David talks about local independent record labels and collectives and their ideas about what hosting a European Capital of Culture could achieve for the local music scene in Galway beyond 2020.
“The local music scene has been a source of unending interest to me ever since I joined the internet in 2005. Back then, MySpace was the social media platform of choice – much cooler than Bebo, and quite useful for discovering new music.
As the years went on, I found there were a number of options available to those of us looking for something a little different in Galway. This community, disparate and disjointed as it was, became my favourite thing about the city and my main reason for sticking around.”
“Many of those nights and musical endeavours have since finished up, affected by venue closures, emigration, organiser burnout and a lack of funding. Yet the scene lives on, an indestructible amorphous blob, devouring all in its path. Nowadays, local artists and promoters have become increasingly sophisticated when it comes to how they organise themselves. Independent record labels and collectives seem to be the way forward, with artists pooling their skills and resources, setting up online shops and putting on their own shows.
I chatted to some of Galway’s independent record labels and collectives who talk about the need for more venues in Galway and what hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2020 could achieve for the local music scene.“
Video: Canaries at Citóg in The Cellar Bar (2014), one of the highlights of that long running weekly showcase
“This community, disparate and disjointed as it was, became my favourite thing about the city and my main reason for sticking around.”
New Heights Music Group
Home to acts Light Grey and NewDad, New Heights Music Group was set up in 2016 to help young musicians get involved in the industry. Label representative Kieran Nevin would like to see “a more inclusive music network for younger musicians” in 2020 “to help get their music recorded and played on local radio and have more opportunities to play shows in Galway.”
Video: Light Grey – Bubblegum
Galway’s Rusted Rail have produced over 40 weird and wonderful alt-folk releases since 2006. Home to acts such Cubs, The Driftwood Manor, Loner Deluxe, A Lilac Decline and Yawning Chasm, this micro-independent record label was founded by Keith Wallace who would love to see a hub being created for Galway, with rehearsal studios, recording facilities and a performance space all under one roof.
Video: Yawning Chasm – Awful Blue
“Independent record labels and collectives seem to be the way forward, with artists pooling their skills and resources, setting up online shops and putting on their own shows.”
Feast Presents was originally set up to run and promote DIY gigs for touring bands in Galway and now work with a wide range of national and international acts. The collective expanded in 2018 to incorporate a sales platform for a hand-picked selection of Irish bands. “We would love to see more youth involvement in the local music scene and live original music made available to as many demographics and people as possible.”
Video: ILENKUS – Over The Fire, Under The Smoke
Community is important to Citóg Records. This local collective is organised on co-operative principles and its roster includes Eoin Dolan, Tracy Bruen, Steven Sharpe, Kieran O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, The Curly Organ, Emma Lohan, Pa Reidy and New Pope. Since 2015, they have released three compilation albums, organised regular events and worked with local charities such as AMACH, Galway Simon and Let’s Get Talking to raise money for causes close to their collective heart. As for the legacy of 2020 on the local music scene, board member Eoin Dolan would like to see Galway become “a hub for a European network of independent record labels and collectives. 2020 is an opportunity to connect Galway acts with European audiences and forge lasting relationships with similar music scenes abroad.”
Video: Eoin Dolan – Lunar Drift
Based out of the West End’s famous Roisin Dubh, Strange Brew started in 2002 as an independent club night that became a live music club and then developed further into a record label and management. With releases by acts such as Daithí, Junior Brother and Paddy Hanna, promoter Gugai MacNamara has kept his finger firmly on the pulse of the national music scene and would like to see 2020 result in Galway acts getting “some form of better exposure, and perhaps an introduction to touring outside of Ireland as a result.”
Video: Daithi (feat Sinead White) – Orange
“I would like to see Galway’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture 2020 aid in awakening the wider Galway community to the value the arts bring to society.”
Raelach Records is an Irish traditional music label established in 2011 by Galway-based Clare musician and producer Jack Talty. The label’s catalogue features releases by internationally-renowned musicians such as Noel Hill, Tony MacMahon, Steve Cooney, and Ensemble Ériu but the label also provides a platform for emerging traditional artists to find new audiences at home and abroad. “I would like to see Galway’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture 2020 aid in awakening the wider Galway community to the value the arts bring to society. In more specific terms, I think Galway 2020 is a very significant opportunity to provide resources and a platform to practitioners, collectives, and advocates who are already striving to create art and artistic opportunities in the wider Galway region.”
Video: Shane Mulchrone & Jack Talty
Cursed Monk Records
Cursed Monk Records is a local DIY record label that specialises in underground dark musical esoterica and hosts artists from Ireland, UK, USA, New Zealand, France, Greece, and Belgium. As for the legacy of Galway 2020, founder Rodger Mortis says. “I’d like to see venues and spaces open up to the more experimental types of music and sound art. More public shows would mean more people discovering new-to-them sounds by accident. I’d love to see sonic experimentation being encouraged, supported and celebrated.”
Video: Stonecarver – Collapse
“I’d like to see venues and spaces open up to the more experimental types of music and sound art.”
Casualty is a Galway-based web label dedicated to releasing quality underground music by Irish producers all around the world. Founder Donal Finn hopes that more cooperative styles of business will take root in the local music industry and that 2020 will result in a change in “our ludicrously outdated licensing laws and the effect they have on the night-time industries”.
Video: 091 Cable & Wireless – Thinking Is Repetitive
Community Skratch is a collective with roots all over the globe who, since 2007, have organised the legendary Community Skratch Games – “an international turntable extravaganza wrapped inside a hip hop bonanza”. Co-founder Jimmy Penguin, who also runs online left-of-centre electronic label Alkalinear Recordings, would like to see more “platforms for artists from all over the island to come together and do some epic sessions.”
Video: Jimmy Penguin – Here Come The Lords
“platforms for artists from all over the island to come together and do some epic sessions.”