By Moni Bell
Collaborative dance project Camden Place present their lushly atmospheric debut single Will I Make It To Springtime, out now via Beardfire Music.
Hi Camden Place! Please introduce yourselves to our readers:
Camden Place is a dance collective, essentially consisting of prolific songwriter Seán Silke and musician/producer Rohan Healy. Rohan runs Beardfire Music, a busy production studio which includes mentoring, publishing and video production amongst its many activities.
The Camden Place collective draws on local talent to add creative value to its dance/electronica projects. At present, we are working with singer/songwriter Gráinne Hunt and DJ producer/arranger Magician’s Assistant, and plan to release two follow ups to the current single featuring these two artists.
How have you been managing to get through this pandemic?
(Seán Silke writes) Every musician has taken a big financial hit during the pandemic, though Rohan has coped better than most, thanks to a reasonably reliable schedule of recording commitments. Up to the most recent lockdown, I too was able to keep up my programme of writing new songs and recording these in the form of home demos which I upload to SoundCloud. I have always been consistent at maintaining creative output (a song a week), though the general atmosphere of crisis and depression generated by Covid 19 has inevitably depleted my positivity somewhat.
What’s your new single Will I Make It To Springtime all about?
The single deals with our current sense of time and life slipping away, a feeling obviously accentuated by the pandemic. The melancholy quality of the melody matches the anxiousness of the lyrics, while at the same time creating a soothing mood. Towards the end, the song tries to reach out and touch the delicate hope we are all trying to keep intact.
How did you guys all meet?
I met both Rohan and Gráinne at a songwriting group. Rohan was providing a briefing on income streams for composers, while Gráinne – like me – was attending the meeting for networking purposes. I retained Rohan as a consultant for a few industry information sessions. And later we worked together on a substantial album project (“In the heart of the castle”).
When brainstorming about potential dance music collaborations, Rohan and I came up with a shortlist of Irish dance/electronica artists with whom we would like to work. We simply emailed Dean Doyle of Magician’s Assistant and collaborated remotely, not actually meeting until “Will I make it to Springtime” was actually mixed and mastered!
Describe your sound in five words:
Atmospheric, evocative, shimmering, heartfelt electronica
What’s the music scene like in Ireland at the moment?
Two genres stand out in Ireland at the moment in terms of being vibrant and brimming with activity – hip hop and indie. Hip hop here is generating a host of potential breakthrough acts, though it is not easy to select commercial winners. My own money would be on JYellowL who has just released “2020 D|Vision”, an impressive album featuring fine production work by Chris Kabs (with whom I collaborated on a more conventional dance album a few years ago called “Unlucky in Love”). There is also a lot of momentum behind Denise Chaila, and Jafaris is also one to watch (I really like “Early”, his 2019 collaboration with Joy Crookes). I suspect that the Irish hip hop artists most likely to do well internationally are those who place considerable emphasis on strong melodic choruses.
If you could collaborate with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be?
In dance music, collaboration is virtually essential if your art is to mature. The mere fact of two different creative sensibilities sharing the same studio usually brings the recorded output to a different level. In that context, Duke Dumont is a go-to DJ producer for me, as are Gorgon City. Jess Glynne is for my money the best female dance singer in Europe and would be a dream to collaborate with. And from a wider musical perspective, and thinking of the adult rather than youth market, I would love to work with Ireland’s Jack Lukeman.
Are there any upcoming Irish artists you can recommend us to have a listen to?
In the mainstream dance genre, Loah, Elaine Mai, Soulé, Shiv, Chris Kabs and crybabyamy have all released fine singles. Both “Golden” and “You and I” are very good r’n’b influenced songs by Shiv. However, generating a stream of high quality releases seems to be problematic for many artists. And the reason is easy to identify – when you are earning little or no money, how are you going to fund your recordings?
Who are your biggest influences?
An obsession with the charts characterises my approach to music. I check out the new Top 40 every Friday at 5.45 p.m. and subscribe to Music Week magazine so that I can have immediate access to James Masterton’s excellent analysis of chart singles and albums. So dance music is an abiding influence. Apart from current hits, I am keen on classic dance material from the past such as Tamla Motown (see the British Chartbusters set of albums, especially Volumes 1 and 2) and house music from the 90’s. In terms of lyrics, I have been highly influenced by time spent in Peru with its rich legacy of local and South American music. I find the wildly romantic quality of their love songs overpowering.
What are your plans for 2021?
After Will I make it to Springtime, Camden Place will be releasing A life in photos. And we are currently cooking up a third collaboration with Magician’s Assistant called “I prefer it dark”. Our Swedish partner, PR Records, is releasing two charts-oriented tracks, Polishing Chrome and Too much space, before Christmas. And early in the New Year, another Camden Place track called An inner look is due for release.
Where can we find you online?
Check out Camden Place on Spotify and the other usual streaming sites. We sell our downloads on Bandcamp. For my earlier dance work, see www.unluckyinlove.ie. And my wider range of musical activity is covered on www.seansilkesongwriter.com.
Any last words?
As a songwriter, finding your voice is the key to artistic satisfaction. Stay true to this voice, cultivate it, encourage it. Work with others so that your art can find fuller expression. And keep producing new material – a stream of new output signifies energy and commitment, two qualities the music industry values greatly.