John Daly on 2/8/12
Greg and Shane AKA Fish Go Deep recently released their debut album Draw The Line on Go Deep Recordings, (get it here), but the duo have been at the heart of Cork's music scene since back in the 80's. Fellow Irish deep house afficionado John Daly tracks Cork's musical heritage with the duo, while they deliver an exclusive mix of Cork deep house classics.
First things first, and they'll slate me at home for this but for those who don't know, tell us about Sir Henry's, and what made it so special. GREG: Henry's was a two-roomed club here in Cork city that was originally a rock venue. They put on all manner of indie and rock acts in the 80s. It had a fantastic layout and a great sound system. The original owners bought a lovely Nexo system which was very detailed and really filled the room. Good sound really helps when playing deeper music - you gotta be able hear it. Henry's was always a bit different to all the other venues in the city. It was fairly gritty and this worked well for us - it meant people were really focused in on the music rather than the decor. The success of Henry's as a club was all about timing. People were looking for something different and the house explosion was on the horizon, not that we knew how big it was to become. People in Cork took to it very quickly. Also having the same djs every week creates a very special relationship between the dancer and the dj. We were there for 13 years every Saturday night - that's a long time in clubbing terms.
To say people became obsessive about the tunes is an understatement. There was a real passion to find out what they were and where could you get them. It made the atmosphere in the club very special when people were hanging on every record you play - really paying attention to every hi hat or baseline or new vocal they hear. And all that was so fresh and new and exciting for everyone involved. Another reason it was so good was the back bar with Stevie G playing funk, soul and hip hop, which added another dimension. Some people never went to the main room - they were only there to hear Stevie. So you had two great rooms of top notch music every Saturday night.
S: The venue itself had a rich history too. It had opened in the late 70s and had become the only consistent alternative late night space in the city. It had welcomed a lot of different sub cultures - punks, bikers, rockers, goths, whoever - so the ravers and hip hop kids that pitched up in the late 80s were just another bunch of freaks.
Aside from house music, there was a lot of other styles equally well represented, hip hop particularly springs to mind, and soul and disco. Can you go into that a bit? S: Even if we wanted to have a house-only club it wouldn't have been possible when we started - we just didn't have enough house records. So that meant lots of hip-hop, soul and disco alongside some rock and indie tracks that worked on a dancefloor. During the early 90s, as the amount of quality house we could get our hands on increased, it became more specialised but some of the biggest records from the early days - Joanna Law, LL Cool J, Trilogy, etc - didn't have a four to the floor beat between them.
And some of the other local djs who were shaping the sound of the city... G: Well you had Donkeyman, the original Back Bar dj. He played lots of reggae and funk. Stevie G was just starting. DJ Fork who played soul and funk. Sean Zapp playing everything. Later on you had all the Radio Friendly djs - Mr P, Carlos, Mucca, Miss Ken D, Mark Walsh, too many to mention.
S: Morgan Hurley was one of the original DJs who played with us in the main room of Henrys, before he moved to London. He was a big influence on my taste in music. Graham Payne, and later Ronan C, were two great djs that would warm up for us and fill in when one of us was away. Ronan went on to open the Vinyl Room record shop. Paul Murphy spent a few years in Cork and had a good following. Cal McCarthy used to play around the city a lot and was one of the best mixers I've heard anywhere. Adrian Dunlea really set the sound of Lebowskis, a great little bar that added a lot to the scene. And my sister, Gina, played great hip hop and soul and was a regular in the Back Bar for a few years.
One thing that i remember was that you could go out almost tuesday to sunday and have your pick of parties, all going off, week in week out. Tell us about some of those parties/venues? S: I put out a short-lived club fanzine called Fishing in the early 90s and, looking at it's club listings page now, it seems like there was a lot going on. As well as the regular club nights there were lots of things going on in bars around the city, especially in places like the Donkey's Ears and, later, Lebowskis.
G: Tuesday was Mor Disco in Zoe's with Stevie G and Angi - packed to the rafters with a real mixed crowd. Great fun night with a fantastic music selection.
Wednesday was Freakscene, an indie disco. Thursday had drum and bass in Henrys, Free La Funk with Alan O’Keefe and Stevie rocking out the smooth drum and bass. Fridays there was always lots of stuff on in the Half Moon. Sunday had Cabaret Deluxe with funk bands and djs.
The Southern Soul and Disco Festival was a huge weekend in the calendar while it went on, care to go into that? what guests came, etc.. G: To be honest we were very much on the edge of the Southern Soul festival. That was more about the Mor Disco and Telefunkin crew. It did have a great line up with lots of djs and artists from all over the world and it definitely had a very positive effect on Cork and a very willing audience.
Radio Friendly was kind of the glue that held the scene together in many ways, bringing a big sense of community to everything. Tell us about that. S: Radio Friendly played a huge part in the local scene as it developed in the mid 90s. It's hard to imagine now - with the instant access that the internet has brought - but back then, outside of a few clubs and record shops, it was hard to source or even listen to underground music. With a well run and musically varied radio station you could actually find out about those tracks that you were dancing to at the weekend. And for younger DJs the station was a great way to gain experience and make a name for themselves.
G: We did a four hour show on Saturdays before the gig in Henry's. It was a fantastic way of breaking new music - everyone knew the tunes before they got to the club. You could listen in at any time, day or night, and hear some great music. I used to love listening to Bellyman on Sunday mornings playing the best of reggae. There was always a sense with the radio that we had a community of like minded people into music and it was a great way of connecting with them directly.
Record shops. In my own day it was the whole Comet/ Vinyl Room/ Singer's Corner scene, but there was other shops before that. Can you go into that, and why record shops were/are still so important. G: Ah the record store - that's how we got the name Fishgodeep. We had a record store in the early days in the fish market. You couldn't get the music anywhere in Ireland so I said feck it, for the scene to flourish, you have to be able to buy the music. I think we got a delivery once a week so you’d have a ton of ravers and DJs standing around waiting for the tunes in the middle of the fish market - surreal to say the least. Not sure how it happened but we soon moved to a real shop on Liberty Street and got a loan from the bank and went for it. I can't stress how important the shops were for really pushing the scene on. You could buy the music you heard in the club and maybe become a dj yourself. It also meant you had direct contact with the people who danced with you every week. I met a lot of people through the shops and in Henry's who later became good friends. So few record shops left now I'm afraid. Cork is lucky it still has Plug’d. I feel the connection has been broken now though - most people buy their music through the internet and don't have the same love of the old vinyl. There seems to be a new scene with vinyl only releases but not sure is that such a good idea. I totally understand the thinking behind it but not sure if it will it just push the music so underground it won't exist and end up like drum and bass.
S: Fish Records eventually moved on and become Deep South Records on South Main Street. As we started getting into production we passed most of the day to day running of it onto Garrett and Marq. Poor Garrett used to dread us coming in the door on delivery day to scoop the best new records. Sorry! We were crap businessmen but they were pretty good shops.
Cork pre '88. What was going on? There must have been a scene of sorts. To this day deep soulful dance music is pretty much mainstream in the city, you guys and your contemporaries are certainly responsible for that to a large degree, but i think Cork people were always predisposed to that kind of thing, why is that, and what scenes were going on before you started? S: My first experience of clubs in the city was when I was smuggled into Sir Henry's for my brother Billy's 21st birthday party in 1984. It was a fancy dress party so I presume that was the reason that a fourteen year old was able to get past security and wander around sipping cider for the night. My brother was DJing at the party so the music would have been stuff like Talking Heads, Indeep, Tom Browne, Grandmaster Flash, B-52s, etc. And that would have been representative of the type of stuff was played at the time in a few clubs like Zoes but maybe more in some bars and house parties around the city. As long as I can remember there has been an appetite for dancing here, and a desire to do it to different music.
G: When I moved to Cork there was a good reggae scene. I came from Dublin and was shocked - what's going on here? Cork has always been different. House took off right from the start and the people always loved the the deeper stuff and the vocals. I'm not really sure why. I've tried to figure it out but I've no idea really. From the first time I played in Henry's there was a crowd ready to get down - the dancers, you know the people who really felt the music. As a dj, all you can do is play the best music and try move people, you can't force them to dance. They were ready in Cork right from the start.
Back to sweat. There was some great international guests over the years, care to tell us who some of those were? Any stories? Standout nights? G: At the start it was Mike Pickering who heavily influenced us. And Graeme Park - amazing mixer, great dj skills. We had Justin Robertson - a huge favourite with the crowd. I remember him starting with Packet of Peace, a huge tune of his at the time, and thinking that's his first tune where will he go now?! Simon DK from the DIY collective. What a DJ - deep and weird and funky, one of the best sets I heard in Henry's. DJ Deep on one of the weekenders - a stunning set, everything from NYC garage to Basic Channel, flawlessly mixed. Kerri Chandler with Jerome Sydenham and Arnold Jarvis - a night to remember in the club then a DJset in Lebowskis pub with Kerri playing keyboards and Jerome djing in the smallest box ever, then back to Henry's that night. 24 hours with Kerri and his soldering iron - they don't call him Kaos for nothing! There are so many more - getting stuck into Laurent Gariner for playing terrible trance. That was fun!
S: The weekenders were always a highlight and a lot of the time the standout DJs weren't the headliners. I remember dragging people from other rooms to catch an amazing set that King Street's Nelson Rosado was putting together. I've another great, if hazy, memory of an early-morning after party in the Farside bar where Glenn Underground and Boo Williams, on their first trip outside the US, rocked The Clash and Michael Jackson. And the guest nights I remember from later in the 90s were with the real individual djs, people like Charles Webster, Joe Claussell, Herbert.
Even though there were regular guests, it seemed like it was more on a special occasion, as opposed to nowadays where it seems that every club has an international guest every weekend. On a regular saturday night it was just you guys, was there a reason for that? G: Yeah we felt a guest was a boost for the club maybe every couple of months or just on the holiday weekends. If you need a guest every week what's the point? Thats not a club. A club should be about the residents not some gun for hire who comes in and plays all the big ones. As a resident dj you get to break tracks. Not the obvious tracks but the ones that take a while - a funny vocal or weird baseline that after a few weeks start to get a bigger response. That's what a great club is about. I miss that weekly vibe of trying out tracks actually. More resident DJs please!
S: My overriding memory of the club isn't of the big guest nights or even the big birthday parties but of those regular Saturdays where it was just Greg and myself playing killer new house tracks to a hardcore Cork crowd. Magic.
The scene spawned a whole generation of djs, producers and music lovers. I certainly wouldn't be doing what i'm doing if you hadn't done what you did in the first place. Now we're seeing the third wave with people like shane linehan coming through, a generation who never went to Henry's or Telefunken, what's going on in the city right now, anybody, any parties you'd like to mention? G: Well it's great to see Shane doing so well. He got up and did it there's a real vibe around what he's doing. And he loves his house music. There's another guy, Maksy, who's making some interesting stuff. I'd keep an eye on him - he's got a great sound. As for parties, there isn't quite as much going on as there was. I like the Sunday Times boys - they throw a great party. And the Pav puts on some one off parties with bigger guests.
S: While there aren't a whole lot of good clubs in the city at the moment - in part due to our ridiculous licensing laws - Cork has been brimming with production talent over the last few years. People like Colm K, Toby Kaar, John Collins, Daniel Cummins, K-series and more have all been getting quality music out there.
Special thanks to Corkdjs.com. Check out the site for much more Cork memorabilia, photos and mixes.
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