Cork has some super sounds all ready for live audiences

One thing that Cork hasn't been lacking during the pandemic is new music, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Cork has some super sounds all ready for live audiences

Denise Chaila at the Pilot Event in Kilmainham. There’s a special feeling when you hear studio songs come alive on stage.

One thing that we have not been lacking this pandemic is new music. The gigs and events and festivals have largely stopped, and as I write the music industry is awaiting further guidelines and updates as to when we can start again.

Thankfully there are some outdoor events on the horizon and we have something to look forward to again. In the meantime more tracks than ever are coming out, and the quality of music being created in Ireland is incredible right now.

The restrictions have been a huge blow for music artists and producers and everyone else involved in the industry, but the studio has often been a much needed sanctuary during these dark days. Whether it’s a tiny bedroom set up with just headphones, or a swish fancy space with loads of instruments and gear, home grown music is coming out from every corner of the country right now, and it’s great to see.

I make my own music and I know how time consuming and expensive it is, especially considering that most of the time as artists we end up paying for the production of the music ourselves too. The initial costs (instruments, software, lessons, courses, band rooms etc) are added to the cost of releasing music, and for those who end up pressing up physical copies, these can escalate into massive numbers. Putting your music online is relatively cheap, but promoting can cost money if you hire a PR, and everything from photoshoots to music videos can be very costly too. Most artists make music for love rather than money and those who spend a lot of money on it can’t even make anything back at the moment through touring and gigs.

It hasn’t stopped the onslaught of new music though and every week there’s a ton of new releases. One of my radio shows, on Saturdays, is dedicated to current or new music and every week I’m inundated with new material.

I have specialist genres (hip-hop/soul/drill/afro/electronic) but still try and listen to all styles, and it takes a lot of time to get through it all. I do my best but I’m sure I miss some gems. It’s great to see so much music coming out.

Ireland is getting better and better and there’s more studios and better engineers too. As production standards increase, there is more competition too. It’s all healthy competition where artists spur each other on, and there seems to be good support among artists and lots of collaborations too. I always compare here to Jamaica, which is a sixth of our size, but which has made a massive impact on the global music scene for well over half a century now. This legacy can be felt in hip-hop and indeed all of DJ culture, and it has infiltrated rock and pop too. Ireland is not at that level, but we have great potential, and I think we will be making more of an international impact soon. We are still a little bit introverted in some ways, and relatively few of our artists are making big waves abroad yet. But that will come in time.

Overall, I’ve never seen the music scene so strong when it comes to original music and artists, so it’s a good time to be a DJ on radio. Sadly, and I’ve mentioned this here before during the pandemic, many of these songs are not being heard live at the moment. One of the artists who exploded during the Covid era, Denise Chaila, performed to a big crowd at one of the government’s recent pilot events in Dublin. She spoke of how amazing it was, and there’s a special feeling when you see and hear songs created in the studio come alive on stage.

I’ve been djing non stop during the pandemic, but very rarely to crowds. Last weekend, I had a few events, where small crowds could gather, and it was great to play music to people in person. They weren’t exactly club or festival gigs, but it was amazing interacting with actual people again.

You could actually feel the extra bit of goodwill in the air too, as people experienced a rare situation where music was allowed. We obviously took a lot for granted before, and I think in post-covid times we will have some great parties.

We certainly have enough songs and music, so everybody is ready to go!

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