A touch of the green with Tiernan OíNeil
Reported by Darz
Submitted 02-03-07 17:02
A DJ needs passion, drive, persistence and a willingness to share their love of good music. Youíll find Irishman Tiernan OíNeil values and strives to maintain these attributes. Of course thereís more to find out about this energetic and likeable young man, so who better to ask than the man himself?
Music is his life, a selfless individual who strives to maintain quality, consistency and entertainment but most of all, emotion and connection in his sets and productions. His style is one of diversity; catch him playing everything from Balearic sun kissed grooves, to emotive house, electro and trance with depth.
Itís been a busy couple of years for this young gun, DJing all over Ireland, a guest slot at Judgement Sundays and getting his track ĎShineí signed to one of Armin Van Buurenís labels while ĎChloeí got caned by the worldís number 1 DJ Paul Van Dyk, and on Radio 1 by Judge Jules. But he had just enough time to talk to me.
Darz: Hey Tiernan, how ya doing?
Tiernan: Hi! Iím really good at the moment, thanks! Iíve just started a new production course at college and have been getting back into the studio again. Iíve also been getting myself out there for some DJ sets.
D: Sound exciting! So what got you immersed in this music we all love?
T: Well, I really was never into any pop music as a kid. People in my primary school started bringing in old hardcore and old skool tapes by DJs such as Tizer and Trix. I fell in love with the underground sound of dance music. I used to buy tapes every week. I loved the almost illegal feel of rave culture back in the day. Back when the Conservatives were in power and they were closing clubs throughout the UK left, right and centre, clubbing had a real underground culture feel. Even though I was too young to visit the clubs, this vibe attracted me to the music. My uncle used to have an extensive collection of old skool tapes and needless to say I nicked them all off him! I think he knew, but never said anything. From there, I spent my whole life listening to dance music before finally getting a set of decks in 1998 after pestering my mum.
D: I hear it was a chance meeting with the Radio 1 Head of Dance in 2004 that gave you somewhat of a break?
T: Yeah I met Matt Priest a few years back in Derry before One Big Weekend. He accidentally lifted my CDs at a talent show he was presiding over. He took my CD bag back to the hotel and realised it wasnít his and rang the number in the inside sleeve. When I went to pick my bag up, I fired him a few CDs. When Radio 1 came back to Derry, he let me warm up for Dave Pearce and Agnelli and Nelson at an outdoor festival on Halloween at Victoria Market. Neither acts showed so I got to play for nearly three hours to a crowd of about 2,000.
D: And this lead to a guest slot at Judgement Sunday @ Eden in Ibiza?
T: After going to Ibiza for the past 4 years religiously and firing my CDs out to everyone, I finally got one to Jules. After listening to it he gave me a set in the backroom at Judgement Sundays a few months later. It was easily one of the best gigs Iíve ever played. The crowd were outstanding. It was one of those moments that makes all the hard work worthwhile. When youíre playing music you love to a crowd thatís really responsive, I donít think anything can beat that feeling.
D: Definitely! You like to mix your styles up a lot, rather than stick to just one genre of dance music. Can you tell us more about this?
T: I couldnít play just one style of music all night. As a DJ, I think its good to play the best music from all genres. That doesnít mean being all over the place. If you play good music the right way, it fits. For example I love really downtempo balearic house, and then building it up into more progressivey emotive trance and then into tougher house. I like groovy emotional uplifting music, with a fresh, energetic edge. I prefer to call it emotive dance music, a sound thatís between house and trance, yet isnít completely deep or proggy.
D: What DJís influenced you early on and who are you into at the moment?
T: Early on, it was a lot of the old skool DJs but my biggest influence has to be Paul Van Dyk. A lot of his older tracks like ĎForbidden Fruití are, in my opinion, some of the best tunes ever made. I donít think anyone can get the same feeling, or message into their music as he can. Iím also a really big fan of DJs like Max Graham, Sven Vath and Iím still really into Tall Paul. Col Hamilton, the resident of Lush, is also a great DJ, some of his warm up sets are the best Iíve ever heard. Production wise Iím into Jaytech, Perry OíNeill, Matthew Dekay, Gabriel Ananda, Steve Lawler, Max Graham, Remy, Simon and Shaker and I like a bit of Funk Agendas music too. Thereís tons more, but I donít think Iíd fit their names on this page.
D: Which are your favourite clubs either that youíve played at, or just been at clubbing?
T: I suppose the best club Iíve played at was the backroom at Eden. In the UK itís Lush in Port Rush, here in Northern Ireland. Itís got the craziest crowd and probably the best sound system in Europe. If youíve been there I think youíll agree, but Amnesia in Ibiza is probably my favourite club in the world. Itís just got this really atmospheric vibe.
D: And of course that ice cannon!! Personally, I feel the clubbing scene is thriving at the moment, thereís lots of small nights, with the emphasis on fun and good times. What are your thoughts?
T: Yeah absolutely, a lot of smaller nights are thriving. I think people are starting to be more open-minded, you can hear DJs playing a wider variety of music. I donít think clubland has been as strong as it is now. The quality and consistency of the music is at its best for as long as I can remember. Itís good now, because music is less commercialised and branded. Producers are starting to put themselves into the music more, instead of trying to create the next big track. I think if producers and DJs make their music more personal, it has a greater effect. Without wanting to sound like a hippy, music is a form of communication and expression and if you play music that reflects you and your life, people will feel it far more. As I said people are being far more experimental with sounds and merging different genres together, and itís very healthy.
D: Like me, you seem to have a fairly shy personality, does it change when you get behind the decks?
T: Yeah, Iím one of those guys who always has a big stupid smile behind the decks. I like a bit of crowd interaction, Iím not one of those guys who stands still all night. Itís not me showing off, or whatever, itís just the rush of seeing people enjoying music you really love. The only feeling I can compare it to is like waking up on Christmas morning as a kid, waiting to get to your presents. Itís one of those vibes you feel in your stomach.
I also think its good to be vigilant about the crowd reaction, you constantly have to keep checking if the music youíre playing is working. Itís a bit like being an octopus, putting your tentacles into the crowd and feeling whatís happening. I think that may be a crap analogy but I hope people can see what I mean.
D: Do you have any interesting or funny stories to tell from clubs youíve been in?
T: Seeing my mate breakdancing during one of my sets was funny, heís a great guy, but a crap breakdancer. The door staff didnít know what to do. It was funny and slightly unnerving. When I was playing in Ibiza these two girls kept exposing their breasts to me, it was kinda puzzling, but I thought it was quite funny. Also seeing a guy licking the dust off a cracked tile in the Space Terrace in Ibiza was a little weird too! But if thatís your forte, then I guess its not harming anyone.
D: Haha, weird! Letís talk about your productions. Youíve recently been signed to Electronic Elements, one of Arminís labels. How does it feel to have been signed to such a respected label after just two tracks?
T: It still hasnít sunk in. The guys at Armada are really nice. Theyíre straightforward, theyíre passionate about music and want to get the best out of you. I couldnít talk for a while when I heard they wanted to pick up the track, I was in shock! When I found out last March they wanted to sign my track ĎShineí, I was going to a memorial for my step-dadís mum who had passed away the previous month. It was a sad occasion but it made me feel really lucky and thankful to achieve something like that at such a sad occasion and early point in my career. I honestly didnít envisage the tracks doing as well as they did. I just went into the studio wanting to create something personal, something that was about me and my life, something that told a story. I didnít have a conscious plan or format. I think things work far better if you just let the creativity flow instead of planning the exact sound you want. I think itís good to put yourself into your tracks, because if you donít create something you like no-one will be able to feel it.
D: Top advice dude. Your track ĎShineí has been played several times on Radio 1 by Judge Jules and your all time hero Paul Van Dyk, among others. You must be overwhelmed by the success it has had.
T: Yeah, Jules was the first DJ to play the track, even before me. The advice he gave me when making the track and the kind words he had to say about the finished project were inspirational, heís a great bloke! Having local DJs (many of them good friends) playing ĎShineí was fantastic too! Seeing PVD, Matthew Dekay and Perry OíNeil play it was a massive shock, in a great way! I woke my parents at 4am when I got a mail from someone telling me Paul Van Dyk played my track on his radio show. My mum was like, ďthatís great!Ē, and went back to sleep. But regardless of whether itís a big DJ or an unknown who like my music, itís equally as rewarding.
D: The B side of ĎShineí, a track called ĎChloeí, named after your younger sister if Iím not mistaken, has had equal success.
T: Yeah itís named after my 9-year-old sister; sheís a character alright! Sheís got the personality of a 30-year-old and is great at imitating peopleís persona and voice. The times Iíve been left in stitches by her are uncountable. Sheís also quiet adept at nicking pound coins out of my room for sweets. That aside, Chloeís a massive inspiration to me, even though because the age-gap she feels more like my kid than sister.
I was unsure if the B-Side would do as well as ĎShineí. But having PVD play it on countless occasions was awesome. He played it three times on his Soundgarten show in Berlin and even played it at Fabric when he was crowned No. 1 DJ of 06. I saw him at Lush back in November and he played the track 10 mins before the end of the night. I went up to thank him. It was a memorable night! It was also nice having my mate Liam Melly play it quite a bit too. Col Hamilton played the track at Lush, as his last track before Jules and he played it again on NYE. I was really happy with the track, and Iím glad other people are also.
D: Awesome. Do we expect to see any follow ups to ĎShineí and ĎChloeí?
T: Yeah Iíve just started a new track. Iíll be back in the studio shortly to finish it. Itís got that similar vibe to ĎShineí and ĎChloeí but itís slightly different.
D: Looking forward to it already, shoot me a copy across! What plans do you having coming up for the year ahead?
T: Just to continue doing what I love, producing and DJing. As long as I feel happy with what Iím doing, thatís enough for me. Iíve got a few gigs coming up. The next one is in Belfast in a monthís time.
D: How do you enjoy yourself apart from music?
T: Iím really in history documentaries; I like watching shows about WW2 and stuff ó not something I always publicise to my mates in fear of retribution. I also love my XBOX 360, Iím pretty good at the Call Of Duty games and Iím trying to make going to the gym my new yearís resolution, but I make that pact with myself every year and donít go.
D: Haha, donít we all! Finally, DJs either love this question or hate it, as itís often too hard just picking one ó whatís your favourite track of all time, and why?
T: Thatís an easy question for me: Gat Dťcor ó ĎPassioní (Original Mix). I havenít found a tune thatís got the same feeling! Itís a really simple song, just a piano and a beat. But thereís something really endearing about it. It was made in 1992, and it still stands the test of time. It to me really sums up the Balearic vibe in dance music. Whenever I hear it, the hairs on the arms and neck rise up!
D: Good stuff mate, thanks for your time, continue the good work and see you in Ibiza in the summer no doubt!!
T: Thanks! It was pleasure! Iíll be back in Ibiza if things go to plan. Iíd just like to say thanks to everyone whoís supported or helped me over the last while, and even those who havenít been as positive. Hopefully I can keep doing what I love. Without your support I wouldnít have had half of the success.
I hope everyone has a happy and successful Ď07 and beyond!
Photos courtesy of Tiernan OíNeil. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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