Northern Ireland DJs The Fully Automatic Model (Johnathan Delaney), Cartin (Cartin Caolan) and Alan Mooney from Queen & Disco, toured India in late 2022 as part of a collaboration between music festival Celtronic and Delhi online radio station Boxout.fm.
They were recently joined on the final leg of this #Delhi2Derry: Together In Sound project by fellow Derry DJs Aaron Thomas and Shay Whelan, who toured to Delhi, Mumbai and Goa last week.
As the project comes to a close, we ask the trio about the experience, their thoughts on the electronic music scene in India and their biggest musical influences.
Tell us a bit about the tour, how did it come about?
Johnny: This tour is a by-product of the hard work of amazing humans that operate in the background of music scenes the world over. One such person is Gareth Stewart, the founder of Celtronic, who has been helping artists from across Ireland and further afield for over 22 years. Gareth searched the world for a like-minded soul and collaborator for this project, which he found in New Delhi, India. This was Mo, from Boxout.FM. Together they wanted to build new creative partnerships between artists in Derry and Delhi and through British Council’s India:UK Together Season of Culture, they were able to join the dots.
I had the pleasure to launch the season in Delhi in June 2022 with a live DJ set.
Cartin: I’ve been involved with Celtronic for the last two years, playing at the festival and at Celtronic studios. Gareth mentioned some sort of India tour a while back, but at the time I thought it was so random that I didn’t think it would ever happen. I’ve never been to India before, so ahead of the trip there was a mix of excitement and nerves.
How was the tour and where did you go?
Alan: The whole tour was incredible. My tour started off in Delhi, where I met up with some of the guys from Boxout that came over to Derry, so I instantly knew we were going to have a good time. After Delhi I flew to Mumbai where I met up with Stalvart John who runs the Dynamite Disco Club parties. We would be travelling together and playing the rest of the shows together including in Pune and Bangalore.
Johnny: In December 2022 I toured with Indian DJ Kaleekarma – performing live at some of the most incredible spaces in India – the Red Fort, Delhi, Magnetic Fields Festival, Rajasthan and Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa. I expected the production values at each show to be high (and they were), so I built a completely new visual element to accompany the show. I knew it had to be something special, so I gave it everything I had, and I believe it paid off.
The music we collaborated on was completely new and this was the first time performing the material anywhere. The pressure was on, however that helped push our creative and technical boundaries forward into new territories.
Do you have any particular highlights from the experience?
Johnny: From a performance perspective, a big highlight for me was playing at the Magnetic Fields Festival. The setup was incredible, which allowed me to perform to the best of my ability. The setting of the festival was also perfect, and we opened the stage on the Sunday at sundown, which was extremely special. From a personal perspective, it was so nice to see and hang out with my Indian friends, who I met in Delhi and Derry in June 2022. They are such a nice bunch of humans and know the ‘craic’ - they made the journey for me. I also met Matt Black from Coldcut at Magnetic Fields who is a musical hero of mine. We talked at length about the Together in Sound project, which he loved.
Where was your favourite place in India?
Cartin: Definitely Delhi. It’s so hard to compare everywhere because every city I went to was so different, but I think Delhi has more of a thriving night culture. The show I played here was unbelievable, and I also got the chance to record a track with a DJ called Stain and run workshops on making music. From here on in, the tour was hectic, playing shows in Goa, Pune and Chennai, stopping in some cities for less than 24 hours. I loved the buzz of it all. These shows have definitely been a career highlight.
Johnny: Each place I visited had its own energy, so they aren’t really comparable. I loved the chaoticness of Delhi. Especially the traffic, for some strange reason. And the food of course. I had a little more time to soak up the vibe of Goa. The scenery, the people, the pace of life, its proximity to the water, all made it pretty special for me. I especially loved the area of Panjim (Goa), where Serendipity Arts Festival was held. I spent hours walking around the Latin quarter and old town looking at the different architecture and cultural influences of the area, it was incredible.
How did audiences in India react to your music?
Alan: Before I got there, I wasn't sure how our music would go down, but after I played the first few tracks in Delhi I knew it was going to be incredible. They know how to party and the love they showed me was hard to believe. They were some of the best gigs I've ever played, mainly because of the energy I felt from the crowd and the love and effort by the organisers.
Johnny: As this was the first time touring this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My first live show was at the Red Fort in Delhi, supporting Grandbrothers. People in the crowd from the offset of our performance looked hypnotised by the repetition and groove of the music; to the extent where I witnessed a group breaking out into a hybrid of contemporary dance and yoga moves. It was very impressive! The feedback that we received was overwhelmingly positive throughout the tour.
What is the Indian electronic music scene like, is it big or emerging?
Johnny: The electronica scene in India seems to have its own things going on. It’s a way of life for a lot of people and they seem to really get behind each other and work together to build a very positive, inclusive and professional cultural scene. Punters seem clued into the music and ready to be transported from the offset, which I absolutely loved. Bass music and rhythmical driven music seems to be huge here. The scene in general feels new and raw, which is amazing. I hope they hold onto that forever.
Alan: It's big for sure but also still emerging in many respects. From what I've seen it's on the right track. It seems like more and more DJs and artists are going there every month so that can only be a good thing. It was great to see so many different events happening during the festival/clubbing season. It was a busy time for the people I met so that was super positive.
Cartin: It’s definitely building and getter better out there, especially with the work that the Boxout crew are doing, where they put on shows every Wednesday night. They are bringing artists from all over the world to their club nights including really big UK artists. Surprisingly, a lot of the music that I would play would be a lot like the guys in Delhi –with their sound heavily influenced by the UK music scene. Other cities are a bit more commercial, but it’s clear that they are just building and growing.
What’s next for you?
Cartin: My DJing is part time at the minute, but I’m trying to push it as hard as I can. The dream is to leave the job and I think it will happen at some point. I’m hoping to release the track with Stain and I would love to work with the guys from Boxout again.
Johnny: Next up, I’m launching a collaboration EP with my good friend Sullem Voe on the 24 March. I would also love to collaborate with more Indian artists in the future and have already been speaking with a few that I met on my travels, so let's see how that pans out.
Can you describe your style of music and what has influenced you?
Cartin: My music I like to describe as electronic, but in the broad sense. With my shows I do a bit a DJing, but I like to incorporate guitars and keyboards into live sets. For me, live music draws audiences in more, and it’s something that I’ve done since a young age. In terms of influences Kink would be a big influence as well as Caribou and Mount Kimbie.
Alan: I'd say the music Queen & Disco play is a mix of disco and house music with international/world music influences throughout. My influences include not only DJs like Rahaan, Marcellus Pittman, Danilo Plessow (MCDE) but also my friends and fellow DJs from Queen & Disco, who have shaped the music I play now, so I'm very grateful for that.
Johnny: I would be mainly known for sculpting sound and performing live with modular synths, tape machines, DIY instruments and feedback / distortion circuits. I’m heavily influenced by the DIY ethos, where people just need to create something. Fundamentally that’s what it’s all about for me. It’s about making something that resonates with me and it’s nice when others like it too. Influential artists are many, however if I had to pick a ‘few’ heros they would include Shammen Delly, Boards of Canada, Laurie Spiegel, The KLF, Leftfield, AFX, Global Communication and William Onyeabor.
#Delhi2Derry: Together In Sound is part of the British Council’s India: UK Together Season of Culture, which runs until the end of March 2023.