Clu: In a lane of his own

I can still remember the first time I came across Clu’s music. I was scrolling through the Gobstopper Records Bandcamp page when I stumbled across a track called MOOD2098 and it sounded like it had beamed into my brain from the year in which it shares its name; this was the brand of Irish-auto-tuned lyricism, sad wave and forward-gazing electronica that I had been waiting for.

Years later, Clu is still pushing the boundaries of his own creativity. Never satisfied with sticking to what he knows, his sound has shapeshifter over the years from experimental grime to trance-wave and left-field leaning pop on Murlo’s Coil Records and Beijing based conceptual label S!LK.

Ahead of a follow up release to his excellent Going Kayfabe on S!LK titled Risky Roads, we sat down and got deep with one of Ireland’s future-music minds.

You’re originally from Dublin, but now reside in London, what inspired the move?

I had been thinking about moving for a while. On one hand I had just finished working on a score for a video game with LoPoly and knew that there was a lot more sound design opportunities over here.

I had given years of passion to the scene in Dublin and played some great shows & enjoyed my general involvement there, but at the same time I just always felt that apart from a core audience of people interested in the contemporary side of music I wasn’t really getting the recognition I deserved as a producer and song writer.

There aren’t many people from Irish producers making the kind of music you do – floating somewhere between sadboy trap, grime, wave and ambient. Why do you make the music that you do?

My inspiration comes from my environment; the people in my life and the quest for making unique pieces of music that dont really have a place and can shape-shift through genres while keeping a core sound which mutates from year to year. People have always said you can tell when it me when you hear one of my songs

I also think, like, my Da was a DJ in the 80s doing  21st party etc, so he kind of rinsed me with 80s pop and some alternate bits of music, and then my two older brothers were heavily into trance and dance music. When I was younger I used to sing quite a lot and I think thats why I drifted back to that side of things recently because it is in me to preform in that way.

“A lot of the music I’m putting out seems quite sad to people and it doesn’t really match up to positive chip of the old block demeanour.”

I think that’s because I use music to try and connect and explore all these other emotions that I’m not usually able to express – this connects to part of the reason why I left Dublin as well. It became a repressive environment for me when making music.

I come from a working class background, there aren’t many opportunities Dublin for the kind of music I was making and so my background inspires this. Class is often left out of conversations particularly in the music industry and how unbalanced it makes the industry, but thats a  whole other chat for another day.

You have released on Murlo’s Coil Records, what was it like working with an artist who also shares the same passion for blending visuals and sound together?

Yeah working with Chris (Murlo) was a blast, he’s also on his own wave and exploration and it was really sick to collab on a project. He worked on the visual side of the record and we came up with the whole look and feel of it together, I 100% think our paths will cross again.

Can you take us through your creative process? How do you approach making music? You spoke of isolating video game samples, and Clu doubles as an AV project – how does your process alter to incorporate visuals?

The process is nowhere near set in stone, it could be from a sound effect I hear from a video game which I isolate and start there. Other times I may be just experimenting on some drum machines to come up with the rhythm of the track and start writing bits over it.

Recently, I have been producing entire tracks from the ideas I have in my head. I have been producing music electronically for around 15/16 years now, I feel I am confident enough in my ability’s to make any slight spark of a track fully come to life in front of me which is a seriously good feeling.

Since Kev is no longer apart of Clu, as we where kind of both occupying different moods and genres, I’ve just recently been delving into that side of things myself, right now just kind of focusing on visuals that react to loops I’m creating in certain ways, which may bleed into live performances but I don’t really know quite yet.

What else have you got coming up?

After this record with S!LK I have another self release ready for July and then another release with a label lined up in September. Also I have been uploading videos called “trance portals” onto Instagram and after the reaction to them I am now working with an artist in the 3D realm to bring these otherworldly creatures to life, while finishing these trance loops and fleshing them out into songs.

There has been great interest in these in particular so hopefully if everything comes together they will be coming out on wax, and finally I have been working on some more vocal stuff as I want to release a debut album after 10 years of Clu, which I think would be cool, like drawing on the sounds over the last ten years and mixing them with where I’m at now.

S!LK will release Risky Roads on June 17th alongside 50 limited edition pillows of the character artwork – cop one here

16th June 2021