“From The Library” Episode 1.mov

First in a series of video blogs for Seaport Music in New York about my how i work as music producer. my studio is called the Library and its based in Dublin.
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…and introducing the Witness Protection Programme

Martin Clancy & The Witness Protection Programme

Song: “Paris, France”
Directed, edited by Tigrane Minassian

©2011
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Martin Clancy, from there to here

(This interview appeared in The Sunday Times Culture Magazine Sunday 10th July)

Martin Clancy in The Sunday Times Culture Magazine

Martin Clancy hasn’t set foot in a night club for two decades. The former synth player with the 1980’s folk rock contenders In Tua Nua is now 46 and prefers slightly more sedate night time activities. But thanks to an unexpected and slightly incongruous career opportunity making dance records for a whole new tribe that may have to change.

A couple of weeks ago, under the name the Witness Protection Programme, Clancy gatecrashed the top 20 of the Billboard US Dance/Club Songs chart, with the single You Can’t Stop the Rain, at No 19 Clubbers half of his age across America and further afield are probably getting hot and sweaty to his DIY house tune round about now.

The chart has been published weekly since 1974 by the American music-trade magazine. It was created as a trade barometer of what was hot on the vibrant New York disco scene, and has since become a snapshot of what club DJ’s are playing in the world’s largest music market.

In You Can’t Stop the Rain, Clancy hasn’t reinvented the turntable wheel or anything like it. The tune is a retro-disco ditty whose title and sparse lyric was inspired by the weather in his native Dublin. It was recorded and produced at his Leeson Street home and has the sort of solid breakbeat and bassline you might have expected in Antwerp in the mid-1990’s, rather than dubstepmad Dublin in 2011. The squelchy bass is topped with a catchy female lyric and a scratchy Nile Rodgers-style disco rhythm guitar.

The record is a follow-up to Witness Protection Programme’s club hit of the last year, the similarly disco-infused Flat Foot, which stayed on the dance chart for nine weeks.

As well as turning up in a countdown that is largely home to mainstream acts such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce, in addition to dance crossover artists such as Swedish House Mafia and Dirty Vegas, Clancy’s singles have been picked up and re-mixed by American DJ/producers such as the Grammy nominated Chris Cox and Richard Morel, who usually remix the likes of the Killers, Mariah Carey and Pet Shop Boys. College radio across America is beginning to give both records substantial play, too.

A founder member of In Tua Nua in 1981, at the tender age of 16, Clancy took a 15 year hiatus from making music after the band’s career fell apart a decade later. He moved into producing other artists as well as teaching, and had a spell guiding the career of Jack L, a cabaret-inspired singer –songwriter from Athy.

A couple of years ago, he began tinkering with home studios, having had a good deal of experience behind the mixing desk in professional studios in Ireland and the UK. He collaborated casually with musician and singer friends of all abilities, thinking up of various names for his cross-genre DIY endeavours, never intent on exploiting the finished product in a serious way.

‘My wife, Trish, would come in and listen to stuff and say ‘What is that?’ and I would say, ‘Oh, that is the Witness Protection Programme’, or ‘That one is by Embassy Gutters[the cover name for his dubstep experiments]’,’’ Clancy says. ‘ It was she who started sending the music to people she knew in the business.’

Soon music by his various ‘bands’ was getting regular air play on New York’s East Village Radio (EVR), as influential station who DJ’s include Mark Ronson, a British producer. It was there that he caught the attention of the Seaport Music Festival,a  hip collective based around the docklands district of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The festival has a reputation for giving next-big thing indie acts such as Hot Chip and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah their first big stage exposure during its summer series of free concerts. Last year, it invited Clancy to be its ‘artist in residence’, setting up the label Seaport Music Records as a vehicle both for him and some of the acts who performed at the festival. Clancy drafted in as his A&R on the project one Craig Roseberry who has previously collaborated with Yoko Ono on the considerable number of club tracks she has put out since allowing her music to be remixed.

‘They didn’t have much money or anything, but they were willing to get behind whatever I did and that was absolutely anything I wanted to do, so I thought ‘Why not disco?’, Clancy says of Seaport initiative.

The label released a limited edition 200 vinyl pressing of Flat Foot last summer and clubs across America picked up on it. Last October, it reached No 3 in the Dance/Club Songs chart and became a European club star

Clancy is now putting together a live band to perform Witness Protection Programme music and hopes to put talent from Dublin in the line up. The band is already chalked in to represent Ireland in the Culture Collide festival in October in Los Angeles part of a line up and Norway’s Datarock.

Though the unlikely career direction for the musician hasn’t made money yet, he hopes it will even translate into hard cash. Recently there was a four-page report in News Week which said that there was a remarkable 31% increase year in Digital Club Sales.

Martin finishes by stating ‘I have always said you should follow heart your when it comes to work, and the money will follow you’.

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The writing of “You Can’t Stop the Rain”

Martin Clancy

Martin Clancy

There are many different routes to songwriting and one of the paths that I most get a kick out of is jamming with a piece of machinery I’m not entirely certain how to work. If a song starts emerging without being looked for then a great creative rush can occur. Because chances are – your gonna delete it before you grab it & If it doesn’t get deleted/lost/crushed/zipped or destroyed  then it’s like getting a surprise birthday present, albeit , from yourself , but a surprise non the less.
You Can’t Stop The Rain was a lot like that.

I was fiddling around in the studio which I do a lot of when I am pretending to know what it is I’m supposed to be doing and need to look focused and busy. Despite that, the groove started waving to me and my curiosity was hooked. I set a loop of the verse and left 8 bars with the beat so that I could try some interesting chord changes. So far so so normal. Now , I had the basis of a potential song which I hadn’t managed to mangle or delete.

The vibe I have with Seaport Music Records (www.seaportmusicfestival.com) is that I might be working on several different projects simultaneously. The good thing about this is that when music emerges it has many different potential homes so that you don’t have to strangle it into becoming something that really it shouldn’t be. However with the first version of “You Can’t Stop The Rain” this “Freedom” is not always a direct route to goal.

At the time I was working with one of my groups (gLab) and David whose part of that crew heard it and said “I’ve a great idea for that mind if i give it a go?” Cool I thought and I gave him the track. 2 weeks later he came back with a wild and funny lyric about a sadomasochist tourist who has a panic attack on a flight no less. And of course David insisted that it must be sung in a German accent, so we did that.  Upon hearing it the gLab crew chased David out of the building. Haven’t seen him since. Hope he’s OK actually.
After that I completely forgot about the track until I started trying to find a follow up to last summers disco inspired “Flat Foot” release by myself and the Witness Protection Programme.

When it came to choosing the follow up single I figured it would be a good idea to present four songs and let some fresh ears work on helping pick what should be next. We worked and worked and then worked some more on 3 club oriented tracks, but I really wanted a fourth song and didn’t have one. Then I remembered the tune about the SM Tourist, wondered if David was still alive ,and  decided to start over on it – quickly.

One of the ways we work in the Witness Protection Programme is to simply let good people play. They don’t have to be “good” musicians or any of that crap, but they need to have a bit of wit and imagination about them. Ger Eaton (backing vocals) and Al Conor (piano) have magic in their boots, and soon the track was finished and included as the fourth number. As the musical inspiration for what was now “You Cant Stop The Rain”  was very much grounded in the Indie world, I expected a few eyebrows to be raised when I included it with the other club heavy tracks.

Photographers often included a “bad” or “wrong’ photo in a presentation selection to make the other shots look more appealing. “You Cant Stop The Rain”  was my “bad photo”. It was an unashamedly indie track placed in with more focused club based material. However , my DJs friends went crazy for it. I initially thought they were joking because I had been! Although with the track at number 29 this week in the Billboard Club charts its a great example of one of may favourite sayings “No One Knows Anything” and in this case ,least of all the writer/producer. Me.

The lyric was written when it appeared that the snow would never stop in Dublin. As “You Can’t Stop The Snow” sounded like the vocalist had a chronic lisp (though probably would have worked if it had been sung in the original intended German accent) I switched it to “You Can’t Stop The Rain” which oddly enough started to then happen in the city for the following 2 weeks (As I write this I’m back in Dublin which has a water shortage at the moment) Somehow this appears relevant to include.

I have no idea what the chorus means but I believe 100% in its vibe and attitude. “anything you wanna do, anything you want to say, I’m gonna say it anyway” . Other Lines like “all that wasted time” I find way too uncomfortably easy to relate to. So better not expanded upon here.

The last part of the song  – The “Fly” section is my favourite part of lyric. It says “very little” in one literal sense – it actually only says “Fly” several times (songs don’t necessary have to come with a manual though this one appears to be getting one) ,but when I hear that I nod my head in acknowledgement. A dumb hazy Big Lebowski styled acknowledgement admittedly, but it gets me every time.

The finished product can be seen here. You Can’t Stop the Rain reached number 19 in the Billboard Dance Charts as of today, Monday 13th June.

See www.facebook.com/martinclancymusic for further updates.

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Seaport Music Festival on NBC http://ow.

Seaport Music Festival on NBC http://ow.ly/5ed9C

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Witness Protection Programme in Alabama.

Witness Protection Programme in Alabama. Thanks to DJ Derek Johns http://ow.ly/5eb5w

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Cheers to DJ Craig DeMott In Miami Beach

Cheers to DJ Craig DeMott In Miami Beach for playing Witness Protection Programme “You Can’t Stop The Rain”

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