In February 2001, Lisburn-based BBm Magazine ran a feature on ‘Ireland’s underground’ – the DJs, promoters, venues and club nights that were flying the flag for all things non-mainstream in electronic music at the start of the new Millennium.

As well as surveying the state of play in the North, as part of the article, BBm’s Karen Lawler spoke to some of the key figures in Dublin’s dance music scene, to get their views on the city’s (and Ireland’s) clubbing landscape.

A few snippets from the article are presented below, along with scans. BBm closed its doors in 2003, after eight years of production, with publisher Eddie Wray ploughing his energies into his Planet Love venture.

Johnny Moy, Influx

“I’d liked to see less closed mindedness. I’d like to see people get back into the music and not just DJing. People should put some effort in, buy some equipment and try to progress. Too many DJs just play back to back now, or just play two records in time. That doesn’t always mean it’s mixed well. 

“I think there’s no such thing as the underground now. People used to make their records in garages, and get it in the hands of the right people through their own blood, sweat and tears. It’s not like that as much now.”

Aoife Nic Canna

“I never imagined that [R&B] would be so big. There was a time when you couldn’t get an R&B gig here, you couldn’t get people to dance to it. I think it’s really healthy at the moment. 

“I used to only get one R&B record a month, now there’s so much out there I can’t take it all home at once. Most music starts off underground and eventually goes overground. There’s just more DJs and records out there now.” 

Razor

“I think the scene is reasonably healthy right now. There was a time when drum & bass was very trendy. Then it steadied off a bit.

“I think there are some Irish producers at the moment like Calibre. I discovered him in a small gig in Belfast. At the time he was on Quadraphonic Records, now he’s on Creative Source Records.”

Keith Downey, Psychonavigation

“I think the electronic scene is really interesting right now. There is some good music and some promising new labels coming out of Dublin. Labels like Ultramack, D1 Records, Psychonavigation Records and Front End Synthetics. 

“As far as the club scene is concerned, I think at times too much emphasis is put on uptempo music. I feel there should be a chillout room in all clubs. 

“In terms of commercialism, I feel the electronic scene is safely cocooned within the underground right now, but at the same time, commercialism wouldn’t be a bad thing. If there’s an Aphex Twin track on an advertisement and it encourages people to find out more about this music or the earlier work of artists, to me it’s a good thing. I don’t think this music can sell out if the DJs and the artists stay true to what they’ve always done.”

John McCallion, Power FM

“With pirate radio there’s lots of diversity and variety. It’s not like commercial radio in that way. There are over 70 DJs [on Power FM]. It’s really good. Everyone is doing their own thing.

The kind of vocal house and techno that Power was playing in 1993, 94 is almost part of commercial music today. Pirate radio definitely contributes to the survival of underground music but records will always crossover. There’s so many DJs now who want their music.

“Guest slots on shows like the Punish Techno show give them a much needed outlet. It’s like a point of contact for what’s going on, on the ground. The station runs now about 140 hours a week, with a show for every kind of music.”

Jay Ahern, Vital Distribution

“I’ve noticed a huge cross over. There’s no real agenda with people now. They seem to be listening to mish-mash of stuff. But it all depends on what you want. 

“Progressive house has returned very strongly also and that should continue although I feel deep house is dying a little. Labels like the Glasgow Underground are not as popular as they used to be, but will always have their own following.” 

“In my opinion the commercialism of these artists can often make the listener like they have lost something private to them. If the whole world suddenly loves an artist you’ve always loved it can feel like an invasion. However, if commercialism does not pollute the music of the artist, I think it’s okay.” 

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