Sputnik One’s music comes with a certain stamp of quality. In just three years, the Dubliner has made an impact with his hyperkinetic club productions, which have become regular fixtures in DJ sets by the likes of Ben UFO, Batu and CCL. A string of EPs, remixes and standalone tracks for labels including Wisdom Teeth, Well Street Records, and Pressure Dome demonstrate his painterly, perfectionist approach; buoyant rhythms pull giddily from the realms of broken techno, footwork and dancehall, while sizzling bass mutations and shapeshifting melodies speak to the future-facing dubstep experiments of Hessle Audio, Livity Sound and Timedance.
When we speak to Sputnik One over Zoom in early November, he’s still buzzing from his first hometown gig since before the pandemic. Returning to the basement of local club Wigwam on the night restrictions initially lifted at the end of October, he and fellow Dubliner Glimmerman DJ’d for an ecstatic dancefloor; clips from the party show the young crowd going wild for the closing track, DJ Zinc’s jungle classic ‘Super Sharp Shooter. “In the back of my mind I felt like it was never going to happen,” he says, referencing the uncertainty that loomed over clubs as the proposed reopening date approached. “At the start of the week I didn't know if I was going to be playing, or if we were even going to be able to have people standing in the club.”
Prior to this, one of the last Dublin sets Sputnik One had played was in February 2020 for the launch of Woozy, a party and label spearheaded by local DJ and promoter EMA that he has previously co-run, and for whom he holds a residency. Founded as an Irish outpost for sound system culture and low-end club sounds, Woozy’s debut compilation was released in September 2020, and features tracks from an international cast of emerging artists, including Yushh, Jurango, Kellen303 and Sputnik One himself. In late November this year, Woozy finally got to host its second party, hosting REEF’s Darwin in Dublin’s Yamamori Tengu, albeit with an early curfew due to Covid restrictions being reintroduced.
Sputnik One’s love for weighty, percussive sounds started at a young age thanks to his father’s record collection. Drawn to the spaced-out dub echo of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s ‘Inglan Is a Bitch’ and the frenetic Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, he was particularly entranced by the latter’s rhythmic innovations and impeccable energy. “That’s the essence of music you dance to,” he says. “[Fela Kuti’s] tracks are like 25 minutes long sometimes, but the variations, and the way they’re structured, keep it interesting. I feel like that's kind of mirrored in the way I make music – just having lots of little different bits, but staying with the same theme... The nuances are what’s important.”