ONE of the many acts who have been productive in the last 10 months spent at home reflecting and creating is Ian Ring, a Cork-based DJ and producer who first came to prominence as one of Young Wonder and has gone onto work in a variety of guises and collaborations with artists such as Daithi, Talos and Stevie G, with his latest project Boku.
The name he has chosen puts the direction of the project front and centre.
“Boku is Japanese for ‘I’ and in a nutshell, Boku is all about music that’s personal to me and I wanted to make music for myself. You always have to compromise when you work with someone else, I feel this EP is me being totally free with the music and doing whatever comes naturally. I kinda went back to the Young Wonder roots on this record and acted fast without over analysing the music.”
He reflected further on the contrasting mindsets a producer needs to adopt. “When you are working as an outside producer a lot of the time you have to put on different hats to mould yourself around whatever that artist’s vision is. When I sit down to write my own music I have to turn off that part of my brain and just do whatever feels right to me. I always have an idea of what or where I want to go with it but that can change drastically depending on me bumping into a happy accident along the way.”
As he continued explaining his writing process, he describes the various starting points he uses.
“It’s all a domino effect really.. sometimes it’s just sitting down on a piano working out a chord progressions but usually, an idea gets inspired by a sample or a sound I find. The sample might not even make it into the finished product or end up being a secondary element but it can be the spark that lights the fire for me. I’ve also found that if I get a drum groove going I like it will inspire something else. If I have an idea on loop and it doesn’t make me excited I will scratch the idea and start again, you should always feel excited early on because it naturally diminishes as the process moves forward because you end up listening to it so much.”
Sometimes I chop up a field recording to create a kind of hypnotic texture that will sit underneath the whole track
A recurring element on the Boku EP is the use of field recordings.
“They are a cousin of sampling really, sometimes I chop up a field recording to create a kind of hypnotic texture that will sit underneath the whole track. Being honest I never know what I am going to do with them until I start playing with it, but I would have an idea of where I would want it to be most present in the track. It’s important not to leave it to overwhelm the mix though which can happen easily.”
Even with his use of field recordings Ian has alternate ways of sourcing them. “While I have actually recorded some stuff off my phone when I’m out and about, usually I find massive banks of them online and just play around with them. This is truly happy accident stuff but it just gives the listener a subconscious feeling of being somewhere when you use it sparingly and in the right places of a record.”
The use of field recordings, as well as his instrument choices and working methods have contributed to give his new EP a strong direction, as Ian continues.
“There is a certain overall feeling to this EP for sure. I wrote the record during lockdown after the end of a long term relationship but I would like to think the record feels hopeful.
“When you spend years with someone you can end up losing your own identity if you are not careful, you can get wrapped up in someone else’s narrative rather than your own and if that ends it feels like a death. If someone leaves your life it can have a positive influence but you have to be open to letting that happen. This record was deeply healing for me and it captures how I felt during this period. I have a bank of music in the pipeline I’m excited about for this project but I’m not thinking in terms of albums as of yet for Boku.”
Traditionally the release of a record would lead to touring to promote it but while the current restrictions are hampering anyone playing concerts, Ian isn’t sure if Boku would be appearing in venues anyway.
“While I definitely would like to get out there and do DJ sets again when the world gets going again — especially at festivals — I’m not sure about live shows yet as I have been down that road before... it’s not a no but it is mainly a studio project for now.”
While Boku has had no collaborators, Ian did have a sounding board. “I wrote, produced and mixed this record on my own but I was sending stuff to director/label owner Brendan Canty off Feel Good Lost for a listen the whole time. We have worked together for years and he’s one of my best friends. Brendan has always pushed me musically, he’s a ball of positive energy in my life.”
The full Boku EP comes out on his label Feel Good Lost on January 27 so check out that social media for the links!”