Few artists have been as pivotal in Ireland’s electronic evolution of the past decade as DeFeKT. A formidable producer and live artist, the modular electro dedicant – real name Matt Flanagan – has, along with the likes of Sunil Sharpe, Jamie Behan, John Daly and Donnacha Costello, risen in recent years from the once covert but bustling techno underground into the thriving mainstream of the scene.
A stalwart of Ireland’s clubbing community, Flanagan has stood as one of the influencial players for the remarkable new wave of DJs and producers bringing ravey, dark, propulsive energy to the country’s dancefloors; from ELLLL and Eomac to Tommy Holohan and Myler.
Known for his relentless, often improvised live sets there is a ferocity and rawness to Flanagan’s modular sound that has seen him playing some of the finest venues in Europe, from Dublin’s District 8 to Berghain.
Now, he is set to release his new EP on Sunil Sharpe’s Earwiggle label. ‘Battery Blast’ is a release he has described as “a showcase all the styles like to produce - electro, techno, acid and more melodic vibes”. With fiery collection that highlights the versatility, it felt like there was no better time than now to catch up with the hardware heavyweight…
“I've had modular since I started to get better at production in college,” he explains of his production background. “I was introduced to it about 12 years ago by my teacher Ken. In terms of getting more into electro, my journey started by collecting techno records and I’d hear some electro B-sides. At that time I’d be blown away by the beats. My love affair with electro grew and grew as I got into Kraftwerk, Anthony Rother and The Advent to name a few.”
Not only has Flanagan released on Sunil Sharpe’s Earwiggle, the pair have been operating as an inimitable duo for the past number of years, with six EPs under their belt and the release of their debut LP last month, ‘On A Roll’. In a live setting, the duo comb Flanagan’s EBM infused electro with Sharpe’s propulsive analog techno – with some harrowing, distorted screams thrown in for good measure. With sets and tracks built almost entirely out of improvised jams, the immediacy and energy of Tinfoil is something utterly irresistible – just listen to ‘Friendly Safe Fumes’ which we premiered last month to get an idea.
“I think we always have this huge body of work and just put out EP after EP,” he explains. “But we had this particular body of which kind of worked together. And I felt we always wanted to do a bigger project rather than just an EP. Sometimes we have so much material…”
“Acts from here don’t get so much coverage. But we wanted to make a statement. And we will make more statements”
Amid the incendiary percussion, volatile acid lines and buzz saw bass grooves, ‘On A Roll’ is embellished with spoken snippets and found sounds that ground the release in the Irish landscape and community, giving a keen sense when listening to the album that it exists proudly within this pivotal time for Irish electronics where this music exists more in the “mainstream” than ever before. ‘Intro’ finds two young midlands accents discussing “patterns” before the ferocious ‘Caravan Life’ kicks off. ‘Every Saturday Night’ opens with the familiar small talk that so often defines a route to the club with a Dublin taxi driver chatting heartily about horses and carbolic soap. Crucially, this is an Irish album.
“It’s not always easy being from Ireland and making techno or electro,” Flanagan says. “Acts from here don’t get so much coverage. But we wanted to make a statement. And we will make more statements.”
“Sunil is from Dublin and I’m from Laois,” he adds. “And we were glad to reference them on the record. With ‘The Wolves of Hellfire”, Hellfire is a well known place in Dublin. ‘Both Roads to Triogue’ references the river Triogue that runs through Laois. I’m not sure if my music inspired by Laos exactly but growing up there has contributed to mindset definitely.”
As someone who has operated within the country’s scene and watched it grow from the underground up, how does Flanagan feel about the current evolution of techno, electro and rave sounds in Ireland at present, and the wave of young producers, DJs and promoters who are championing it?
“I think beyond gigs etc, the most exciting thing is seeing so so many records being released from Ireland now,” he says. “I remember once you would see very very little. Also, so many younger people get in contact with me now with a love for techno or electro. At one time it felt kinda lonely, when I was young making beats. Now there is so much going on.”
However, the country’s clubbing environment is not without its issues, and Flanagan is conscious of the archaic licensing laws that prohibit opening hours in Irish venues. For him though, the important thing is for the community to remain dedicated to the music itself…
“Beyond the laws of course, which need to be sorted out for sure, I think more younger heads just need to stay in the game and put out more and more records,” he says. “Just put out records and don’t give a fuck…”
Things don’t look set to be slowing down for DeFeKT or Tinfoil any time soon, with a Tinfoil set penciled in for London’s Corsica Studios on 26th May as part of THEM’s 10th birthday with AnD, JoeFarr and more. The pair will also be heading to Tbilisi to play Bassiani in June.
For his DJ Mag Podcast mix, Flanagan has put together an overview of sorts, charting just a small corner of his vast catalog to date, featuring a wide selection of tracks and remixes released and unreleased. It’s fierce. You’ll love it.
DeFeKT x Jon Convex - Negative Action (Convex Industries)
DeFeKT - Move (Komisch)
DeFeKT x Ddjedjotronic - Lace (Boysnoize Records)
DeFeKT - Destroy Your Planet (Newflesh Records)
DeFeKT - Step to - Unreleased
DeFeKT - You Want The Life - Unreleased
Stormfield - Rebuild [DeFeKT Remix] (Combat Recordings)
DeFeKT - Acid Bounce (Acid Avengers)
DeFeKT - Delusional (Electronic Explorations)
DeFeKT - Mass Driver (Earwiggle)
Octal Step - I'll Be Your Virtual Technician (First Cut)
DeFeKT - Split mind - Unreleased
Lead photo credit: Techno & Cans
Live photo credit: John Clifford