The Handless Organist – Interview & Mix

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I’ve featured a number of Irish producers on this blog and all of them have their own sound going on. This is most definitely true for The Handless Organist. While now based in Cork, the Limerick producer has been playing his brand of dream like elecronica for a number of years. I say dream like because that’s the only way I can really describe his sound. It’s got a great sense of atmosphere to it and while at times it floats along at a nice ambient pace there are times where it can break into something harder while still retaining that lovely sense of melody. He’s a producer I really respect and like and while recently he’s had a bit of bad luck regards technical issues and his hearing, he’s now back on track and eager to shine more than ever. I’m delighted he agreed to do an interview and record an exclusive mix for the blog that’s brilliant from start to finish.

Firstly, I suppose if you wanna introduce yourself!

Real name: Kim Griffith
Irish electronic producer, born in London, 1985, moved back to county Limerick , Ireland with my parents in ’89 when I was 3. Spent a lot of time moving around in my youth, my parents ended up settling in the Burren, in county Clare but moved house quite a lot in my youth,  so I don’t really see myself as from one particular place really, but definitely a country boy, despite being born in London. And a wanderer, so next stop, who knows ?

Where did the name The Handless Organist come from?

Myself and a mate decided to set up a myspace a couple of years ago together where we could post our random electronic noodlings, just something we did for the craic. Never expected it to go anywhere at all, I suppose I didn’t really consider you could do it live at the time, because it didn’t involve an instrument I could play (I was just learning the keyboard). I was clueless, but we ended up being offered a gig in Limerick and then at Electric Underground in Cork, so we got the finger out, the Handless Organist came from that. The laptop is the original handless organist!

Do you think you’d be making electronic music if it wasn’t as relatively easy as it is today with the advent of computers etc..?

Hard to know, electronic music has always been part of my life, whether i knew it was electronic or not. The Prodigy
were myself and one of my oldest mates favorite band in primary school. His older brother gave us “Jilted” on tape, and we were listening to “Their Law” for the first time, his father came in from work , heard what we were listening to, pulled the tape out of the stereo and snapped it in half! That was the first time I saw the real power of music (over adults anyway). But sure at that age, I didn’t know a 303 from a triangle, but I think as a musician you’ll always have curiosity about new kinds of music, so if you could lay your hands on the hardware you would of course give it a lash. Its only a matter of having the chance, which laptops have given to everyone and I’m all for that! The more creation, the more chance of mutation! Which is really what music is all about !

Who are your biggest influences?

Ha ha, always a loaded question ! This could end up as a ten page essay so I’ll keep it to the bare bones. The most visceral
musical experiences from my youth, that never left me (largely thanks to me aul fellah):

John Martyn, Tom Waits, The Prodigy, Portishead, Laurie Anderson, Nick Drake, My Bloody Valentine, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Sonic Youth….
and All Saints ; D

You recently had some hassle with your hearing. What exactly was the problem?

A combination of 10 plus years of high gain guitar and then topped off with being stupid and practicing for a gig
with in-ear head phones. The scariest 3 months of my life! They originally told me I’d lost 40 % in my right ear, I don’t have words to describe the few hours after that. There was a roaring in my ears anyway, but it felt like I was in a hurricane, it was a case of, what the hell do i do now, whats the point of me ?

Luckily they were wrong and its gradually coming back, but you also learn there’s far worse things that can happen, and on the plus side I’ve become far more aware volume wise and with mixing, its actually helped me as a musician !

How do you find translating your music live?

There’s lots of things that affect it, where your playing, who your playing with, the songs themselves, the crowd,
the biggest challenge I always find is when you put so much time into the actual arrangement of the songs and try to make them stand alone as a piece of music in itself, this doesn’t always translate live. If you’re playing in a cramped d.j booth, in a sweatbox club, you don’t really have room for a keyboard or a 2 minute piano interlude, you have to find a balance and keep it flowing, otherwise people just walk out. But then sometimes you get to play somewhere a bit more open and you can do something else, you just have to know what will suit where !

What do you make of the Irish scene at the moment?

The Irish scene at the moment is on the verge of something massive, if we can all just get together, throw genres out the window and support local talent. Limerick, Cork, Galway, Dublin and Belfast are hopping! There’s at least four or so gigs a month off the hook, it feels like Seattle in the 90’s or something !
About to burst ,
Now if we can only…

What producers are you listening to at the moment?

My favorite producers at the moment are 16 Bit and Jon Hopkins. Just the right mix of banging and beautiful,
like Debussi resurrected with a crack habit , a laptop and a broken heart.

Any releases etc planned for the future?

Actually in the middle of a new album set for release/tour around Christmas eve (my birthday), it’s about 70 % written, and a lot more subdued, just have to write about 3 more pieces and put it through post production, watch this space 😉

Big cheers to The Handless Organist for the interview! He plays in An Bourbon Street on MacCurtin Street in Cork this Saturday 15th October!

Here’s his mix:

Skirmish mix by The Handless Organist on Mixcloud

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