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Costello the Craftsman

Known for his eclectic electronic beats, Donnacha Costello mixes up Berlin's next Pokerflat compilation

Having released his latest studio album on Steve Bug’s Pokerflat earlier this year, Irish technoist Donnacha Costello has been quick to follow it up with new material. ‘Hey, Dummy!’ is the producer’s latest effort; a driving-in-the-midnight-hours, neon lit, melancholic roller which sits alongside records from the likes of D’Julz, Joris Voorn and Steve Bug on the latest Pokerflat compilation, Shaping Elements.

The style of the release is but one of the many Costello has honed over the years, with previous work including everything from beautiful ambient to reductive minimal via trance-tinged and purely analogue techno. Plenty of emotion, an underlying hypnotism and bright colours are what characterise his work, and have done for more than a decade. As well as building an impressive back catalogue, Costello has also found time to run Minimise (one of the most revered techno imprints of its era) for the last eleven years and, since 2009, has headed up new label, Look Long, with much success.

Dazed Digital: I understand ‘Hey, Dummy’ is an exclusive for the Pokerflat compilation… was it written after you finished your album? Was it tough getting back into the studio after such a project?
Donnacha Costello: “Hey, Dummy!” was written some time after the album was finished. I did take a little studio break for a few weeks after finishing the album but it wasn't hard to get back to writing at all, for example my single “Ten Thousand Hours” was recorded after the album and for me at least it's one of the most free flowing things I've done and I like it a lot. “Hey, Dummy!” was actually written on completely different equipment than the album. I like to change the configuration of my studio a lot. 

DD: Have you moved on musically since the album? How do you feel about it looking? Was it an easy/enjoyable/difficult process?
Donnacha Costello: Well, I think that my work is constantly changing and one only has to look at my back catalogue to see that I've done a broad range of things. I move forward in my own way. After 15 years of doing this, I still try to improve and refine as I go on and my mind and ears are always open, but I think that this dogmatic view that one must reinvent the wheel with every release is as crippling, as if no change was to be permitted. I view myself as something akin to a craftsman rather than a great innovator, steadily making small adjustments and improvements to make my work as crafted and as long lasting as I can.  I'm very proud of the album and I really achieved what I set out to do when I began the project so for me it was a success in every way and a very enjoyable process.

DD: And how did you hook up with Pokerflat for Before You Say Goodbye’s release? Was that arranged before you wrote it or afterwards or…?
Donnacha Costello: Steve and I had become friendly in the years since my Colorseries releases in 2004. We collaborated for his last album and I had worked with Pokerflat in the past and knew they were great to work with. So when Steve knew I was planning an album and asked if I'd like to do it for them I didn't even have to think about the answer, Pokerflat was a very natural home for it.

DD: You seem to be giving more and more music away with your releases… what’s the thinking behind that and what else have you got coming up?
Donnacha Costello: I really want to show people who support me that I appreciate them and that they are important to me because they genuinely are. I have received so much love from fans by email and when I meet them that I would definitely like to continue to share things with them but they probably won't be of work I plan to release through the normal channels, rather they are likely to be along the lines of an interesting live recording or an unreleased mix or an out-take from a studio session or something like that.