All hands on the decks as Ireland's leading electronic festival, Celtronic, turns 18

Celtronic has long since established itself as Ireland's leading electronic music festival and indeed one of the finest of its kind in Europe.

Friday, 22nd June 2018, 3:24 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd June 2018, 4:33 pm

This Wednesday the 18th edition of what’s long been an annual highlight of Derry’s cultural calendar kicks off with Roman Flügel, Gerd Janson, DVS1, Avalon Emerson, DJ Seinfeld, Steve Bug and Rival Consoles headlining over what promises to be five incredible nights of cutting-edge electronica.

For two decades Celtronic has been attracted anyone who is anyone in world of underground dance music to Derry. From Detroit techno auteurs such as Derrick May and Carl Craig, to Andrew Weatherall, David Holmes and Tom Middleton, they’ve all played here.

But one of the most pleasing things about the evolution of the festival has been the encouragement of a steady conveyor belt of local talent.


Promoter, Gareth Stewart, who has been curating one of Derry’s best parties since the glory days of Deep Fried Funk at the turn of the millenium explains: “When we started out we had very few artists in Derry who were known on the international stage. That was part of our reason for starting the festival in the first place. In 2001 we were mostly importing acts from overseas. Now, in 2018, we are exporting our own talent.”

Before the aural festivities get underway the ‘Journal’ meets some of the local acts making soundwaves globally who will be returning to spin records and programme beats in their home town next week.

DARREN ALLENOriginally from Kilfennan Darren Allen has been a regular at Celtronic since being recommended by Colin Bass at Fresh Records in 2003. He has since developed into a much sought after DJ and producer with his own Underlying Form label and Discobar.

His international career continues to develop with sets in London, Berlin, Ljubljana, Lisbon and Istanbul. He plays with Roman Flügel and Steve Bug at St Columbs Hall on Saturday, June 30.

Darren Allen.

Biggest influences? Ricardo Villalobos, Craig Richards, Fabric, Perlon.What’s in your record case? Coil, Psychic TV, Jon Hassell.Favourite producer? Dimbiman.Favourite DJ? ZIPFavourite record of all time? Villalobos - Alcachofa.Dream band? Eric Cantona [retired French footballer], Henry Lee Lucas [US serial killer and Sigmund Freud [psychoanalyist].Favourite venue?Club der Visionaere- Berlin.Last gig/set? Get Perlonized! at Berghain/Panorama Bar - BerlinBest gig/set? Too hard to answer there are too many!First Celtronic memory? My debut at the second ever Celtronic at Strand Bar on same bill as Dave Clarke.Best Celtronic memory? Cash Money at The Nerve Centre Celtronic 2004.Who are you most looking forward to seeing?Roman Flügel!

RYAN VAIL Originally from Culmore Ryan Vail blends the worlds of electronica, folk and classical, always experimenting combining classical instruments with unique methods of recording and composition.

His debut album ‘For Every Silence’ was released in April 2017 to critical and commercial acclaim. His latest album, ‘Distorted Shadows’ sees his international reputation continue to grow. He plays live at Echo Echo Dance on Friday June 29 alongside Elma Orkestra and Rival Consoles.

Biggest influences?I’ve always been a huge Jon Hopkins fan. I remember hearing him for the first time at Celtronic before he became a huge artist. Fantastic to have seen him in an intimate setting. He’s always been a big influence for me.What’s in your record case?A lot of Erased Tapes releases. Rival Consoles is playing quite a lot. He’s playing the Friday night of the festival.Favourite producer?Really enjoying Paula Temple, her approach to distortion and the low end frequencies is amazing.Favourite DJ?Really enjoying Gerd Janson.Favourite record of all time?Jon Hopkins - Collider Dream band?My dream band would be made up of robots to be honest. They would keep perfect timing and not give me a hard time..Favourite venue?St. Columbs hall for big DJs and Echo Echo for intimate gigs.Last gig/set?Does my own count? Recently played Letterkennys RCC building which was really good fun.Best gig/set?Nils Frahms Spaces gig in Belfast. Was very lucky to support him at it.First Celtronic memory?A wrist full of passes for the five days.Best Celtronic memory? Clark in St. Columbs Hall.Who are you most looking forward to seeing?Paula Temple.

Ryan Vail.


Originally from Woodbrook Andrew Morrison’s alter ego comes from Natalia Goncharova’s painting The Cyclist.

Influenced by an eclectic range of music from Krautrock and 60s psychedelia to early Chicago house, techno, jungle and dub, Morrison his albums,

‘Bones In Motion’, ‘Flourish’ and ‘Sapa Inca Delirium’ are three of the finest electronic albums released in recent years. He plays St. Columbs Hall on Wednesday, alongside DJ Seinfeld, Kornel Kovacs, Bekuz and Influx.

The Cyclist.

Biggest influences?For me it’s always been the krautrock pioneers of the late 60s and 70s. Can, Neu, Cluster, early Kraftwerk and Faust all took music into the 21st century three decades in advance. I’m always trying to study and learn from their approaches and their style of experimentation with sound.What’s in your record case?Right now I’ve been listening to the new Skee Mask album on repeat all day. I’ve been playing a lot of that mutant-disco style stuff lately too, like Was (Not Was), James Chance & the Contortions and King Creole and the Coconuts.Favourite producer?If I’m speaking of all time, then there’s no beating Aphex Twin, just for sheer breadth of creativity. There’s a track of his for every feeling you can imagine and even plenty of insane ones for those feelings you can’t imagine.Favourite DJ?Probably have to go with Motor City Drum Ensemble for just blaring an extremely fun set every time I see him. No worrying about trying to get the deepest sound, just pure enjoyment in a set.Favourite record of all time?Nuyorican Soul - I Am The Black Gold of the Sun (4 Hero Remix). Listened to it a million times already and I’ll happily listen a million more. One of those life affirming songs that you’d happily have play at your birthday, wedding or funeral.Dream band?Jaki Liebezeit from Can on the drums, Oliver de Coque on the guitar, Kevin Parker from Tame Impala on keys, Deborah Scroggins from ESG on bass and definitely 1960s Rob Lind from The Sonics on the vocals. Probably have to have Keith Hudson on the mixing desk for smokey dub effects too!Favourite venue?Playing downstairs in the Soup Kitchen, Manchester, is definitely one of the highlights.Last gig/set?Played at Open Ear festival on Sherkin Island, which is just an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend the trip to Cork for.Best gig/set?The one-off jungle set by KiNK in Liverpool, such an amazing night and so amazingly well done live, and Or:la was blaring some class diverse tunes beforehand so you couldn’t really go wrong with that combo.First Celtronic memory?Being back from uni for a short bit and seeing Steffi & Virginia in 2013, and realising at the time just how alive and kicking the scene in Derry actually was and particularly how impressive the energy from the Celtronic crowd can be. Best Celtronic memory? Meeting KiNK backstage before his gig and swapping stories and drinks and then catching him play one of the best sets I’ve seen right afterward, what a man.Who are you most looking forward to seeing?Can’t wait to see Octo Octa. 100% Silk’s has been a big inspiration to me from the start and Octo Octa is probably my favourite artist on there, so finally seeing this will be huge for me.


Mister Saturday Night is Derry man Eamon Harkin, originally from Culmore, and Justin Carter who have been running audience focused parties in New York a decade.

These left such an impression that international touring, a record label and their own club became inevitable. Deploying everything from textured house and techno through obscure disco, their charisma at the controls is tried, tested and jubilant. He plays the closing party of Celtronic 2018 on Sunday, July 1, at The Guildhall with Gerd Janson and Queen & Disc.

Biggest influences?My parents first and foremost. My Dad for showing me how to be a creative person and my mum for giving me an ear for a good tune. Secondly I’d say the city of New York. Its rich and varied musical story is unlike any other place on earth and inspired me to go there and try to make my own contribution. The hustle and the bustle of the city is also very inspiring, though equally exhausting!What’s in your record case?I’ve been listening a lot of Beta Librae’s record on new NY label Incienso. It reveals new layers with every listen. I’ve also been listening to the new record by a band called Khruangbin who make Ennio Morricone inspired instrumental rock. It’s a great summer record.Favourite producer?Maurice Fulton.Favourite DJ?Theo Parrish back to back with Maurice Fulton.Dream band?Tony Allen on drums, Jeff Mills on electronics, Prince on guitar, Nina Simone on vocals. Production by Pauline Oliveros.Favourite venue?My partner in Mister Saturday Night, Justin Carter, and I opened our own space in New York recently called Nowadays. We built a big outdoor garden and installed a custom made fully analogue sound system and sunk wood dance floor in the adjacent indoor part. So I’m really spoilt in that I get to play amazing outdoor parties in the summer and in an amazing indoor room just 15 minutes from my house. Both feel like modern NY musical experiences at a time when the music scene in NY feels very vibrant. Otherwise favorite places we’ve played when on the road have been Panorama Bar in Berlin (of course), a park in the middle of Sydney, Concrete in Tokyo and almost anytime we come to London.Last gig/set?Snow Patrol at Irving Plaza in NY. Johnny McDaid and I are close friends growing up together in Derry so I was in the house to catch up and lend support.Best gig/set?Pretty much all the Radiohead gigs I’ve been to rank high on any of the gigs I went to. They played in a circus tent in Victoria Park in London just when Kid A came out and they were turning their back on their much loved guitar sound. There was a sense of experimentation and risk taking on a serious scale that really struck me.First Celtronic memory?I left Derry just before Celtronic started so my first experience was just two years ago when I played with the Black Madonna at The Glassworks. When I was growing up in Derry the Glassworks was the site of the library for many years and I would go there on Saturdays with my Dad and my sister. So it was a lovely experience to go back there after so many years and to play that very same room that I remember as being full of bookshelves. It was a really great party and so exciting to see the famed Celtronic energy in person. I’d also say it was just so nice to be invited to play and to come back to Derry to DJ after having left many years before and plotted my own musical path so many miles away. It’s always nice to come home and there was strong sense of pride in seeing my hometown presenting world class DJs and electronic musicians to a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.Best Celtronic memory? The same one as above!Who are you most looking forward to seeing?I’m excited to see fellow Derry expat Or:la on the bill so I hope to check out her set. I’m playing the same night as Gerd Janson who always plays great sets so that’ll be a fun one. And lastly I’m really intrigued about the Phil Kieran and Ulster Orchestra collaboration.

Eamon Harkin.