Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interview: Lunar Disko

Splice Today, Apr 2, 2009

On the first Saturday of each month, down a flight of stairs in a Dublin basement club, you'll hear electro and Italo blaring, and find a crowd of Irish twentysomethings madly dancing, jumping around and pumping their arms in the air, discofinger-style. Fueled by enough pints of Guinness to validate every stereotype about Irish drinking, the clubbers voice their appreciation for good songs with whistles and shouts, and end many club nights by chanting, "One more tune, one more tune!" until the club surrenders and allows the DJ to play for just a few minutes more.

The Dublin scene is unlike any other, with more enthusiastic and musically-engaged crowds than many larger cities. Dublin-born Andy Doyle, 26, and Barry Donovan, 25, have been running a successful Italo/electro/Chicago club night in Ireland for two years, and in recent months they have set their sights on more ambitious projects, trying to capitalize on the success of their club night by starting a label, Lunar Disko Records.

Lunar Disko has been operating as a monthly party in a Dublin basement club called Kennedy's since 2006. A few years earlier, Doyle and Donovan discovered the Dutch electro scene and wanted to bring it to the Irish clubbing public. Since then they've brought over many memorable Dutch DJs and musicians, including Legowelt, Alden Tyrell, TLR, Intergalactic Gary and Mr. Pauli, as well as other international guests and local Irish talent. They've also worked in tandem with other local promoters to bring acts like Detroit's legendary Dopplereffekt and the Berlin techno artist Redshape to their stage.

Many of their guests have established a fan base within Ireland due to the success of the Lunar Disko nights, which boast a non-pretentious audience and an uninhibited party atmosphere. In fact, even within the Dutch electro community the night is renowned for having diverse and exuberant crowds who know about music—and even those who don’t still love to dance. Doyle and Donovan have started their record label in the same spirit, showcasing the artists and producers that have inspired them. I spoke with Donovan and Doyle to learn more.

SPLICE TODAY: What's the history of Lunar Disko records?

BARRY DONOVAN: Well there isn't much of a history so far...but basically the label just started off with myself and Andy talking about doing something else along with the club we run. We set up the club as there was no night in Dublin promoting just the Italo/electro/Chicago sound. Plus there were loads of the Dutch guys that we wanted to bring over, who hadn't even played in Dublin yet.

ANDY DOYLE: We've been bringing over our favorite DJs & live acts and hearing great music at the night for a couple of years now. So we thought it would be great to be able to release what we had been hearing, on a Dublin-based label. It felt like a natural progression from what we were already doing.

BD: We want the label to reflect the buzz of the club as much as possible.

ST: What can you tell me about your releases so far?

AD: The first release is a four-track EP from Sneak-Thief called Zmaj, with a remix of the title track from Mr. Pauli. These two have been firm favorites of ours over the last few years with both their productions and live shows. The EP has three slow-burning, infectious disco tracks from Sneak-Thief, quite different to his previous releases, we thought. And Mr. Pauli turns "Zmaj" into a dancefloor classic. Delighted to have this as our first release.

The next release is due out in April and comes from Gothenburg duo, Faceless Mind. Another four-track EP entitled Glasriket. Four fast-paced electro tracks with great vocoder and 808 sounds throughout, and completely different to the first release but just as amazing in its own right.

The third release is coming from Rotterdam this time. Great summer tracks from two men behind the moustache: Mark Du Mosch and David Vunk.

ST: With so many boutique/niche record labels on the scene, what is unique about Lunar Disko records?

BD: We're the only Irish label releasing Italo, electro, and Chicago-influenced stuff, so I suppose that’s pretty unique. Also, I don’t think there are many organizations around doing a regular club along with a label, to push a particular sound.

AD: We didn't start it up to change the scene or anything like that. With so many great labels before us it would be almost impossible to release anything mind-blowing right away, and crazy to think we could. For the time being I am happy to get it firmly off the ground, play the records and enjoy it.

ST: What are the typical Irish clubs like? How is Lunar Disko different?

BD: Most of the typical Irish clubs play complete shite for 18-year-olds to get them in and then rip them off at the bar. It's completely shite music. But the electronic music scene is pretty good, and is pretty big in Ireland. There're a lot of good promoters bringing over good producers and DJs. There's always something decent to go out to on the weekend.

I suppose Lunar Disko has a different atmosphere, with the whole Italo buzz. It's not like most clubs in Dublin, which are mainly techno clubs. It's a different vibe. It's in a club that's not, like, smack-bang in the center of town so if you're going there it's for a gig, not just because you ended up there. So most of the people there are there for the music and not just to get pissed. And it has the most amazing music on the planet, which helps.

ST: How's the club doing?

BD: Pretty good, averages around 150-170 people every month. The birthday [Lunar Disko's second anniversary in July with Alden Tyrell and Intergalactic Gary] was sold out—there were people refused at the door. We've had a few bad ones, but overall we get a pretty decent crowd. It's hard to tell which ones will be popular. Sometimes there's something else on that night, or the night before so people don't come. Sometimes it doesn't even matter who you have on, it's just random.

ST: Is the label a money-maker?

AD: We want the label to run in the same way we run the club night, not thinking of it primarily as a business but a great way of getting the music we love out there. We put what we make from the nights into the label. There's not a lot of money to be made on the records, to be honest. We have to pay for mastering, design, remixes...

We're just kind of learning as we go. It's the same with the nights; we lost money on the first few. We lost our pants on our second night, so we had to learn there too. But the first few gigs this year we made a good bit, which we put into the label.

ST: It sounds like you aren't in it for the money. So why do you do it, then?

AD: For the buzz! I wouldn't say we won't make any money... we're crawling before we walk. I'd say the first couple [releases] we'll be struggling, and then maybe we'll get some of it back in downloads. We'll see how it goes. Well sure, fuck it. We'll keep going.

BD: Well its kind of a cliché, but for love of the music. Anybody starting a label at the moment wouldn't do it if they wanted to make money 'cause there simply isn't any to make really, especially with a small label like LDR.

ST: How are you promoting the label and the club night?

BD: Posters and the Internet. The acts we bring over aren't that well known anyway, so posters don't make much difference. The Internet and all those shitty social things and forums are the best way of promoting.

AD: The new release is actually in Dave Clarke's Top 10 for March, which is great. We've also been getting Facebooked and Twittered out of it. It's a load of shite, but it's there, might as well use it.

ST: What do you bring to the music world that isn't already there?

BD: A record label run by two Irish chancers!

AD: Well, we haven't discovered the Drexciya of our time yet. I'm content though with releasing what we believe to be great music for now.