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Quare Groove: Q&A with Colm K

Colm K image Thin Air 640

This Saturday (Aug 24th) the soulful fellas from Belfast’s Neighbourhood club host Cork DJ/producer Colm K at the left-of-centre Ulster Sports Club. Friend of Neighbourhood and Bullitt resident, Jonny Carberry, fired some questions Colm’s way…

JC: Colm! Cheers for doing this. I really enjoyed your Boiler Room Residents Hour mix from a couple of years back – they described you as someone who was ‘pushing the boundaries, orbiting in dance music territories outside of the usual house/techno worlds’. Are you still a resident at Sunday Times? How is the Cork scene at the moment – do you still have sense of musical freedom when you play out? I would describe Belfast as somewhere that beats within the heavier ends of house and techno, but Andy and Chuck at Neighborhood are among the few who are trying to push more soulful, anything-goes sounds – you should feel at home at their Sports Club night.

CK: Jonathan! Thanks for getting in touch. It’s been a long time since I’ve spun records in Belfast and I can’t wait. I’m really glad you enjoyed the BR residents feature. Yes, still a resident at Sunday Times! We just celebrated 10 years of Sunday Times! at the end of July. We had 10 hours of just residents spinning records. It was amazing. It’s not without its challenges though, we basically set up a club environment on a rooftop bar in Cork once a month. The sound is installed each month and we’re always tweaking things to make it sound better.

The Cork scene is great, it’s healthy to see lots of younger heads getting into running parties and playing music. It’s tricky with closing times being strict but with Sunday Times! we try and open earlier and do a day-meets-evening opening time. This then poses challenges venue wise, but I think things are slowly improving. Just this week there was news of Joe and Ed from The Good Room (Live At St. Lukes, It Takes A Village) opening the Kino Cinema as a music/performance space which is very encouraging.

Musically from a DJ perspective, there’s a healthy house and disco appetite in Cork, I think there always has been really thanks to the amazing education Fish Go Deep gave people over the years. It’s safe to say Cork has always been on the more soulful end of the spectrum.

JC: I first stumbled across your name as a DJ from your show on NTS, where you brought ‘a supreme array of soulful, danceable, beat-driven music for one hour each month’ – nice one on that! At that point, I hadn’t noticed too many other Irish DJs on the station. Shout to pals Touch Sensitive and the Wah Wah Wino lads who’ve popped up in the booth since then. How was that experience for you? How does curating a radio show differ to a night behind the decks?

CK: I have to give a shout to Fergus for taking a chance on giving me the show at NTS. I did it for over a year. I had done some features on Charlie’s show prior to getting my own show. It’s a great way for playing exactly what you want, and for giving other heads some shine too. Prepping for a gig requires me to not forget about the fact that your generally playing music to other people, and they need to be diggin’ it to. With a radio show you can be a bit more selfish musically. I had done a fair bit of pirate radio in Cork since the late 90s/early 00s and I always enjoyed the experience of doing radio live. The shows I did for NTS were all pre-recorded which works, but it’s not radio! It’s like submitting a mix once a month, and doing some talking over it. It felt like cheating in one way… It really works for features but for regular shows not so much imo. But… needless to say it’s a great platform for underground/independent music and to have been part of was amazing.

JC: Production-wise, the first thing I heard of yours was ‘Beginnings/Six Four Hundred’ on Tiff’s Joints – what a wicked release and label. London via Dublin if I’m right, Sean Keating aka Born Cheating holding it down. I feel very, er, contemporary when I listen to their releases, but I don’t think they’ll date. And they make a dancefloor move – I once played Beginnings to a boogie-ing, boozing Kaidi Tatham ha. Are you proud of that EP and the label? I’m working backwards through your fine All City and Bastard Jazz releases… do you have anything coming out this year?

CK: Ah thanks so much. Sean, yes… really great guy. I’m very proud of Beginnings/Six Four Hundred, and the remix K15 submitted was killer. I’m just submitting a new EP to Tiff’s this week. It’s a little different to the last one and I’m really excited to get it out. It’s probably my most club-friendly release to date, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received. I’ve another release I’m working on at the moment too but I’d doubt that’ll come out this side of Christmas. 

JC: Speaking of All City, we’ve gotta chat Quare Groove – last year’s rather brilliant comp of Irish rare groove, punk-funk, and electro from the 70s and 80s underground. Featuring table tennis-playing nuns on the cover. As one Discogs user says, ‘the title is as good as the tunes’. I first read about in a Melodies International Melozine article that you wrote. Can you tell us more about your role in getting it all together? We had the guys from Soul Jazz/Sounds of the Universe over at Bullitt recently and they said it had been flying out of the shop, they thought it was great. I’m also particularly excited by something it says on Bandcamp, ‘This is really but only the beginning: There’s so much more to come!’ Is there lots of digging to be done in Ireland, and would you describe yourself as a ‘digger’?

CK: Yes! All City firstly, I think Olan is one of the most underrated ambassadors of underground culture in Ireland presently. What he’s achieved and continues to achieve with All City is extremely commendable, and when you consider the other labels he’s facilitating like Pear, FSL, Jehri Tracks etc, it becomes clear just how important All City is to not just Ireland but to music in general. The Allchival label arrived as a result of the Quare Groove project and every release has been great.

John Byrne (he came up with the name) is an avid archivist of Irish music in all its forms and he’s got an amazing record collection. John made me some CDs way back in 2012 iirc. Once I got stuck in (and sampled a few of them) I thought some of this has to come out as a compilation. It was initially earmarked for another label but that fell through. It sat around for a while and whilst at a record fair in Utrecht, I asked collector and friend Jeremy Murphy if he’d be up for helping out as the project needed another kick. We then spoke with Olan, and between the four of us, over the course of two years we managed to put it together and get it out.

Presently we’re working on a Quare Groove 2.0 and it’s getting there. These things are a labour of love and there’s a lot of work involved but when you hear people like Soul Jazz and Melodies are diggin’ it, not to mind the general public, it makes it so worthwhile. Also, it rewarding to see the musicians getting the shine that they didn’t get first time around.

JC: Outside of Ireland, I noticed that you’ve played quite a few times with Eglo boss and all-round top dj Alexander Nut. Sean who we mentioned earlier is part of London’s Touching Bass collective, who you’ve also played with a fair bit. And there’s obviously lots of (nu) jazzier things happening at the moment with We Out Here and Total Refreshment Centre etc. Do you have a strong connection to that world? At your night on Sat, you’re playing with chilled and talented guys Brien and Kab Driver – their productions are soulful and danceable. With hints of cosmic funk, ha. Are there pockets of this sound happening in Ireland?

CK: Alex is like the unofficial fifth Sunday Times! resident, and we’ve a great relationship with him. I’ve been over to London a few times, I played Alex’s night in FiveMiles recently and it was great to catch up with people and hang out. Being in Ireland you can feel somewhat disconnected so I wouldn’t say I’ve a strong connection to it but through releasing music via Tiffs and keeping in touch with these heads helps. There’s definitely pockets of similar things happening in Ireland, Brien for example, who I don’t actually know, but his music really good. I first heard Scruff play something when we spun together and was really digging it. JarJarJnr is another amazing producer from Cork, his latest release ‘Free Parking On Sundays’ is exceptional, and he’s going from strength to strength. I’d really like to see of these producers linking with the scenes, or types of scenes you mentioned to put Ireland on the map more. I think the quality of output is 100% on par but maybe a little under-represented sometimes.

JC: Finally, can you give us a sneak peak of what we might hear next Sat? Three tunes maybe. Thanks Colm, been a pleasure – see you on the floor.

Tony Allen – ‘Road Close Dance Dub’

A Dubby, percussive groover that I came across a few months back. It hasn’t left my record bag since.

Love Committee – ‘Pass The Buck (Joe Claussell Edit)’

A peak time, feel-good record that hits all the right notes.

Patrice Scott ‎– ‘Moments & Concepts’

Proper deep, groovy, emotive house music.

Tickets for Colm K, Brién, Kab Driver and Neighbourhood residents can be bought here.

Revisit our review of Quare Groove Vol. 1 here.

is a DJ at local haunts Bullitt and The Woodworkers. He loves his family and NTS Radio (a little too much).