Bryan Kearney Interview
The Kearnage Recordings main man looks forward to his end of tour appearance at Trance Sanctuary on the 19th
Over the past few
years Bryan Kearney has risen up the ranks to become one of the major
players within the current trance scene. His energetic DJ sets have
seen him gain respect from many on a dance floor while his
outstanding productions have resulted in lots of new followers. In
2014, his remix of Gareth Emery's 'U', featuring Bo Bruce, was voted
the A State of Trance Tune of the Year. Whether it’s uplifting,
tech or psy-trance, Bryan has continued to release stand out tracks.
Not just a
DJ/Producer, Bryan also runs his own label Kearnage Recordings. For
the past year Kearnage have held events all across the world and on
Saturday the 19th of November it stops off at Egg London to join
Trance Sanctuary's daytime party. Get full info and tickets here.
Ahead of the
event, we caught up with Bryan to find out more about the label.
Hi Bryan, what made you first to start up Kearnage Recordings and what were your initial intentions for the label?
Frustration and anger. I was frustrated at continually having my tracks rejected by labels because it wasn't suitable for release. No labels were willing to sign anything that I was making. This made me angry, and the anger made me take action. In 2010, I set up Kearnage Recordings and the first release was 'The Next Chapter', quite an appropriate name to kick start a label. It was initially set up as an outlet for me to release my own tracks. I didn't have a major plan, I never really have in any aspect of my musical career, I take everything as it comes and take whatever action is necessary in order to move forward.
Now 67 releases in, how has the label evolved over the past six years?
The ethos of the label has changed dramatically over the past six years. It was initially set up as an outlet for myself, but now it's more focused on other artists alongside my own music. I'm extremely proud of my label. It's the only truly independent trance label that has never been a sub label of one of the major dance labels at any stage. It's just me, my MacBook and my passion for music. I've been approached on a number of occasions by the big names with interest of signing Kearnage but I have no interest in it. I built the label from nothing, it's continuing to grow and I want to do this myself, I want to be independent. The label has always been quality over quantity. This year, I have had so many amazing tracks on the label that I have had to start releasing tracks every two weeks, but the quality level has never dropped. The label is diverse, it doesn't have a signature sound, but it's always aimed towards the dance floor. I'm not going to sit here and say I have all these plans for the label, because I don't. I focus on one release at a time. My main focus is that each release is what I want in terms of music quality, graphic design of the artwork and gets the attention it deserves. Kearnage is a very difficult label to get signed to, I turn down a lot of music, I have high standards and I have no intentions of dropping them at any stage.
If you had to pick three releases that are particular special for the label, what are the three and why?
Adam Ellis - 'Napalm Poet'
A game changer for the label, a very special track that epitomises trance for me.
Sam Jones & Will Rees - 'Oversight'
Easily one of the best trance tracks over the past few years, how many tracks have a 32 bar melody? Not many. Both these guys have had huge solo tracks on the label too, two of the most important people on Kearnage.
Will Atkinson - 'Pat Butcher'
Some people love it, some people hate it, but there's no question that it gets a reaction every time. The biggest selling track on the label and a track that showcases the genius that Will Atkinson is.
You have had some established artists like Sean Tyas, M.I.K.E Push and Sneijder release on Kearnage, as well as newer talents like Will Rees, Sam Jones and Shugz. What satisfaction has it given to you to release tracks from those types of producers?
It's a privilege to have the established artists on the label. It's a testament to the strength of the label, especially the return of the legendary Active Sight project from M.I.K.E. Push and Fred Baker. To be honest, I get more satisfaction from helping out the next generation and helping them onto the next stage of their musical careers. They are all guys that I believe in, especially as they do it all themselves, which is a rarity these days. Sam Jones, Will Rees, Shugz, all huge talents with big futures ahead of them. They have skills in the studio, but more importantly, they know how to DJ. They are similar to myself. I've always considered myself to be a DJ that makes music, not a producer that DJs, there's a distinct difference. Moving forward, it's these guys that will be with me on the Kearnage lineups for their DJing skills, and on the label for their unique productions.
How many demos do you get sent and what is the process you go through to actually release a track?
A lot. I'd say I have signed about 1% of what I've been sent over the past few years. I've turned down a lot of tracks that have then appeared on other labels and that have done well, but I don't regret not signing any track at any stage. I know myself within two seconds if I want to sign the track. There have been times when I like something particular about the track and I will go back to the producer with suggestions on what to focus on. At times, I'll ask for the midi files for the main melody, work a little on it and send it back to them so they can take it from there. After I sign a track, I play it as I.D in my own sets for a while. I then send to a handful of people in advance of release.
For any producers reading this, what are you looking for when you sign a track?
Go and listen to the tracks on the label, listen to the quality of the production, that's the level you need to aim for. If it doesn't hit this level, I am not going to sign it. Don't take it personally if I don't sign it, use it as motivation to reach the level required. Spend all your time on one track, that's all you need now to kick-start your career, one track. After this, it is up to you to keep things going for yourself.
Over the past year Kearnage Recordings have held club events in various cities across the world including Sydney, Melbourne, New York and Dublin. What has that experience been like?
I think it's been a very successful first year of events for Kearnage. We've had two sold out shows in Northern Ireland, both at Lush, one last week, and one on NYE. We also sold out Manchester and Sydney. We had our own arena at Coloursfest in Glasgow, we brought back a trance event to the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin for the first time in seven years on the same weekend. That was a particular favourite, the Kearnage weekender. We had an amazing warehouse event in Brooklyn and the biggest show of the tour was in Melbourne at Festival Hall. The promoters pulled out all the stops at both these events, particularly in Melbourne, the production was next level. It has been an amazing experience, not just for the events themselves, but to have so many talented people on the line ups, to have a laugh with them at the shows and just generally enjoy ourselves. They can be stressful in advance as we are emotionally invested in the events but I have a great team working with me and every show has been a success. The only disappointment was that we were just about to announce a big show in Argentina but it had to be cancelled due to the unfortunate incident at Timewarp that led to the Argentinian government banning large scale events. I got to go and do two sold out solo club shows instead so it wasn't all too bad. It's been incredible though, I've loved it.
On the 19th November you will be bringing the tour for a daytime event at Egg London. What are you most looking forward to with this event?
It's the final event of the world tour and has one of the best line-ups, it's perfect for the Trance Sanctuary crowd. I love playing at Egg for Trance Sanctuary, I always have. It's like a throwback to the golden days, the crowd knows exactly what they want, top quality trance from start to finish, that's what they are going to get. On the night itself, I think I am going to put the focus of my set on the label, a Kearnage showcase so to speak. I will, of course, play some unexpected tracks as always, but with it being the last show of the tour, I think it's important to play tracks from the label from throughout the years. I've never really done this before so this will be the first time. Let's finish the tour in style.
For more info, see the links below.
Bryan Kearney - www.bryankearney.com
Kearnage Recordings - www.facebook.com/kearnageofficial
Trance Sanctuary - www.trancesanctuary.com