Very taken with the Pantangle E.P. – released earlier this year on Strangelove – I contacted the chap responsible, T-woc, aka Mick Donohoe. Interested to learn how his reggae and dub roots gave rise to this recent collection of cosmic funky alternatives, semi-industrial / novo new beat dance-floor mutations, I hit him with a long list of questions.
Where are you from?
Wicklow, Ireland. I`m still based there.
Did you get into making music through DJing? If so when did you first start DJing?
I started making music before DJing. I got my first sampler around 18 or 19 so, and I inherited first turntables in my early 20s.
Were there any particular parties or DJs that inspired you to start playing records?
No. I really just got into from collecting records, and people asking me to play at house parties and small events.
What kind of music were you playing?
Hip hop, electronica, dancehall, jungle, techno, electro,…
Where were your first paid gigs?
In tiny pubs in Dublin, where we ran small bedroom producer nights.
Do you still DJ? Prior to the pandemic did you have any regular gigs or residencies?
I still DJed prior to the pandemic, and now some gigs are starting to re-appear after a long break. I had several regular slots in Dublin and Cork city.
When you first started making music, what equipment did you have?
A PC, with Cubase V1, an Akai s3000 sampler, a mixing desk, some fx pedals, and a midi keyboard.
What sort of music were you making?
It probably would have sounded quite Ninja Tune-ish. This was the mid-90s, so there were some more Autechre-y influenced bits. I’d also make whole tapes of jungle and techno.
What equipment do you have now? Has your set up changed significantly?
Not really! Sampler, desk and fx is still the core of my setup – except I use a Maschine now instead of the Akai, and I have some nicer fx, like a Roland Chorus Echo. My friend, Moose, made me a nice Mutron Bi-phase clone, and a few synths. It seems that there is so much equipment out in the world at the moment, because people just lend me stuff. Another friend called up last week with a 808 clone and said ‘Here do something with that’. No complaints there.
What instruments can you play? Have you had any formal training?
No formal training, but I can tinker on keys and drums.
Have you been in any bands, or have you always worked solo?
No bands, well no bands of note anyway.
Are you open to the idea of musical collaborations?
Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to collaborate with?
Are there any artists or pieces of music that have had a direct influence on the music that you make?
When I was starting out probably. I would have been interested in sounding like the music I liked. You know, have the Amon Tobin sound, or do an Autechre style track, or do a King Tubby style mix, or make a RZA beat, or something like that, but nowadays if I make something that sounds a bit like something I know, something that’s a bit familiar or generic, then I will change it or scrap it – but guess that doesn’t mean those influences have gone away, they’ve just been all put in the creative pot with everything else I’ve liked along the way.
Dub is obviously a very big influence. Would you be able to give me, say, a personal top 5 dub records?
That’s too vast, I dunno if I’d have a top five, but here are five lovely dubs for you…
Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Winston Jarrett – Chucky Hark And Shark
Manasseh – Reggae Music Version
Eek A Mouse – Tell Them
Mad Professor & The Sane Inmates – Bengali Skank
What drew you to dub?
There are so many things that I like about dub – the bass weight, the vocal snippets, crazy FX, the sense of space, creating something complex from such simple elements, the skill of the producers at the forefront, the fact it’s built for soundsystem play, and of course flying cymbals..
Are they any current dub producers whose work you are into?
Mad Professor, Keety Roots, and Manasseh are all super strong.
Is there a strong – prior to the pandemic – local dub / reggae scene? Are they any local parties, DJs or artists we should check out?
It`s decent enough. It wouldn’t be up to UK or French standards but there is a tight community. Firehouse Skank is the longest running sound in the country and I select with them, and also put together the occasional release for our associated label, the TNT Recording Company. Dan Taliras is a very talented producer based in Dublin. We’ve done something with him, and our deejay Lariman. I’ve produced another release for our other regular vocalist, Aminah Dastan.
Where do you go to buy your records?
I usually go in foreign and splurge. Ireland’s second hand record stock is pretty poor in general. Or maybe it`s that just the grass is always greener…
How did you hook up with All City Records? Were / are you a regular in the shop?
Sure yeah, I’ve been dealing with them since they started. Iused to wholesale dancehall 45s to them in the early 2000s. They are very important part of the Irish scene, no doubt.
How did you hook up with DJ Sofa for the Elsewhere complications?
I’ve know sofa for quite a few years. He lived in Ireland for a while and although we didn’t meet then, we did end up doing a few gigs together in Istanbul a few years later and have been friends ever since.
Was the connection with Emotional Response a direct one, or through Sofa? Do you plan to do more with ER? I think your music is a pretty tight fit with what they do.
Oh nice. I really like the label. It was Sofa that had the link up with ER for that record.
Pantangle was / is Strangelove`s first release focused on new music? Did Ben reach out to you, or was it vice versa? Is there anything more planned with Strangelove?
Ben reached out to me, which was very nice of him! Yeah we’re hoping to work again together on next thing real soon.
Could you give me 3 pieces of music that you are currently enjoying?
Here are three newish tracks that I’m liking…
Linja – Xanadu
Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation – Radio Lollipop (Cherrystones Remix)
Meril Wubslin – Elida
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently on the continent doing some gigs, and some digging, and seeing the world come back to life a bit. I`ll be back in the studio at the end of the summer, working on tracks for that Pantangle follow up.
Has the lockdown period been creatively productive for you?
Generally yes, not bad!
Are things beginning to open up again in Ireland?
Very slowly. Mainland Europe has definitely been more kind to music and culture than Ireland, where still, at the moment, nothing much is really happening.
All being well what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Hopefully I`ll be back gigging in my home country, and getting creative in the studio again.
T-woc`s weird and wonderful Pantangle is out now on Strangelove.