Blending Horizons: Doug Cooney on Techno’s Evolution, Production Insights, and the Irish Club SceneFebruary 13, 2024
Editing, Introduction, Design Mike Mannix
Interview Mattew Mondo
In a captivating interview Irish DJ Producer label boss Doug Cooney discusses various aspects of his career, music production techniques, influences, and thoughts on the Irish club scene.
Doug shares his excitement for upcoming gigs, his teaching role at BIFE and RLSD, his use of Ableton Live and various plugins for music production, and his journey into music from DJing to production to teaching.
He cites influences like Dave Clarke, James Ruskin, and Ben Sims, and talks about the vibrancy of the Irish techno scene. Doug also mentions upcoming releases and his dream venues and collaborations, expressing gratitude for the support from the community and his excitement for future projects!
Matt: Finally, we got a chance to have a chat with you. Thanks so much in advance, actually! How are you, Doug? Ready for your next gig with Vision Collector?
Doug Cooney: Absolutely, and thank you for having me! I’m doing great, and
there’s always a special kind of excitement that builds up before a gig, especially with Vision Collector
They’re a fantastic crew known for their quality events and solid production. Preparing for a gig, I dive into my music collection to select tracks that not only resonate with my style, aiming to deliver something fresh for the crew. My sets are a reflection of 20 plus years of collecting records.
I always try to include fresh tracks I’ve been working on also. Expect a blend of raw driving rhythms with some melodic elements, and maybe a few curve-balls thrown in. I always aim to create an energy on the dance floor through different textures and moods of techno. It’s going to be a good one as I’m playing alongside Pineal Navigation; we have great chemistry playing together. Check it out!
Matt: So, you are teaching people how to mix and produce at BIFE and RLSD. How did that passion for music come to you?
Doug Cooney: Over time, my hobby turned into a serious pursuit. The more I delved into the world of techno, the more I realized its potential to not just entertain but also to inspire and educate.
This realization led me to teaching
At Bray Institute of Further Education (BIFE) and through my RLSD classes, I found a platform to share this passion.
It’s incredibly rewarding to guide aspiring DJs and producers, helping them find their voice in electronic music. I believe that teaching is a two-way street – while I impart knowledge and skills, I’m constantly learning from my students as well, staying in touch with fresh perspectives.
The essence of my teaching philosophy is to encourage students to explore and experiment.
Techno, in its core, is about innovation and pushing boundaries
I aim to instill this in my students, urging them to not just learn the technical aspects of mixing and production but to also develop their unique sound and identity in the music they create.
Matt: Your HÖR radio gig was fantastic, and your productions are truly impressive. Honestly, I love playing your music. Can you share with us what type of software you prefer to use for your productions?
Doug Cooney: Thank you for the kind words; it’s always great to hear when people enjoy my work. When it comes to production, I like to use a combination of software, as each brings something unique to the table.
Primarily, I lean towards Ableton Live for its intuitive workflow and versatility. It’s a powerful DAW that’s great for both live performances and studio work. The ability to quickly sketch out ideas and experiment with sounds makes it a go-to choice for me….also incorporate various plugins and VSTs to enhance my sound. For synthesis,
I’m a fan of both hardware and in-the-box soft synths
This adds contrast and depth to my tracks, I feel, by getting the best of both the analog and digital domains. In terms of effects, I like to use a mix of stock Ableton effects and third-party plugins. UAD plugins are a favorite for their warmth and analog feel. I find that they add a nice depth and character to the tracks. I’m also big on modular synthesis.
The Eurorack system provides a level of experimentation that you can’t easily replicate in the box. It allows me to create unique sounds and textures, which I then record and manipulate within Ableton. Finally, the integration of hardware is crucial in my setup. In essence,
my approach is about blending the digital and analog worlds to create a sound that’s both modern and timeless
Matt: At what age did you start getting into music, both as a DJ and producer, and then eventually as a teacher?
Doug Cooney: My journey into music started quite early. I was always drawn to the harder-edged four-to-the-floor rhythms of electronic music, even as a teenager. It was during these formative years that I began exploring DJing.
There’s something about mixing and creating a third track that was captivating.
I’d say by my late teens, I was deeply immersed in the DJing world
Production came a bit later. I was fascinated by the idea of not just playing music but creating it. In my late teens, I started experimenting with production software, learning the ropes of crafting tracks.
It was a natural progression from DJing, driven by a desire to express my own sound and ideas. Teaching was an evolution of my passion for music. After years of experience in DJing and production, I felt a strong urge to share my knowledge and skills with others. It wasn’t just about passing on technical know-how but also about
inspiring a new generation of artists
So, in my mid to late twenties, I began teaching, which opened a whole new dimension to my relationship with music. Each phase of my journey – from DJing to producing to teaching – has been driven by a deep love for the music and a commitment to its culture.
It’s been a fulfilling path, and I’m grateful for every part of it
Matt: What artist has influenced you the most in your journey as a DJ and producer?
Doug Cooney: It’s hard to pinpoint just one artist, as my influences are quite varied, but if I had to choose, it would be the likes of Dave Clarke, James Ruskin, and Ben Sims.
Dave Clarke, with his groundbreaking World Service mix, has always been a huge influence
His approach to DJing, particularly integrating turntablism techniques and fast-paced mixing style, showed me the possibilities within the art form. James Ruskin, on the other hand, has been influential as a great DJ and producer but also through his imprint, Blueprint.
He’s an agent also I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with him before in Dublin, always meet your heroes. His versatility across different styles of techno and experimental sounds has also been a lesson in not being afraid to explore and diversify.
Outside of these techno influences, I draw inspiration from a variety of sources.
I studied electroacoustic composition in college when I completed my master’s degree in Music Technology
This opened my eyes to a host of sound artists across Europe, focusing my studies mainly on Electroacoustic music like the Paris-based Musique Concrète and Elektronische Musik in Cologne.
I’m also greatly influenced by my family history and try to sample and implement these inspirations where possible. Ultimately, my biggest influence is the music itself – the evolving landscape of techno, with its rich history and its endless capacity for innovation, is what truly drives me.
Matt: What are your thoughts on the Irish club scene, especially in relation to techno?
Doug Cooney: The Irish club scene, particularly for techno, is vibrant and unique. It has a raw energy and authenticity that’s hard to find elsewhere. One of the most remarkable aspects is the sense of community.
Whether in Dublin, Cork, Galway, or Limerick, there’s a close-knit feel to the scene. People are passionate about the music, and there’s a real sense of belonging among those who are part of it. Techno in Ireland has grown significantly over the years
It’s moved from being a niche genre to gaining widespread popularity, yet it has managed to retain its underground roots. Clubs and event promoters have played a crucial role in this growth, fostering a culture that values and respects the essence of techno.
Another aspect that stands out is the resilience of the scene. Despite challenges like licensing laws and venue closures, the community has found ways to thrive.
Underground parties, popup events, and festivals have kept the spirit of techno alive in Ireland. There’s also been an exciting emergence of local talent. Irish producers and DJs are making waves both at home and internationally, contributing to the global techno landscape.
This homegrown talent, combined with the warm reception international artists receive here, makes the Irish club scene a dynamic and exciting place to be
However, there’s always room for growth and improvement. I believe the scene could benefit from more support, particularly in terms of venue availability and cultural recognition of electronic music.
But overall, the Irish club scene is a testament to the passion and dedication of those who are part of it, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in techno in Ireland.
Matt: Are there any new releases from you that we can look forward to in the coming months?
Doug Cooney: Yes, indeed! I’ve been quite busy in the studio, and there are a few projects in the pipeline that I’m really excited about. Without revealing too much, I can say that fans can expect a couple of vinyl EPs in the next few months.
These will feature a mix of high-energy techno tracks, several of which were featured on Dave Clarke’s White Noise shows on 2FM.
I’m also collaborating with a few artists I greatly respect, which has been a fantastic experience
These collaborations bring different styles and perspectives, and I think the final products are going to be something special.
And, of course, there will be new releases on RLSD Records, my label. We’re committed to showcasing quality techno, and we have some exciting releases lined up from both established and emerging artists. Stay tuned for specific release dates and more details. I can’t wait to share this new music with everyone.
Matt: What are some of your dreams in terms of future gigs or collaborations? Are there specific venues you’d like to play at or artists you’d like to collaborate with on your next project?
Doug Cooney: As for dream venues, playing at Berghain in Berlin has always been on my list. It’s a place that’s not just a club but a cultural phenomenon in the techno world.
The atmosphere, the sound system, the crowd – it’s all part of a unique experience that I’d love to be a part of.
Another dream venue would be the Awakenings Festival in the Netherlands
It’s one of the most significant techno festivals globally and a gathering point for the techno community. The energy there is just incredible. In terms of collaborations, working with someone like Mark Broom would be a dream come true.
He’s a legend in the scene, and his approach to techno and electronic music is both inspiring and innovative. Collaborating with him would be an opportunity to learn and create something truly special. And finally, a more long-term dream is to keep nurturing RLSD Records, bringing in more artists, and creating a platform that not only showcases quality techno but also supports and develops new talent.
The idea of building something that has a lasting impact on the techno scene is very close to my heart
Matt: Doug, we hope your dreams come true. For now, thank you so much for spending time with us. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the dance floor very soon! Hugs and best wishes on your upcoming ventures.
Doug Cooney: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure to share my thoughts and experiences with you. The support and enthusiasm from Iconic Underground Magazine and similar platforms keep us all connected and developing. I can’t wait to get back on the decks this year, so keep working and supporting each other, and I’ll see you all on a dance-floor soon.