On The Record: Qwerty Mick

How would you summarise the essence of your sound?

DIY is the main idea of my music. Though this is something that I absolutely labour over, I’m definitely not a perfectionist and most of the joy I get from making music isn’t from trying to achieve a certain sound or a certain style, but instead from serendipity, when I just roll with an idea without overthinking it and love where it ends up. The music itself can sometimes be hard to pinpoint, as it’s an amalgamation of every genre that I’ve ever loved. Punk, indie rock, hip-hop, jazz, folk, the list goes on. If you hear an influence in there, it’s probably there.

Who are some artists/bands that inspire you?

Earl Sweatshirt has been massive for me over the past two years. The way he crafts so much texture and atmosphere in production is beautiful. Nothing mesmerises me more than sampling, and he is a master of the trade. I would say David Berman is my favourite lyricist. The way he switches between the depressing and the hilarious in milliseconds, and at all times sounding so wise. But my biggest musical inspiration would have to be King Krule. When I first started learning guitar, all of my time was spent watching YouTube tutorials of his songs, so it feels like he basically taught me how to play. Every song I ever write will probably have a little bit of him in there somewhere. Others would include Young Fathers, Melody’s Echo Chamber, or The Avalanches.

For readers who aren’t clued up on Irish politics, what are some of the frustration around the system that led to writing ‘Google Your Symptoms’?

Ireland’s one of the richest countries in the world per capita but its ordinary residents don’t feel the benefits of that at all. It’s completely skewed by rich individuals or corporations paying next to no tax. The huge amount of people living homeless, the terrible public transport systems which are some of Europe’s worst, the constant strain on hospital beds or staff because student nurses are treated so poorly, and the fact that there’s not one single 23 year old living in Ireland because they’ve all emigrated. At the time of the 2020 General Election, I saw two absolutely identical political parties debate over these issues, despite being the ones in power to cause and benefit from them, and whichever party won was pointless because they’d do the exact same thing.

Considering the Irish ecosystem, how does it feel to be an independent musician in the country? What are some of the positives and negatives?

I think Irish music is in a great place at the moment, and the success of young creative Irish artists abroad is definitely encouraging. Despite this, the Irish music industry definitely seems to be fading. Many of its culture hubs like The Bernard Shaw or techno nightlife staples like Hangar or District8 have been knocked and turned into lifeless unnecessary hotels. A lot of Ireland’s young talent has moved to London now because it seems to be the hub where all nearby industry is focused.

Who are some other great Irish artists we should be listening to?

Gilla Band make really forward-thinking incredible music. Kean Kavanagh, Kojaque and the rest of Soft Boy Records are experts in the DIY music trade and have heaps of catchy, creative tracks. Another is Naive Ted, who’s an underground Limerick disc jockey whose music is hypnotic, powerful and insanely unique. Other favourites of mine include Rusangano Family, APRIL or Aby Coulibaly.

How do you go about making music in your small bedroom studio?

All of these tracks were recorded on a cracked version of FL Studio and a laptop on its last legs. It took so long for the laptop to turn on and get set up that once it was good to go, I had to commit to the next few hours or else the hardship of turning it on wasn’t worth it. The drums took up more space in my bedroom than all of the other furniture or instruments I had combined. To record all of the drum parts I only had a two mic set up, with a Shure 57 as an overhead and a Sennheiser E 602 on the kick. All lyrics and chords were finished in advance of the recording process, but ever since I completed this batch of songs, I’m trying a new method of creating. Instead of going into recording with finished songs and lyrics, I’m leaving the lyrics till last and starting to write songs through drum beats, samples or bass lines first, and then building around them, essentially working backwards from how I worked previously.

Will the rest of your EP also follow along similar themes of politics and anxiety?

It’s definitely an EP all about frustration. Every song has both a frustration about the state Ireland’s in, and also a frustration stemming within myself. I was feeling really bored in a lot of things I did, and probably quite pessimistic too. Tracks toward the end of the EP are about learning to enjoy the little things a lot more, being grateful for who’s around you, and having more confidence in music.

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