While many of the choices on the Faces of 2012 list are in their early phases of their creative careers, Jack Colleran has already had an unexpected year that has seen him become one of the most promising new electronic artists, not just in Ireland, but worldwide. In little over a year, Newbridge, Kildare-born Colleran has gone from experimenting with music in his bedroom to attending meetings in LA regarding his nascent career.
It all started one snowy December night at the end of 2010. The snow outside forced the then 17 year-old to stay indoors. He had acquired a copy of Ableton to mess around with making music on his laptop. Inspired by Bon Iver and a young Maine musician by the name of Nathan Broaddus aka Evenings, the result of one night’s work was his first track as MMOTHS entitled ‘Blisters’. That percussive head-nodding ambient soundscape was followed by ‘Slow/down’. The two tracks were uploaded to Soundcloud a week later and, from Dublin to LA, it didn’t take long for the blogs to catch on. MMOTHS went worldwide within the first month.
This wasn’t simply a case of a young lad messing about with computer music. Colleran had form, and technology freed his musical creativity. “I’ve played piano since I was five but I always got stuck in the same chords and progressions,” Jack says. “When I got Ableton, I played on the keyboard of the laptop but I didn’t know which keys I was playing. I wasn’t stuck any more. The possibilities are open. I just sat inside for ages writing that week.”
Despite his self-effacing comment that he “just throws loads of reverb” on his tracks, it’s clear that Colleran, also a keen photographer, has thought about the craft. “I like to make it sound textural. There are certain notes and chords that evoke something. Finding those right chords is the thing.” The reaction to those initial two tracks meant that MMOTHS (the name was recently changed from Moths due to external issues) was now Jack’s main focus. “I was doing my Leaving Cert. I should have been studying!”
Skiving off from study to make music meant that Jack put his other plan on hold – becoming an architect. “I knew I wasn’t going to get the [Leaving Cert] points to do that. I think architecture’s so cool because it’s art but it’s permanent, people live in it and see it every day,” Colleran explains.
Before the Leaving Cert exams, Colleran had been asked officially to turn in a remix for an Interpol EP that was released in June. He remixed Passion Pit’s ‘Little Secrets’ and Bon Iver’s ‘Babys’ in an unofficial capacity too, the latter being one of his best tracks thus far and the former being his personal favourite. Serendipitous sharing amongst Irish brothers in Kildare and LA led to Jack receiving the kind of correspondence that every aspiring musician dreams of.
“I need to ring you right now.”
The email was from Seb Webber, a then A&R man for XL Recordings based out of Los Angeles was looking to get in touch. Webber rang him a couple of hours later and subsequently signed him to SQE, a new label based in the Californian city. Before 2011 was done, Jack travelled to LA for a week of meetings and gigs. He was put up in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, though he insists he would have been happier on a mate’s couch. Jack is still in awe of the whole trip when we chat. “I thought I’d never go. Getting flown over because of some tracks I made in my room… It’s like, when am I going to wake up?” If that wasn’t definition enough of “living the dream”, the following week he played The Warehouse Project in Manchester amongst some of the vanguards of modern electronica: Aphex Twin, Hudson Mohawke and Zomby. To top it all off, one of Jack’s idols, Flying Lotus, sent him a direct message on Twitter to tell him he loves the MMOTHS tracks.
Colleran’s inspirational story demonstrates how easily music can spread across the globe in this modern era and how a young 18 year-old from Kildare with just nine tracks to his name can arrive on the cusp of 2012 with such a weight of expectation. But he’s not the type to get easily fazed. The coming months will see Colleran debut a new live show featuring visuals. A 12” vinyl release in February featuring new versions of the tracks ‘<3’ and ‘Summer’ with vocals from Sara from Greece’s Keep Shelly In Athens and LA band Superhumanoids will be released. There’s also a remix coming for one of the biggest bands on the planet as well as some American dates at SXSW in March as well as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. From his bedroom to the world, Jack Colleran is very much a global concern.
Photo: Philip White