As Long Island Sound, the duo of Rob Roche and Tim Nolan, is a name that the Irish crowd should be fairly familiar with. With a sonic palette that has evolved from sample-heavy disco and house on Bobby Analog’s Body Fusion label to out-of-this-world breaks, alien-electro and ethereal club on Hammers Remmah imprint, the Dublin based duo have gathered support from titanic names such as Bicep and Midland for their modern take on vintage sounds; recently wrapping all the best elements of 90s progressive, trance, techno and IDM in a lovely, big, contemporary bow.
Having returned to their Irish home from Berlin in the last few years, the guys have just released their debut album – Lost Connection – on their own Signs Of Space label, so we thought it was the perfect time for a catch-up. At 3pm on a sunny Friday afternoon, as they prepared for their set at Hammer’s headline event at Ulster Sports Club that night, we met up to chat all about the new record… They even had a pint waiting for me.
Well lads, good to be back in Belfast? When was the last time you were here?
Tim: We played Industry up here, and did a stream before at Optmst’s studio space at Vault Artist Studios – that place was sick! I think that was our last gig before Covid. We also came up once during lockdown. You guys opened a little bit sooner up North than we did, so we came up to get a few pints.
How did you guys meet? And how did that lead to Long Island Sound?
Tim: We met when we were, like, sixteen? We had a few friends in common. When I was around sixteen a friend of mine was a DJ, Finn Merrins, he used to do all the Housewerk gigs back in the day in Dublin. He had decks and I thought he was really cool – he still is really cool! After a few years I started making music and so did Rob.
Rob: Yeah, it was pretty casual.
Any old aliases we can dig up on SoundCloud?
Rob: I think I was putting music up on SoundCloud under my own name.
Tim: I was stupidly releasing mine. I always find my old shit on Spotify under my own name from years ago and it’s so bad.
Rob: You wish you had an alias now! We’d discussed making music together loads. Then we just went to his house and did it. We were teaching eachother a little bit at the time, just bouncing ideas off each other.
Tim: I’ve learned a lot from Rob, he’s a tech whizz. We’re constantly learning from one another. I’m not sure when we decided to put an actual name to it.
What does the alias actually mean?
Tim: I was reading The Great Gatsby at the time, and Gatsby lived in a lake district called Long Island Sound, and I just thought it sounded really cool. But now there’s a danger that we’re not from Long Island, so we can’t be called Long Island Sound. All our mates joke that we’re going to have to change it to our real names soon. How about Long Ireland Sound?
What was the inspo for the album and where do you feel you are at now musically? How did you approach it?
Tim: The title comes from Rob’s mouse losing connection with his computer (laughs). ‘Connection Lost’ came up on the screen. We just thought that was a cool theme to work on. There’s a general trajectory that the album flows through I guess, without getting too cliche about it all. We just thought about going to space or blowing up – losing connection.
There’s a real sci-fi, ethereal sense to the label. Is outer-space something that you find interesting? I did an interview with Sansibar a while back and he said that when he was making his debut album he would have episodes of Star Trek on in the background, almost like he was scoring the episode.
Rob: It probably goes that way without us realising it.
Tim: It’s quite easy to say ‘this is about travelling through space’, but when you’re making an album it’s quite good for the mind. Albums should have some sort of trajectory and flow and the space element helps with that.
I can remember listening to the test pressings with a friend when they first arrived and he asked me to describe what we were thinking when we made the record. So I said about taking off, being in space, the weightlessness and everything and he said that’s exactly what he was thinking when listening to it, so it has some sort of cosmic quality.
Are you still in Berlin or back in Dublin? What’s the biggest change/differences you’ve seen?
Rob: We moved back to Dublin just before Covid, we got pretty lucky. It could have been a mess if we tried to move during all that. At first I felt a little out of touch. We came back fairly regularly, but when you went into town there were less clubs and stuff… It felt a little weird.
Tim: Myself and Rob were away in Berlin for three years, then there was Covid, so there’s five years worth of people in Dublin that we’re only meeting now. So now I’m blown away all the time, from Bambi and the Skin & Blister girls… People that have been doing stuff for ages, but we just didn’t know as we weren’t here.
There’s so much sick shit! The only downside is that there’s fuck all places to do it in.
Rob: In terms of venues it’s still shit, but it can only go up can’t it? I hope it can’t get any worse. If that 6am licensing law comes in maybe more places will open, who knows. They keep sharing that same article every six months though, I wish it would just happen.
What do you have coming up?
Rob: We have quite a lot of music we’ve been working on that we’re really happy with so keep an eye out for that.
Tim: We’ve a few festivals coming up too; Forbidden Fruit and Otherside Festival in Wicklow. I’ve kind of forgotten what festivals are like so we’re looking forward to that.
Cop ‘Lost Connection’ by Long Island Sound on Signs of Space here.