I always think…you know, you don’t really think of that element of commercialism until you look at, like, archival photos, for example, and one thing people notice is how the brands being advertised are different or the shops have changed.
Like, it’s always mad when you go back, and you see advertisements for tobacco products and stuff…
…that you can’t do now. It’s always like…yeah, I think it’s an interesting aspect…
But I don’t think we do…like, in Dublin – and this is its own separate issue; you can rant about Dublin City Council all day, like.
But we don’t…we really don’t integrate…even if we have large wholesale chains from different countries or global brands coming into the country, we don’t integrate them into the buildings in the city very well.
Like, if you look at other cities – go to like fuckin’, I don’t know, Berlin or Lisbon or Paris or London or wherever – you go there and they really – McDonald’s or Starbucks – they have to actually fit into the building’s impression. You can’t just throw their branding all over it; the branding has to actually sort of coalesce with the building itself. Whereas, in Dublin, you go down O’Connell Street and it’s just so…like, this should be a really, really beautiful street but it’s all tacky because it’s just full of fucking McDonald’s and Starbucks and Burger King signs.
Yeah. Like, I think there’s careless disregard here. I think we’re probably more in-line with an American city than a European city…
…in terms of preservation.
Yeah. But that’s kind of a by-product of who we’ve had in government for so long. [Laughs]
But, then again, I think that’s a very Dublin-centric issue because, definitely, there are parts of this country that look the exact same as they did twenty years ago, they haven’t changed.
And, like, people from those places complain about the stagnation. It’s like you can’t really find a balance…
There is…it’s tough to get the balance. It definitely is tough to find a balance but I don’t know if…I assume you know about SUBSET, the art collective?
The whole on-going battle they’ve had with Dublin City Council for about five years. Supposedly there’s a bill being brought forward to tackle that. But, anyway, I was in Wexford before Christmas because my cousin was getting married in Wexford, and, on the main streets, they have SUBSET art everywhere and it’s encouraged! Oh, it’s just Dublin City Council are just so archaic that they just don’t want any fucking…They’d rather just have plain black or blue walls instead of having a bit of art.
I could get angry about this! [Both laugh]
Let’s go back to your album! [Both laugh] So, yeah, it’s called Twilight Transmission and it was – I read the little press kit you had for it – and you were talking about the “Sheerification” of radio…
Oh, God! I forgot about that! [Both laugh] It seemed like a funny play on words, at the time. [Both laugh]
But the idea is that radio has gotten so commercial and so, like…
There’s a really funny song on the album called “Please, No More Ads.” [Both laugh] Because, really, you just compiled a bunch of meaningless commercial-speak just together and stuff. I was wondering…the whole thing has a motif of radio stations being shifted through – it reminded me, actually, of Queens of the Stone Age’s album…
That’s definitely an influence! [Laughs]
Songs for the Deaf?
But what was interesting was, like, twenty years ago, when they were doing that, that was still a motif…like the idea, I think, in that album was like someone in their car, flipping through the stations as they drive through different states. Where here, it kind of feels like, you know – as the title would imply – it feels like kind of going through early morning [radio] and just kind of switching through and picking up. It has a very, I feel, a very eerie vibe to it.
Yeah. You say morning, I say evening. So, basically, the whole sort of concept…so, obviously, lockdown…the pandemic happened, and I was back at home with my mam and dad, and my brother had just moved out. So, it was my mam and my dad and myself and my sister and my gran – and my gran is kind of, like, in her late 80s, so she was sort of staying with us a bit and shit like that. So, I was basically in the box room in my mam and dad’s house and – I don’t know about you but maybe it was different; everybody had different interpretations of it – but I really enjoyed the first lockdown because I was working in a job that I absolutely despised and they basically laid me off, so I basically got to sit at home for about three months, just fucking chilling out. I really…because of the, I guess the whole…the time that I would be spending socialising, going out on weekends and stuff, I was just sitting at home, watching films and stuff. But I also got back into listening to radio because I just had way more time. And, when I was growing up, I used to love the radio so much, I just fucking…I used to listen to Tom Dunne in the evening. I discovered so many bands through him or listening to Zane Lowe or whatever. And, of the big ones, Donal Dineen. So, when I was in school – I was way too, way too young to be listening to this! – but, when I was in school, Donal Dineen used to have a show on Today FM at, like, eleven o’clock at night and, you’d turn it on, and he’d be just playing the maddest shit. I was like, “What the fuck is half of this?” It’s where I discovered DJ Shadow, because he played a couple of tracks off Endtroducing…, and I was like, “What the fuck is this?” And then he’d play some mad Japanese track afterwards. And this is what I just assumed radio was like. And, then, maybe because I was working jobs and I also, I moved away – like, I lived in Canada for a year or so – and then, got back and was just working jobs all the time so I probably wasn’t…didn’t have the radio on in the day or whatever. Just listening to the radio, like, “This is fucking painful!” Like, they’re…they’re the same format on pretty much every radio station: same ten artists or so get played constantly. And it’s like as if radio used to be about the music; now the music is not even…like, I’d say a tertiary part of what it is.
But the rest of it is, obviously, you’ve got advertising, the competitions they have, fuckin’ meaningless nonsense where they get people on phonelines to talk about trivial talking points and shit like that. So, I just, I was listening to it, I was like, “This is awful!” Like, really, I’m hating this so much. [Laughs] So, it just got me thinking, like, back to when I was in my childhood and my teen years, when I used to listen to radio and stuff, and how much I loved it. The first track I made off the album was “Late Night Jazz Radio.” So, I, first of all, just made a track and was like, “This could be an interesting idea for an album.” But then I discovered, like, NTS Radio and stuff, and I was like, “That’s kind of what I’m used to. It’s what radio was, back in the day.” So, I guess it was kind of like that. I actually met Donal Dineen for the first time a few months ago, at a Haunted Dancehall festival at the National Concert Hall, and I had to go up to him and was like, “Man, I owe you fucking so much!” And, yeah, I think he really appreciated that. But I just told him, “Yeah, like, your show put me on the path to so many different outlets of music.” So, I guess the idea of the album is just that, it’s like a…basically, it’s a fictional radio transmission in a world where radio’s actually good.
I don’t know if I answered your question!
No, you did! But it is, like…it’s not just that concept; there is commentary, too. Like, you are making an actual statement, but you’re doing it in a sort of indirect way, like, it’s not like you’re jumping on the mic and shouting, “Here’s what I think…”
How do you go about doing that; like, communicating a message sort of indirectly or non-verbally?
Yeah, I think part of it is – and I still haven’t got around to this yet – but I think part of it was the fact that I just didn’t have the confidence to actually sing or do vocals on the tracks, myself, and I still haven’t got to that stage yet but maybe, I feel like…I dunno. I don’t even know if I can sing that well, but I just feel like it’s something that I might have to do. For the next album, it’d be the next logical progression, I feel like. Because I feel like…yeah, I don’t know if it’s a cop out to not have vocals on a track, but I guess…yeah, I guess I’m more about setting a mood rather than anything, I think. That’s the whole idea. I kind of see it in a way, like, sort of like a film, as well. I take a lot of inspiration from films and the atmosphere of films. I kind of listen to a lot of film scores and ambient music and shit like that…
Do you have any favourites?
The best…my favourite film score of all time is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtrack to The Social Network.
Yeah, that’s a great one.
That was – through college and stuff like that – anytime I was studying, I always had that album on. And I love Trent Reznor anyway and I love the more ambient Nine Inch Nails stuff as well, but, yeah, I remember listening to that and that really…I also love Jonny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood – actually, There Will Be Blood and The Master – because I love Paul Thomas Anderson, he’s probably one of my favourite directors, so I just love all the shit that he’s done, and Radiohead are probably my favourite band of all time, so it’s just a nice…
A nice meeting of the minds, there! And, ambient music-wise, my two albums that I listened to a lot when I was making this album was Radio Amor by Tim Hecker. He’s a Canadian experimental artist, but he’s…I think he does a better job with instrumental music – and there’s no drums on any of his music, either – so, he does a better job with instrumental music and the instrumental art of setting a mood and kind of getting emotion out of music with no words whatsoever. It’s crazy. I think he has one album where there’s sampled vocals but there not even…there’s no words or anything; it’s just using the vocals as an instrument, almost. But Radio Amor is one of his first albums and, if you listen to that album, you’ll kind of get what I’ve stolen from there! [Both laugh] And another one is Melancholia by a guy called William Basinski. Who, he’s famous for an album he did, called The Disintegration Loops, which was – it’s a mad story – where he basically discovered that…he was trying to, he had all of these recordings that he made in the ‘80s that he was trying to digitalise from tape, but then, when he was in the process of doing this, the tape machine just fucked up and, like, degraded the tape and whatever noise it was making, he was like, “Oh, this is a really interesting sound, so I’m going to record it.” So, when he was recording it, when he was digitalising it and all that, was when 9/11 happened and he was living in an apartment in Brooklyn, and he could see it from his rooftop. So, that’s the mythical story behind that album, but my favourite album of his is Melancholia. It’s like…I feel like it’s the sound of, I don’t know, like endless despair but, like, there’s a little bit of hope in it. I don’t know what it is, it’s just basically a load of loops he made when he was, I dunno, in his 20s or something, I don’t know, but on a piano. And it’s just the sound of the piano on this is like something…I’ve never heard this sound made from a piano on any other track, like, or any other music and it’s so fucking…it puts you in a trance, where you’re like, “Fucking hell. How has he made this sound? It’s mad.” Sorry, the only other track that would remind me of that album is the final…the last track on Aphex Twin’s last album, Syro. What the fuck is it? His wife’s name’s Anastasia, so, like, the track name is basically the words…or the letters of “Anastasia” just jumbled up. [Editor’s Note: The track is called “aisatsana”] But it’s just this really fucking haunting piano, like, just solo piano track and you can hear the birds chirping in the background and all that. So, it’s just mad, because people always associate Aphex Twin with this mad, industrial, fucking techno noise, like. But some of his best stuff is just ambient piano stuff, like. I don’t know if I answered your question. [Both laugh]
But, when it came to releasing your first LP, did you want to…Like, when I was listening to your self-titled EP, it seemed like kind of more experimental, kind of a predecessor but also kind of…I don’t know, it seemed like you were kind of testing what you could do, in terms of like experimenting with soundscapes.
Where, this one, it feels like you kind of went fully in and actually had continuity. The other EP felt a lot more looser and just whatever you were feeling at the time. Did you want to get some training in before committing to doing an LP?
Yeah, kind of, but like…so, with the EP…the first couple of tracks I released were actually made before lockdown and stuff, before the pandemic, so, for a while, I was making tracks that I wanted to sound like they would be good in a club, so they were very forth and fore. But then I was like, “Ah, shit, if I release these two tracks now, I don’t think that’s a broader representation of the music I make, so I better just put out an EP with just some experimental tracks because, if I don’t do this now, people are just going to expect a certain thing.” And anyway, those tracks were made during lockdown, as well, so I just wasn’t listening to any fucking…any upbeat music at all really, you know? So, yeah, that was kind of…yeah, I guess I was sort of testing the waters a little bit and, also, I was just taking a left turn, you know? I just had to get away from what I was making and do a complete 180 and just do something different, so I think that’s why…yeah, like, I could’ve…like the whole releasing an album and stuff, I could’ve probably released a few more EPs, I guess. I just didn’t have the tracks for it. [Both laugh] And then, a few of my friends were like, “You should just be patient and just wait until…,” because this album has been done for like almost 18 months, at this stage. Most of them were finished 18 months ago but, like, the two tracks with Fears and Jape, they were done in the last 12 months or so. The rest of them have been done for so long, I just have to get them out. My mates were like, “You should just be patient. Wait until the label comes to you” and all that, but, like, I just fucking…I just have to get them out.
Well, you mentioned Fears and Jape and, yeah…Fears – Constance [Keane], the drummer from M(h)aol – and Richie [Egan] from Jape. I was kind of interested to see Jape there, because they were, like – like, twenty years ago – they were, like, really doing that versatile thing you were talking about. I remember them from back then – I dunno, I’m probably older than you – but, like, I remember…
You’re probably not, man. I just look younger than I am!
I’m older than you, then. I’m 30.
Oh, right. Just by a hair. [Both laugh] But I remember them…
I think “Floating” is probably one of the greatest Irish tracks of all time.
Yeah. It’s just so iconic.
And I remember I couldn’t see them because every club in this city is over 18. [Both laugh] And M(h)aol is, like, one of my new favourite acts…Actually, their new album is out today…
Album’s out today. Yeah, yeah. I haven’t even listened to it, yet, but…
It was actually playing…I was in…I forget the record store that’s in…[Gestures towards George’s Street Arcade]
Yeah, yeah! They were playing it. But, yeah, how did you go about collaborating with them? Why specifically them, how’d you seek them out?
So, Connie is a mate of mine. I kind of became friends with Connie during the first lockdown. She does a show on Dublin Digital Radio – or did do a show on Dublin Digital Radio – and she was just looking for unreleased tracks, so I just sent her an unreleased track – it was actually “As the Rain Fell,” which is the second track on the album – so I just sent her the first version of that. The whole idea of her show at the time was literally music that’s unmastered, it’s just loose music, so I just sent her that. We became really good friends through that, we…I remember – she lives in London – so, during one of the lockdowns, I remember we were just on FaceTime for about an hour, chatting away, like, and I was like, “We should do a track together!” And it took so long for it to come together because I sent her a couple of instrumentals and she was just like, “I just can’t sing anything over these.” And…I dunno, then she was just like, “Oh, I have a vocal for you” and then I listened to it, and I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I can do anything with this.” But then one day, earlier in last year – I think probably around this time, last year – she sent me a vocal and I was like, “That’s the one. I’ve got something.” And I made the track in about…so, she sent me a vocal and I just made the instrumental around it in about an hour.
It’s fucking haunting.
Yeah. Like, the song…the two main sort of influences from that song are, there’s a band called “Hate Rock,” spelt HTRK, and they have a track off – not off their last album but the previous album, the opening track – and, like, the first 30 seconds of it sounds kind of similar like it’s definitely an homage to that. And then the rest of the track would be my, I don’t know, my best rip-off of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” [Both laugh] And that came together…well, when I eventually got the vocal from Connie, it came together really quickly. The Jape track was just like…I just emailed him about 18 months ago on the off chance – I was like, “He’s not going to see this. He’s not going to read it.” – and he got back to me. He was like, “Oh, man, I actually bought your EP off Bandcamp!”
And he’s just so…he’s just such a fucking hero, like. He’s so sound. I remember I was on the phone to him…I was, again, on a FaceTime to him a few months ago, because he lives in Malmö with his wife and kids, like, because he does soundtracks to children’s TV shows, that’s his…
Yeah. That’s why he hasn’t…well, he released an album a few months ago, but the reason he hadn’t done any Jape projects for ages is because he’s just making fucking music for TV shows…
Over in Sweden?
Yeah, yeah. But he…I was FaceTiming him and, like, his studio in his gaff in Malmö is unreal! I was so jealous of all the synths and the tape machines he had and all that! But, yeah, he’s just so sound, man. That one took a little bit longer to get together, as well because I sent him an instrumental and about six months…- he was just so busy with all the other projects he had on – so, six months later, he sent me an email. He sent me back an instrumental with a vocal over it and it was about ten minutes long, but I was like, “Fuck! But it’s so good!” [Both laugh] But then I sent it to one of my friends, just being like, “Listen to this!” And they were like, “Is that Jape?!” “Yeah!” [Both laugh] And then, like…then, after that, it was just sort of like back and forth, just gradually cutting the track back, and, eventually, we got it into a succinct four-minute piece. But, yeah, that was…I couldn’t believe that he actually agreed to do it and, secondly, he was so fuckin’ sound, as well. So, yeah, that was great to just to…I like the idea of – even if I do, in the future, my own vocal tracks – I still like the idea of just collaborating with people. Like, I just love…I always love…I really appreciate artists who collaborate with others, you know?
Yeah. You mentioned earlier, actually – I just wanted to get back to it – you were talking about movie soundtracks. Would that be something you’d ever be interested in doing, potentially?
Yeah, for sure.
Because I saw the kind of music videos that were accompanying the album and it really does feel like…It’s very strange, I think music videos are becoming an elevated form, in a way.
Where, before, they were just, like, a three-minute advertisement, essentially. Not to say…obviously, like, something like “Take On Me” or something like that…there were ones that had elevated ones that had artistic merit…
The reason for that is because – sorry to cut across –
No, no. Go ahead.
…but the reason for that is because, back in the day, you’d make music videos for MTV. Whereas now, music videos are back in vogue because of fucking TikTok and Instagram and stuff. Because of TikTok, like – it’s kind of grim, it’s kind of grim how…I don’t know if you saw your man, Steve Lacy? He blew up on TikTok last year, when he played a gig in L.A. and [Laughs] he was playing his most popular song, and no one knew the words until the chorus. They knew none of the…he stopped and was like, “You don’t know this song, do you?” And then he played the chorus and they’re all singing it. They’re all…they only know the chorus; they don’t listen to the rest of the song. It’s mad. But, because of the success of TikTok, all the other social media platforms are trying to fucking replicate it. So, if you put up an Instagram…I was looking back at the statistics…the first video I put up on Instagram was for my first track “Alone,” this is about three years ago, and there’s about 5,600 organic views, which is just fucking people who follow me on Instagram and that was just without…I didn’t boost that post at all. Whereas now if you put up a post – any post – it gets fucking half of that. Unless it’s a video. It’s a specific video platform they have on Instagram. So, that’s why videos and stuff have come back into the limelight. But I always wanted…like, I feel a visual aspect of music is important, anyway. I kind of credit that to, eh…do you remember the time Kojaque released Deli Daydreams? I just remembered being blown away by the videos and they were all just, him and his mates shot them, and I was like, “How? These videos are fucking mind-blowing!” And it really gave me…I think that’s why, when I saw those videos, I really got it straight away; I didn’t even have to listen to his music after that. But I do…I love that Deli Daydreams record but one of the main reasons I love it is that the videos are so fucking…they’re just so well shot and I can tell, I can tell the little influences he took from films and shit like that. So, that’s why, yeah.
It’s kind of insane how much of it you can do it at home – you have to train, but like…
Or just using your talented friends. [Both laugh] Most of my videos have been done by hiring my brother or one of my best mates, Jack. So, you just have to…When you were saying about film soundtracks, I have this running joke with my brother. He’s always just like, “You owe me so much free work,” and I’m like, “Yeah, well when you get to making your own films, Adam, you’ve got someone to do your soundtrack for you!”
What I was going to say is, like…yeah, I mean, you think about the barrier to entry now, it’s getting slimmer and slimmer, where you can actually produce really – through, like, sampling and stuff – you can produce really interesting stuff on things like Audacity, which is free.
And then, similarly, you can then make a video on DaVinci, which is free. So, I think that barrier to entry is kind of stripping and maybe you don’t really need the labels anymore?
And maybe you don’t need the video production companies that are going to cost you fifty grand for like a day’s shoot or something?
Oh, for sure, like! Well, that’s what Adam tells me, he’s like, “If you realised how much music videos really cost to make and the work I’m doing for free!” I’m like, “Yeah, fuck you! You’ll get it back, eventually!” My brother doesn’t seem to mention all the fucking guestlists I get him for gigs and shit, like. [Both laugh]
Well, speaking of which, you’re doing the launch [of the album] at the Workman’s Cellar…
What’s it, the 17th, is it?
The 17th, yeah. It’s the day the album comes out.
What can people expect if they pop along?
Eh…that’s a good question. [Laughs] I haven’t really thought too much…Like, I’ve just been thinking about the other bits around the album. I probably should start thinking about what sort of setlist I’m going to play! Yeah, so my gigs really depend on…So, my live set-up is very much, like…because a lot of the music is sample-based, I didn’t want to…So, yeah, when I was first getting into gigging, I basically asked the Foggy Notions lads, I asked them, like, what’s the best route to go down? And David from Foggy Notions has been, like, just such a…he’s such a star and he’s been so helpful to me for ages, but he was like, “Don’t DJ yet. Don’t get into DJing yet,” because, like, I can DJ, but he was like, “Don’t get booked for DJ gigs because it’s so oversaturated, there’s just too many people DJing in Dublin at the moment, and, if you want to make an impression, do a live show.” So, my live show is…it’s all done through everything on my laptop but I have, you know, I have a keyboard, I have a couple of other sample pads and effects kit and shit like that. So, yeah, it’s kind of like a lot of the time the set will be fairly continuous. Like, one track would bleed into another, and I’d have transitions that would kind of make sense. But it’s still – even though a lot of it is still sample-based – it’s sort of reinterpreting the tracks on the fly, in a live setting. In a live context.
Yeah, of course. And on your new album there does seem to be – I think I forgot to mention this – but, I think there is a very rainy motif. Like, I know there is an actual soundscape of rain at the beginning but I think the whole album has this – and you can see this on the album cover – had this very kind of foggy, sort of…like you can only make out through the traffic lights…
And, like, yeah, I was wondering what was that about? What was the…?
Just, as I was saying, about the original inspiration for the album was late-night radio, so…I just had the… in my head, I was just thinking of, like, when I was a kid, in the attic in my mam and dad’s house, like, in bed at night time, with the rain hitting the roof and listening to the radio and that was sort of it. But I also like the idea of throwing in random samples and that. There’s probably like a few random samples on the album that, like, only I’d have…I can’t even remember what they are. Mad stuff, like. [Laughs]
When it comes to using copyrighted material and stuff like that, do you ever worry about that? Like, potentially getting hit for that or do you think…?
Well, I did…so, I did get…the one really obvious vocal sample on it is from “Late Night Jazz Radio,” which is the vocal from…
Oh, “Killing Me Softly”?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, that was…because of the fact that the original song of that was written in, like, the ‘50s or something, it’s past copyright at this stage, so I don’t need to worry about that. But the other samples are basically mangled beyond belief, so you wouldn’t tell any difference. Like, I know I’m not supposed to say that, but…[Both laugh] Like, it’s so fu…it’s crazy, ‘cause I just assumed, like, I dunno, if you’re a kind of a low-level artist starting out, that it’s fine to do that, but when you get to the bigger stages it’s…
I think it’s when you start making money, they get…[Laughs]
Yeah, but I was shocked by – and I really fucking respect him for this – but do you know Nicolas Jaar?
Nicolas Jaar releases more club-oriented music as Against All Logic and, on his first album, he has…[Laughs] the first album, there’s a Kanye sample, where he’s just like…it’s from…– which Kanye track is it? It’s off Yeezus, anyway. Oh, my God. You know the one where he just screams? And Nicolas Jaar used that sample and I just assumed that he got it cleared but he obviously didn’t because the track came back onto Spotify released in the end and it doesn’t have the sample anymore. [Editor’s Note: The Against All Logic song was “Such a Bad Way” and the sample Conor is talking about was from Kanye West’s “I Am a God”] And then also, on his second album, he has a track which just uses the sample from “Baby Boy” by Beyoncé. [Both laugh] That’s gone from Spotify now, as well, so he obviously just goes, “Yeah, fuck you! You make enough money as it is!”
Yeah, so actually, there was two things that I wanted to ask you that I forgot. So, the new album was co-produced by Patrick King and mastered by Ciaran McCarthy…
Well, he didn’t produce any of it; he just mixed it. But, yeah, go on, what was the question?
Well, no, I was just going to say, for you or for anyone doing the kind of music you’re doing, that’s kind of a precious thing: to, like, self-produce and master and mix everything yourself. I was wondering why you brought in outside people for this one?
Because I can’t master! I have no idea how to do it! And, to be fair, I think the mixing part of it, I’m slowly getting better at it, but I just remember Pat from Real Lies, I supported them in Dublin last year but I’ve been a fan of their music for ages and they’re just the fucking soundest fellas! And Pat was like…I think I sent them my first track when it was out and they were really into it and he just said to me, “If you ever want any help on the mixing, just give me a shout.” So, I was like, “Yeah, there’s actually a few songs on the album that I…don’t really sound great.” So, I sent them onto him and he did it and, yeah, they sounded much better afterwards! [Both laugh] So, I was like, “Yeah, fair enough!” Em, and then the mastering…like, mastering…I think most people, most people send their music to be mastered by other people because it’s just like…like, it’s just very different. Like, how would I describe it? It’s kind of like…So, the writing and the mixing and all that, that’s kind of the creative part of it, and then the mastering is literally just making sure that the levels of it are right. So, mastering…if you get a track mastered, if the mix on the track is bad, it doesn’t matter what the mastering engineer does. So, the most important thing is the mixing track. Once the mix is well-balance, the master just has to make sure all the levels are correct and there’s tools to that, which is why I got…like, so, Ciaran McCarthy’s one of my closest friends and he’s a music…he has a degree in music technology, so I was like, “Fuck it, just use him for that, like.” [Both laugh] But it is just two very different things, like: one, is the creative part of it and making choices in that regard and the mastering is literally just making sure it’s basically…yeah, just making sure everything is the correct level. So, yeah. But the mastering side of it does take a little bit of time as well: you have to test it out on different sound systems and car speakers and make sure it sounds at sort of similar level to other bits. But, yeah, that’s pretty much the reason.
The other thing I was wondering was, I think the greatest producers in history have not only a versatile taste – which you have – but, I think, an understanding of music history, like, they really, you know, go back as far as they can. Do you think that’s…- from your perspective – do you think that’s important to have too, as a foundation? Because I understand, earlier, you were saying you didn’t have a foundation in music theory which I don’t think you necessarily need but, do you think, I don’t know, familiarising yourself with…?
Yeah, I do think…it does help to…I think it does definitely help to…- first and foremost, I’m just a big much fan – so, I think first and foremost, it does help to…like – maybe it’s just my taste – but my favourite producers all have really eclectic taste, as well. Like, I keep banging on about Four Tet because the guy is one of my idols, like. But, if you ever listen to him talk about music, he has like the most…- even though these days, he’s prominent as one of the biggest DJs in the world and he’s created a load of electronic music and all that – he says that the majority of music he listens to is vinyl, and it’s all just old jazz records and soul music and stuff like that. Yeah, I think that the more you delve into different parts of music history, it’s just such a rich history of music that you can just get…You can really, I feel like you can really deepen your love of music by just going back and finding stuff, like, and that’s part of the fun of it. But, I definitely do think I have, like…Oh, God…not that I’m anybody who should be an authority on this or giving advice, but I remember I was chatting – I think it was at All Together Now, the music festival, last year – I was chatting to a couple of lads who were…I think they had seen me or something and they were asking me about my productions and stuff, and they were also producers. But they were trying to make club music and I was like, “The main thing I’d advise you to do is listen to music outside of the genre you’re in because it just gives you different ideas and different perspectives and stuff.” I feel like some young lads who are producers – just in general, electronic producers in general – are just trying to make club bangers, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that, their idea is that they want to get their favourite DJ to play their song at a club, which there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I feel like if you look at the very best…most of the best DJ/producers have really eclectic taste, like they would influences outside of their own genre. And the same with the best hip-hop producers or rock bands, they have influences from different fucking avenues, you know? And they’re taking stuff and pulling stuff from different places, whereas…that’s why, I don’t know, you can make very cookie cutter music by just conforming to one thing.
The Sheerification? [Laughs]
Yeah, yeah! Exactly! Not even that, but even if you’re trying to make more underground music, you can very much…Like, I find – like, I love hip-hop music so much – but I find a lot of modern hip-hop production is very stale and one-dimensional, like it’s all just…If you went onto one of the main hip-hop…like, RapCaviar or something on Spotify, just listen to that playlist for about…I guarantee you, like, 90% of the tracks in there have the same sort of 808 kick, boombox sound of fucking drums and it’s just, this is…
Yeah, it’s just, it really is derivative. It’s just like that trap sound…like, you can do that well but it’s also like everyone seems to have that sound and decides to do that. Whereas hip-hop producers in the ‘90s – I think that fact…I guess it’s harder with sampling these days, with copyright and stuff like that – but hip-hop producers in the ‘90s all had their own distinct flair, be it J Dilla or Madlib or Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. Where…fuckin’ Havoc from Mobb Deep, they all have, like, their own distinct styles. Or, like, fucking OutKast, you know what I mean? They all have their own distinct styles which is why those acts will last longer than some of the other modern guys, like.
Alternatively, you can just shout your name at the beginning of the track. [Both laugh]
Yeah, have like a little, what’s it? Like, a DJ…?
Yeah! [Both laugh] Jesus Christ! Ever see…One of my favourite things to do is to see… you know your man, Anthony Fantano?
Whenever DJ Khaled drops a track, just go onto Anthony Fantano’s track reviews and it’s always like, you know, “Worst tracks! DJ Khaled!” and it’s him just shitting on DJ Khaled. It’s fantastic.
When it comes to, actually, making this sort of…the kind of chilled ambient, but, I mean I actually find it – I don’t know if this was intentional or just my interpretation – I actually find the album in a lot of ways quite eerie and distressing [Conor laughs], but there’s…I think there’s ways music like that can blend into the background a bit.
So, how do you make it distinct and make it kind of, you know, at the forefront and get people’s attention?
Yeah, because it’s definitely, I feel…I don’t know if it’s a fear or not, but I reckon there’s a chance that this could happen, where, I don’t know, it could come out and make no waves because of the fact that it’s kind of a bit…it’s sort of a bit counter…counterculture, in a way, in the sense that…I guess if it was released in lockdown it would be different because people are listening to music at home all the time, whereas now people are going back to gigs and stuff, they just want to hear bangers, I guess. [Both laugh] But, yeah, I don’t know, because a lot of the beats on the album or quite slow or a lot slower, I just like to throw little bits of sound, like sound collage almost, just like throw little bits of things here and there in the tracks that might just be a bit off-putting…
That grab attention?
Yeah, just stuff that you wouldn’t automatically…like, that song you were talking about, “Please, No More Ad Breaks,” that’s literally just my best sort-of rip-off of a rap interlude from the early days, like where it’s a bit of a piss-take, like, almost. [Both laugh] But those sorts of things, like, yeah, I do really enjoy just going into YouTube wormholes and just finding mad stuff like that. Even for the upcoming live show, that’s one thing I do have, is I have folders of samples of stuff that aren’t on the album but kind of fit the album that can be good for the live show and stuff. Because also, with the live show as well, you have to make it a bit more energetic because people obviously…people aren’t going to just stand and look at their fucking feet for an hour, you know?
Be absorbed by the atmosphere.
Yeah. You have to make the tracks a bit more…like, some of the tracks will definitely be a lot more energetic live but I guess that’s just part of, like, the difference between the album and live.
Do you have any anticipation for the album dropping or are you just kind of seeing how it goes?
No, I have no idea, like, to be honest. I don’t think Spotify likes my music, anyways; I’ve never got on any official Spotify playlists. Like, the editorial Spotify playlists they’ve got, I’m on none of them so far, so obviously just…I’ve been releasing music for three years, and I’ve never gotten on any one of them, so.
Well, with that kind of versatile music that you were talking about, the kind of endless library we all have, I mean it seems like stuff can kind of get drowned out a bit.
Do you think like, on the one hand, you have access to the entire library of music pretty much but, simultaneously, that can be a little overwhelming and people can stick to their niches?
Oh, for sure! For sure! Like, it’s so much easier to…Like, I was talking to one of my mates recently about this, and they were sort of bemoaning the iPod days. I used to have an iPod Classic – a 100GB iPod Classic – back when it was like shitty…– back when I was in school – there’d be shitty dial-up internet or not like…just, shitty Wi-Fi and you’d download an album and, because of how long it took you to download the album, maybe you’d have like three albums and, for the week ahead, you’d just have three albums and you’d just listen to those three albums consistently. Like, that’s what I used to – when I was in college, as well – I used to do that; I would literally download three albums at the start of the week and have them and they’d be on my rotation for the week when I was in college. Whereas now, it’s just if you listen to an album, listen to five tracks, and it doesn’t capture your attention, you’re just like, “Ah, fuck. I’ve access to every piece of music, almost, ever recorded.”
And I think also people – you know the way, like, when an album is done it will autoplay to the next thing? – like, I think even sometimes people don’t realise they’re on a different album…
I’ve turned the autoplay off on Spotify because it does that and it’s really annoying. I steer clear of all of the algorithmic stuff on Spotify, like I don’t ever look at my Discover Weekly playlist anymore because I find…I just find, like, that some weeks your Discover Weekly playlist can be great and then, other weeks, it’s recommending you stuff that you were listening to about three weeks ago.
‘Cause what it does is is like…– this isn’t even about Spotify because I could rant about Spotify all day – but, like, they really try to push music that’s more popular or artists that think you’ll like that are more popular than other artists, like, so it’s like a vicious cycle where they try and unload, I don’t know…So, if you listen to a certain band, they’ll find a band whose of a similar popularity and recommend them to you, rather than a band who might be similar but have a smaller following or whatever. So, it’s not really a discovery of new music, you know? It’s more just fucking…oh, like, we’re going to give you music by another popular artist that you haven’t listened to.
I do think sometimes there’s…it’s quite nice when you, like…when they autoplay a song that you used to love and you’re like, “Shit! I forgot all about this song!”
Sometimes that is nice, but I do think that a platform like that should push new people rather than, you know, the same six artists….
They don’t care. They just want you to be on the platform for as long as possible, so that’s why they’re pushing podcasts so much now, because…
Yeah, and audiobooks.
Yeah, exactly. Because, like, if you put on a podcast, it’s an hour long or whatever, so you’re more inclined to just have that Spotify app [open], but they don’t give a fuck if you’re listening to the podcast or not; they’d be just as happy for you to have an hour-long album on rotation for the whole day. But it’s just once you’re on the app, they don’t fucking care. That’s why they recommend you stuff that…like, if you look at your liked song – I know there’s a way you can…there’s definitely a way you can change the setting or the preferences – but if you go into your liked songs, Spotify is just recommending the most recently liked songs. So, that just perpetuates a cycle where you go in and you just listen to the same fuckin’ six songs you’ve been listening to all week, or the first top ten or whatever. I mean like, “Oh, shit! I’ve just listened to this all this time, now! Why haven’t I diversified what I’m listening to?” and all. [Both laugh] But I do think…but, yeah, I do think there is something nice about…particularly during the first year of the pandemic, I definitely…I wasn’t listening to new music at all. I was going back through artists that I hadn’t listened to. You know, like…I think like…I can’t think, like…I dunno, like, I was listening to a lot of…I only discovered…I only really got into Leonard Cohen’s music about four years ago and now he’s one of my favourite artists of all time. But, for ages, I just went back through his back catalogue and gave his back catalogue time.
Are you one of those listeners – because I am – when you discover a new artist, you listen to their stuff as much as you can?
Yeah! Yeah, yeah. I’ll try and…sometimes, obviously, there’s an entry point you can have – like, let’s say there’s an album from an artist you like – but, other times, I would go through…like, a few years ago, I did the same – maybe five or six years ago – I did the same with Prince, where I was like, “OK, I’m just going to start at Prince’s first album and just work my way through it.” I like doing that every now and then. But, during the pandemic, I definitely just listened to a load of older music that I hadn’t listened to before, like an Edinburgh band I discovered was the Cocteau Twins, just going through their back catalogue, and Slowdive and bands like that and just going from the start and just, like, working your way down is nice to do sometimes. But you also have to, yeah…there’s a…Do you know Henry Rollins?
Yeah, of course. Yeah.
Yeah, Henry Rollins a great…– I might butcher this analogy – but, it’s like his idea…his routine for listening to music is he, from Monday to Friday, he has what he calls “the greens,” which is the nutritious stuff, which is the new music. And, at the weekends, he has…
Junk food? [Laughs]
The chicken fillet or the meat. Which is, like, the old music. So, he, at the weekends, will put on his favourite albums. So, he has…could be whatever, like Joy Division or something.
I think his [favourite album] is Funhouse by The Stooges.
Yeah! Yeah! So, that’s what his…he tries to give Monday to Friday or whatever or a certain part of the week just to new music and then, at the weekends, he kind of unwinds with his favourite stuff, like. And that’s a decent sort of module to do. I’ve tried it, somewhat similar, like. It’s particularly around this time of year when albums are starting to come out now, you have to kind of…yeah, I think you have to give an album a few listens before you really make a…
Yeah, I agree. I think, like…because I obviously “do this for a living,” I guess… [Laughs]
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
But you do kind of have to…I think it would be like…you wouldn’t be doing your duty if you just listened to it once…
Yeah. It’s like some albums, as well, I find…a lot of albums, it’s an equation, you can give an album a few listens and, about five or six times you’ve listened to it, you’re like, “I still don’t get this.” But, other times, there’s an album that, necessarily, you wouldn’t be that enamoured with at the start, but the longer you listen to it…if you listen to it a few times, you’ll start picking up little things that you didn’t hear the first time. Like, the prime example of that, for me, was the Arctic Monkeys album, Tranquility Base Hotel [& Casino]. At first, I was like, “This is…I don’t know if I’m into this at all.” But I think because – again, to go back to the idea of having limited options – I was, when that album came out, I was travelling South America, so I have like no Wi…no 3G or 4G at all really, so it was just connecting to Wi-Fi wherever you could and just downloading an album and that was one of the album’s I downloaded. So, I was just listening to it so constantly and, after a few listens, I was like, “Actually, I’m starting to get this and I’m starting to understand Alex Turner’s…like, he’s basically just sending himself up.” It’s like almost a stand-up comedian taking the piss out of himself; that the whole album is just him creating these characters that are loose send-ups of himself from over the years and, the more I listened to it, I was like, “I actually love this album!” [Laughs]
Yeah, I think there’s some…like, because, yeah, I had a similar thing because I was on a plane about a y…half a year ago, and I wanted some music to listen to, and you have to kind of selectively go, “OK, do I want to spend my trip listening to this?” And it does kind of put it into that different perspective…
Yeah, whereas nowadays, if you have a connection – if you’re connected to Wi-Fi or 4G or something – you can just be like, “Fuck it, if I don’t like the first few songs, I’ll just flick onto something else.”
There’s only…like, my favourite album – in my opinion, the best album of the last ten years – is Blonde by Frank Ocean and that’s the prime example of an album that…you really have to give that album time but, once it clicks, I just couldn’t imagine not listening to it like once every few weeks, like.
Have you ever had the opposite, where it’s like sometimes the first listen is so fucking powerful and, like, so emotional in a way that you’re like, “Ah, I can’t! Like, I can’t listen to that again!” even though you loved it!
Because I remember the first time I listened to Marquee Moon by Television…
…I had that thing where I was like, “Fuck! That was so g…” Like, I don’t want to spoil it by listening to again, kind of way.
Now it’s like one of my favourite albums, but at the time…Like, have you ever had something like that?
Yeah, I’ve also had it where I really liked an album when it first came out and went back to it later and realised I didn’t…not sure if I liked it so much. The second Fontaines [D.C.] album [A Hero’s Death]. Not that I don’t like it but, when it first came out, I was mad for it. I thought it was so good. And then I went back to it, like a few months later, and I was like, “Umm. Maybe I’ve kind of overhyped this a little bit.” Whereas their first and third albums, I love both of them still; I can listen to them anytime and I really like them, whereas, the second album, I still think it’s good but it’s definitely an album that, when I went back to, it didn’t have the same effect on me as it did at the start.
You know the concept of the Uncanny Valley, the closer something gets to looking human, the more you notice its faults? I feel like that with albums: the closer it gets to perfection, the more you notice the faults. It gets very meticulous and very pedantic, where it’s like, “I don’t like this, you know, one chord on the guitar solo on this song” or “I don’t like the way the vocalist annunciates this word” or something like that. And the more you listen to albums – when it becomes part of your DNA, almost – you’re like, “Oh, fuck! There’s that one part that I don’t like.” And, like, I think it’s very rare for me to find albums that I would go, “Like, that is perfect. There’s no faults.” The only album I can think of off the top of my head that I would honestly commit to and say there’s no faults on it is Spiderland by Slint. That’s like the only one!
Oh, that’s an amazing album! It’s so fucking good!
Like there’s nothing on that I would change. Like, it’s just perfection.
That album is good.
Do you feel that way too? Like, the closer something gets to perfection…?
But I also think like, it’s all relevant as well, isn’t it? It’s sort of like subjective in a way. I think perfection in music – in art, in general – but particularly in music, can be subjective, you know? Your idea of perfection might not be my idea of perfection and vice versa. Like, I think it’s also easy to…you know when people say if something is good or bad? Whatever. I think there is objectively bad music but…
Well, I think the more fluid an art form is, the more difficult it is to hit perfection. Like, if something – a painting or a photograph – not to say that those are easy art forms, but it’s still; it’s a still image. But, like, if you’re making a film or an album or a book, something that’s constantly moving, it does feel like it’s more easier to have low points.
Yeah. I think most released art has artistic merit. I there is stuff that doesn’t have artistic merit, like Ed Sheeran or…[Aaron laughs] Music that’s clearly…stuff that’s clearly made just for commercial purposes; there’s no thought or feeling behind this. Like, I had no problem with him until that “Galway Girl” song and then I realised it’s about a girl from Limerick! It isn’t even about a girl from Galway! Un-fucking-believable!
And it’s set in Dublin. [Laughs]
Yeah, exactly! What a dick! He knew there was another song with “Galway Girl” in the title that was popular and was like, “Yeah, that will do!”
It’s good alliteration. [Laughs]
Yeah, exactly, but, like, fuck it, yeah. That sort of stuff. But, yeah, I do think, like…yeah…I don’t know. Like, there’s albums I have in my head that I just have on a pedestal that…they don’t necessarily have to be perfection, I guess, but I do think that some of it is subjective, like, you know?
Yeah, absolutely. I think, like, yeah, some of my favourite albums, I would not, under oath, say, “This is perfect.” [Laughs]
But even then, I think that a lot of artists struggle with that idea of just setting something go. One of my favourite bands are My Bloody Valentine and fuckin’ Kevin Shields is like…I wish he would have a little less artistic pride sometimes, so then he might release something, you know?!
Yeah. Well, the same with Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys spent years going insane…
Oh, Smile! Smile! Like, that whole album…reading about that was fucking torturous.
Yeah, I can’t; it’s too painful. It’s really painful.
Yeah, it’s just like, fucking hell, like. And then – I mentioned Frank Ocean earlier – I love how allusive he is because you don’t know what he’s [thinking] because he doesn’t do interviews or anything – I know that’s a bit hypocritical now that we’re doing an interview! [Both laugh] He’s got to a point where he can just do what he wants, he can release something whenever he wants and when it’s ready. But I do think, the Kevin Shields side of it, he’s just too much of a perfectionist to the point where he just can’t let go of something. Like, even, the last My Bloody Valentine album was released ten years ago, yesterday. So, I was reading – the Guardian did a list of the top twenty My Bloody Valentine songs or whatever – and it then linked me to another interview he did in 20…I think it was 2021, when they just…all their music was just uploaded to streaming services and he was like, “Oh, yeah, the new album is done.” I was like, “What?!” It’s two years ago now! He goes, “There’s also an EP of other tracks.” That hasn’t come out either. It’s like, what’s going on? They’re even…in the interview, he says that they were in the process of going to the vinyl pressing plant. What the f…? Like, I know vinyl’s slow at the moment but, like, how the fu…? What’s he doing, like? [Laughs]
Actually, that’s a good segue: I was going to ask you, your new album is on vinyl and I’ve talked to people who have self-released vinyl; it’s always like a nightmare…
It is! It’s a fuckin’ nightmare! [Laughs] God!
Why was it important for you to do it?
I just wanted a physical document of it, I guess. But I’m…I’m kind of half-joking that I’m regretting it but it’s just…Like, they haven’t arrived yet, but like they’re supposed to arrive in the next couple of weeks. But I do also have the packaging and the packaging is already taking up fuckin’ so much space, I can’t even imagine how… My…[Laughs]…My mate’s band did a vinyl a few years ago and he just said the same thing, he was just like, “You have no idea…like your whole room is just going to be full of vinyls.” [Laughs]
Would you like to get signed to a label or are you happy self-releasing?
It would help. [Both laugh] I just don’t like the…Yeah, I just don’t like, fucking, the marketing side of it.
There’s also the autonomy.
Yes, exactly. It’s nice to see there’s Irish artists who have kind of went down that trajectory. Like, Aoife Nessa Frances released her own debut album by herself and then she got signed to Partisan and Maria Somerville got signed to 4AD after self-releasing her first album.
Yeah, I’m noticing a lot of artists getting signed lately and…
Yeah, I think it’s kind of like…A few of my friends who are also artists make the same point, which is labels kind of want to see you make initiative and prove that you can actually do it yourself first of all before they actually take a punt at ya. So, yeah, but it would be helpful [Laughs] in the long run.
Sweet. I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. So, is there just anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Eh…can’t think of anything, man. [Both laugh]
Alright, thanks for your time.
Lovely stuff, man.
Chósta’s debut album Twilight Transmission releases on February 17th. You can preorder a copy here. You can also buy a ticket to the album launch at The Workman’s Cellar, Dublin on the same day here. You can also follow Chósta on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Aaron Kavanagh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Post-Burnout. His writing can also be found in the Irish Daily Star, Buzz.ie, New Noise Magazine, XS Noize, DSCVRD and more.