Well people can say what they like about FB and the internet but it sure is a great way to discover new music and producers. Such is the case with Lee Holman - one of techno's fastest rising stars from Wexford in Ireland. With gigs at Tresor and Arena Club already under his belt, 2015 sees him taking up a residency at the very well respected Bastardo Electrico in his native Ireland as well as working on some new releases and a live set. After months of prodding, CGNY finally got some words and a guest mix from Lee!
CGNY: I heard Carve on a set from Tim van Paradijs - Invites podcast! All his track selections were spot on but Tim Id’ d your track and so begins our friendship! Tell us a little about yourself – where you grew up and what inspired you to get into techno?
LH: Thanks for inviting me for this interview and podcast, it's great to be involved with Clubbersguidenewyork. I grew up in Wexford Ireland, a small town on the south-east coast. Music was always in my house, my dad played on bands all his life, toured the country and made some records when he was younger. We had a piano in the house and my dad always had synthesisers and keyboards around. I eventually moved from playing piano to investigating those synths and sequencers and everything just rolled on from there. I was a massive Hip-Hop fan and always had an interest in turntables as well. This eventually twisted and turned into where I am musically today, Techno.
CGNY: Being from rural Ireland myself – certainly dance music wasn’t easy to find – have things changed in terms of buying vinyl. And certainly with the mp3 age, I’m sure music is easier to lay your hands on?
LH: Things have definitely changed. Like everywhere else, record shops are few and far between now. I used to love going to record shops to buy my music, that’s how I started off and it was always something to look forward to in my week, but sadly, that’s mostly finished and the main bulk of buying is online. There is a new record shop opened in my town the last year but selling second hand and rare vinyl. For Techno, you need to go online to the specialist shops. In ways, its better online, everything is fair game, whereas in the record shops those special pieces everyone wanted were limited and usually reserved or put behind the counter for the owner's or shop assistant's best friends. Now vinyl heads hunt together, whenever they want and generally I'd say its first come first served, fastest click wins.
CGNY: When and how did you get into djing? What was your first gig like?
LH: I started DJing and playing clubs in the late 90's. My first gig was ok. It was very different switching to a big sound system and using proper monitoring for the first time. I also faced my fears on that one and somehow, held my nerve to stand up in front of some people and try my best to mix. Overall, it was a start, it stood to me and it's all about practice and experience. Every gig is another small piece of the jigsaw until you get to 100% or as close to it as possible. I don't think I lit the world on fire but I knew I had to play that day or I probably never would. I know some great DJ's who have never played outside their bedroom because they have never got over their nerves to stand up in public and just do it.
CGNY: You’ve had a bunch of releases out on solid techno labels. Tell us a little bit about the process of getting those tunes to the right people. How does the magic happen?
LH: To be honest, I just make music every day; there really isn't a special formula. I try as best I can to make sure that a day does not go by without being productive on some level with music. If I'm not making tracks, I'm sourcing music, mixing or doing the little bits in the background that ties it all together. Basically, it’s being disciplined and putting time and effort into it. It helps when it’s a true passion though and you enjoy it. I just try and do my own thing and focus on making my music. I've been lucky because some labels have liked what I've done and they have asked me on board.
CGNY: Are you focused more on djing or producing? Do you prefer one over the other?
LH: If you asked me this a few years ago, I'd have said DJing definitely. Now, I think I'm more focused on production and get a greater buzz from it, but an aspect of production these days is the gigs that follow, so it’s a musical circle. I really love doing both and in more recent years I've also added my live show to that category. My live show is a new way to experiment with new ideas and just jam them out to a crowd. I do not use any laptops and just sequence and automate on the fly, as well as doing some live keys, so it’s an exciting format, risky, but probably my most favoured now. When I do a live show and it works, the crowd has connected and you remind yourself it’s all your original material you've just played, there is no better feeling.
CGNY: What do you think of Ireland’s dance music scene? Seems like Dublin and Cork are still the main cities of focus but there’s certainly more going on than when I lived there!
LH: Ireland's scene seems to be doing well these days. There seems to be a steady flow of international talent coming here every weekend to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Derry and Belfast. The smaller towns do what they can and in summer there is no end of festivals with local Irish DJ's and your Ben Klocks and Marcel Dettmanns all appearing. I would say from the outside looking in, it’s in a good place at the moment and hopefully that continues. For 2015, I do have some more dates scheduled around Ireland with gigs in Galway and Dublin and a new residency for Jamie Behan's Bastardo Electrico in Cork, which I'm very excited about and is one of the best nights in the country. Jamie has been bringing top class acts to Ireland for a long time now and the night has celebrated its 12th birthday this year and there have been big birthday celebrations with Stephen Browne (Skudge) and Rodhad (Dystopian) appearing. Niall Power and Cian Frawley are doing a series of nights in Limerick and Waterford and also booking everyone from John Heckle to Luke Slater. Their backwards night has a big following in Limerick and they run a really good event in interesting venues around the city and is one of the nights to look out for when in the area. Dublin has its choice of nights and events every weekend and you have heavy hitters like the Twisted Pepper and District 8 bringing massive names to the capital and places like the Grand Social, amongst others, hosting quality shows with artists like Robert Hood appearing. I recently played for Sarah Peters at the Loft in the Grand Social and it was one of the best nights I've played in a while, with a really great crowd, well promoted and a professional setup. There are also other smaller promoters running independently around the city like Analog who have the likes of Woo York on their upcoming schedule and then Belfast has always been a stronghold for Techno with the cream of talent playing there also, so it’s a healthy scene at the moment.
CGNY: You’ve already played Tresor! That must have been a fun night! What was your first time at Tresor like? It’s pretty high up on the list of clubs that many djs would like to play!
LH: Yes, it was brilliant to play in Tresor. It's an institution, a place of great importance in Techno's history and I feel very honoured to of been able to play there. If you watch Sub-Berlin, the story of Tresor, you will understand what that place means, it’s our Mecca and definitely one of those defining moments where, when you step up behind that iconic cage, you have to pinch yourself. It is something I will always be very proud to say I have done but it means more than that. What Tresor's vision represented and did for a divided community and people, shows how important art, its culture and music really is in the world. It transcends boundaries and ideals and brings people together. For me personally, Tresor defines all of that into a single entity.
CGNY: What other projects are you working on? Gigs for 2014?
LH: I have lots of releases upcoming, remixes and original ep's on various labels including Graphene, CLFT, Etichetta Nera, Solid Groove, Ferox and more that are usually kept up to date on my website. I've worked on a split EP with Orlando Voorn for his new Nighttripper imprint and I'm about to launch a new label called "Demarcation" over the coming months which will be a various artists imprint. That project is turning out to be moving a little slower than I had hoped but it will get there. I'm also planning a separate label for my own productions with remixes. Gigs-wise, I have had some really cool dates this year playing in South America, I've been at Tresor again debuting a new live show there, I've played a show at Arena club Berlin recently and had some other nice gigs around Europe. To top it all off, as I said earlier, I have also been asked on board as resident at Jamie Behan's Bastardo Electrico event in Cork, which I can't wait to get stuck into, so things are going well thankfully.
CGNY: You can give one piece of music to a visitor from another galaxy that summarizes your taste… what might that be?
LH: That's a very tough question and I think almost impossible because my taste is very varied. That visitor would be welcomed to my house for the weekend for some good craft beers and a rifle through my collection. I'm not sure if it would be a techno record. It'd probably be James Brown and his live version of "There was a time". I think that track encapsulates everything about what good music should be, it has funk, soul, is uplifting and has a special kind of rhythm and badass attitude. If you listen to it though, it definitely could be seen as a precursor to a lot of different music. In my eyes, a fusion of soul, hip-hop and techno music. I think that’s where I stand. Plus, is there anybody cooler, more original and with more attitude than James Brown? I think it’d be the best introduction to music for that visitor on planet earth.
Don't forget to check out Lees exclusive set for CGNY
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