Phil Kieran: the 'Shh' revolution
Fri 26th Mar, 2010 Features 2900 viewsin
One of techno’s unassuming stars, Phil Kieran may have just entered the busiest phase of his career. The Irish producer recently unveiled his debut long-player Shh, earning effusive praise from the likes of DJ Hell, Dubfire and James Holden. Rather than back-to-back club tracks, the man wanted the album “to capture everything I’ve ever loved”; from four-four to dub to atmospheric electronica.
While Kieran is also an accomplished DJ (judge for yourself with his new mix on ITM-FM), he has something special planned for next weekend’s The Likes Of You tour. Australian crowds with witness the ‘Shh’ audio-visual live show, an ambitious project that’s far from just a guy fiddling on a laptop. ITM hears all about it.
Hi Phil, how’s the tour recovery?
Great! I had a long journey home yesterday from France, there was a cancelled flight from London to Belfast, so had to buy a new one to Dublin then get the bus home. I’m a bit tired, but all good.
How’s the touring been going?
It’s been going really well. The response to the new live show has been really positive. There’s always a lot of support worldwide, which I have to say thanks for! I’m particularly pleased that Mike from Thick as Thieves is bringing me over and that I’m going to be hitting Australia for the Likes Of You tour with some great DJs. It should be a lot of fun.
I’ve heard nothing but positive reports about of the release of Shh; how does that make you feel?
Funny; that’s what I say to people when they ask me how is the album going. I just reply that it hasn’t had any bad reviews. People just seem to say good things about it. So yes, it’s a relief to just feel positive vibes coming back. I really enjoyed making it and worked very hard, so I hope some of that came across.
You’ve been working in the scene for a decade now; how come it’s taken that long to release a debut album? Or is Shh a culmination of your ideas and work over the years, in particular working in Alloy Mental?
It just felt like the right time to settle down and write an album that said something about who I am. I wanted it to reflect all the music I grew up with and capture it all in my own way. I wanted it to be more artistic than just a bunch of club tracks stuck on a CD; it was important that there was some thought put into it.
I tried to use all my knowledge from when I first got into music to try and make an album that captures everything I’ve ever loved. It’s very much a home or car listening album, perfect for post-club play, although plenty of the individual tracks contain discerning dancefloor dynamics too.
Shh is a very techno-orientated album, but you’ve dropped some extremely cool sounds in there. What exactly was your approach in making the album?
I tried my best not to look at music fashions when writing it. I mean now in Germany everybody is playing house music. When I started the album, it was all minimal and electro. So if I tried to write something that was popular it would be dated by the time it came out. That’s why I felt it was important to just make an album of electronic music from all my influences; that way it’s not going to get dated too quickly or get pigeon-holed.
How about your thoughts on the dance music scene as a whole at the moment – where do you see yourself heading and where do you see the scene going?
I get freaked out if I try to watch what other people are doing too much. I just try and follow my instincts and do what gets me excited – just go with my gut feeling on things and most of all just make good music that has some kind of heart and soul to it. If it feels empty, just bin it.
You’re just about to fly to Australia. From what we’ve seen and heard of the live show, it’s set to be an experience. What can we expect?
The music is connected to a computer that drives the visuals to big screens on stage. I also have small TVs in front of me and a pair of TV glasses with all the visuals running through the screens at the same time; all in real time to the music. It can feel quite cinematic. Then towards the end of the set, I will play some of the older, well-known tracks.
What are your reasons behind all the hard work into making a cracking live show does it stem from having performed in live bands over the years?
I’ve just always been into some kind of performance on stage. I didn’t want to be the moody guy pressing play on Ableton with my good Sunday shirt on trying to look cool for the ladies. I want to try and give something to people, some kind of experience they will remember, hopefully for the rest of their lives.
How about plans for the future? Have you laid out any foundations for a second album or are any new releases in the pipeline?
Yeah, I’m kind of playing with some new projects in my head. I always have enough ideas floating around that could keep me going for the next two to three years, easy. Thankfully it’s always hard to pick which is the best one to do. I’m pretty prolific when it comes to writing and working on projects; I like to be busy in between touring.
I’ve got the remix EPs coming out for the Shh album on Cocoon and I’ve got a really exiting mix compilation I’m working on which you will be hearing about soon. I have a new label in the pipeline Phil Kieran Recordings, so I can showcase music I’m liking and also put together some back catalogue remix projects that I’ve been meaning to do for a number of years.
Working with Cocoon is very cool and there will be various new releases that are in the process of being worked on and promoted. There will be a selection of EPs landing throughout the rest of the year. I look forward to seeing you all down the front for the live shows!
Phil Kieran will debut his live show down under on The Likes Of You tour. Get everything you need to know about the tour at ITM’s Likes Of You hub, inthemix.com.au/thelikesofyou. To get warmed up, have a listen to Phil Kieran’s tour promo mix and check out the video below for the live set in action.
Thurs Apr 1 – Tatou Nightclub, Melbourne
Sat Apr 3 – Villa, Perth
Sun Apr 4 – Home Terrace, Sydney