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We had a long conversation with Jack Sheehan, aka Shriekin, about why Boiler Room chose grime for their first Dublin show, his musical origins and the MCs he’s going to be working with.
Check out the 5th Floor interview in full below.
For someone from Ireland, it’d be interesting to know how did you get into the music you make?
It was a combination of listening to hip hop, playing instruments and singing in a choir growing up. When I was 11 or 12 I loved hip hop then I heard Skream on Skins, so I was listening to that era of dubstep for a bit. My early beats were experimenting in finding like a middle ground between early dubstep and hip hop I guess.
So you would have been around 17 making those tracks?
Yeah I started making beats at the start of 5th year in school and as soon as I got going I was raging I hadn’t discovered it in transition year as I would have had much more time on my hands.
I was DJing for about a year at that point, just fuckin’ around on Virtual DJ the way a lot of people get into it. As regards production Fruity Loops gave me my start and I use to this day. It just made sense to me arranging patterns. Wasn’t very long at all until I was making full length beats. At that stage you can just blast out tunes because you haven’t developed that critical ear yet.
Obviously at the time your peers weren’t making grime-type tunes. How and why did that appeal to you?
It was such a whacky sound. It’s dark in parts, but it’s also a bit cheeky and choppy like Neptunes and Timbaland productions which I was quite into at the time.
Do you feel if you had people around you who were into different styles you would have had a much different sound?
Yeah, I feel the isolation gave me an opportunity to develop a unique sonic palate and unique style of production – lots of young producers get very influenced by particular scenes but I had quite a broad musical background and nobody’s house to nip over to and learn production techniques from.
I only had my own ideas to build on really – though part of that I’d put down to my own impatience/attention span when it came to online tutorials.
Now though, you’ve been DJing in Dublin for around two years?
Yeah about that. Late 2014 Paul (Purcell) and I had Crazylegs (Ziro, Bloom and Shandy) over for a party in the basement of Sweeney’s and I played a couple shows here and there at the start of 2015 but I’ve been DJing a lot more this last year since Boiler Room.
What made you come to Dublin in the first place?
Carlow is a nice spot, but it’s just too peaceful. I wanted to be around people making tunes.
It’s interesting how so many people who grew up in more ‘peaceful’ areas get into music.
Yeah I suppose you just need to be up here in Dublin, especially when you’re young and you’re on a hype and just want to get into music. For me, Carlow was a much slower pace of life.
So coming up to Dublin and living in a musical house has benefited that aspect?
Yeah well myself and Cooley (Clu) used to show each other tracks, so it’s good to be in a house where you can bounce stuff off each other. It’s that working atmosphere I was looking for. I’ve idealised a competitive musical atmosphere, because that works for a lot of artists. Like Skream and Benga living across the road from each other making fucking 20 tunes a week.
Has your output accelerated?
Well I suppose so, because myself and Cooley have both finished an EP at about this time. I was just over in London finishing the EP in the Local Action studio which is in this disused police compound. It’s got all of this cells, and I was in there late at night by myself which was weird.
I think ideally I’d like to move to London at some stage. I just need to get myself a trade, something to keep me going, because I don’t want to end up in a job that’s totally demotivating.
Based on my current EP and what I have in the pipeline, who knows though!
Is that the EP with D-Double E on it?
Well Tom from Local Action has played it a few times on radio now so I guess it’s safe to mention that now but yeah, have D Double on the EP which is a dream come-true.
The EP is coming out probably Autumn now.
Has the material on the new EP been written recently? Because you said before that you wrote ‘Red Beach’ when you were in your final year of school?
I wrote ‘Red Beach’ a while ago yeah, on my first nights out in Maynooth University. I went out to Brady’s, Mantra or one of those spots, because you have to make mates in college, you can’t just be a moody producer sitting in your room scowling.
I cam home pretty thrashed from a pretty terrible night and sat down and wrote ‘Red Beach’.
But yeah, the track I opened Boiler Room with is the opening track on the new EP. Other than that most of the tracks I made this year. I’ve been working with MCs a lot more actually.
I’ve been following the new generation of MCs coming through and it’s really exciting, so one of them is going to be on there.
What about AJ Tracey and Jammz?
Yeah well they recorded a dubplate for me when they were over in Dublin. I’ve got them on the same beat I used for Double.
So is it going to be physical and digital?
Yeah we’re doing both.
How important is that physical aspect to you?
It’s hard to explain, but I suppose from the culture I come from it’s so pivotal. I read someone else saying it, but it’s so good putting something you’ve done into your hands. It’s quite special.
So I suppose we should chat about Boiler Room and how it came about and how it’s affected you since.
Well, Paul from Glacial Sound called me up. Him and Sean Keating were the masterminds behind it. Myself and Paul are doing kind of the same thing in Ireland, but I think he selected a great line up as a whole. All killed it.
I’ve been DJing way more lately too, so I’m ready to do it again at this stage. It’s been good for my profile as a DJ definitely though.
Obviously when it was announced that Boiler Room was coming to Ireland and it was going to be grime, people were maybe taken aback because they were expecting the ‘usual suspects’. Do you think it made sense?
Myself and Paul were playing tracks that were linked into what was maybe a bit more related to a traditional ‘London Boiler Room’. It’s the club track, grime stuff and maybe the weirder side of that, so I think they just saw that. We were doing something that was a bit different in Dublin.
It didn’t seem like the rational choice, but I think it was the right one.
There are now more grime nights and you’re DJing a lot more now. Did you ever envisage that much exposure on the genre in Ireland?
Yeah, I suppose I never would have expected to be booked as much here as I have in the past 12 months.
How do you feel about grime becoming such a worldwide genre?
It’s a buzz word and people connect with the style and the big hooks easier than the roots and culture behind it. The UK produces the best MCs. I’ve always said that. I don’t know if a lot of people realise this, but grime is all about radio culture.
It’s about DJs playing instrumentals on radio and MCs coming and spitting over them – this is completely lost in the hype which is a big shame in my opinion. It’s a different language – a lot more colloquial and self-referential than what the mainstream is used to even when adapted or diluted. The truly rewarding listening experience available in grime isn’t very accessible unless you’re willing to immerse yourself and learn the lingo and listen to radio in my opinion.