I was asked by my “boss”, Keiron Black, and the editor-in-chief from Pure M, to write a “brutally honest, from the heart, opinionated piece” of the Irish indie music scene, specifically in the Dublin area, from the eyes of an American intern. A request I was eager to accept.
To start things off I would like to give you a background of myself, in order to shed light on as to why I may have the opinions you will soon find out I have on the music scene here. I am Zach Blum, a 21-year-old intern from the United States. I study international Business at the State University of New York Brockport and I have a keen passion for music. I myself have written lyrics and recorded hip-hop/melodic EDM tracks for the last year and a half, and I can honestly say without music, I don’t know where I would be in life or who I would be as a person. It plays such a big role in my life and it is evident it plays a big role in those who participate in anything with music in Dublin.
I have performed a few shows in my hometown of Rochester, NY. It is very pre-sale ticket driven, so if you don’t sell a certain amount of tickets before the show it is very likely you will be taken off the bill. Sometimes you even have to pay for a slot on the bill. This is something that I know frustrates other local artists from where I am from, as well as myself. As an artist you just want to be heard, or at least given a chance to be heard. Selling 15 plus tickets before your first or second show, if you especially are just starting out and don’t have a big fan base, is not the easiest of tasks no matter how much you’re out there trying to sell them. Bottom line it comes down to money, as do most things.
Obviously the previous paragraph was based on indie artists who are just starting out, who don’t have the buzz that can make them a headlining act, or they are not getting paid to perform just yet. I want to emphasize I am not insecurely writing this as an artist who is frustrated and things haven’t gone his way in the music industry yet. I’m writing this because I have noticed in my experiences in Dublin that the shows, big or small, are all based on love. Yes, love. It is based on the love and undying passion this city holds for music, like a flame that can never be extinguished, much like the fighting spirit of the Irish people. I have primarily witnessed this in my experiences working The King Kong Club at the Mercantile Venue. I understand this is just one live music event out of the many in Dublin, but it is beyond clear that love for music is the main driving force behind this weekly event. I digress…
For those of you who do not know, the King Kong Club is a weekly battle of the bands event with a clap-o-meter at the end of the show to determine the winner. Also known as the Home of Enthusiasm, the King Kong Club promotes nothing but a positive atmosphere and a great night for those who love local Irish music. All artists on the bill for the night get a interview with King Kong Radio before the show. Bands don’t have to sell tickets, don’t need a buzz of a thousand unhappy swarming honeybees, and don’t have to pay in order to get on the bill. It’s free for the artists, as well as free entry for those in attendance. Also those who work this event get paid little; it is not a lavish salary by any means. Additionally, all the money from the night comes from the bar; no money is actually made from the music. On top of everything that is fantastic about the King Kong Club, winners can get incredible prizes such as slots at music festivals, paid recording studio time, and even an all expenses paid trip to perform at whatever place Keiron’s finger lands on when pointing on a map with his eyes closed. Not one of my better jokes, but on a serious note, this is what music should be about everywhere. LOVE!!!! From event managers, sound engineers, MC’s, stage managers, solo artists, bands, venue owners, etc. Why do we all do it day in and day out? The love we have for music. Although I’m sure we can all agree money is clearly a very delicious icing on the cake.
It’s events like the King Kong Club that need to be held everywhere, especially where I am from, to bring indie music together and give indie artists a chance to share their music. A place where they can bring their passion to life at no cost. It is well known the indie music scene isn’t easy. Those who participate in the indie music scene come into contact with numerous obstacles day in and day out, but to those obstacles we can never surrender, because as Jack Kerouac once said “The only truth is music.”