Niall D’Arcy is probably the first name down on the team sheet for any Irish festival promoter. Better known as DJ Deece, he’s been a mainstay on the summer circuit for years now. With bigger rooms, later set times and ‘no free weekends’ for the upcoming summer season, there’s nobody more appropriate to describe the Irish festival scene.

The College Tribune: I know you’ve experienced consistent growth now for a number of years but last year, specifically last summer, had some major milestones like the Boiler Room set at AVA Festival and closing out and curating the Rave in the Woods on Sunday at Electric Picnic, do you have any similarly big events planned for this summer?

DJ Deece: Not to that level- they were massive jumps. The Boiler Room was obviously huge, it was probably the first time I had people outside of Ireland interested in what I was doing. Boiler Room has a worldwide audience, so my Facebook page was starting to get likes from Columbia and stuff like that.
The Rave in the Woods thing was great for Ireland and me. Over the years there’s been massive raves in that plot. It’s good to be in that discussion when it comes to closing such a big festival.
In regards to this summer, it’s kind of plateaued a little bit. With that stuff last year, I’m used to being in small print on the bottom of festival line-ups but now it’s getting a bit higher and will that definitely help with my overall profile.

CT: From more of a punter point-of-view, do you have any highlights from last year or the year before even when you were the other side of the stage?

Deece: Hmm, who did I see that was great? I really enjoyed OutKast at Electric Picnic- that was 2 years ago. Growing up, I was a massive fan but when I got to the age where I was going to gigs, they had stopped [playing shows] but getting to see them was really, really good.
From a punter point-of-view, AVA festival was amazing. I’d highly recommend going to that- it’s just really well laid out, the crowd was just really nice and the sound was great in every tent. You walk in and you straight away felt it was going to be good. Whereas with other festivals it takes a while to get there.

CT: Festival sets versus club sets – I know your Workman’s residence is a bit different because you have a lot of room to do what you want there but how would approach a headline festival set versus a club set?

Deece: I actually don’t know. A headline set for both is quite similar, you can just kinda whack it out. For an earlier club set, you’re just gonna build the floor whereas at a festival, it’s kind of like from the word go, everyone is ready to go straight away. [For a club set] you’d be likely to play more sensible, recognisable kind of music I guess. For a big festival set, you’re not really gonna be trying out new tunes whereas you can get away with a bit more experimenting in a club.

CT: At festivals, if you’re playing on a stage where it’s a full day of DJs, is there any kind of competitive element? In terms of who has the crowd going more or who’s drawing in the bigger crowd?

Deece: There’s healthy competition. If you’re coming on after someone and you see they’ve got the place going mad, it makes you raise your level then, to keep that buzz going. I don’t think it’s a competitive thing. Obviously everyone wants to be doing ‘best sets’ or whatever but I think if you focus on competition, you kind of lose the purpose of it.

CT: In terms of this summer’s line-ups, I think the longitude line-up has been covered pretty well elsewhere so I don’t really want to go into that, but are there any that stick out straight away? Anything off the top of your head you’re looking forward to?

Deece: I’m looking forward to NERD at Electric Picnic- I’m a big fan. It’s similar to the OutKast thing where they had stopped doing shows by the time I was going to gigs. Forbidden Fruit should be a good one. I’m looking forward to seeing that Four Tet live show. That Monday at Forbidden Fruit is cool as well, with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Grizzly Bear – it’s good to see some bands rather than just DJs.

You can catch Niall just about everywhere this summer, upcoming shows include Trinity Ball, AVA x Faint Sligo, AVA Festival Belfast, Forbidden Fruit and Sea Sessions.

Niall O’Shaugnessy – Music Writer