Is there a busier man than Martin Clancy in the Irish music scene? Doubtful. Not content with having a single in the upper reaches of the Billboard charts, Dublin’s Clancy has more projects on the go than LCD’s Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Del Boy Trotter combined.
May 2010 saw the former In Tua Nua member release his first single on New York start-up label Seaport Music Records. Located in the famous historic Seaport district of Manhattan, the label is a spin-off of the ultra hip Seaport Music Festival (www.seaportmusicfestival.com), which has developed its rep. over the last eight years as a leading light in discovering the next big thing or even next good thing in all things indie and electronic, while indie stalwarts have also been proud to call the festival home in recent years. A roll-call of its past acts throws up names like Hot Chip, Joanna Newsom, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as Wire, Suicide, Super Furry Animals and The New York Dolls.
The Seaport label was to have the same ethos: a series of limited edition vinyls releases, with Clancy as the ‘Artist in Residence’. So how does a guy who lives in Dublin, writes and records in the south of France end up becoming Artist in Residence in New York?
The internet, of course! Five years ago, at the behest of his wife Trish, Clancy starting writing and recording, with no plan to ever release the material. Trish, now his manager, passed the music on, where it eventually made its way to award winning London based breakbeat label Fingerlickin, who promptly asked for a meeting.
At the same time in New York, streetwise radio station (the DJ booth is shop window) EVR started to play various MP3s of a host of acts where Martin was either artist, producer or composer, including gLab, The Witness Protection Programme and Embassy Gutters.
When Steve Dima, the curator of the Seaport Music Festival and an avid EVR listener, identified that all these various groups were actually the work of one guy in Ireland, the wheels were promptly set in motion for a meeting. Dima had a dream to extend the vibe of Seaport: “I always wanted to start a label but didn’t have any money or any time – but by giving one guy the freedom to do whatever he liked, I figured ‘,hey that’s possible’.” All of which led to Martin being named ‘Artist in Residence’ and then pretty much left to his own devices, which proved to be very active devices indeed.
First up was a limited edition (only 250 were pressed) single from hot new Brooklyn act The Loose Limbs. The A-side was produced by Dean Baltulonis of The Hold Steady, and remixed by Martin – except the remix ended up being almost a complete rewrite. The original is two and a half minutes, while Clancy’s mix is closer to seven and sounds like the bastard child of Television and Battles.
Next came Martin’s first solo Seaport Project, the retro disco of Witness Protection Programme. “I just wanted to catch them off guard,” Clancy told So Chic recently. “A lot of what I do is so dark and industrial that I thought, these people have given me a great opportunity with no limitations: let’s do something that’s fun and positive before I depress the pants off them in the winter.”
Clancy’s “fun” project is ‘Flat Foot’ (by Martin Clancy & The Witness Protection Programme), which as you read is taking up residence in the Billboard Dance Charts Top 40, alongside Goldfrapp, Hot Chip and Swedish House Mafia.
“My publishers, Bug Music heard the track and without knowing of its indie roots, just loved it,” Clancy explains. “They introduced me to a guy called Craig Roseberry (Yoko Ono etc) and he flipped for it. In no time, a bunch of heavyweight remixers wanted to get involved – Sweden’s Stonebrige, Brazil’s DJ Meme, Richard Morel (who performs with Bob Mould) and a bunch of other guys.”
A total of 14 remixes, including Clancy’s original mix (the one which charted) were released on August 3, and have been tearing up dancefloors from Ibiza to San Francisco since. Indeed, dance labels like Amsterdam’s Armada Records and London’s Fierce Angel have already licensed it, while the track also featured on a special free Seaport Music Records compilation that featured all of the indie bands who played at this year’s Seaport Music Festival, including The Wedding Present, Avi Buffalo and Yellow Fever.
Another track on the compilation is gLab’s ‘Delivery’, another Clancy project, which is also getting significant airplay across America’s college radio network. Here’s where it gets really mind-fucking: ‘Delivery’ is being released this month as a single and an “e-comic”, a flash animated story written by Martin and illustrated by top underground New York artist Joe Jurewicz, complete with a specially designed gLab gPad player! Using android technology, the gPlayer is effectively a PC version of the iPad.
But it’s not just about underground dance anthems, indie pop or even cutting edge technology. It’s also about the Martin Clancy live experience, which mutates and morphs as much as the music. The first set of live shows started this summer when the Witness Protection Programme supported Yacht and the legendary Black Devil Disco Club in New York. In October, Martin travels to LA to perform at Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide Festival (also featuring Klaxons, Black Lips and the Casio Kids) and word is that an appearance two weeks later at CMJ is on the cards.
Both Martin and The Witness Protection programme have signed separately with the Montreal based Touring Dept, home of some of the weirdest funkiest groups currently on the planet.
Got all that? Didn’t think so. But there’s more: Clancy has written the original score to Line Of Sight, a forthcoming film developed by the bods at www.bicylefilmfestival.com, the soundtrack to which also features A Place To Bury Strangers, Holy Fuck and a bunch of Warp artists: “No disco on this: more of the moody dark stuff, I guess!” Clancy laughs. Not content with that, Clancy also helped compose the score (along with classical composer Liam Bates) to Sundance-winning Irish director (Best Cinematographer) Michael Lavelle’s new short I Hate Musicals, which stars Jack L (who Clancy used to manage) in the lead role.
The workaholic is also a diehard Arsenal supporter and season ticket holder and somehow finds the time to pen a blog, ‘My Arsenal’. He’s currently finishing the follow-up to ‘Flat Foot’ for release in the US in October, before starting work on his jazz dubstep project, Embassy Gutters. He’s also on Chapter 3 of the gLab comic (parts 1-5), which he reckons will make an excellent graphic novel, all the while preparing the band for LA. Just as he’s about to leave, Martin’s iPhone pings and he starts to laugh: “The Bicycle Film Festival have just invited me to Guatemala in September for the World Courier Cycling Finals! They want me to record a bazooka (yes, the gun). They say I can bring my golf clubs!”