808s and mates: an ambitious podcast with a long road ahead

To say that the people behind 808s & Mates podcast are ambitious would be an understatement.

808s & Mates is streamed every third Wednesday on YouTube, with different musical guests each episode, who all perform live in studio, as well as being interviewed by hosts Bill McHugh and Jack Dwyer.

Co-host Jack Dwyer spoke to TheCity.ie about the genesis and ethos of the show, as well as giving an insight as to what the future holds for 808s & Mates.

Jack is in his third year of studying multimedia in Dublin University College (DCU) and has been DJing for the past four to five years.

“So, 808s & Mates is a podcast that myself and a few of my friends started up,” Jack told The City.

“We figured that we all had a joint interest in music of all genres and we figured that we wanted to broaden our knowledge of the Irish music scene and one of the best ways that we could do it would be by starting up a podcast.”

The majority of podcasts are found on sites like Soundcloud, Stitcher Radio and on podcast applications on phones, so why have 808s & Mates opted for streaming their content from YouTube?

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Jack from 808s and mates. Credit: 808s and mates

“The reason why it’s on YouTube is because we feel like every person under the sun, their cousin and their aunty’s dog has a podcast these days, so we figured by having the extra visual aspect that it would add to the whole experience and plus we could incorporate live performances into the show. The general route we are trying to go down is to promote Irish music culture and to hopefully make some kind of contribution to society. 808s & Mates has actually existed for three years”, Jack said.

“It was a music talk show ran by multimedia students in the year above me who I was friends with. The name comes from Kanye West’s album, 808s & Heartbreak and the ethos of the show in those days was very much hip-hop related.”

It was Jack’s friendship with the pioneers of 808s & Mates, along with his growing interest in the hip-hop genre that led to him becoming involved in the show.

“I moved in with a guy called Craig who’s big into hip-hop and living with him got me into hip-hop. I had been mixing/DJing for around [four or five] years, but I was pretty much mixing electronic music exclusively. However, after moving in with Craig and becoming interested in hip-hop, I began mixing hip-hop. My new interest in hip-hop basically sparked me into wanting to get a platform to put a mix up online, so I got in touch with the guy who was running 808s & Mates and asked him whether he would be interested in having me on the show to play a hip-hop set.”

Jack would indeed be brought on to the show as a guest, which in those days was on DCU’s college radio station, DCU FM.

“Going on to the show as a guest really gave me a taste of the whole vibe of live radio and being in a proper radio studio. After doing the mix on the show, I fell in love with the whole idea of doing something like this myself and became really involved in the show. I started organising guests to come on to the show and we would interview them. It was a really loose format, like the quality of the shows weren’t very good, but it was more for me about the experience of doing it than anything else.”

Jack then spent the summer of 2018 over in Vancouver, where he came to the realisation that since the original people behind 808s & Mates had left DCU, they had also left him an opportunity.

“The lads leaving college pretty much left me with an open book. They already had a decent enough social media following of around 400 people on the 808s & Mates Facebook page, as well as winning the best radio show in DCU. So, I said to myself that I may as well keep it going and bring it on from there. At the end of the summer when I came home from Canada, I made out this big plan of what I wanted 808s & Mates to be and we went from there. But, what the show is now is almost completely different to the plan I had made initially and it has naturally progressed to what it is now.”

So, what does the future hold for 808s & Mates? Jack is realistic, yet optimistic and the show is moving full steam ahead.

“At the minute, we’re three episodes in and I feel we’ve had a nice variance of musical acts so far. On our first show we had our most reputable guest to date, DJ and journalist Shampain (Cóilí Collins). On the following episode we had Tristan Da Cunha on the show, who’s a hip-hop and alternative rock producer and on our most recent episode we had the rap group Rogue Poets on.

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808s and mates logo. Credit: 808s and mates

“Tristan and Rogue Poets would be pretty small-scale and would have a similar following to what we have, but we figured that in trying to get the show to the next level in terms of gaining more of a following and general recognition from the public … [it would be] by having really good live performances on the show. We’re going to keep pushing on and trying to get acts on that are talented musicians and we’ll promote them through our live performances.

“Hopefully that will lead to us having the power and the social status to book bigger acts. Ideally, down the line we would like to have acts on the show of the ilk of Kojaque and the Villagers even. I know that this sounds deluded, even to myself, but I feel if we stay consistent to the brand and the message that we are trying to promote that we’ll eventually be able to do that.”

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