Wastefellow continuously demonstrates his diversity on every release. Whether it’s flexing his hip hop muscles with Soft Boy Records, releasing his odd-ball grime side with Wriggle, producing for some of Ireland’s most promising MCs, or captivating live audiences, the producer has become a beacon in Ireland’s alternative music community.
More recently he unleashed another project, Wastee, producing beautifully obnoxious sounds for new imprint Lyxliv.
We interview him ahead of his performance at District Magazine’s Issue 002 launch this Thursday May 11, in partnership with Bulmers and Forbidden Fruit. Click here to grab a free ticket to the event.
Your live show seems to present something of an alter-ego. Is Wastee even further removed from yourself?
There’s an element of that to the live show for sure. I think when I started playing as Wastefellow, I wasn’t particularly comfortable up on stage alone, so part of the idea behind the mask was definitely attempting to cover that up, to detach myself from things I guess.
Musically, Wastee is about as far removed from me as can be; the stuff is totally impersonal, and its loud and in your face, which I don’t think is very ‘me’. I’ve kind of played around with a ‘dickhead alter ego’ persona online, which I like to think isn’t very representative of who I am. But it’s funny, when I DJ as Wastee it’s not like that at all, I’m totally comfortable, totally me, just having a lot of fun with it. So I guess there’s a bit of a disconnect there.
Are you going to create more names/projects for, say, your more hip hop leaning tracks? Or is it Wastee and Wastefellow from here on out?
I’ve actually got an old acoustic track of mine that got re-recorded recently coming out soon, and hoping to maybe do some more stuff like that as another project on the side. That will be under my own name though, so as far as new aliases, there’s nothing planned, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.
I had actually planned to release the ‘Cola’ EP as Wastefellow originally, Lyxliv’s bossman Tjugo Lax had to talk me out of it, and I’m glad he did. As I’ve written more Wastefellow stuff (there’s tonnes on the hard-drive), the things that define that project have started to reveal themselves a bit more. It’s not the sound exactly, that’s part of it, but I think the intent behind the tracks is what’s important. It’s all music that’s very personal to me, all pretty introspective, and I think having something like the Wastee tracks come out under that banner would have taken away from the project.
As far as hip hop production goes, if it fits with the vision for Wastefellow, or Wastee or some new thing then that’s what it’ll come out under. Where I’m at now though, Wastefellow is definitely the main focus for the foreseeable.
What’s the best thing about being a solo artist? Or does working with other artists like Bobby Basil on rap tracks make you wish you had another creative influence sometimes?
I’m definitely most comfortable working solo, I like to be able to take a lot of time on a song or a beat or whatever. Even with collaborative stuff, I still feel like I do my best work when I can take some time alone to work on my side of it. That’s not to say that I think I’m better off solo, it’s just a comfort zone that I haven’t really been able to break out of yet.
The collaborative stuff I do get to work on is always great, whether its doing tracks with Isaac (Bobby Basil), or playing with Brendan Doherty (who drums on a lot of the Wastefellow stuff and plays with me live), having someone else’s creativity just makes things exciting. I guess I’ve just been doing things my own way for so long that I become a bit of a control freak, sometimes I find it hard to just let things go and jam.
You spoke about some of your music representing being stuck in a loop. Is that the monotony of daily life, or does it sometimes mean something else?
That was definitely the thrust of my last EP as Wastefellow ‘Amazed, A Maze!’. When I wrote those tracks, I had become sort of complacent. I wasn’t doing a whole lot other than partying, wasn’t really engaged in much, and I think that was starting to wear me down. Because I felt like nothing was happening, I started projecting that onto everything, and that meant I kind of switched off to good things and opportunities that were around me.
I guess looking back, it was more about being stuck in bad patterns of thinking, than actual patterns in life. The tracks on the EP were all about moments of breaking through that feeling, so it’s definitely more positive than I’ve maybe made it out to be.
How do you break that loop? Does music help, because it’s often so unpredictable?
I guess it’s just throwing yourself in to something completely, being engaged, finding what you want to do and doing it. That sounds like a line from the blandest most derivative self help book ever, but it’s what’s been working for me.
Of course obsessively working on tunes can cut the other way too. It usually takes me a long time to finish a track after that initial burst of creative energy, some songs on the last EP existed in some form for over two years, and when you’re editing and re-recording the same four minutes for that long, you definitely start getting trapped in loops. I’ll start to get really anxious about a track, and at the same time I’m finding literally anything to do other than sit down and finish it.
What other issues do you tend to tackle and explore?
I’ve just finished a bunch of love songs, or songs about love at least. The whole thing started with me wanting to write some three minute pop songs, tracks with choruses and more focus on my vocal. I don’t think I’ve succeeded at that in the slightest, but what came from it is pretty cool. These universal pop ideas got filtered and distorted through my perspective, and turn into something new and hopefully sort of unique. At the same time I was thinking about how we do the same thing with love.
There’s this romantic ideal passed to us by art and media, and that often shapes our relationships, even though it doesn’t really exist. Real life distorts it into something a lot rougher around the edges. So basically all the songs have come from the marriage of those two ideas. I haven’t gotten around to writing all the press release-y stuff yet, so if that seems vague, the general idea is messed up pop songs about messed up love. Definitely not the most original idea when put like that, but I think the tracks are pretty good. This stuff was written as a record, but it’s looking like I’ll be releasing tracks a bit more spaced out, as singles with videos.
I tend to write like that, groups of songs linked by a loose concept. For whatever reason that’s become how I work best. I’ll have a bunch of half done beats and ideas, but I won’t be able to properly finish anything until I come to some unifying idea of what they’re about. I guess because my lyrics tend towards the abstract, writing becomes easier when I can think of them within a wider context.
Wastefellow will perform at the Bulmers Live stage at Forbidden Fruit on June 3-5, on the grounds of the IMMA in Dublin. Check out the full line up for the stage here. He’ll also perform at the launch party of District Magazine Issue 002 in The Tara Building on Thursday May 11. Click here for more information and to claim your FREE ticket to the launch.