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10 Questions with Ceili

“DJ from the sticks in Ireland” is how Dylan Moran aka Ceili (pronounced Kay-Lee) jokingly sums himself up on his Resident Advisor artist bio. Now living in London, Ceili’s humour and small-town community approach still shimmer through in his approach to dance music. He’s funny and frank, with a colossal passion for music and connecting with like-minded people – probably best expressed through his label and collective Ceili Collective.

The past year has been busy for Ceili – his label’s debut VA cassette release came out at the beginning of 2019, he hosted a regular slot on Threads radio, played all across London and recently released ‘Rough n Ready’, a 12” of after-dark techno on Obscuur records. A Jaded regular and extended family member, we chat to Ceili about his earlier musical experiences, his production and DJ processes and his connection to Jaded.

Hey Ceili! For those who aren’t familiar,what’s your background with music and how would you describe what you do now? 

Howdy rowdy. I didn’t come from any historical musical background. Being the youngest of the family, I’m sure I took a bit of an impression from all my brothers and jiggled that around to find my way. Started off snatching cassettes and CDs nice and young – mostly hip hop/hard house anthems with a hint of indie pop emotion. Then we welcomed the digital age into my living room and the family computer got hot wired with broadband and cracked with Limewire which opened up the horizons. I was definitely a known friend to be summoned for a CD full of of go faster tunes, aka an hour of the tidy boys – lock n load. At around 16, I’d saved up enough cash to get some equipment and then pretty quickly levelled up to a Nissan Micra full of dodgy tops and bins, enough to blast some local parties. It was really common for people to have a hectic house party for their 18th or 21st birthday; usually ended up in a field or shed, started a lot of my practice there. My dad was a big push in following this through from a young age and I’d like to give him a shout out – big ups Gerry. I moved to Dublin at 18 and within a year or there about I got playing out anywhere possible and quite soon got sick of the typical party DJ vibe and knuckled down into production. Six or seven years later and I’m finally making what I’ve been wishing to make for a while and it’s honestly one of the most fulfilling means of life I’ve found. I hope that doesn’t sound a bit bland but I guess it’s a little hard to put one finger on my musical background. A load of different shit has happened over the years to take me here and it’s a part of my life I’ve pursued with a lot of happiness.

What I do now is making tunes, collecting tunes, managing lobster records, pressing on artists I like to send me tracks to try release next year on the VA series, a bit of fashion to pay some extra bills and invest back into my own bits, and a heap of Tom Foolery I guess.

Your originally from Ireland, though have made the move to London – what sparked the idea to move? I’m also keen to know your thoughts on the music coming out of your homeland. What are some things happening back in Ireland that are exciting you and do you still feel connected to the scene despite living away from it?

I had great intentions to move to London after school. Instead, I jumped into a bachelor’s degree in Dublin for four years and signed up for a fine spread of career confusion. Not long after that I just decided to move to London. I was working a job I hated and had an opportunity to do much less hours working in fashion which suited me a lot. I jumped on the boat and made ways to my aunts house in Ruislip. I actually started the idea for the A1 on my OBSCUUR release in her garden, fresh off the boat three years ago.

My thoughts on the local talent at the moment are very strong, although I feel a little disconnected from the scene. Since I left it’s gone through a whole lot of torment with clubs closing left, right and centre. I follow as much as I can but you’d definitely have to be their to truly feel what’s happening. Lately there definitely seems to be a whole pile of new artists producing substantial work and blasting to the forefront of the scene and along with the new blood, there’s a load of artists who have steadily been ticking away and who are finally gaining recognition that may have slipped past prior. That’s lovely to see. I feel like the recent hacking of venues has probably sparked up a new wave of producers rather than DJs. People are looking much further than a local set. Hopefully new venues will pop again after this recent rise of artists spreads out and throws weight around Europe.

You also sometimes work in fashion – I’m curious to know how the two worlds compare creatively and why you’ve chosen to put more energy towards music recently?

Hmm, that’s a tricky one. In both industries there is a strong comparison between people actually creating inspiring material and then there are those rinsing each other and pumping out generic shit that’s already seen enough light of day. They are both industries that use a similar open warfare platform. There are few to little rules in how you’d go about climbing the ladder. I feel like they both visually overlap a lot and inspire each other. I’ve chosen to move most of my energy towards music these days as being honest that’s where I started, and in recent years I’ve lost a lot of love for the fashion world. There’s way more respect here and it’s way less overpopulated. People create for absolutely nothing. Small labels putting out physical pieces, costing hard earned money, not even expecting to make a profit to pay for a pint. That sounds a little more like where I’d like to live my life. The fashion industry has its people that I do really respect and take inspiration from but fuck me a lot of them are just absolutely terrible at what they do, and when you start to see people push the same idea across several outlets a year it gets a little lost. Another tough cut for me is when you see creative photographers suffer when there’s any money at play as a client will generally just make them do what they want by standing over them half the day with the change in there back pocket. I have a lot of love for photography and I hate to see it pissed on.

Can you tell us more about Ceili Collective and your collaborations with artists through it? What inspired the name?

Ceili Collective is an outlet for Various Artist Releases mostly, a little radio and a few parties. I plan to use it asa means to collaborate with artists who are looking to fly with there work and stop thinking too far ahead. I’ve witnessed a lot of artists tied down with worries about commitments, style restraints, labels basically owning them. I want to avoid that side of the world and work with people who want to find some love in it. So the cassette series is for show an output for people to truly let their expressions in music out. Soon enough I’ll start with the vinyl series which will be a little more focused.

The name didn’t exactly come from one place. There’s loads of reasons why it makes sense. Firstly, my Mam and Dad met at a Ceili, they spoke a lot about the happenings throughout time. Ceili’s represent and provide a lot of core value goodness that I as a person believe in and respect; its a strong sense of tradition that can carry on cross-genre. The name Ceili for me was a reminder of what I wanted to represent musically. In basic English, Ceili translates to a gathering. From what i know, a Ceili is a room full of partial lunatics looking to meet others through dance and spirit(s) and well that’s exactly what I want from my output in the scene. I want to spread my sound around and push others who aim for something similar.

You’ve recently released on OBSCUUR Records. I feel the record takes a more (much welcomed) gnarly and driving turn from your previous releases. How did you approach this release – did you have an idea in mind or did the music develop unexpectedly?

I originally sent OBSCUUR the track I released on the first VA cassette. That created some interest and I was asked to send over some more material. I spent about a month or two working on creating a selection and in that time I found the A1 track Rough N Ready. I give it a revamp and that’s what started the ball rolling. After that, I made the A2 which was a track I felt like I was internally singing for quite awhile and I was happy as when it delivered. The release took a little time so I did go back again and make some slight changes but nothing hectic, just general finessing. Confirming that release helped me rebuild a new string of confidence in my productions and pushed me into a good productive spur over the winter. I spent a bit of time in clubs last winter and I’d not much work on, things were a little tight at times but I was ‘happy’ lapping up a beans on toast diet and battering tunes out. I spent a month or two early this year aiming for an all originals mix. I did get there in the end but I wasn’t 100% happy to share it, although those sort of self assigned tasks I find can be powerful in ramping up your own knowledge. I’ve always weirdly enjoyed a bit of pressure. Along with that, I feel the timing behind realizing again that Rough n Ready was a track I truly loved was a huge resurgence in redeveloping that area of my style without thinking so much about it and went full whack into a more distorted winter.

In general, what is your production process like? Are you more software / hardware or spur of the moment / long graft? And how does your producing influence your DJing style and vice versa?

Ableton with hints of hardware here and there. Hardware has really helped me get a little deeper inside furthering how I work within the endless limitation and variations of software. Seeing the reality of how these digital units came about can be a great help. I try to keep using various pieces of hardware here and there when I can afford them or borrow off mates. This definitely helps me develop new skills and it converts well back into my digital process. If I use hardware, I’ll generally jam on whatever it is whilst in the background, recording everything as I go. That recording usually ends up being an easy 30-60 minutes WAV, and thats generally a great starting point for me to get pulling things apart. I like to re-sample my own chaotic jams. This has helped me create nice patterns lately and finish tracks faster. I really love a little real time flaw within productions too so this way of working definitely helps the flaws flourish. Thought this again is just one way, I got through phases a couple weeks or months at a time. Lately I’ve been hammering ideas out daily and feeling quite content . Also I’ve found I’m best off making tracks in groups of 2-4. Bouncing between projects is a good way or working for me. If I have to work on just one solo track for a VA or something, I could end up going back over it forever and that’s not the one. If it’s good to begin, it’s usually good to go. Avoiding overthinking is an ongoing battle.

You’re a regular feature on the Jaded lineups. How did you come to get involved with the crew and what is it that you love about the night that keeps you coming back?

I played jaded for the first time late last year for Jamsine Azarian. After that I got asked to host a Ceili Collective in Room 2. I got the honour of inviting some solid Irish eggs to come tarnish the nest for a straight 8 hours. Jaded has been alive and kicking for some time, bringing people together on a Sunday (the good ole sabbath day), before it became a trend. Maybe its the ex-catholic inside of me looking for my new version of confession. It’s a party where I’ve made a lot of good friends including Ray and Krista who’ve shown me some solid support since the start. I’ve met a tonne of people with nothing but respect and thats been a great feeling and I’m very happy to give back into that whenever I’m asked.

Any memorable experiences or wild tales from a Jaded night?

The first one of 2019 when I had the chance to welcome my gal Paul Krause (DJ Spit) to come for a little shindig was a real blast. Played a b2b set the night before at the Cause with Omar (Witch Trials), went back to manor house and kept the dream alive and ended up in elephant & castle in full swing by 4/5am. I lost my fucking keys in the warehouse on the way and ended up locking Paul’s record bag in my gaff. I was mad as fuck and I ended up playing a really nuts Schranz set at around 10am in retaliation to being a dumb cunt. That was definitely a moment.

Your sets and mixes lately I feel are quite hard yet percussive and melodic. What energy can we expect from a Ceili set these days and what sounds have you been vibing?

My sets/influence will always keep growing. I don’t ever want to halt that. There’s so much music out there and I’m very inspired by the past and linking how its currently shaping the sound we’re currently sitting in. I don’t think too much into my style. I like what I like and I go with it. Hopefully that works. I don’t really want to name drop too many artists or labels just because I know I’ll forget someone. There’s a whole lot I’m vibing with at the moment. Next year I’ll be doing my best to release a couple more mixes and that’s where you’ll find your answer.

What’s up next for Ceili in 2020 and beyond?

Announcing the next Ceili Collective VA very soon, a strong 16 track cassette mixed with a lot of different influences. My first fully solo 12” just went for pressing! Following up D.Dan on Techno is the Devils music, slightly chuffed about this one. I’m really looking to develop the label side of Ceili this year, soon after the cassette I’ll be coming at you with the first VA vinyl. It’s looking sick and I’ve got some of my favourite upcoming artists sending in bits, which is honestly a dream to see it coming together. Also joining the Lobster Theremin family next year which is also a bit surreal. Even though I’ve been apart of the team at Lobster Records, releasing on the label is a different kettle of fish. I’m mad excited to share these tracks and a special shout out to all the team for all there support. Hopefully after that another 12” EP on a harsh banging Scottish label. These are all what’s at the forefront of 2020 and there’s a good few other bits in the air. I’m very very excited get out all this music out and give the coming months a solid push.