Vinyl comeback seen on Dublin streets

Dublin’s city centre has found itself inundated with the oddest of entrepreneurial ventures over the past few months. Apparently, Dubliners just can’t get enough craft beer, poké, expensive coffee and €3 doughnuts that are packed with enough sugar to induce Type 2 diabetes. However, while these have quickly flooded our shelves and (somehow) emptied our bank accounts, something which has been on the rise within our city, and globally, has been the purchasing of lovely slabs of analogue music. By that, I mean vinyl records.

Vinyl has made a bold comeback, to such a point that it even nearly put itself out of business. However, that hasn’t stopped the fine people of Dublin from partaking in the age old tradition, an expensive one at that, of vinyl collecting. Although the pros tend to shop online for the best deals, there are still some digging die-hards who still opt to take a trip to their local record store. However, depending on your location that might be difficult.

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Image: Conor Shields

Blackwax Records is a new venture by seasoned Dublin DJ and collector, Willo, in the form of a single unit record store, buried within the heart of Windsor Arcade on Meath Street in Dublin. After being open for only three weeks, Willo has seen a rake of customers come and go, looking to peruse and purchase what he has to offer. Speaking to TheCity.ie, Willo explained how he got started with his store and why Meath Street?

“It was the cheapest place! I was meant to open in Temple Bar but that fell through and this was the cheapest place going. I’ve been collecting records for years and I’ve always wanted to open a record shop. I used to tell people back at sessions that I would and one night, I just decided to go forward with it,” said Willo.

After looking over his wares, it was interesting to see what kind of records he had for sale, considering the current size of his business. When it comes to selling vinyls, you really have to deliver to your customers. You have to know what they want, before they even enter the shop. I was curious to know what Willo’s selection process was.

“I’m only learning but I’m quickly learning what’s selling now. At the minute it’s just hit and miss. I have nothing direct at the moment. I’m still trying to figure out the market. Some of them are my own records but I’ve also been buying other people’s collections. It’s all about finding the right collections,” continued Willo.

He touched on his future plans before I left, commenting that he hopes to rent out a larger space in order to sell more goods than he can at the moment. I then left with my Kelis single in hand.

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Image: Conor Shields

At the moment, there are only a handful of record shops open for business in Dublin, with most following their own process of selection when it comes to picking which records to sell. It’s unlike your traditional business in which you can buy in bulk and hopefully sell enough to make profit. All records are hand-picked in the hope of being sold. It’s a delicate business, but one which I’m sure will be sticking around for future generations to have a nose at.

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Image: Conor Shields

Reporting and images by Conor Shields

Mic Christopher remembered

On the 29th November 2001, Ireland lost one of its most eclectic and talented troubadours. Singer-songwriter Mic Christopher – aged just thirty two – died tragically after an accidental fall on steps in the Netherlands, the same night he opened for his musical heroes, The Waterboys.

Now sixteen years later, Mic is remembered through the release of his debut album Skylarkin’ on vinyl for the first time.

This feat was achieved through Born Optimistic, an Irish record label and concert promoter. Through the help of Born Optimistic’s founder and former friend of Mic’s, Donal Scannell, and by the request of the late singer’s family, the occasion was marked with the vinyl release.

Andrew Gleeson, Assistant Promoter and Producer at Born Optimistic said, “Mic’s family ordered a substantial amount of his album on vinyl as it was approaching the anniversary of his death. Donal, who had been friends with Mic had also been thinking of doing something to mark the anniversary too and got in touch. Mic’s family then asked him to release it through Born Optimistic.

“The family didn’t necessarily want to make a big deal out of the release, just enough to celebrate him so that fans could avail of the iconic album in a way they hadn’t before,” Andrew said.

Michael “Mic” Christopher, born in 1969 in the Bronx, New York to Irish parents, moved to the then relatively new area of Clondalkin when he was a toddler. Mic’s family were self-proclaimed Elvis fanatics with music being programmed into the young Mic’s mind as a child. From the age of fifteen, Mic began making the trek into the city centre to busk on Grafton Street. It was there he met fellow busker Glen Hansard and the pair quickly became best friends. With their natural showmanship and powerful voices, the pair became a formidable duo act playing to the masses on Grafton Street. The two rented a flat on Harcourt Street for quick and easy access to their workplace.

Last year for Mic’s 15 year death anniversary, Glen Hansard and several of Mic’s former busker friends performed a sold out show in Vicar St. titled “Glen Hansard and friends sing the songs of Mic Christopher” where they performed Skylarkin’ in full.

Mic formed the band ‘The Mary Janes’ in 1990 and performed with the band up until their split in 1999. What Mic is known mostly for however is his posthumously released first and only solo album Skylarkin’, and its blissful songs that remain just as influential and significant as they did back on the album’s first release in 2002.

The lead single of the album, “Heyday”, featured famously in a 2003 Guinness ad and would become an Irish anthem in the following years, with tracks such as “Listen Girl” and “Daydreamin’” fully encapsulating the singer’s writing talents and seemingly limitless future potential. The album achieved platinum status in 2004, selling 15,000 copies, and though sadly this was a feat that Mic did not live to see, the songs still resonate in Irish culture.

The vinyl release of Skylarkin’ on what would have been the singer-songwriter’s 48th birthday is not just a remembrance of a true Irish talent, but a celebration of art and creativity living on long after death.

Skylarkin’ is available for order here: https://bornoptimistic.com/products/mic-christopher-skylarkin-vinyl

By Killian Dowling

 

Increase in female film production

Figures from the Irish Film Board have shown that the number of female producers involved in Irish filmmaking peaked in 2016, with 50 percent of film producing roles in 2016 undertaken by women.

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This was a twenty percentage point swing from the previous year which saw just 30 percent of women involved in these production roles, while 2012 saw a mere 27 percent of films produced by females.

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In the chart above we see female film producers on a par with male producers in 2016.
This increase is in line with the IFB’s Gender and Diversity Policy which intends to adopt a more inclusive breakdown of creative talent, and that ultimately a 50/50 split of gender in creative roles on and off screen is achieved.

Teresa McGrane, Deputy CEO for the Irish Film Board said, “We first noticed the divide in gender roles several years ago when we did a study regarding theatre production roles. We noticed women were few and far between in the production roles and we then carried this study over to Irish film, where we found much the same trend.

“The main problem for the first few years leading into the 2010s was that we weren’t getting applications from female producers. As a result we couldn’t make much of an impact with no applications,” Teresa said.

“So we invested in increased funding and set up a five year strategy that seeks to largely promote gender equality in film roles both on and off screen. This is largely in the form of working with production companies and funding with our public broadcast partners like RTÉ and TG4 and the BAI so that gender balance is promoted in publicly funding screen content.”

Although female film producers have greatly increased, the share of female writers and directors hasn’t changed greatly over the past few years.

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Male directors and writers still greatly dominate these roles.

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By Killian Dowling and Jenna Cox

Oscar Wild: Best Animated Feature Film

With the Academy Awards just around the corner, Clodagh Moriarty kicks off The City’s Oscar Wild series by taking a look at the contenders for the Best Animated Feature Film.

Opinion: Keep politics out of awards shows

In the wake of a politically charged SAG awards and Meryl Streep’s Trumbashing speech at the Golden Globes, Cormac Murphy awaits more of the same self-adulating politics at the Oscars.

It’s the story that really matters

Apollo Entertainment is a recent start-up entertainment company based in Dublin, which can attribute its name and brand to such shows as ‘Wake to Wake’ on Setanta Sports, and its follow-up TV series ‘Off the DOC’. We caught up with CEO/Producer Jonny MacCann.

MacCann (23) began by explaining why he decided to set up the company. “I started Apollo Entertainment because I wanted to tell stories and entertain people, my way,” he said. “I’m mad into sports and love TV, so I found a way of combining the two.”

With the company only just over a year old, it has made great strides in the industry already with wake-boarding documentary ‘Wake to Wake’ being featured on Setanta Sports and their cooking show ‘The Little Green Spoon’ amassing a wide online following. They are also creating content with popular Dublin based website ‘Publin’ and have more shows in the pipeline.

“We’re only one year old, so it’s still early days, but the company has been growing constantly. Apollo Entertainment has now created TV content for RTÉ, TV3 and Setanta Sports, so it’s all go,” he said.

“My next step is to finish this TV series ‘Off The DOC’, which is a wake-boarding reality series for Setanta Sports – it’s due to air the end of this year,” he said.

“After that we’ve a couple of projects in development both for TV and online. The two online series that I produce that are really going strong at the moment are ‘The Little Green Spoon’ and ‘Publin’. They’re two projects I’m very proud of,” he added.

With so many projects under the company’s belt so far, we asked what’s next for one of Dublin’s brightest media start-ups.

“The next step for me personally? I don’t really know, because my company and I are one and the same. So I guess it’s just keeping on the way I’ve been going.” Well it seems to be a formula that has worked so far.

He finished with a solid piece of advice for anyone looking to start out in producing and editing videos.

“Go out and film something,” he said. “Cameras are so accessible and affordable now that you can film a short film on your phone. Just remember the important thing is not what you use to tell your story, it’s the story itself that really matters.

“People will forgive poor quality or shaky video if the story and context is there. Don’t believe me? Nike’s most viewed commercial was shot on a $200 ‘point and shoot’ camera, so go out and tell a story you’d want to hear.”

For more from Apollo, you can visit their website here.