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Paddy Scahill

Paddy Scahill

A typical set for Paddy Scahill is an intense experience; the music that he plays is robust and muscular. In the thick of it, it uplifts and energises in spite of how you may feel in the proceeding hours or days. What he plays provokes a visceral and sweaty reaction from the room he oversees. Thematically, desire and pounding inhibition into the dance floor are front and centre. I visited Paddy at home to interrupt some of his precious downtime ahead of his gigs here and here tonight, and to find out more about himself and the perceptions and realities of what he does. 

Hey Paddy! How are you feeling? What’s new? I’m good, starting the adjustment from summer into autumn. I love the crispness of autumn and winter but the end of summer always comes as a bit of a shock.

You’re just back from Croatia. How was that? It was really nice, very chilled out. My boyfriend is from there so he took us to some nice places, including this secret beach that only his family know about. We also brought my mother to visit Medjugorje in Bosnia, which she loved.

Describe the feeling you seek to create through what you play. My main aim is for people to have fun. If people aren’t enjoying themselves, then what’s the point? So, I always try to judge what mood the crowd is in and what kind of tunes are going to get them dancing. If I get that sorted out, I usually tend towards hardening the style a bit and getting it as tech-y and sleazy as possible without overdoing it and pushing people off the floor. It’s a bit of a balancing act and different clubs have different vibes so obviously that will be at the front of my mind. I only ever play music that I actually like though, wherever I’m playing!

Where do you source your material? Mainly through mixes from around the world that I listen to online and also stuff I hear other DJs play when I’m out clubbing or working. If I really like a track, I’ll research the artist or remixer and try to find other productions they’ve made.

Who, or what kind of person, do you enjoy playing for the most? Well, definitely someone who likes my style of music and is there to dance and and have fun, rather than stand around looking like they’re being forced to stay. Hot guys with cheeky grins who look like they want me to shag them are especially welcome. People trying to talk to me while I’m DJing are less so. I usually can’t hear them over the music and it’s really hard to concentrate on mixing property when someone’s shouting at you. They’ll probably be shaking a full drink over the mixer too. I try to display a calm, professional demeanour while I’m playing but I have been known to have multiple meltdowns, all in the space of one evening.

Grá, Still Out, Not Over, Floor. Where do the names of your Soundcloud podcasts come from? They are something that’s relevant to the time they were made. Like ’Tácast’ was made around the time of the Marriage Equality vote, for example. Or, maybe something that has a double meaning, like ’Stilloutcast’, which in my head was about dancing on a three day bender, but also about being on the fringes of society or the scene or whatever.

Tell me about the artwork accompanying themThey’re by Peter Doig. I love his work but I’m running out of paintings by him to use – I’ll have to find another artist! 

Is it fair to say you play for a particular sub-scene within the queer clubbing scene? Describe this scene. I suppose there are two sub-scenes that coexist in the clubs I play. One would be the more Circuit-orientated group, who love their high energy beats and tend to be more gym bunny types. The other would be into deeper, more tech-y sounds and are usually more bear-y or geeky. Dublin is a relatively small scene though, so both groups end up in the same places a lot of the time.

Describe queer clubbing in Dublin to me as if I was from out of town. What is it missing? What does it need less of? It’s pretty small, but there are a few strong brands that try hard to put on quality nights for different tastes. We need more dedicated club spaces, with good sound systems and management who are receptive to promoters with solid ideas. We definitely need less regulation, so that everything doesn’t have to stop at three or another arbitrary time that some judge or politician pulled out of their arse.

I heard the Boilerhouse has a DJ now. Yeah there’s a DJ there once a month and he’s really good. One night in particular I was there, the ground floor was rammed with guys dancing in their towels and the cruising upstairs seemed to be secondary. I actually DJed myself there last year and it was fun. I suppose it’s partly a response to the early closing times – there’s nowhere else to go. It's like the innovative after party scene that has sprung up over the last five years or so.

How do you like to party when you’re not playing? House parties can be great. That’s where I get to have a real laugh and get chatting to people in a way that’s not possible out in clubs. When I can, big events like La Demence in Brussels – but once you’ve done them a few times, you wear them out and need to leave them for a while to make them fresh again.

How does the scene in Dublin compare to that of other cities you’ve played in? I’ve played in London, Ibiza and Gran Canaria – the London gig was in The Hoist which is a sex club and the other two were in small clubs with people on holiday. The Dublin scene is obviously much smaller than London and less segregated. It’s not big enough to have a Shoreditch crowd and a Vauxhall crowd but that segregation does happen microcosmically to a certain extent. It also means that people are more familiar with each other and I think there’s more of a community feel because of that. This is nice but can also be a pain if you feel like having an anonymous night out without bumping into loads of people you know.

Is it fair to say your music goes hand in hand with drugs and sex? Yes, that’s fair enough. I got into house music originally through raves in Dublin in the 90s and that scene was famously powered by ecstasy. House music has evolved through several phases since then, including lean times in the 00s when the genre was pronounced dead on a regular basis by talking heads both here and abroad. Through each of those phases, drugs of one kind or another have been strongly associated with the scene. With the chemsex phenomenon growing over the last few years, the drugs prevalent on the gay scene have started to differ from those on the straight scene. And clubs as well as after parties have become more overtly sexualised. I welcome any move away from prurience towards more openness and honesty about sex. However, on the flip side of enhancing the music and sex, there’s always the risk of addiction and overdose attached to every drug, of course. Including alcohol.

You’re a screenwriter too, right? Yes – my short film, Miscalculation, that I made with my directing partner Dee, was released in 2014. I’m currently working on a few projects, including a feature length script that’s darker but still pretty tongue in cheek. The main character is a suburban B&B landlady with an unfortunate fetish for torture and rape. It’s nice to have a creative outlet other than DJing that I can work quietly away on. I find writing calms me, but it’s also energising and life affirming.

Thanks, Paddy! 

Mark Grehan

Mark Grehan