Cian Ó Ciobháin – Interview (English and Irish)

Interview Irish Tags : , , ,
(Ar fáil as Gaeilge thíos)

Cian Ó Ciobháin’s radio show, An Taobh Tuathail, has been a beacon for leftfield music in Ireland since it’s inception. Having earned himself a cult following both here and abroad, you could say the show has become an institution of sorts. Recently tagged as ‘the Irish John Peel’, Cian has been on air for an honorable thirteen years now. Broadcasting on Radió na Gaeltachta five nights a week, he plays some of the best alternative and electronic music from all over the world. Varying in theme each night, you’ll hear a diverse range of genres from dreamy electro-pop to dub-step and techno, depending on what night you tune in. One thing is for sure though, you can expect to hear something totally different, of a reliably high quality and brand spanking new, all as Gaeilge.

Beginning his career by hosting Ireland’s first and only, music tv series devoted entirely to electronic music, Rianta, he made his mark on the Irish broadcasting scene early on. Since then, together with Cyril Briscoe, he has been running one of Galway’s finest clubnights 110th St and they can also be heard playing sets around the country under the name SiSi.

On the cusp of releasing his fifth compilation album from the show, An Taobh Tuathail Vol 5, (which will be available to download on August 13th)Cian took the time to answer a few questions for us…


What are your earliest musical memories and what inspired you to get into music broadcasting? 


I recall being bewitched as a youngster in my parents’ kitchen in west Kerry listening to the radio … everything from John Barry soundtracks to Abba and the old beautiful songs of the region. I have a particular memory of two young lads visting from Limerick – two sons of my mother’s friend – and they sang Rolf Harris’ ‘Two Little Boys’. I had never heard it before. I burst into tears – with the benefit of hindsight, that’s when I first realised the prodigious power of music to tug at the
Regarding broadcasting music, I can safely say that it is my raison d’etre. I’ve always enjoyed (a) searching for music that I have never heard before and (b) needing to share my new finds with people. Once upon a time, I’d compile cassettes to share with my friends. I realise that there are effective ways of sharing music online
these days but – short of inviting you to my house – I find that the radio is the nicest way I can think of to share the music I love with the people who care. I was compiling radio shows in my head a very long time before I actually got to sit in front of the mic – which was in NUIG in he 90s on Flirt FM, the college radio station.
Is it significant – to you personally- that you present the show in Irish, or would you be as happy to work in English? 


It’s a source of considerable joy that I can present the tunes that find their way to me to others in our beautiful, ancient tongue. Some nights, it crosses my mind that I might be using the same words to describe a techno record from Berlin that have been passed down through generations by writers, poets and kings of Ireland. I realise that I would have a greater audience if the show were in English but regarding the universe through Irish is as much part of my identity as is my love for music.


ATT has gained a quite reputation for the high standard of music played out. It’s thirteen years old now, and as each year passes there’s more and more musicians & producers: With the internet, cheaper equipment, etc. Is your job getting more difficult? Surely it must take far more time… Is it hard to find the quality stuff and keep the standard at that high level?  


That’s a very good question and in many ways you’ve answered it. There’s a never ending tide of MP3s landing on my hard drive from around the world every day. I reckon I get sent about 500 new tracks through the internet every week. Of course, it involves much endeavor to listen to them all – I’m doing well if I can get through 50% of the stuff. I lead a relatively monastic existence during the week, rising early to spend the day listening to music. I’m not complaining, on any given day, I might hear at least one exceptional tune that I’ve never heard before – it’s such a great feeling to welcome a new tune into your life that you wonder how you ever managed to survive without it. Of course, most of what I listen to doesn’t make the cut for the show. However, the digital age has made it easier than ever to find the good stuff – through filters such as trusted blogs, social network sites and good old recommendations from friends of the show.


In your opinion, with the internet the way it is – downloading & radio streaming – what does the future hold for radio? Do you think it is under a serious threat, and if so, is there any way of avoiding it? 


I don’t think radio as a medium will ever die. As long as people are active with their hands or feet – cooking, typing, jogging or driving – there will be a need for a friend to talk to them and it’s hard to beat the radio. The internet has provided an invaluable way of sending the show around the world – we have listeners in New Zealand, Korea, across the States, Europe and the UK who tune in on the web or through the RTE radio player. I have every faith that radio will exist as a viable, powerful medium as long as people exist on this planet.

You’re a broadcaster, DJ & promoter: Which is your favourite? 


While I stress that broadcasting is my life, I absolutely adore DJing. When all the stars are aligned – a sweaty, enthusiastic dancefloor grooving to a dynamic mix I’ve managed to fluke, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. All night long.


Your choice of the top 3 Irish acts to keep an eye on..


It’s hard to pick three. For dancing – try Tr One, John Daly, Ships, I Am The Cosmos, FishGoDeep & New Jackson. I love Donegal’s SlowPlaceLikeHome’s psychedelic electronica, there’s a track of his on the upcoming ATT Vol 5 podcast. From Mayo, I recommend Seamus O Muineachain and Seamus Forgarty. And what about the wonderful spectral folk music being regularly released by Galway’s Rusted Rail label?

If you weren’t working in the music business, what would you be doing? 


Going from door to door to convert the superstitious of mind to atheism and reason.


You’re on a desert island and you have a record player (with electricity!). What three records would you have with you?  


 Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’:

lest I forgot the grey, desolate skies of northern Europe; Cocteau Twins ‘Heaven Or Las Vegas’:

and My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ because they feel like part of my DNA:

Judging by previous compilation releases, and by the eclectic track-list, An Taobh Tuathail Vol 5 is going to be an absolute gem of an album and will be available for free download here on August 13th. You couldn’t ask for more really could you?
And if you haven’t already heard the show, listen in (Mon – Fri, 9-11pm ) and I can guarantee you’ll hear at least 1 tune you’ll go on the hunt for.

Big thanks to Cian for the interview!  


Ó bhúnaíodh clár raidió Cian Ó Ciobháin, An Taobh Tuathail, is cosúil le rabhcán solais é do cheol a bhíonn ‘faoi thallamh’ agus nach gcloisfear morán in aon áít eile. Le lucht leanúna cráifeach tuillte aige, d’fhéadfá rá gur institiúid atá ann. Lipéadta le déanaí mar an ‘Irish John Peel’, tá ATTá gcraoladh ar aerthonnta Eireannacha le linn trí blianta déag anuas. Craoltar an chlár cúig oíche in aghaidh na seachtaine ar Raidió na Gaeltachta agus ceol leictreonach den scoth á chasadh, ó ghach áit ar domhan. Lé théamaí éágsúla gach oíche is féidir rogha ceoil a chloisint ó shaonraí pop-cheol taibhsiúla go dtí techno agus dub-chéim. Ach is cinnte go mbeidh ségo hiomlán difriúil, de chaighdeán fíor árd agus úr nua, go léir tríd ár dteanga dúchasacha. Ag tosú a ghairmbheatha mar láirtheoir den t-aonú strath riamh bunaithe ar cheol leictreonach, Rianta, ar teilifíse na hÉireann, chuir sé a bhéim phearsanta ar chraoltóireacht ón dtosach. Ón am sin, in éineacht le Cyril Briscoe, tá ócáídí á gcur ar siúl acu, don t-ainm 110th St. Ceann de na hoícheanta is fearr i gcathair na Gaillimhe, chomh maith le sin, is féídir iad a chloisint ar fud na tíre ag casadh ceirníní faoin t-ainm, SiSi.


Lena heisiúint nua, album díolama óna chlár darbh ainm, An Taobh Tuathail Vol 5,é díreach réídh agus ar an mbealach amach, (ar fáil ar an 13ú de Lúnasa ar íoslódáil), thóg Cian an t-am chun cúpla cheist a freagairt dúinne… 


Cad é na céad cuimhní ceoil atá agat agus cad a spreag do shuim i gcraoladh ceol?


 Is cuimhin liom a bheith faoi gheasa ag ceol is mé im’ gharsún óg ag éisteacht leis an raidió sa chistin ar an nGráig i gCorca Dhuibhne le mo thuismitheoirí…. gach rud ó cheolthéamaí John Barry go Abba is sean-nós na duthaí, pé rud a casadh ar an raidió. Tá cuimhne ar leith agam ar bheirt lead óg – beirt mhac le cara mo mháthair – teacht ar cuairt ó Luimneach uair, is chanadadar ‘Two Little Boys’ le Rolf Harris. Níor chuala riamh cheana é. Phléascas amach ag gol – ní raibh aon ní chomh háláinn cloiste agam im’ shaol go dtí sin.
Maidir leis an gcraoladh, níl dabht ar beith ach gurb í mo raison d’etre é. Tá sé mar nós agam riamh (a) dul ar thóir cheoil nua is (b) é a roinnt le daoine. Uair don saol, chumfainn caiséid nó cnuasachta ceoil ionnas ceol a roinnt le mo cháirde. Tuigim go bhfuil bealaí éifeachtúla ceol a roinnt tríd an idirlíon ach – in áit cuireadh a thabhairt duit go dtí mo thigh – ‘sé an raidió an módh is deise liom le ceol a a chur in aithne do dhaoine. Tá cláracha ceoil á chur i láthair agam im’ shamhlaíocht ó bhíos im’ dhéagóir agus chuireas i láthair mo chéad clár ceoil ar stáisiún raidió Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – Flirt FM – sna 90dí.


An bhfuil morán tábhacht -go pearsanta tú fhéin- leis an gclár a bheith as Gaeilge nó an bhfeifeá chomh sásta é a dhéanamh as Béarla? 


Táim thar a bheith bródúil go bhfuil an clár á chur i láthair agam inár dteanga aoibhinn, ársa dúchasach. Is breá liom go bhfuil cuid de na focail céanna á úsáid agam chun cur síos ar cheirníní techno ó Bherlin is a d’úsáid scríbhneoirí, fillí is ríthe na tíre sa tír seo le na cianta cairbhre. Tuigim go mbeadh pobal níos mó éisteachta agam dá mbeadh an clár as Béarla ach faighim sásamh ar leith gur féidir liom dul i ngleic leis an gceol nua-aimseartha trínár dteanga ársa. 
Tá an-chlú agus cáil ar an gcaighdeán árd den cheol a chasann tú.. Tá ATT trí blianta déag d’aois anois ach le gach bliain anuas, á níos mó agus níos mó cumadóirí ceoil: leis an idirlíon, treallamh níos saora agus mar sin de. An bhfuil do phost ag éirí níos deacra? Caithfidh go dtógann sé i bhfad níos mó ama ort… An bhfuil sé deacair chun teacht ar na hamhráin is fearr agus an chaighdeáin a choimeád ag an bpoínte sin? 


Sin ceist an-mhaith agus ar bhealach tá sí freagartha agat. Tá tuile ceoil ná héagann choíche ag leandeáil ar mo thiomantán crua ó cheann ceann an lae. Is dóigh liom go seoltar tuairim is 500 rian
nua chugham tríd an idirlíon gach seachtain. Tá dua mhór ag baint le éisteacht le fiú 50% don méid a thagann isteach. Bíonn saol an mhanaigh agam i rith na seachtaine, ag éirí luath ar maidin chun an lá
a chaitheamh ag treabadh tríd an gceol nua. Nílím ag gearán, cloisism port nua ar leith ar a laghad uair sa ló. É sin ráite, níl ach ceatadán íseal don méid gur éistíom leis a castar ar an aer. Ach, ar bhealach eile, tá sé níos fusa teacht ar cheol maith sa ré digiteach seo, le moltaí ag teacht trí na mblaganna, trí na meáin shoisialta agus gan dabht ó éisteoirí an chláir, a bhíonn i dteangmháil
VIA r-phost &rl.
Leis an idirlíon mar atá – íoslódaíl agus fiú an chomórtas mór le sruthú – i do thuairim, cad atá sa todhchaí don raidió? An bhfuil sé faoi bhrú dáiríre agus an bhfuil aon slí é a sheachaint? 


Ní dóigh liom go gcuirfear an raidió faoi chois go brách. Fadh a bheidh daoine gnóthach lena lámha nó lena cosa – ag cócaireacht, ag clóscríobh ar an ríomhaire, ag rith nó ag tiomáint – beidh gá i gcónaí le cara chun labhairt leo agus is deacair an raidió a sharú mar chara. Is mór an chabhair a thugann an idirlíon dom’ leithíd clár raidió a scaipeadh ar fud na cruinne – éistíonn daoine le ATT i bhfad is i gcéin pé uair a oireann dóibh trí sheinnteoir raidió RTÉ. Mairfidh an raidió mar mheán tábhachtach, cumhachtach cumarsáide fadh a bheidh daoine beo ar an domhan seo chun éisteacht leis.


 Is craoltóír, DJ agus bunatheoir thú. Cioca ceann ab fhearr leat?! 


‘Sí an chraoltóireacht mo raison d’etre ach is breá liom a bheith ag diosc-mharcaíocht. Nuair atá slua fuinniúl, allastúl, paiseanta romhat amach ag rince chuig do rogha buillí, níl áit ní ba fhearr ar mhaith liom bheith ná á dtiomáint le gealaigh. Ar feadh na hoíche.


Do rogha do na 3 léiortheoirí/grúpaí Éireannacha is fearr chun súil a choiméad orthu faoi láthair…. 


Is deacair triúr a roghnú. Chun na cosa a spreagadh chun rince – Tr One, John Daly, Ships, I Am The Cosmos, FishGoDeep, New Jackson. Is breá liom SlowPlaceLikeHome ó Dhún na nGall, tá a cheol
leictréonach sicidéalach le clos ar phodchraoladh nua ATT Vol 5. Ó Mhaigh Eo, mholfainn Seamus O Muineachain is Seamus Fogarty. Agus cad faoin gceol iontach a eisíonn lipéad Rusted Rail na Gaillimhe? 

Mura mbeifea ag plé le ceol, cad a bheadh ar siúl agat? 


Ag dul ó dhoras go doras ag iarraidh daoine a chreideann i bpuiseoga a threorú go dtí an aindiachas.

Da mba rud é go raibh tú ar oileán thréigthe le seinnteoir ceirníní (le leictreachas!) agus ach 3 cheirníní in éineacht leat – cad a bheadh ann? 


Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures chun spéir ghruama thuaisceart na hEorpa a chur i gcuimhne dom is an ghrian ag scoltadh na gcloch; Cocteau Twins – Heaven Or Las Vegas & My Bloody Valentine – Loveless mar táid go tréan san DNA.

Ag féáchaint siar ar na heisiúintí eile ó ATT, agus ar an liosta amhráin a bheidh air, níl amhras ar bith ach déánfaidh albaim den scoth as An Taobh Tuathail Vol 5, agus é ar fáil saor anseo ar an triú lá déag de mhí Lúnasa. Ní bheadh a thuilleadh eile uait, an bheadh?

Muna bhfuil an chlár cloiste cheana agat,  éist leat (Luan-Aoine, 9-11pm) agus geallaim duit go gcloisfidh tú amhrán amháin ar a laghad, a bheidh á lorg agat.

Míle Buíochas do Chian don agallamh! 

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