Words: Dylan Murphy
Ireland has become a haven for budding producers to cut their teeth. Even in the midst of lockdown, with no clubs for over a year and limited access to crowds to soundboard their music, acts across the country have punched above their weight. We’re celebrating the acts on the rise that you need to know this year.
If there’s one adjective associated with producers in the internet era, it’s innovative. Acts like Gaptoof have highlighted their initiative by hosting online beat-making sessions to keep things ticking over in the absence of normality. While music production is often done in solitude and many acts have thrived whilst locked indoors pumping out beat tapes and virtual collaborations with other artists, it’s understandable it’s not been easy for everyone. It’s not hard to imagine how difficult it can be to make music without the kind of environments it would usually thrive in.
With these adverse conditions in mind, we thought what better time to celebrate the rising producers from Ireland, highlighting the acts sprinkling the magic touch on collaborative efforts, making floor fillers in anticipation of the clubs reopening and people just making straight-up heaters.
A couple of years ago we highlighted the producers in the Irish hip hop scene making waves. Acts like Jar Jar Jr, CBAKL, New Machine and more all made the cut, but for this edition, we opened the net a little wider to include producers from a plethora of different genres. We want to shine a light on budding acts that are less established whilst simultaneously giving a nod to others that have recently levelled up and we think are worth keeping tabs on.
An observation we made whilst digging for acts was there was little to no female producers in the hip hop and drill scene. While the demographics of other genres were slightly more diverse, it made clear the need for more inclusive environments throughout Ireland moving forward.
In no particular order, we’ve listed the 10 rising producers you need to know.
Chamomile Records acts Monjola and Aby Coulibaly have taken the past year by storm. Taking two slots in our Future of Irish Music feature, making noise with Boiler Room performances and releasing six singles between them, it’s important to acknowledge the man behind the boards too.
Moyo has production credits in each of the pair’s releases and amongst the glimmering keys of Aby’s ‘Long Nights’ and the funk of Monjola’s ‘Smile’ it’s clear Moyo is a versatile producer with an ear for musicality and the skill to execute his vision.
Purchase Moyo’s productions on Bandcamp here.
It all started with Youtube type beats made direct from his bedroom in Navan, Co. Meath. Now JBJ is producing for some of the UK and Ireland’s biggest stars. Hot off the back of working with AJ Tracey on ‘Perfect Storm’ from his sophomore album, the teenage prodigy has also crafted hits closer to home like Offica’s ‘Skiddibop‘ which has gained over 2 million views on Youtube.
Elsewhere, he’s worked with Rapman on an official commission from the Premier League and with his stock on the up, the sky is the limit for JBJ.
In Rory Sweeney’s experimental productions, unpredictability is the only certainty. Hopscotching through the dimly lit sounds of grime, jungle and more the Dublin-based multihyphenate is holding out a hand to artists in an approach that is indebted to the spirit of collaboration. In a time where the capital’s nightlife is threatened more than ever, working across different mediums and genres can be part of the subsequent healing process.
With work in the pipeline with some of the island’s most exciting rappers, the Bitten Twice collective artist is simultaneously bridging gaps between scenes are exploring relatively untested waters.
Purchase Rory’s productions on Bandcamp here.
Pulling from an eclectic range of influences ranging from Lil Peep, DnB, Sinead O’Connor and other rave-inspired sounds, Belfast producer HY:LY’s considered approach to world-building is something to behold.
Though evidently inspired by the energy of the dancefloor, there’s textures and soundscapes that pull listeners into a naturalistic universe comprising of field recordings with frequent nods to psychedelia.
Though only at the beginning of her career under this alias, HY:LY’s performance at Titanic Pump House in Belfast for All Points North highlighted her dexterity across a number of live instruments and ahead of the release of ‘Stasis’ (Landing via Belfast’s Extended Play label) the stage is set for a fruitful year for HY:LY.
Hit the five minute mark on the APN video to see HY:LY’s spellbinding performance.
Belfast teenager Rory Gilmore has been making waves with the variety and quality of his productions in the last twelve months. While evidently confident producing Jungle remixes, Italo Disco edits and other club-ready sounds that the north’s capital is more familiar with, it was jazz fusion of ‘Here‘ that caught our attention.
Alongside naturalistic backdrops and considered keys, the freewheeling percussion possesses shades of Yussef Dayes. Though he still has a modest discography, with such a varied palette and still plenty of room to experiment, GILMORE is one to watch in the coming year.
Purchase GILMORE’s productions on Bandcamp here.
In terms of original productions we can’t wait to hear when clubs reopen, sohotsospicy’s dancefloor stompers are up there. The Thrust Collective co-founder shared her aptly named collaborative EP with darkmavis, sodarksospicy back in June and the two original cuts on the four track project feature the kind of bone-rattling drums that provide a late-night second wind.
With Jersey Club music re-emerging during lockdown, sohotsospicy’s uniquely Irish take on Baltimore’s brainchild is an exciting prospect from an artist unafraid to take the road less travelled.
Purchase sohotsospicy’s productions on Bandcamp here.
Rhoshi is one of the country’s most underappreciated producers. A self-described “Texture forager”, the Dublin act’s chaotic and bass-driven approach to crafting jittering, layered soundscapes sounds rich, but never cluttered.
His 2020 collaborative EP Becoming, Beginning with Cheesmore, is a good vignette into the GONZO Collective artist’s dense and experimental sound, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find darker and more synthetic sounds on Quanta that display the contours of his ever-expanding universe.
Purchase Rhoshi’s music on Bandcamp here.
Like many producers, there aren’t many pictures of Irish drill’s secret weapon out there. Having worked extensively with the likes of A92, Offica and more recently rising UK rapper Ivorian Doll, Kid Spyral’s infectious tagline has been running laps in our minds since we heard ‘Naruto Drillings’.
With oriental strings frequenting his work, he’s carved out an instantly recognisable sound that’ll hold him in good stead as levels up an increasingly saturated drill and hip hop landscape.
Heading the hard drum renaissance in Cork with her queer party CXNT that she co-runs in Cork, Syn is reimagining Ireland’s clubbing landscape on her own terms.
In an interview with DJ Mag, she described her 2020 Temper EP as “an expression of the frustration associated with the treatment of transgender folk in Ireland,” and this visceral tone can be heard in its punchy percussion and cold soundscapes.
Alongside the likes of Skin&Blister, Club Comfort, Thrust and other club nights and collectives, Syn’s sharp production and inclusive approach to nightlife is encouraging diversity in a largely CIS male-dominated scene.
Purchase Syn’s music on Bandcamp here.
Born in Northern Ireland, but now residing in The Netherlands, Eddy Kennedy AKA Kessler is quickly rising up the ranks. His latest offering Ambivalent confirmed his status as not only a technically gifted producer with a penchant for bass-driven sounds but as an artist capable of syncing a myriad of emotions to highly textured soundscapes.
A nocturnal gut punch in the best kind of way, Kessler’s most recent 40-minute experience is an exercise in atmospheric soul searching.
Purchase Kessler’s music on Bandcamp here.