‘...I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews.’
Niall O’Conghaile aka The Niallist is talking about the music that inspired him to become a musician, a producer, a DJ, a one-man-disco-industry, and a Performer Extraordinaire.
Niall makes music that moves you “physically, mentally and emotionally. Dance music, for want of a better term!” But it’s always been about more than that.
Let’s turn to the history book…
When Brian Eno was working with David Bowie in Germany, he heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” in a record shop. Eno bought the single and ran, holding it aloft, back to Bowie in the studio, where he announced, like a pop John-the-Baptist, ‘I have heard the future.’
Niall is part of that future and his musical output is quite phenomenal and brilliant.
But it’s not just music that Niall has made his own, you’ll know him as a star blogger on Dangerous Minds, and perhaps through his work on the blogs Shallow Rave, Weaponizer, Menergy and his site, Niallism.
Niall also DJs / organizes club nights with Menergy and Tranarchy, and is the keyboard player with Joyce D’Ivision. All of which, for my money, makes The Niallist one of the most exciting, talented and outrageous DJ/producers currently working in the UK. Not bad for a boy who started out spinning discs on one turntable at school.
Now, it’s strange how you can spend much of your working day with someone and yet never really know that much about them. Wanting to know more about the extraordinary Niallist, I decided to interview him for (who else?) Dangerous Minds, and this is what he said.
DM: Tell me about how you started in music? Was this something to moved towards in childhood?
The Niallist: ‘Yeah, music is something I remember affecting me deeply as a kid. My sister, who is older than me, was a huge Prince fan and naturally that teenage, female, pop-music enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I would read all her old copies of Smash Hits and create my own scrap books from the magazines, even though the bands were, by then, either non-existent or pretty naff.
‘My brother was into more serious, “boy” music, which I didn’t like as a child, but which I really appreciated when I hit puberty. He had a big box of tapes that was crucial to me, even though he didn’t like me borrow them, but he had pretty much all Led Zep’s albums in there, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Bowie, The Stone Roses, and I particularly remember him getting a copy of Nevermind when it had just come out, which was a key discovery. That box smelt of Dettol and musty cassettes, and to this day the smell of Dettol still takes me back!’
What were your early tastes in music? What were those key moments when a song a record made you realise this was what you wanted to do?
The Niallist: ‘Well, Nevermind was definitely one. I think that record started a lot of people on a musical journey. But also, I really identified with Kurt Cobain, as he was an outsider in the pop music landscape who spoke up for gay and women’s rights, which really struck a chord with me. He was a man, but he also wasn’t scared of being seen as feminine. He was a pop star, he looked scruffy and spoke with intelligence and passion. He was different. As someone else who was different, and a natural outsider, I guess I saw music as maybe a place where I could fit in and still fully express myself.
‘Call me hopelessly naive if you will, but I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews. Looking back on the early 90s now, it seems like an incredibly politically-charged time for music and pop culture. Public Enemy, NWA, Ice Cube, Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, The Prodigy with “Fuck ‘Em And Their Law”, Pearl Jam telling Ticketmaster to fuck off, Spiral Tribe, massive illegal raves, Back To The Planet, Senser, Rage Against The Machine, the fact that RuPaul was a pop star, even Madonna’s Sex book and Erotica album for God’s sake! If you weren’t politically active or at least aware back then, you were terribly uncool. That spirit seems to have disappeared from music altogether now, which is sad.’
More from Niall, including his Top 5 picks, after the jump…