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Family members: Kieran McCann

Sharing our mutual Music Stories is a joy to me. I love discovering your worlds and your musical adventures! Let's listen to Kieran's musical Journey!

 

1) Hello Kieran! I'm so thrilled to have you here on the Balearic Breakfast blog! Your mix was featured during the 160th episode of Balearic Breakfast. How did you work on it? Was it planned, or did you do it on the fly?

Thanks for asking me, Artur! Yes, it was planned. I would never plan a live set, but for me, it makes sense to prepare a radio show or mix that I might upload.

I'm intrigued by the music played in Ibiza during the early 80s before house and indie dance hit the island and had such a huge impact on the Balearic sound. There's a bit of mystique around that time for me, perhaps because it is less documented, so initially, I thought I'd do a mix that tried to capture that era and sound. In my head, I imagine the DJs in Ibiza at that time might have been playing a more global sound with a lot of records from Africa and mainland Europe. Balearic classics that represent that time would be things like 'Hoomba Hoomba' by Jasper Van't Hof's Pili Pili, 'Obsession' by Guy Cuevas or 'Yé Ké Yé Ké' by Mory Kante. I started putting records aside that I thought fit into that category, but I abandoned the idea as it became a bit restrictive. There were a few of those that did make the final mix, though, such as Manu Dibango, Antoinette Konan, Nana Tuffour and Esa.

For the rest of the mix, I just picked tracks that I love and that I felt sat logically together. One record that I was really keen to include was 'War' by Neyssatou, which is a cover version of Bob Marley's classic sung in Arabic. It's such an incredibly powerful track. It was on the Dub No Frontiers compilation album that I felt should have got much more attention than it did.

Other than that, the only real requirement was that all the music I included would be things I might have requested on the show.


2) Musically speaking, what are your biggest musical influences both as DJs and as Artists?

I'm not sure about influences as I wouldn't call myself a DJ, and I'm definitely no musician, sadly, but I love sharing music – whether that's requesting tracks for Colleen's show or playing Music at a party. Still, calling myself a DJ would do a disservice to those who put a huge amount of time into their craft and treat it as a profession. That said, there are DJs whose mixes and radio shows I make a point of listening to because they consistently introduce me to new (and old) music. Some that come to mind would be Colleen (obviously!), Mafalda, John Gomez, Cosmo Sofi, Dr Rob, Abigail Ward, Barbie Bertisch & Paul Raffaele's Love Injection, and Steve Barker's On The Wire.

The only things I could pinpoint as providing specific influential moments would be seeing David Mancuso at a party in Glasgow back in the early 2000s (I'll come to that influence later) and listening to François Kevorkian's Essential Mix album that came out around the same time. Back then, I was DJ'ing in the Sub Club and playing mostly straight-up house music sets. Those two things completely altered my view on how you can select music and mix tempos and genres. I still listen to the FK mix when I need a little reminder of that.

Again, I wouldn't say there are artists I would call influences, but there are musicians and producers whose music I'm always drawn to and who feature regularly in what I listen to and play out. Off the top of my head, I would say, Ron Trent, Lloyd ‘Bullwackie’ Barnes, Mizell Brothers, Paul 'Groucho' Smykle, Yvonne Turner, Matthew Halsall and Inflo. To me, these are all producers who have their own sound signature, I guess. If I was more musical, I might be able to explain this better!


3) As a member of the CAS events with Colleen, you shared your passion for Music with us. What are your five favourite albums from your childhood to where you're at now?

An impossible question to answer, but I'll give it a go…

  • Massive Attack 'Blue Lines' – Perfect from start to finish. Probably the record I've listened to most in my life. As a teenager listening to this, it was a doorway to so much other music through its samples and covers.

  • Marvin Gaye 'What's Going On' – An obvious one but just so good. The transition from 'God Is Love' into 'Mercy Mercy Me' is one of my favourite musical moments ever. Melts me every time.

  • Joni Mitchell' Hejira' – Each song is like a novel, and the musicianship is flawless. This album was given to me by a teacher who had a really positive impact on my life, so it means a lot to me on that level, too. The opening track 'Coyote' was actually my first Balearic Breakfast request.

  • Lee Morgan' Search For the New Land' – My favourite Blue Note. Post-bop with a hint of the spiritual jazz sound that was to come soon. Stunning.

  • Dadawah' Peace And Love' – Deep, hypnotic, psychedelic reggae. This is one to listen to on really good headphones.

Attending the CAS events has really given me a new appreciation of making time and head space to closely listen to an album uninterrupted. I've discovered so many great albums that weren't really on my radar before being a CAS member, things like 'Ingénue' by K.D. Lang and 'If I Could Only Remember My Name' by David Crosby.


4) You launched the "Coorie Doon" parties in Glasgow in February 2023. What is the most challenging part of starting such a project? Can you tell us your story around it and your future plans?

Coorie Doon is a party inspired by the spirit of David Mancuso's Loft, and other parties that carry that same ethos forward such as Colleen's London Loft.

In terms of the story behind it, I always hoped someone would start a Loft-inspired party in Glasgow. I had a dream of doing it myself but didn't imagine for a minute that would happen. Out of the blue, I got a message from a fellow Loft obsessive, Finlay Kerr, who had seen that I had DJ'ed at the launch party for Colleen's first Balearic Breakfast compilation, and he asked if I'd ever thought of doing a party in Glasgow. We met for a drink with his friend Cameron Smith and we just connected instantly over a love of music and decided to give it a try.

Our first step was reaching out to Colleen for advice. She warned me of the huge commitment it would require to do it properly but gave us loads of support right from the start and connected us with Iain Mackie and Andrew Pirie. Iain runs Danley Distribution and A-Live Sound, and Andrew is a hi-fi expert at Loud & Clear, one of the UK's leading high-end audio shops. They were both associates of David Mancuso and were involved with some of the parties he hosted in Glasgow in the early 2000s, and for many years they've helped Colleen with the sound at the London Loft. As luck would have it, they live in Scotland and have been incredibly generous with their expertise and time. So, that connection from Colleen was essential in getting us off the ground.

After the sound system, the other big challenge was finding a venue. We didn't want to use an existing club, and we really wanted a space that felt like it could be someone's home. It also needed to have good room acoustics. I attended some talks and arts events at a venue called Civic House on the edge of the city centre. It's an old print factory that has recently been given a huge retrofit, and the organisation behind it has a great community spirit and a socially conscious approach to how they work. As well as being a cultural events venue, there is a canteen on the ground floor and this beautiful upstairs loft space that is used for co-working that I thought would be great for a party. It has wooden flooring, a vaulted ceiling and an amazing view over the city. I remember sending Andrew Pirie a picture of it, and he was like, "That's the one". I was doubtful they'd let us use it, but I got in touch with them, and luckily for us, our message was picked up by Grace Winteringham, who was leading projects for the venue at the time. Grace got what we were trying to do straight away and really went out of her way to support us and make it happen. There's a sense of responsibility that comes with saying your party is inspired by the Loft. Obviously, achieving the best possible quality of sound is crucial, but there's also the principle of making the space feel like a party in someone's home. We've tried to make the experience more personal by getting to know people who come along and build a sense of community. Food is served at the start of the night, and we invite people to bring their kids for the first few hours. We decorate the space in quite a simple way to create a more homely atmosphere – plants, lamps, wall hangings, drapes, plenty of seating, incense, and balloons. All these details are really important in properly respecting the philosophy of what David Mancuso set out through his parties. Some principles are more difficult to achieve, though, such as removing commercial transactions – the venue has a paid bar, for instance – but we try to offset this by being completely volunteer-led and making the party non-profit. So any money made goes into improvements or is donated to charity.

The response has been incredible. We're coming up to our fifth party in a few weeks, which will be our first birthday. We've got a really lovely, diverse crowd of musically open-minded dancers, and we've built up an amazing community of volunteers who give up their time to help decorate the space, carry heavy speakers up and down stairs and welcome guests at the door. The crew have become a pretty close-knit group, and a few of them will be taking over musical hosting for the next party. In terms of future plans, we have thought about running cultural events alongside the party – talks, workshops, album listening events – but for the moment, we're happy to keep going and make small improvements like upgrades to the equipment and giving some more thought into how we decorate the space.


5) According to you, what does it take in our modern society to "Be Balearic"? Do you think it's just philosophical, or can we act a certain way to follow Colleen's recommendation?

For me, it's just about being open and tolerant and showing love and kindness. That might sound sentimental to some people, but if having kids has taught me anything, it's about how important these things are.

I think 'Balearic' in terms of both philosophy and Music relates a lot to the idea of 'life energy' that Colleen has spoken of a lot, and that was important to David Mancuso. It's a positive, life-giving force. Maybe I think that because we associate the 'Balearic' spirit so closely to the sun.


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