Interview: Paddy Kearns

In the pulsating heart of Dublin, a new beat emerges in the Hard Techno realm as veteran producer Paddy Kearns begins his latest venture, Ceol Crua. With its debut release, Facing Facts’, the label not only sets its rhythmic footprint but also introduces a compelling collaboration among seasoned techno artists, ‘Matter of Phat’.

This conversation with Paddy Kearns delves into the essence of Ceol Crua, the creative camaraderie within ‘Matter of Phat’, and the intricate tapestry of sounds in the ‘Facing Facts EP’. We unravel the narrative of Ceol Crua, exploring its inception, the vision driving it, and the musical voyage of the individuals orchestrating this dynamic techno label. Reflecting on the label’s influences and the evolution of its debut tracks to discussing the vibrant London squat party scene, a riveting glance into the techno odyssey that is Ceol Crua.

For people who might not know you or your music, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Ive been into electronic music since the late 80’s, starting off with Electro then Acid House.
It was the early UK Hardcore sound that really got me hooked though around 1992, thats when I decided I wanted to get involved.
I spent a few years buying all the tunes I could get & learning to mix, had a few local gigs but nothing big.
Fast forward to the mid 90’s and the sound that I loved had become fragmented and given birth to countles other genres which left me unsure which direction to take next. I carried on just buying anything I thought sounded good, Id picked up an AKAI S3000XL & the first Roland Groovebox by then so started playing around putting tracks together with those.

I Think it was around 1997 when I heard Hardhouse for the first time, I loved the fact that every record I pulled out the rack was full of old Hardcore & Electro samples so started putting all my efforts into that.
I met another guy from the same town that had similar tastes so we ended up joining forces and became Kernzy & Klemenza.
We spent the next 10 years producing & DJing as a double act before my partner decided to hang up the headphones and it came to a natural end.

Giving up music wasnt an option for me so after thinking about what to do next I started making music in lots of different styles under as many aliases, seeing what worked and if anything might take off. I had a degree of success with some of them but Id also started offering my services as an engineer at this point for other producers and that ended up taking most of my time until recently..

One constant over the years was that Id always be checking out Techno in one form or another and that started to become more prominent to the point that its mow my main focus with regards to the music im making & playing.

Over the years, you’ve operated under different aliases like ‘Kernzy & Klemenza’, ‘Bossgroove’, and ‘Padraig Ballyer’. How do these various personas influence your music, and how do they converge in Ceol Crua?

Each of these were very different sounds, K&K was Hardhouse, Bossgroove was a kind of mix between UKG influenced house & Speed Garage. Padraig Ballyer was more Deep House.
I think all of these and some of the other projects Ive been involved in, all leave some kind of trace in the music Im making now, Its a healthy position to be in and it makes things more interesting having a more wider range of influences.

Ceol Crua: Can you share the journey and the core idea behind establishing your new label, Ceol Crua?

I recently got the new studio operational in Dublin after relocating and started making music again, The main reason for starting the label was as an ouput for my own work.
Id ran a label during the Hardhouse days so it was something I was familiar with and it was a natural progression once id decided the direction my music would be taking.
I needed a name & remembered an old label called ‘Casa Dura’ which was ‘Hard House’ in Spanish so I took the same idea and translated ‘Hard Music’ into Irish.

Vision for the Label: What vision do you have for Ceol Crua, especially in the booming Hard Techno music scene?

Im aiming to get a wider range of people playing Ceol Crua tracks rather than targeting one style of Techno.
Hard Techno will definitely be on the label but you might be checking though releases and hear something different.
The idea is to try and expose music to people that normally wouldnt be looking for it. I think people are more open to playing different things in the same set these days and a lot of the times it works well

Who or what have been your major influences in shaping the sound and ethos of Ceol Crua?

Underground Resistance & Bruce Lee!

I always remembered an interview UR did in a magazine years ago where they were talking about having a label with no rules & just releasing whatever sounded good to them.
Thats definitely something Im trying to acheive with Ceol Crua.

Bruce Lee’s Martial Art (Jeet Kune Do) isnt technically a Martial Art. Its more of a philosophy were he took anything that worked from all the styles he studied over the years to make his own collection of moves that he thought were effective.
I take that approach when making music & this reinforces the point earlier where I think if youve made different styles of music in the past it keeps things interesting.

Besides being a part of ‘Matter of Phat’, what will be your role in nurturing Ceol Crua?

Ill be looking for new music & artists for the label, compiling the release schedule & trying to promote the label as much as possible.
The plan is to start a series of events next year in Dublin too so that will help keep things moving and bring the name to more people.

The title ‘Facing Facts EP’ sounds intriguing. Is there a particular message or theme you’re exploring with this title?

Id like to have a deep & meaningful answer for this but the reality is that we needed an name for the EP and ‘Facing Facts’ was a continuation of the word play of ‘Matter of Phat’

How did the tracks ‘Tekno Power’ and ‘Stay on Top’ evolve during the production process, and what inspired the tribal turn in the Paddy Kearns remix?

The process was the same for both of the original tracks, we all got some ideas together, turned up on the day then went through everything and between the 3 of us, decided what sounded good. Theres a process then of trying to fit different ideas together, some work first time, others need work & some just dont work at all so get disgarded or put to the side for another track maybe.

With the 2 original tracks being Acid Techno I wanted to have something different on the release to compliment it.
Tekno Power had been my personal favourite of the 2 so decided to remix that & the style was more in-line with what Im playing currently.

Collaboration: Can you delve into your experience working with Sam DFL and Rich Sortwell on this project?

It was an enjoyable, productive experience as always.
All 3 of us bring something different to the table and we get along so its never a chore.

Rich Sortwell is mentioned as a rising star. How do you see his evolution within the ‘Matter of Phat’ ensemble and the larger techno scene?

Rich is hungry for it at the moment and his work rate is relentless. Everytime I see him he has a USB full of new material.
He only recently started making music seriously but has wasted no time in making his mark with his first 2 releases on Maximum Minimum & SUF Super Limited.
His house is overrun with various 303 boxes so you can be sure that any Acid influence in a Matter of Phat track has probably come from Rich.

With Sam DFL’s connection to the Stay Up Forever studio, how has this relationship benefited the production quality and creative process of ‘Facing Facts EP’?

Its greatly benefited the quality, Hard Techno is his domain.
You know on the movie 300 where Gerard Butler turns and shouts ‘Spartans, what is your profession?”
Well Sam would shout, “Techno!”
He knows what works and can tell if an idea is going anywhere early on so it saves time in the long run.

The EP is said to electrify any London squat party. How does the underground scene in London influence your production?

The Squat Party influence comes mainly from Rich, thats his area for sure.
I think its important to know whats current & being played out as much as trying to do somthing new & creative.
You need to give people what they want to hear just as much as educating with some new ideas so its a fine balance.

The party scene in London is getting stronger all the time, some legal, a lot, not so much!

Future Releases: Are there any upcoming releases or collaborations you can tease?

The next release is a track from Stirling Moss & Rich Sortwell with a remix from myself.
Keep checking the socials for clips and it should be released towards the end of November.

Grab your copy of ‘Future Facts’ HERE!