Phil Kieran is a well-established name in techno and electronica, with five studio albums, more than 80 EPs, and remixes for the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, Green Velvet, David Holmes and Andrew Weatherall under his belt, not to mention his Alloy Mental and Le Carousel projects.

Now, the Belfast native is entering the world of movie soundtracks, with the soundtrack for Nightride, a dark thriller currently on (Netflix UK/IRE) and Apple (US/CAN). With his recording studio located in Northern Ireland’s oldest movie-house, the art deco Strand cinema, and with two years of lockdowns to contend with, the time was right to broaden his horizons.

“It’s a natural transition,” he says. “DJing involves giving shape and a voice to a night, creating continuum and momentum. The best DJs bring people on a journey, curating emotions. We create atmospheres; sometimes hypnotic or transcendent, other times it’s chaotic or euphoric. When I’m DJing I love playing longer sets, they have room for a narrative to play out.”

The Nightride soundscape spans the palette of electronica, from synth-wave via electro to full throttle techno, mirroring the atmosphere of the movie. “You could listen to it with your eyes closed, imagine the story and climb inside the emotions involved,” Kieran adds.

In terms of his approach to enhancing the visuals on-screen, he adds, “less is more. I was putting in just what’s needed to serve the atmosphere which gives higher impact, but I also wanted to create a coherent body of music, not just a series of musical accompaniments to a cue sheet. Each track on the album, is designed to be listened to, danced to and played in full.”

The project also helped keep Kieran busy during lockdown, with the artist noting that “the studio was the one place I had any sense of control over the world around me. I was being told to DJ on live-streams and podcasts but for me, this was the perfect time to follow a passion that has been bubbling for a really long time.

“I was lucky to get asked to score a few shorts and a radio documentary, so I immersed myself into composing for storytelling media and then Nightride came along.”

Kieran’s life-long love of cinema began in childhood, with a 1981 cult classic standing out. “I remember sneaking downstairs,” he says. “My dad was watching Escape From New York and I didn’t get chased back to bed. I was really struck by the whole mood of it. That’s the important thing about music: you shouldn’t – and I didn’t – really notice it. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised how much of a role the music played.”

Of course, as with any major project, there was also an element of trial and error to the recording of the Nightride OST – with Kieran immersing himself in krautrock to help smooth the process.

Originally, we thought all the music should sound like it was coming from the car’s stereo system or from background nightlife but a strictly diagetic approach wasn’t working out,” he explains. “I took a break, listened to a lot of Tangerine Dream and decided to start afresh.”

That’s gonna do it. 🙂

All About The Balance is the first single from the album – both it and the soundtrack itself will be released on 6 May on Phil Kieran Recordings. It’s currently on pre-sale on his Bandcamp page, click here for more information.

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