** (Update 8 December 2021 : I wrote a piece about recent events that have circulated about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Read it here.) **
Fish Go Deep are stalwarts on the electronic scene over in Ireland. The duo (Shane Johnson and Greg Dowling) sprung to prominence in the mid noughties with plenty of infectious releases. Their 2006 single, ‘The Cure & The Cause‘, which was released via Defected, received widespread popularity. It became a cult classic and even had Dennis Ferrer dropping in for a remix. Since, the duo have been highly sought after and respected taste makers on the Irish electronic music scene.
Their single ‘Captain Is God‘, which is the opening track from their six song EP in association with The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, sits pretty in my top twenty picks. A slow, meandering introductory track that really tickled my fancy. I’m delighted to have been able to have a chat with Shane about it all.
Make sure to listen to the track whilst reading the interview transcription for the best experience.
You both created a strong six-song EP for this initiative, why did you decide to take part in the project?
Ian contacted us pretty much out of the blue, I was aware of his work as I’d read a couple of his articles in previous years. He pitched the idea that he wanted to create a movement that would extend further than his book itself. He sent me material outlining the multimedia project he wanted to incorporate into the launch.
I was sent a copy of the book and a large archive of audio snippets based on his travels around the world. Between the subject music of the book and the visual footage, we decided we would be willing to get involved. It is an excellent book so we were happy to help.
How did you construct the music using the field recordings at your disposal?
The process was quite interesting in itself – independently we both started going through the audio files whilst we were reading the book. Before we started on the music construction, we compiled a long list of interesting noises and prose. We split the footage up into material that we could use and re-purpose into actual music after. We worked off that initial long-list.
Then we began the process of making the music, we started on eight or nine songs and ultimately decided to release six of them. For this project, we worked on all of the tracks simultaneously, one day working on a particular track and the next day, another, and so on. We managed to get them all to the finish line at the same time, which was quite unusual for us. We wanted to make sure they had a similar sort of sound and vibe. It was a nice way of working.
Have you had much experience incorporating samples into your music before this?
I’ve been borderline obsessed with samplers since I started making music, I love the concept of taking a piece and working with it, making something different out of it. In this sense, it was quite nice working with material that came from an archive of audio samples like this. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, being able to work these around our regular synths and modular stuff. It was great fun.
Captain Is God is the song I’ve chosen to be included in the top twenty, it’s a lovely downtempo track, a perfect intro track for an EP – what was the thought process behind it?
It’s definitely a nice introductory track, it is a nice ease-in to the collection. It has Ian’s voice ripped from a radio interview sampled in it so it kind of introduced the author as well. There’s a bunch of background noises dotted in throughout and a bubbling tide running through it which stemmed from a piece of footage recorded underwater. It had a nice rhythmic value to it so we emphasized that and worked it in with the electric drums. There are a couple more samples, we used a drone sound which was recorded in Somalia. It was a really unusual sound that caught our ear. A few other little bits and pieces are thrown in too.
Most of the music is played from synths and that. When we were initially going through the sound library, a lot of the more unusual sounds resonated as they were almost atonal and we could put them in with any chord progression or sequence.
This project appealed to us as it was a different way for us to make music, it wasn’t quite a remix but it was somewhere new in between.
It was a positive experience and we’ve taken some lessons on board from making it and have been putting some new ideas into our current productions.
From a technical standpoint, how was the track constructed?
Our studio has a nice balance of sources, Greg has a nice modular set up which produces wild and interesting sounds. We have some nice analog keyboards and we also love using plug-ins on the computer. There’s a wide range, which automatically makes for a more interesting sound than what you get from just using software on a laptop alone. When we started out originally, there were plug-ins, but they weren’t great, so a lot of what we started out with would have been hardware. This is still a huge part of the sound in the music we make. We try to ensure our music is a little bit more rich and varied than something that comes from Garage Band etc.
When it came to ‘Captain is God’, I think the underwater sound inspired the rhythm of the track.The drums were either done on a drum machine or a sampler in the computer, that was my department. There’s a lot of subtle modular stuff going on throughout, which would be Greg’s department. He’d often be found sitting, patching cables from one nodule to the other and coming up with all sorts of odd sounds. Sometimes the sounds are not suitable but other times you get results that are completely unique. That has become a big part of our music.
Listen to the full EP here:
Check out The Outlaw Ocean Music Project official website : here
About ‘The Sound Sniffer’
The Sound Sniffer is a one-man music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists I find in my submissions inbox.
Check out my Interviews HERE