First Cut label boss Richard Be selects 33 tracks from some of Ireland’s finest music makers and record labels
Richard Be is a longstanding ambassador for electronic music, respected journalist and the driving force behind “First Cut” – a new label springing from the Irish capital and his passion for pushing home talent.
He grew up listening to and collecting music, everything from synth pop and new wave to Public Enemy, MBV, The Fall, Jesus and The Mary Chain and became obsessed with electronic music as it broke through in the early 90s. In 1993, he moved to Germany as a student and started to get into the sounds of Frankfurt Trax and Harthouse, experiencing mega-raves like Tribal Gathering in Munich and the Love Parade in Zurich where he first stumbled upon a Detroit producer called Robert Hood. Around the same time he started to get his hands on Network compilations, beginning his true love affair with Detroit Techno and Chicago House.
By the time he returned back from Germany, Dublin had undergone a transformation as clubbing and parties started to root their way into youth culture and great nights like UFO, Shaft, Temple of Sound, the legendary Sides, Shine in Belfast, Sir Henry’s in Cork and Sex Kitchen in Galway all spread a feeling of optimism, creativity and freedom. Around this time, he started to document what was going on with a dance music column in Hot Press, the only dedicated music magazine in Ireland at the time – allowing him to profile emerging artists and labels. At the time (1996) it was only the start of the internet, so there was a lot of digging around in stores, calling people up and even entering into correspondence with letters to certain artists. It was also around this time that artists and labels like D1, Ultramack, Bassbin, Decal, Rob Rowland, Donnacha Costello and David Holmes were emerging. This first wave gave others the belief to do their own thing and now, almost 25 years later, there’s no mistaking that Ireland has an unbelievable wealth of talent.
As he enthuses: “It would be easy to do another 2 or 3 instalments of Irish-only electronic music. What I find really amazing about Irish producers is that they continue to thrive despite having to deal with rising living costs, an acute housing crisis, draconian licensing system whereby the few clubs that have remained open can only operate till 2am! I must take this opportunity to praise the ‘Give Us The Night Campaign’ to seek reform in this area, especially Sunil Sharpe’s tireless work – and a largely unsympathetic, ignorant media that characterises everyone who likes or makes this type of music as a raving loon.”
Having penned the DJ Magazine’s techno column for the past 20 years, he was also responsible for bringing acts like Redshape, Sleeparchive, Function, Dopplereffekt and Convextion to play at his party ‘Test’. With this in mind, he decided to put my money where my mouth was and set up the First Cut label in 2016.
As he explains: “I’ve been running a mail order service via Discogs and firstcut.ie so the label felt like a logical progression. It’s dedicated to promoting local artists – that’s not to say that in the future there won’t be overseas producers. So far we have done five releases, with projects from existing artists with new names, or first-timers like Giles Armstrong and Tapes Jamaican. I am just getting ready for number six, so watch this space…”