Standalone Records’ Laughing Man mixes Nightclubber 192 »
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Dublin-based DJ/producer and label owner Laughing Man is someone who’s been on our radar for some time. A long-time favourite amongst discerning minimal techno fans, he also runs the Standalone label and has left his own inimitable mark on respected labels such as Fasten Musique, Berg Audio, Silencio and more. We caught up with him recently for a far-ranging chat, as we touched on everything from his debut Nightclubber mix (which you can listen to here) to his plans for the year ahead… 

Hi Dominic, how are you today? How was your 2022? Did you make goals for yourself at the start of the year? What were they and did you go some way to achieving them? 

This year I decided to just take a bit of a break and get myself settled into my new job. I set myself a few goals at the start of the year, primarily focused on getting my personal life more in line with where I want it to be and I feel I have achieved that now. 2023 is the year I feel fresh and ready to get back focusing on my productions and labels, alongside a new project with a couple of very good friends.

Tell us a bit about your Laughing Man alias as I reckon people will want to know…

The Laughing Man alias came about back in 2016 when I wanted to start to focus on building something that was different to the norm for me. The name came from brainstorming what the project could be called with the other half of Standalone and a best friend Sonny. I felt the name had to be something that had a lot of meaning for myself and where the name originally stems from it has had a big impact on me from a very young age.

You’ve really hit a great run of releases over the past few years, with releases coming on the likes of Berg Audio, Hosta, Fasten Muzique and your own label, Standalone, yet you tend not to rush releases and limit them to about one per year. Is this a conscious thing for you? Do you think too many producers rush releases and don’t put out music when it’s ready?

Releasing a small amount of music wouldn’t be a thing of consciously limiting what I put out. It would be the opposite as I’d produce a lot of music and be happy with most of what I make, and send them to friends. But I would rarely send music to labels as I never know where to send them even if it is my favourite label. I would send them to friends or artists that I feel would be into the tracks. I’ve just gotten into a routine of just sitting on them.

The question of whether the track is rushed or not, and that would only be known by the artist of the track or if the artist himself says so. I’m sure there’s a high amount of unfinished tracks out there that we don’t know about but to us sound perfectly fine. As well as you have tracks that are never 100% done because every time you listen to it, you believe you could add something to it like another sound here or there. So a track really never is 100% complete in my opinion. 

I mentioned Standalone just now: can you tell us a bit about the label and your plans for it? What motivated you opening it in the first place?

Standalone originally started back in 2017 when myself and Sonny thought it would be a good project to both work on together. It originally was to be a mix series then eventually a label, but it changed very quickly into becoming a label after 3 or 4 mixes were released. Personally for years I wanted to start my own label and at the time it just felt right.

What is the ultimate aim for the label? Who inspires you in this way? Ie. are there any labels you really look to as doing things in a great way that really resonates with you?

I guess when we first started Standalone Records, we were just excited about releasing music. We didn’t go into our work with other labels in mind. We just make music and release it in the way that feels natural to us.

Your music’s been remixed too by the likes of Triptil, yet it’s fair to say your hometown of Dublin hasn’t quite embraced more minimal and Romanian influenced sounds like parts of the UK. Are things changing a bit from that side though?

The electronic music scene in Dublin is mainly based around techno and EDM gigs. So minimal nights haven’t been that common for as long as I can remember. But when a collective runs either a local night of minimal DJs or brings over an act they are always well received by everyone who’s into that sound. It’s a shame that it’s not as well received like it is in the UK.

What is it about that style and sound that resonates with you so much? There’s a real DIY, almost anti-corporate, old-school agenda to it I feel…

It’s a tough one to explain. It’s a style for as long as I can remember I’ve been in love with and how it presents itself. I love the sophistication of the percussion and the small intricate pads and stabs that are completed so well by the actual arrangements by the artists themselves.

What’s the one thing you’ve learned about production over the past while that has improved your sound? Are you at a stage now where you’re very confident in your approach or is there always room for improvement?

I have gotten more comfortable in my creative process and how I work with different techniques of sound design. One thing I can say that has been a help with my productions is to not be so narrow minded when it comes to making something. Try and be a little bit more open to producing something outside of my comfort zone. I am very comfortable in my process of making a track from start to finish but there are always ways to improve your productions or even just workflow.

Talk to us a bit about where things are at for you in Dublin right now: do you still get to play out there much? Do you have a studio there too? And as such an expensive city, is it a challenging place to work as an artist?

As I’ve said I have taken a step back this year so I am not as involved as I have been in the past. I’ve been very lucky to be able to share a studio space with a great friend. After spending so much time collaborating with such talented people in that space, it’s hard not to take that experience and grow as an artist. I am no longer in this space as I felt it was the right time to make a change.

I feel it can be a challenging place to work as an artist especially when it comes to this style of music. but it comes down to consistency time put into it as it would with anything else.

The likes of Sunil Sharpe and his Give us the Night collective have done great things for Dublin and Ireland in general, and extended opening hours are coming soon. What’s your take on this and how do you think it will affect things there?

It’s fantastic news. It has not been easy, this has been pushed for over a decade and you really have to admire the determination to achieve something like this in this country after constant setbacks. but I really hope it will bring the production value of events to a whole new level to match those of other cities.

What’s next for you – musically and personally – that you’re really excited about?

I’m just excited to be focusing on my music and labels again and to see what happens in 2023.

Could you also tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us? What was the vibe you were going for there?

I went in with a deep bass driven and breaks style vibe for the track selection in my mix. I didn’t really go in with a pre-set theme or track selection, it just played out with what felt right at the time.

Finally, if you were to introduce your sound in one track, what one would it be and why? (Please link to it here)

To introduce my sound I would have to go with the title track of my album “Divided Mirrors”. I feel my music is very emotion driven and I think it would be the best example of that.

Keep up with Laughing Man on Facebook, Instagram , Bandcamp and Soundcloud

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