29 November 2006

Your Feedback.

At the offices of The Eejitry Report, we appreciate your input in all shapes and forms. Even you spammers posting links to no strings-sex friend finders and Russian gambling sites which we keep deleting. Interactivity is everything in the Web2.0, you know. Just to show how much we do value your input, here's a recent message we received from an annonymous poster:

"what a fucking eejit. really. and i realise that you know this already, going from the blog title. ya big retard"

What can we say? Keep 'em coming folks.

This month, The Eejitry report has mostly been listening to Cansei De Ser Sexy, Almamegretta, The Rapture, âme, and copious amounts of Sir Henry's classics.

Update due as soon as we can be arsed.

Peace out!

12 June 2006


Can there be anything more teeth-grindingly frustrating than getting caught in an unexpectedly large ATM queue when you’re already cutting it fine? I negotiated the queue and made my way to the area in front of the stage inside the Bróg. Usually, you would expect there to be a reasonable crowd, mostly huddled around the TV set when it’s a Champions League Wednesday in An Bróg; and if there’s live music to be had, all well and good, as people begin to shuffle across to indulge their curiosity after the final whistle blows. There was one crucial difference on this night, with the clock sitting just short of 9.30, as I ordered from the bar; we already had a crowd, and they weren’t paying much attention to the television set at the old bar. A bit later on, Arm The Elderly would be here to launch their new EP; but now, as Nellboy took the stage with his one-man show, standing room with a view was in scarce supply, and as for space to park your beverage? Scrap such notions.

Announcing himself to a polite round of applause, he began the set with a few minimal numbers, gradually building up to something more expansive; building up, and bringing it back down, subtle shifts in mood- all filtered keys and layered breakbeats- accompanied with stripped down live vocals, chopped vocal samples, and sleazy bass loops.

The place was starting to fill up, the newer arrivals being met by an ominous-sounding electro bassline, and snatched horns as Nellboy took the microphone for another vocal track, set to a thumping beat. This drew a reaction from the audience before he picked up the electric guitar, and the next track commenced as the crowd really began to swell, with pounding synth keys, jacking beats, and a dark announcement of ‘so deep’ looping with plenty of reverb; a tangible sense of anticipation building among the audience.

Nellboy was back on the microphone for his next number, his vocals worked through the electronic mincer, emerging perched atop the swinging beat and elastic bass groove. The mood became darker and funkier as the set wore on, raw acid basslines filtered and broadened with steadily building keys; pounding bass and hi-hats, heads nodding and feet tapping at the back, bodies bopping and pogoing at the front as our man with the laptop rocked it. Layer upon layer of sounds; breakdowns, dips, peaks, but no troughs; even a deaf man would have found the multitasking taking place utterly engrossing.

As the set wound to a close, everything was stripped back to the core, raw metallic grooves and bouncy basslines. Filtered basslines cut, and slammed back in with acid overtones, a cheers going up as he announced details of his next gig. But getting back to the present, he rounded off the show with a Detroitesque stomper, which built up and down, the sparse keys filtered in and out to a crunching beat, and propelled by incessant, pounding kick-drums, teasing the audience, and speeding it up for the finale. Close your eyes for a second, and you’d wish you were in a club. It was a deftly chosen ending to what was, overall, a marvellous set, and ensured that the biggest cheer of all was the one that followed at its finish.

A few days after the gig, I caught up with Nellboy in the Woodford:

How did you get involved in making music to begin with?

“My introduction to playing music came when I was five years old, when I started playing my sister’s piano. Not long after that, my mother arranged piano lessons for me. I stayed with that right through until I broke my hand at the age of 13. It was after that I first picked up the guitar, and I spent about three years working away on it before I got involved with my first band.”

“My first band was from the ages of 16 to 24. We split in a flurry of abuse and recrimination. ‘Creative differences’, I suppose. After that, I needed to take a bit of time out to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do next. I’d been wanting to do something a little bit different, to explore new possibilities. I wrote a drum & bass track on guitar, called Between The Waves. Six months later, I bought a ready-made Mac studio from a mate.”

Are you still working with the same gear today?

“No, I’m not working with that same set-up these days; I’ve pared it down. Now, I’m working on a PC. I don’t think there’s really the same need there once was to go with Mac, the gap has narrowed, and with the right set-up, there’s no real difference these days. I had been using Q-Base for some time, but now I’ve moved on to working with Ableton Live.”

How did your current live set come about? What’s been your favourite gig as Nellboy to date?

“My first gig as Nellboy would have been back around October or November 2004, in the Tikki Lounge, which went well. What’s the gig I’ve enjoyed most so far? That’s a tough one! I really enjoyed a gig I played at the Agora around Christmas, 2004. That was definitely a bit special. Also, early in 2005 I played the Savoy with a full band. That was a good night.”

“I only played one gig in the latter part of 2005, at a festival over in Leeds. Really, between April and December last year, I was putting a lot of work into a new live set. Other gigs I would have enjoyed would have been at Traffic in Dublin, and 110th Street in Galway. It’s great to get on the road.”

“Before I took the break from gigging, I was beginning to feel that the set had gotten a little bit stale, so I gave it a radical overhaul. When I started again, I felt things were running a lot tighter, and the reaction I got was very satisfying. Headlining at Traffic in Dublin on St Patrick’s Night was a great experience; the set was well received. I really like what the guys there are doing; it’s a nice balance between live acts and DJs, covering the whole underground electronic scene. It’s quite a unique place; well worth a look.”

Which styles of music have you worked at in your time?

“For a while, I was doing some electronic and drum & bass. I did a Hip Hop project with some Cork MCs a couple of years back, which was fun. For the last while, I’ve been doing electro and sort of minimal techno stuff; I’ve been moving on to stuff with filthier, distorted bass lines. There’s a real sense of freedom that comes from doing it all alone; there’s no bad politics, and I can work at my own pace. It’s far more economical in terms of time, and of course having full control over the entire creative process has big advantages.”

What do you think of the Cork live scene right now?

“As far the scene is concerned, I really think there some good rock bands out there at this moment. What I think we could do with are more singers. In terms of the electronic scene, it’s great to see so many young producers working away at home, and coming up with stuff to a high standard, helping each other out, and working together.”

“One producer whose stuff I’m really into is Corrugated Tunnel. From a technical point of view, he’s just superb, and I’ve seen him put on some very impressive gigs. He’s got an album on the way, and will be playing at Electric Picnic. I got talking to him over the net. He’s based up in Dublin, and really helped me out in terms of getting gigs up there, he’s been very helpful.”

What’s your expectation of the scene in Montreal?

“As far as I can make out Montreal’s got a diverse and vibrant scene; both electronic and non-electronic. There’s a lot of good music coming out of there, and Canada as a whole too; Arcade Fire being an obvious example. It’s got the world’s biggest Jazz festival, and a large punk scene. I mean, it’s a decent sized town, 3.5 million people or so. There’s definitely going to be a lot happening there.”

Okay, time for the cliché question: If I had to ask you to pick your favourite album of all time, could you pick one?

“Oh no, you can’t ask me that! I go through phases of listening to a lot of different stuff, be contemporary or otherwise. Right now, I’m really liking Berlinette by Ellen Allien. It’s ridiculous, the melodies are fantastic, and the production is amazingly good. Also, Juan McLean, Almost Human, which is on LCD Soundsystem’s label.”

Sounds good. What are your plans for the future, musically speaking?

“I’m hoping to do some collaboration projects. Electronic rock music, minimal techno, a few different projects really; I’d like to do something with a fully fledged singer from a band. I’ve been really impressed with what Soulwax have been doing, and it’s given me some ideas of my own. It’d be nice to try some rocky, punky, electronic shit with drums and bass guitars. I want to work with different types of artists with fresh ideas. One of the biggest drawbacks for me in Cork is that I just don’t know all that many vocalists. I’ve done some stuff with Elaine Dowling, and she’s been great. I also worked with Cía Intinn from Galway. He’s got this whole ragamuffin thing going on, he’s into is dub and drum & bass; we did a reworked version of Between The Waves together. I want to work with someone who can sing and scream; hopefully I’ll find a proper rocker who I can click with.”

“You know, just after the Bróg gig, I played at City Limits. There was a great crowd, I guess I saw a side of Cork that night that I hadn’t really seen before now. There were a lot of new faces, and everyone seemed really into their music; a really diverse range of people. I honestly believe that the potential is there for a really good scene, but it’s not always easy to strike the right balance. It’s all there, but something the thinking just isn’t progressive enough, and I honestly don’t mean any disrespect to anyone in saying that. Inner City looks to be having the right kind of idea. I’d love to see a night with a band in one room and quality, progressive DJs in the other.”

You mean something along the lines of the Half Moon before?

“Well, sort of. The problem for me with the Half Moon is that they had such a great formula, but it was left alone and allowed to go stale; and by the end there was this sense of it just going through the motions. Nobody seemed to willing to do anything to rectify that. Times change, and you can’t afford to stand still. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in Cork for while. It’s the reason why there’s a whole generation of thirty-something ex-Henry’s heads who are only into house music.”

How do you see things progressing here?

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I came back from Montreal and found that something really big was happening here. Like I said; it’s all there, so why not? Things are definitely moving in the right direction. I’d like to be able to put on my own night. I’m seeing it all here now, man. I was inspired by that night in City Limits; it was a real breath of fresh air.”

Is there anyone else out there that you’ve been impressed by lately?

“I’m heading down to Waterford tonight to see Vitalic. I first came across him when I heard a live set of his from Love Techno online. I think the guy’s a potential Mylo in the making, he’s putting out some really good stuff on the poppy side, with genuine crossover potential; he’s really that good! I mean, if you take Mylo, he was happy to do his thing; and when the time came, he was happy to rake in the dollars, which is fair enough really. Since then though I think he’s been happy to stay where he is, and doesn’t seem to be progressing all that much artistically. Fair play to him for making it, because he always put out good quality, polished stuff.”

“It is a bit of an off-putter to hear his stuff wall-to-wall on the radio; it’s getting a bit played out. That’s not me being a snob, or that I have anything against artists getting radio play, or making it big for that matter; far from it. But it’s hard not to get to get a bit fed-up with something when you end up hearing t pretty much non-stop. Now I think Vitalic has great potential; I think he’s even better than Mylo. MCD have him signed up, and he’ll be doing the rounds at the festivals this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him start getting some radio play, and people catching on to him in a big way. All he best to him too; you just have to look at Gorillaz to see how it’s possible to strike the perfect balance between integrity and pop sensibility.”

Well, following on from that: What are your thoughts on the industry as a whole today?

“Well, just going back two or three years, there was such a monopoly on the means of distribution when it came to music. A small few big players had the market cornered, and bent to their will; essentially, there was no real choice. That’s why it’s been so great to see internet buying increasing at such a rate, year on year. It’s completely changed the industry. Some labels seem to still be trying to dictate to people what they should like, but a look at the sales figures at the top of the singles charts suggests that people aren’t listening anymore. There’s so much free music out there, and this has helped to diversify peoples tastes, people are buying more types of music that they mightn’t necessarily have otherwise. That can only be a good thing.”

And beyond all that, what other hopes do you have for the future?

“I’ve been doing visual work for a while now in the Savoy, and it’s awakened ideas of new possibilities in me. I’d like to experiment more with High-Definition cameras. The idea of getting into video production appeals to me; I’ve been working on some conceptual stuff, you know, short films and the music to go with them… What I would love would be to be able to make a living from art in Montreal; art, and art alone; visual work and music. It’s the certainly the dream. So who knows?”

Coming soon: Sónar 2006 Report