Irish Techno Producer Jamie Behan Talks Exclusively to IUMFebruary 15, 2021
Interview Editing Mike Moggi Mannix
Interview Mattew Mondo
Jamie Behan has been at the forefront of Techno in his adoptive home city of Cork, as curator and resident DJ at Ireland’s longest-running Techno institution ‘Bastardo Electrico for nearly 2 decades.
An unrelenting figure at the centre of Irish Techno, Behan’s sound stretches across Ghetto House and Electro and has gained a formidable and respected reputation for his versatile selections, skills, and physical power behind the decks!
Behan has also made a name outside of Ireland in Berlin’s KilleKill family, where he plays regularly at Griessmuehle, and has made appearances at legendary venues such as Tresor, Corsica Studios in London, Aquarius in Zagreb, and clubs in England, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Malta, Germany, Jordan, and Bahrain.
In 2016 he formed the duo Flexure, a collaboration with another formidable Irish producer DJ Stephen Mahoney (who we have interviewed before) They’ve had releases on Bastardo Electrico and Shelter Records which have garnered widespread acclaim from some of the biggest names in Techno including Dave Clarke, Ben Sims, Truss, Dax J, Rolando, Sunil Sharpe, Slam, and Cleric.
We caught up with him to get his thoughts on the Irish scene and what needs to change…
Matt Mondo: Nice one Jamie! What are your thoughts on the Techno scene in Ireland?
Jamie Behan: The Irish Techno scene is very close to my heart. I spent 17 years right up until the pandemic hit running nights in Cork and I plan on returning to doing that when things open up again. I think there is magical potential in the Irish scene,
the Irish crowds are one of the best in the world to DJ too, a sentiment I have heard repeated by many international DJs that come to play
It’s also really great to see so many Irish artists making music, putting out records, and breaking through internationally. Obviously, there is Sunil Sharpe and DeFekt, and more recently Kettama, who is a proper global superstar. Tommy Holohan also looks like he is just going to get bigger and bigger, and there is Doug Cooney, Rustal, Pineal Navigation, Jon Hussey, Stephen Mahoney, Stuey Lyons, Cailin, ELLLL, Offtrack, Cromby, etc. I could keep going as there are so many Irish producers who have been making their mark internationally with their music.
However, to say that
building a career in electronic music in Ireland is difficult is an understatement
With some of the most restrictive laws in Europe governing our night-time industries, we are sorely lacking in venues where we can play our music. This has already been documented at length by Sunil Sharpe and the Give Us The Night campaign so I won’t go and tread back over old ground too much, but the system that has been in place has made it almost impossible for small venues to stay open with upcoming Techno DJs finding that they have nowhere to play and that there is no path to breaking through into the industry.
As a result, many of them emigrate to other countries and cities like Berlin, where they are afforded opportunities based on talent and hard work.
It’s quite shocking if you take a step back and think about how many young Irish creatives are living and thriving in Berlin
These are people who could really contribute to Irish culture who should be supported in Ireland and not forced to leave. It’s not just the DJs and artists either. The crowds are leaving too! Before Covid, they were saving to go to festivals or for weekends abroad in cities with more to offer and as a result, we don’t have the kind of regular weekly crowds that we used to have and we could still have.
I do see a ray of hope here in the establishment of the Nightime Commission, which Sunil is a part of but I still worry about the impact of conservative opinions and vested interests on progress in this area. I mean just look at Cork. There is one club, the only club left in Ireland’s second-biggest city. That is shocking!
However, with the possibility of legislative changes in the hopefully near future, we also can change the dynamics of the scene ourselves. To be completely honest
I was getting a bit jaded off with the heavy focus on festivals and headliner culture
pre-pandemic and alongside that the scene almost seemed to be losing some of its vitality, the crowds weren’t losing it in that very typically Irish way that, it was becoming a bit tired for everyone in a seen it all before sense. I have to say I also witnessed the same in Berlin and it wasn’t just an Irish problem.
The pandemic has changed the future landscape in ways that are at this point unknowable, but I hope that a spark will emerge, the old fire and passion will be rekindled.
I would hope to see changes to legislation that would free up spaces to be used as venues, multi-use spaces
If this was to happen alongside the ability to run later Ireland could become a very attractive place to go clubbing. Maybe people will want to come here rather than us going there! Why not? We have the talent. While Dublin may never become Berlin
it’s undeniable that electronic music is now deeply embedded in modern Irish culture, it’s been around for 3 decades now and it’s not going away, It’s time to stop controlling young people and instead embrace and nurture their culture, our culture!
MM: When did you create your first beat?
JB: I started collecting records in 1994, before I got my first set of decks in 95, and started playing my first gigs in 96-97. I didn’t start making music until around 2000 when I got my first laptop and started messing around with Cubase and Fruity Loops. It was all very primitive, I really didn’t know what I was doing, and it sounded rubbish, to be honest. In that period, In 2002, I made an electro track for a now long-lost CD compilation of young Cork producers (which I would love to track down a copy of- so that nobody can ever hear how bad it was!)
I realised it wasn’t great and after that, it took me a long time to start really delving into production seriously.
I kept working away at it though and learning on my own
Although I did have a few friends who were producing and releasing music, in much the same way that I taught myself to mix I wanted to learn the ins & outs of it the hard way in isolation, pardon the pun. Admittedly, besides that and time constraints due to the many different things that I was involved in from promoting club nights to pursuing a Ph.D., it was really down to a lack of self-confidence in the sounds I was making, a feeling which I have heard echoed by others who firstly and foremostly identified with themselves as a DJ.
MM: Which artist, DJs influenced you the most? What do you try to convey in your sets?
JB: Oh this is a tough question! I can’t say that I was really influenced by any specific DJ as I have always tried to have my style of DJing. However, I can’t deny that I wasn’t influenced in small ways at least by my first club experiences in the 90s and the first mixtapes I listened to, so I guess you could say that hearing DJs like Carl Cox, Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier, Gayle San, Derrick Carter, Claude Young, etc. for the first time formative influences.
As for producers, this one would be impossible to answer unless we had all day so I would suggest checking out the tracklists of my mixes to get an idea as I tend to play music from all eras of electronic music and not just new music and from artists who represent the different shades of what we call “Techno”. While you could never classify it as “one sound” I do like to think of Techno in terms of a bigger picture in my sets and in my productions
I try to join the dots between the different aspects of the genre to recreate this, a concoction of tracks that come together to create something different!
MM: Why is your label called Bastardo Electrico?
JB: The name of the label comes directly from the original club night of the same name. Back in 2001, me and my friend Luca Janos got given the chance to run weekly Thursday nights at
Sir Henrys, then known as one of the best, most iconic venues not just in Ireland but in Europe
However, we were struggling to come up with a name for the night that didn’t sound too cliched.
Eventually, one night we ended up drinking a bottle of whiskey together, spent the night calling each other names, and generally having a laugh. Somewhere out of the foggy memories of that night, the name “Bastardo Electrico” emerged and possibly has something to do with us calling each other bastards and the fact we played electronic music but after 18 years I can’t be 100% sure!
When I started the label in 2008, the club night was on pause for a year as I couldn’t find a suitable venue or any venue at all at that time, and I wanted to keep the name going so we ended up with the first release by Sunil Sharpe, the “Blabbermouth EP”, coming out on in November 2008.
MM: Clubs or festivals?
JB: Clubs for sure! While playing a big stage at a festival has a certain excitement, especially if it is well set-up you cannot beat the atmosphere of a small, dark sweaty club. I feel more connected to the floor and the crowd, like I am part of the crowd myself and I am feeling the music in the same way. Sometimes at festivals, this connection is lost because you are on a perch far away from the crowd where you can’t feel the same level of interaction.
Again, that’s not to say I don’t like playing festivals though. Life 2017 was a definite exception. I went on after Paula Temple and the atmosphere in the tent was incredible. Another was playing a sunrise set at Dimensions Festival in Croatia in 2014.
The stage was practically empty when I came on but by the end of my set it was full with the sun coming up, definitely a magic moment!
MM: In these strange times we find ourselves in, has it impacted the way you work?
JB: Yeah, wow, such strange, surreal times. In general, I have tried to focus on staying busy. For the last few months, I have been working with KilleKill helping with Krake Festival, their annual festival that usually runs all over Berlin in different venues in the summer but had to switch to an online streaming format in December.
I am really lucky in this respect to be able to still work in music and with a team that I was already part of as a resident DJ for KilleKill, so in a way, it was more like switching roles. I won’t get into it too much, but you would think running an online event would be easier than a real-world festival… Quite the opposite, especially when trying to pull off some of the more innovative ideas that Nico and Katinka dreamed up to offer the audience something a bit different. Somehow we managed it!
Besides that, I have just been really busy in the studio and have become a bit of a hermit. At the start of the first lockdown, I had loads of plans that I was going to finish off 3 albums and 10 records, or some other silly amount of releases within a few months with no distractions. Of course, that didn’t exactly go to plan and I found myself feeling really unmotivated for a time, restricted not just in movement but creatively.
However, it did give me time to stop and reflect on how I was making music and more importantly why I was making music. I ended up taking time out completely from trying to finish tracks and focused more upon learning production and engineering techniques, essentially building up production skills. Now that I have dived back into making music properly again,
I have to say this period has served me in many ways and I feel like I have way more focus and the music I am making is far better
MM: What’s happening next?
JB: Well, hopefully, to get back gigging as soon as possible! Apart from stating the obvious there, I am planning several releases for the label.
Up first in the next few months is an absolutely killer EP by Offtrack, a really exciting Irish producer that is on the way up
This was pretty much ready to go when the pandemic struck so I was sitting on it, waiting to see what will happen as these are really strong dance-floor tracks that would sound huge over a big system but I think this record will stand the test of time until clubs start to reopen and beyond.
As I said already, I am really busy in the studio myself at the moment, putting the finishing touches on two tracks for a split EP with my good friend LAG which will be coming on Bastardo, two solo EPs, and finishing off a collaboration with Diarmaid O’Meara for Gobsmacked, as well as a whole bunch of tracks with DJ Flush under our Cork Bangers alias.
The focus for now and the immediate future is just making as much music as I can while I have the time! I am also going to do some more studio mixes and live streams this year, alongside continuing my residency on HOR Berlin. I was ambivalent about the abundance of live streams going on back during the first lockdown but I’ve come to realise how important they are for people to connect and stay in touch with the scene and the music that they love. After that, it will be Bastardo Electrico’s 20th Birthday in 2022.
Although I don’t like the sound of “2 decades” as it makes me feel kind of old it is a bit of a landmark, so fingers crossed that we can party by then as I would love to put on a couple of huge parties in Cork and Berlin for it and maybe a tour. Either way, I am planning a 5 vinyl 20th birthday compilation to mark it featuring a whole bunch of my favourite producers and good friends that I have made through the scene over the years.
I am still thinking of other ways to make this collection special, something collectible, I don’t know I haven’t hit on any concrete ideas yet but we will have to see what weird or wacky form these extras take eventually.
MM: So thanks Jamie best of luck with everything, and we hope we can see you soon on the decks.
JB: Thanks for the chat and yes hopefully sooner rather than later!
Upcoming live-streams are
26.02 FourFour Livestream
17.03 Prospekt Ireland- Paddys Day Livestream
14.04 HOR Berlin
(Bastardo Electrico, KilleKill – Cork / Berlin)
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