Fish Go Deep Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Shane and Greg. Let’s start by asking about your recent collaboration with Andrew Phillpott, under the alias Squares. How did you first meet up and decide upon working together? And what can you tell us about the forthcoming album?

Shane: We met Andrew through a mutual friend about ten years ago, when he was living in Berlin. We did a remix for his Broad Bean Band project [] and kept in touch over the next few years. When he relocated to West Cork we hooked up at his studio for a couple of jam sessions. They went well so we decided to commit a few months to the project, set up a studio space in Cork city and record material for an album. So far we’ve released two of the tracks from those sessions but there’s plenty more good music in there.

Talk us through the process of how you produced the single, Speed Syphon? It has a very distinctive sound and texture. Which pieces of software/ hardware did you use in its creation?

Greg: We did a bunch of jams with Andrew in the morning and went for lunch. When we came back into the studio and Andrew hit play and there was this beautiful sequence  coming from the Jupiter-8! It kinda blew our minds so we recorded it into Ableton Live through the Apollo sound card. Andrew noticed later there were some tuning issues so he had to do the sequence again, this time using an ARP 2600. For these sessions we tended to use Ableton like a big tape recorder – we would record all the parts live and then arrange later using outboard effects in real time. I think it’s great to commit to tape like in the old days. It gives it a unique sound. Using such great synths is a big plus too – they record so well, with such presence.

buy Squares – Speed Syphon

Greg Dowling & Andrew Phillpott

The release came out on your own label Go Deep Recordings. What are your feelings on the state of the ‘record industry’ currently? And how do you see things moving forwards in terms of artist revenue via streaming, merchandise, live work etc?

Shane: Where do you start? The industry is a mess! Streaming revenue is improving but still isn’t anywhere close to replacing the old sales model. Live DJ work subsidises studio work for most producers I know but even that can be tenuous if you’re not playing a certain sound.

We’ve spent the last two or three years putting out EPs on other labels, the idea being that this would get the music to a wider audience than if we were just releasing on Go Deep. It’s worked to an extent but, in certain cases, labels haven’t done their job properly. We spend a lot of time working on our music and we expect a similar commitment from labels when we release with them.

So, we’ve decided to return to mainly releasing on Go Deep and make sure each release is distinctive and worth putting out. There’s enough mediocre music in the world already so we’re carefully considering each EP. It may or may not work out but at least we’ll be in control.

Shane Johnson

Can you tell us about how Dance Music evolved in your home city, Cork? And where would you recommend these days for music and dancing?

Greg: The dance scene in Cork began in the late 80s. We started playing at a venue called Sir Henry’s on Thursday nights and it took off right away. Mike Pickering came over from Manchester to play a guest DJ slot and, as they say, the rest is history. I went over to check out the Hacienda on a Friday night and I went: “what the fuck is going on here!?” It was crazy! Mike brought me to Spin Inn and sorted me out with some amazing records. After that I bought all my records from Spin Inn, which had a huge effect on the scene here. We were so lucky to have a big club with a really good sound system. We played there every Saturday night for thirteen years and it was an incredible experience being able to break records with a real underground vibe every week. It’s so different now! As regards Cork, there’s plenty of stuff going on, still mainly resident’s nights. Cyprus Avenue and Dali put on the bigger events, Plugd does some cool underground things, as does the Kino. And the Sunday Times boys run a great monthly.

Tell us about your involvement with Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean Music Project?

Shane: Ian approached us last summer wondering if we’d be interested in contributing to the project. Over several years research for his book he had amassed a huge archive of field recordings from all over the world – from interviews with stowaways to chanting fishermen to audio from melting glaciers and much more. His idea was that we would read his book, The Outlaw Ocean, and use parts of this audio to come up with a musical response to the huge environmental and human rights issues raised. We were sold right away and are delighted to be part of such a unique project.


You are due to appear at It Takes A Village Music Festival in May. Tell us about that?

Greg: Yes, looking forward to that – we’re playing with our old mate, Joe Claussell, for  a long, six hour set. We used to bring Joe over to Sir Henry’s in the 90s, where he played some epic sets. He’s a real inspirational DJ and we love him. It Takes a Village is a lovely, small festival just outside Cork City in a holiday village. No muddy fields, lots of really cool acts. It’s run by Joe and Ed – total music fanatics who really support the local music scene.

The linage of House Music has much of its heritage based in songs, what do you think about today’s capacity for song-writing? Are words just as important as the music in 2020?

Shane: For me, one of the saddest trends in modern house has been the demise of the song. A lot of the craft of songwriting seems to have been lost and we’ve ended up with either dull, one-note chants or cliched soulful stuff that has been done a thousand times already. Of course there are magnificent exceptions but I struggle to find many strong songs these days.

Outside of electronic music who are your most important influences: writers, artists etc?

Greg: I grew up in the 70s, so music was David Bowie, Neil Young, Irish folk, Planxty, Bothy Band, lots of prog rock, Yes and early Genesis, The Clash, The Cure, Elvis Costello, jazz. My mum and dad were really into all sorts of music so my mind was always open. The house was full of books. My father was an avid reader, so as he finished a book he put it on my shelf to check out. Sometimes they were way over my head but he got me into sci-fi and fantasy stuff – Lord of the Rings, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which blew my mind at the time. Dune by Frank Herbert was another big one for me.

Shane: I was into Ska and Two Tone as a young teenager in the early 80s but hip hop was the first scene I really connected with. Groups like Eric B & Rakim and Public Enemy were huge for me and it was while record shopping for hip hop that I started picking up some of those early house tracks towards the late 80s. Jazz has been a constant throughout my life as well. My father annoyed me by playing it really loudly at home when I was a kid and I do the same to my own son now.

I read a lot of sci-fi as a teenager, writers like Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov. It probably makes sense that a lot of electronic music producers were into sci-fi as kids. My tastes have broadened over the years but I still like a good space opera.

And finally. Please share your forthcoming plans for yourselves as both DJ’s and Producers?

Shane: We have releases lined up on Go Deep for the rest of 2020, including a hip-house number with Bon Voyage and a lovely song with Emilie Chick. We’re also putting together a second volume of So Far So Deep, a compilation of Fish Go Deep tracks and remixes. On the live front, we have parties coming up in Cork, Leap and Dublin over the next few weeks and then it’s on to festival season in May.

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