In anticipation of the up and coming release of the Skyhook Remixes (the first release on Phil Kierans new label Phil Kieran recordings) we asked the man himself for a quick chat about the upcoming release, his musical origins and future directions.
Hi Phil how are you doing? Run ragged with your schedule what with the new label launch and skyhook remxes promo tour?
Im good thanks…Yeah loads on, trying to have enough music ready to go for the next 6 months , just worked on a couple of remixes and getting all the singles ready for the label, first release is skyhook with remixes from adam beyer & jesper dahlback , green velvet , scuba / scb , ricardo tobar, and the next releases we have , Egbert, Prirter, Lucy, Greenvelvet and a release from Matador .
What would you say your favorite remix of skyhook is? What is it about that mix you particularly like?
Dont mean to sit on the fence but i like them all , they fit different moods, honestly , it was a dream package and some how it all came together, I was able to get some or my favourite artists on there so im delighted .
Most people know you grew up in Belfast, did the city have much of an influence on your initial interest in electronic music? Was there much of a scene in the city when you were starting out?
It was a great place in the way that there was very little going on which meant that people had to be creative, as teenagers we just got on with it all we cared about was getting out to the next night. The music was always good, back then it was mostly the art collage, many nights with David Holmes , Andrew Weatherall and people like that.
Now that both Northern Ireland and the Republic are somewhat better off than they were 15 or 20 years ago (current recession not withstanding) has this made the Irish scene more or less interesting to you?
Honestly , im glad there is a bit of a recession on, people were getting too greedy and obsessed with money , everybody once they got a glass of wine in them would brag about the value of their house, you don’t hear a whimper out of them now. its been proven that in hard times there is more creativity , and when I think back to the start of the 90’s we had hard times but had no idea as all we cared about was searching for the next bit of good music to listen to.
Skyhook Remixes Sampler
Listening to Shh (and the recent CLR podcast mix) it becomes quite obvious that you aren’t simply a techno and house only kind of guy, to my mind there is a lot of eclecticism in your style. I can detect everything from dub and ambient to Electronic Body Music in there. Are there any non dance music favorites you’ve got that you think more people should run out and buy albums by?
Where do you start, I could mention bands that are responsible for so much like My Bloody Valentine or Jesus and Mary Chain etc, obvious things like the Pixies, dépêche Mode and Brian Eno are great source points. Recently I have been lucky enough to be asked to be part of a new project with one of these artists at the moment I cant say anything else all will be revealed in time.
So I have always been into post punk and disco, New York stuff, even jumping across the water to Manchester then you have joy division and new order, I could go on forever into more obscure things but there’s not enough time time or space.
You also created one of the most popular remixes on Nitzer Ebbs Body Rework album a few years back , How did you end up being involved in remixing the classic NE track “Murderous”?
I think the guy Seth who was A&r for novamute was a fan of my stuff and he got me to do a few remixes, I am eternally grateful to him for asking me to do these I even thanked him on my album, he was working at minus for a while and now lives in Berlin, great guy, huge respect !
Regarding your position at Cocoon, your work for Electric Deluxe and International Gigolo and now the launch of your own label, is there a conscious decision to delineate between the other labels and your own or will all your new work be getting the Phil Kieran recordings moniker from now on? Is there to be an intended difference between what you release on on PKR and your other work?
I have a good set of labels that are into my music which you have to be thankful for. I like working with cocoon they are great guys who love music. I am very exited to be working with my good friend Jochem (Speedy J) giving him music for his Electric Deluxe imprint I urge you all to go check it out and see what they are doing its very very cool. Hell at gigolo asked me to send him a track and the Love Wish Ep will be released in December. I also like loads of labels out there one of note to talk about would be Snork I really like what they are doing.
My own imprint is here to enable me to work with people I like and give me a regular output for the large amounts of music I am making it’s a really productive time at the moment.
Hot any new artists signed up to PKR that you think will be making waves over the next little while?
I have got a 3 track ep from matador ( dublin ) i think its the best tracks he has done, they just blow up when you play them in the club, im planning to do a release with boxcutter and space dimenssion controler both from belfast and doing really well, closer to the experimental/ dubstep side of things. On a Belfast note keep an eye on Psycatron who are doing really well with stuff on planet e and cocoon coming out soon.
You’re quite prolific, how do you produce so much work, is there a methodology you use? Or is it just old fashioned hard graft?
H.A.R.D. G.R.A.F.T. I tend to go and stay in the south of Ireland without tv and people to distract me this seems to have increased my output, the shelves are full.
Do you find it difficult to produce new tracks while touring? Or do you keep the producer and DJ sides distinct & separate?
It is all a process road testing tracks is important you have to have a link to the dancefloor when creating music although thats not all that the music is about, I like all aspects of it from weird and experimental , songs and club tracks too.
Regarding the production of that unique “Phil Kieran” sound Do you have any secrets you can let us in on? Do you have any favorite studio kit? (Were partial to the DSI Mopho synth & NI Maschine around here). Do you tend to produce at your own studio or do you find getting away to a pro studio to be more useful to you?
Getting more into my old outboard stuff, thankfully ive kept some, though I have sold many keyboards I really regret like the juno 60 , my fav thing at the moment is a thing called a “ mutator “ it does what it says on the tin tbf, and I love my TL audio valve compressor for distorting things .
Were there any creative alleyways you went down on your journey towards your current sound? How do you break out of any ruts you may find yourself in?
I try to not revisit the same ideas as much as I can, its hard to avoid them when you know it works, but to avoid being like so many people who just repeat them selves id rather be original and unsuccessful than successful and feeling like a fraud .
Check out Phil Kierans site for free mixes news etc.