From the talented soils of Northern Ireland, Holly Lester is the portrait of as fine a rhythmic selector as you will find today.
Now a Manchester resident, Holly has held residencies at Sankeys Ibiza and Chibuku Liverpool, while playing alongside some of the best in the game – Jackmaster, Cassy, Jeremy Underground and BICEP to name a few. Illustrated through Holly’s ability to combine elements of grooving house with raw, broken beats over the sounds of Chicago and New York, Holly Lester is at the forefront of the new wave of fresh and forward thinking artists emerging from the green isle.
On 2 June, Holly joins the AVA Festival & Conference alongside the likes of Jeff Mills, Ben UFO, Marcel Dettman, Job Jobse, and more. Anticipating this fine Belfast event, Holly has put together a primer of the 10 names you need to know producing out of Northern Ireland.
Jordan – Coup de Grace
Belfast born Jordan has been on the scene for about 10+ years now, starting his professional DJ career at the ridiculously young age of 14. This is one of my favs from him in the past few years – released on Tiga’s Twin Turbo last August. “Coup de Grace” is a fine example of the sound he has been carving over the past three years with bumpy kicks, rattling percussion and soaring synths that give a little nod to his early days in trance.
Or:la – UK Lonely
This Derry girl has been causing quite a stir on the scene in the past six months or so, due to her genre-defying release on Hotflush last year. This is the title track from the EP and a firm favourite of mine; a stripped back melodic 2-step/garage tinged number with dreamy snippets of Erykah Badu throughout.
Bobby Analog – Some Aul Horn On Me
Another staple in the Belfast scene for 10+ years, Bobby has been churning out some absolute dance floor weapons as of late. It’s hard to pick just one favourite from this guy, but I’ve gone with this disco infused house track “Some Aul Horn On Me” – his debut release on his own imprint “Body Fusion”.
Chris Hanna – Meat Factory
Chris is undoubtedly one of N.I’s most underrated producers, with a string of great releases ranging from garage, dubstep and 2-step to straight up gritty techno. My choice falls into the latter description; released on fellow countryman Ejeca’s label, it is a great example of the style of techno that has gathered much momentum on the N.Irish club scene in recent years.
JMX – Chasing It
Something of a local legend, John McIver had been DJing on the club scene in N.I for around fifteen years before starting to release under the moniker JMX IN 2011. He co-runs Extended Play Records with another stalwart of the N.I music scene, Timmy Stewart. “Chasing It” is the next release lined up for Extended Play – a modern take on a classic house sound in true JMX style.
Trance Wax – Trance 1
It’s safe to say that, for the majority of us Irish-born, trance seems to run in our blood. As someone who falls into that majority, I was more than thrilled when Ejeca started to release a mystery vinyl only series of trance edits last year. Although hard to select a favourite, I have narrowed it down to Trance Wax 01, which samples the absolutely spine tingling classic “Greece 2000” by Three Drives on a Vinyl.
Black Bones- For Baai
The Black Bones edits label was launched at the beginning of this year by an anonymous duo in Belfast, representing N.I’s more leftfield and experimental sound. This afro infused house cut from Black Bones 01 came out in March of this year and sold out within 48 hours, unsurprisingly. Keep yours eyes peeled on the Black Bones blog for the next release in July.
Hammer – Canna (Original Mix)
An absolutely stunning track released last month and probably my favourite to date from rising star Hammer. The pads remind me of Moby “Go” and it definitely touches on that trance tip that we all know and love on the Emerald Isle.
Floorplan – We Magnify His Name (Schmutz Edit)
The Belfast duo behind Schmutz are gaining considerable amounts of recognition for their stints in Panoramabar, but are perhaps best known in their hometown for causing absolute carnage during their sets at Shine. This unofficial edit of Floorplan embodies said carnage into 8 minutes of pure French-house-gospel-madness. I have numerous fond memories of hearing this track out in the past year or so, particularly at AVA Festival 2016.
Dominica – Gotta Let You Go (Bicep Edit)
What would a list of contemporary Northern Irish producers be without BICEP? They have undoubtedly thrown the N. Irish music scene into the spotlight over the past five years with their distinctive sound and ability to make hugely successful club hits. The track I have selected has become something of an anthem back at home, despite only being two years young and also never officially released.
All Over Fav:
Phil Kieran – Skyhook 1
I was fifteen when this track was released and had just started to discover the minimal/techno scene. Phil’s electro tinged dubby tracks were quite an easy transition into techno, as I was listening to a lot of electro house at the time. It was my first foray into proper underground music and a very exciting time for me, assisted by Fergie’s Radio 1 show and Paul Hamill on BBC Radio Ulster (both local DJs who championed N.I talent on the airwaves for many years). It still seems to destroy any dancefloor ten years on.