Dublin born & based Long Island Sound (Rob Roche & Tim Nolan) have been honing their craft since the DJ/Producer duo’s inception in 2015. Cutting their teeth in Berlin, the pair broke through over 2019 following a release on Bobby Analog’s Body Fusion and their ‘Initial Ascent’ EP on their Signs Of Space imprint.Garnering support from Midland and Bicep, they were then invited to contribute to the ‘Feel My Bicep’ mix series. Following the success of their second EP on SOS, ‘Broken Signals’, LIS were invited to contribute to DJ Mag’s Fresh Kicks series and featured on Maribou State’s ‘Fabric Presents’ compilation.Picking up serious momentum over 2019, the duo booked a string of gigs and festivals across Europe, the UK and US, including AVA Festival and Griessmuehle, before coming full circle for their first Boiler Room in their hometown in February 2020. With their back catalogue gaining support from industry heavyweights including Anja Schneider, Cinthie, Tijana T, Hammer and Skatebard, LIS dropped ‘First Contact EP’ on Hammer’s Remmah imprint in January 2022, which received a glistening review from Resident Advisor.
We recently caught up with Rob and Tim as they get ready for the release of their highly anticipated debut album titled “Lost Connection!” We spoke with them about their origins, growing up in Dublin, the gear they collect, plus much more. Have some words and enjoy the spell bounding mix they generously crafted for your ears!
First things first: Understanding that you were born and raised in Dublin, I wanted to ask what inspired you to choose “Long Island Sound” as a name? Those of us in America are particularly curious.
We heard of Long Island Sound first in a book – The Great Gatsby. There’s not much more to it. We didn’t realise that a ‘sound’ is actually another word for a lake. We thought it sounded cool, but didn’t think too much further into it. We played in New York a couple of years ago, but we never made it to the lake. We got a message a while ago from someone who was listening to our music while looking across the lake – so sick!
What was it like growing up in the Irish capital? What aspects of the city have influenced your music the most?
There was a pretty strong scene when we first started going to nightclubs in Dublin. We had lots of friends who were DJing and running parties. A few of them were producing music too. There were some great venues like The Pod, The Twisted Pepper and later, District 8 on Francis St. District 8 was the closest thing we had to what other European cities have, in terms of big clubs. Most of those clubs are gone now. They’re office blocks and hotels. We started going to these clubs as friends, and only started making music together a couple of years later.
To be honest, we’d be lying if we said that there were particular aspects of Dublin that influenced our music. A lot of the clubnights we first started going to were quite techno-focused. At that time, around 2016-2017, we found ourselves a lot more inspired by the sample-based house sound that was coming from Berlin, rather than the heavier techno stuff that was popular in Dublin. Artists like Max Graef and Glenn Astro were massive influences on our music when we first started.
It was probably after moving to Berlin in summer 2017 that we started exploring the more electronic side of our sound. We started collecting a bit more gear around that time and found ourselves inspired by a wider range of genres. Since moving back to Dublin at the end of 2019, we’ve been finding inspiration from a lot of UK-leaning music. It’s nice to find inspiration from a load of different places and times. It’s fun to just think “OK let’s try make something like that”.
How did you guys meet and what led to you joining forces in 2015?
We met through some friends when we were about 16 or 17, but it wasn’t until a few years later that we started making music together. In the Summer of 2015, all of our friends went away to a big Psytrance festival in Portugal. Psytrance was never our thing, so we stayed in Dublin. We were at a loose end, and decided to try and make one track together for the laugh. Here we are 7 years later. 2015 seems like so long ago. To us it only seems like relatively recently that we’ve started making music that we’re really happy with. Maybe we’ll be saying that in another 7 year’s time too.
We remember when you first burst onto the scene you were still based in Berlin. What forces brought you guys back home and what do you miss about life over there?
We didn’t leave Berlin for any particular reason. When we first moved over to Berlin, we had no plan to stay forever, but had no kind of plan, really. It’s a brilliant city and we met so many amazing people there. We miss the cheap cost of living, for sure. Cheap rent allowed us to spend so much time making music, and as little time as possible doing day jobs. At that time, we were spending less than €150p/m on a studio space. That’s unheard of in Dublin. Berlin has a really nice pace of living, too. Nothing seems rushed.
Having said that, we have always loved Dublin and we probably always had it in the back of our minds that we would move back. Despite the lack of venues, crazy high rent prices, the weather… The people are amazing, and there’s a really cool music scene here. It’s small enough that everyone knows each other, and it feels like everyone is really supportive of each other. Even though there’s not many places left to have a party, there’s a lot of collectives doing great things. Since moving back, and since getting out of lockdown, we’ve discovered so many amazing Irish artists, promoters, DJs and just generally creative people. As they say, Dublin is Bubblin’!
The idea of space seems to be a recurrent theme of your music. For instance, “Space” is included in the name of your imprint. It’s frequently referenced throughout the titles of your releases. Your melodies are often described as being “spacey” and “ethereal.” Why is space such a powerful muse for you guys?
‘Space’ is a great theme to build a story around. In our music, we use lots of reverbs, delays, etc. to try and create a kind of ‘world’ for the music to live in. While a lot of the more functional club music out there can sound a bit more ‘dry’, which certainly often works in a club, we really enjoy creating dense atmospheres and textures using lots of wet signals.
The act of making music is also a kind of ‘space’ where, on a good day, you can really disengage from regular life and your mundane worries. Music has always been a kind of escape from ordinary existence.
Thematically, space has also provided a kind of ‘focus’ to build the label around. Space is infinite, endless and expansive. You can look at music in the same way. There’s infinite possibilities in sound. Infinite combinations of effects, melodies, rhythms. In a way, the idea of infinite space reflects the idea that no music is completely finished. Always making, never made!
Up until now, the cover art for your records on Signs of Space has followed a distinct pattern. One that’s simplistic in nature and resembles the styles of house records released from the early 90s. However, the artwork for your forthcoming LP is noticeably more modern and brighter than your previous works. What was the motivation behind this change in direction?
The change in direction comes from a desire to make this record a bit more of a statement piece. We love the recognizable branding/design of the previous SOS records, but we definitely wanted to make this one stand out, when compared to the first 3 releases. This new LP has some really beautiful outer sleeve artwork done by Teti Martinez. Teti is responsible for all of the SOS design since we started the label – big love to her.
Your Lost Connection LP is your first-ever full length. Did you approach this record any differently than your past EPs? What separates this album from your other compositions?
We didn’t put out any EP’s between 2020 and the beginning of this year. We were conscious that we didn’t want to put out an EP of dance music while the world was in meltdown. So, by the middle of 2021, we were sitting on quite a lot of music. Since time seemed to stand still during Covid, we felt we had the chance to take our time, and put together something a bit more special. The slightly longer format on this record has allowed us to tell a more intricate and detailed story, when compared to our previous releases. We’ve covered a lot more moods and feelings with this record. There’s tracks for the club, but there’s also stuff that’s a bit more introspective.
There appears to be such a genuine authenticity to the nostalgic, rave ballads you two construct. What gear do you guys regularly rely on to create your convincingly vintage sounds?
We’ve collected a little bit of gear over the last few years. We’ve got a few remakes of the old classics, like the MS1 and JU-06, along with some older gear like the JV-2080 and the DX-7. We’ve also been using the new Roland Cloud software, which is really sick, and probably well-known to a lot of your readers. Apart from those instruments, we use some outboard effects processing through our Soundcraft LX-7 mixer. We got the mixer recently enough, after our previous Soundcraft died. Outboard effects like the Strymon Big Sky and Eventide H9 help so much in adding that ‘depth’ to our music.
Aside from that, mixdowns and arrangements play a huge role in the music that we make. We’re really conscious of the sounds and samples we pick, how they’re processed, and how they’re arranged – all these decisions contribute to the final sound.
What do we have to look forward to in your Mixed By? Any particular gems you’d like to highlight for us?
We’ve been working on loads of stuff since finishing the album, so we’ve included some of those tracks. There’s one from our album on there, too. Along with those, keep an ear out for new Supreems, the new release on Remmah from Sublime Sounds, and loads of other bits we’ve enjoyed playing recently. Bigups for listening, and thanks for having us!
Interview by Yassin