Christian Boshell has been a fixture of the electronic underground since the early nineties. From his Omnis Recordings imprint to the more recent Bakroom, the Irish artist has consistently been on the cutting edge. We had a chance to catch up with him as he presents his new Paperheart project on ICONYC this week.
Hi Cristian, thanks for joining us, how are you today and what are you up to?
Christian Boshell: Hi Guys, I’m in pretty good form today, am just coming back off a month-long vacation in Mallorca in Spain and am currently fighting off the holiday blues. Today, I’m in the office promoting my new electronica album “Phase Tree – The thing about secrets” & a bit later I will be putting the finishing touches to a motion graphics presentation for a festival performance gig with one of my other collaborations Phraktal.
How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer?
Christian Boshell: I suppose the first modern electronic music I discovered was probably around 1988 at a school disco, music like S-Express – “Superfly Guy” and the Various artist compilation The House Sound of London – Vol.IV “The Jackin Zone’ which was on FFRR Records have a lot to answer for. Records like Reese & Santonio’s – “Rock to the beat”, Richie Rich’s – “Salsa house”, Tyree’s Acid Over (Spectrum remix) and D Mob – “We call it Acieed” were heavy influencers, but if I were to go even further back, bands like Depeche Mode, Wang Chung and Tears for Fears were already making amazing electronic music that drew me in immediately. I never really thought I wanted to be a producer, I think it happened because of many different variables, my uncle thought me guitar when I was 13 or so and he had a 4 track in his home, so I was being influenced by that before I even realised, so from my early teens I was writing songs, its always been something I do, since then. I would say exposure to House and Techno was the main catalyst. I am originally from a fairly impoverished area in Dublin which still doesn’t have much going for it, I see/n music (as do most people) as an Escape from reality/the mundane. My escapism has led me down this long arduous path.
Tell us about your record collection, where do some of your early influences lie?
Christian Boshell: My record Collection was around 10,000+ vinyl, up until a few years back, when I decided to sell anything in my collection that wasn’t being played, so Today, I have around 6,000 vinyl, the majority of which I still love to play. I also buy and receive a lot of digital releases & promos each week. Influences wise, I was drawn to the sound of William Orbit, Jean Michelle Jarre, Juan Atkins, Kevin Sanderson, Laurent Garnier, Slam/Soma Records.
How has growing up and living in Ireland affected the music you make? The country’s love for timeless techno never seems to wain does it?
Christian Boshell: I was just chatting to a close friend about this last week and to be honest growing up in Ireland has its merits and setbacks, for example, one of the first clubs I was resident in back in 1993, I use to play lots of music on Soma records, Guerrilla, Trax and Limbo records & the crowd always loved them, but over time the police started to clamp down on such clubs playing this type of sound, which made the scene even smaller, to where at one point there was barely anywhere to go, let alone play, which is one of the many reasons I left Dublin to live in Cork in the Deep South for a time and then left Ireland for Australia in 2004.
What’s a typical day like for you? Do you follow a strict daily regimen? And how much time would you say is set aside for production work?
Christian Boshell: The older I get it seems the less time I get in the studio working on productions, I run a small Media company making short films/visual presentations, websites, graphic designs etc, so there’s always work to be done. Now that I think of it, I do follow a strict daily regimen. My typical day starts off around 7:45am with coffee and croissant, I drop my youngest daughter to school and then come back to delve into the office work that needs doing. I try to get this done by noon so I can work on music from noon till around 2pm, then I take a break for an hour or so, collect my daughter from school, usually have a game of X-box with one of my daughters, have dinner soon afterwards and if there is any time left over in the evening I may get another hour or so working on music. My wife Lisa is very understanding, but it can be difficult juggling time. We usually finish the day off watching a tv series/drama/movie.
You have a new release out this week on John Johnson’s ICONYC under the alias of Paperheart, the first of two EPs, in fact, tell us who else is involved and how Paperheart came to be.
Christian Boshell: There are basically 2 of us in Paperheart Aidan Kelly and myself. We first met in the early 90s, I had heard Aidan DJ at some of the best pubs/clubs & occasionally would be annoying him for the name of a tune, we also shopped in some of the same record stores.
Crossing paths so much, we wound up DJ’ing together a couple of times in a small underground club Tin Pan Alley in The Harp Bar.
When I arrived back from Australia we bumped into each other I think in Temple Bar around 2007 or so and we swapped emails and I began sending him some of my various musical collaborations.
More recently he asked me to work on the Dublin 2020 project, a short film focused on Dublin and its community. I worked on the sound production, cleaning up unwanted sound frequencies.
To make a long story short, we’ve been friends for some time, our work in the studio on that project, spilt over into a series of eclectic-dubbed-out-electronic-ambient soundscapes. Originally we hadn’t planned on writing so much music, but these experiments ended up as 2 new music production alias’ Paperheart & Code Bushido.
Is there a story behind the artist name? How did you eventually decide on Paperheart?
Christian Boshell: There is an interesting story behind the name Paperheart, it originally stems from an art piece Aidan created a few years back. Unfortunately, Aidan is currently away in Scotland so we will have to fill you in on exactly where the name comes from at a slightly later date, I will say, it didn’t take us that long to decide, he mentioned using it and I agreed straight away without too much deliberation.
There’s a very genuine feel to the collection, from a compositional perspective but also design wise. What are your go-to tools in the studio and what featured heavily on this EP?
Christian Boshell: Thanks for saying so Mitch, it’s definitely I feel, some of our most genuine work yet and we are only at the beginning.
Go to studio Tools, there are so many, some of my favourites are the Access Virus TI, the Roland JP8080, both feature heavily in this EP, the Virus synthesiser is so powerful, yet versatile and the Roland JP8080 is so distinct and hands-on, we also used Native Instruments Battery 4 & Kontakt samplers in nearly every track. We use our fair share of samples in Paperheart productions, sometimes its original foley from city trips abroad, like on our second EP we feature the life sounds of Amsterdam Canals, as well as French Algerian Vocals by Aidan’s pal Wissame.
How relevant are the track titles on this project? Is there a distinct connection between the tracks and their respective titles?
Christian Boshell: The track titles are quite relevant for this project, “Torn Apart” alludes to some emotional trauma that happened around the time of making it. Without going into too much detail, most of the track titles/songs have a deep connection.
ICONYC is known for more dancefloor oriented music, what made it the right home to introduce the world to Paperheart?
Christian Boshell: I recall letting John Johnson hear the first part of Torn apart, and he really appreciated it from a production standpoint straight away. We talked at length about the overall feel of these songs & the future of ICONYC and what he intended to do with the label and his positivity, passion & love for the project was the thing that swayed us to sign. Straight after that 2-3 hour conference call, I chatted to Aidan & decided ICONYC was the best fit.
What do you want Paperheart to convey to the listener?
Christian Boshell: Personally, I want people/the listener to be able to listen to our music in any given situation/setting, having dinner with friends, driving, working out in the gym, yoga/meditating
Many years ago I managed a laboratory and would listen to Massive Attack, Fluke, Leftfield while working and this project kinda reminds me of music that I would listen to in those situations.
A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within the Paperheart dynamic?
Christian Boshell: We tend to work really well in the studio together. Sometimes we will have 2 setups in the room, lots of coffee and both be working at the same time on different elements, one of us usually with our headphones on. Other times we do need to compromise as we tend to push each other’s buttons, which leads to experimentation & reflection on sounds and in the end a great balance.
Has there been any talk of remixes coming from the two EPs and how do you feel about your work being remixed in general?
Christian Boshell: Not really, for the first part of Torn apart, we lost most of our project files in a hard drive that wiped itself clean. So, unfortunately, there won’t be any remixes of the first part. The second part we do have audio which we could get remixes from, but In the past, I have only liked probably 30-40% of the remixes that I get sent for different projects, with Paperheart we’re not really that bothered about anyone remixing them, I mean if the right fit comes along we would definitely consider remixes.
Tell us about your label Bakroom, what’s the vision you have for the project?
Christian Boshell: My vision for Bakroom is to release music and accompanying motion graphics visual presentations that I am passionate about. If that’s only 4-5 releases per year, so be it. If I had more time & better sales I would definitely release more, but with sales being what they are and streaming bringing in very little revenue, its more a labour of love which I hope one day will grow into a label of the calibre of Soma, Metroplex, Guerrilla or Warp records. 2018 so far has been our most successful yet in our 4 years. Our marketing strategy in 2019 will shift though, I am thinking of releasing all releases as free downloads, but there’s a part of me that isn’t sure that’s the right way to go. We have run small events in Dublin in the past and would love to do so again, but time will tell if that’s something we dip our toe into again. So many ideas and so little time.
It’s music that certainly lends itself to vinyl, is this something you would ever consider?
Christian Boshell: Thanks for saying so Mitch, it is something I have been considering of late, we have begun the process on a website called Diggers Factory and are working on a marketing strategy currently, but any tips you might have let me know as it is not something I have done before as we have always stuck to digital sales.
What advice would you have for artists hoping to get signed to Bakroom?
Christian Boshell: My main piece of advice is; send music our way that you are genuinely passionate about. I love hearing music that the producer/artist pays a lot of attention to the detail in the sound design/production and It really doesn’t matter if its ambient, house or techno we love & release various genres of music. I would also advise artists to check out our previous releases, so you have an idea of what type of music we love.
You were part of Omnis Recordings back in the day, why did you decide to eventually put that to rest and start Bakroom?
Christian Boshell: At Omnis I had 2 great partners in Al Manning and Jonathan Ojeda who remain two of my closest friends to this day, we achieved and learned so much from that project, but in 2012 we realised we all had very young families, jobs, commitments/needs and we just couldn’t keep up with the pace of it all. For now, we are focusing on different projects that don’t take up as much time. So in 2014 after a couple of years break, I decided to get back into running a label & started Bakroom. I write a lot of music and felt I still needed an avenue to release at a pace at which I was comfortable at.
Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks that still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?
Christian Boshell: Producing our remix of Cassino & Laben’s “Right Now” (Boshell & Cody’s just zen Mix) on Particles is a track I’m personally still very proud of.
It immediately puts a big smile on my face every time I listen to it, probably because it was my 10th remix and still remains of my favourites, it was made before I started my music production masters at Berklee and overall I think the choice of sounds, the mix down and eq of frequencies are all really well balanced.
Let’s end with what’s next, tell us what’s in the works for the remainder of 2018?
Christian Boshell: Well, the second half of 2018 is going to be pretty hectic, to be honest.
2018 has been my most productive year so far, In January, I helped re-launch Techno Scene a web portal with one of my business partners Abdel of Repressure, which has taken on a life of its own so there will be lots of meetings at ADE in October.
Release-wise, I just released my second album last week “Phase Tree – The Thing About Secrets” is out now on Bakroom & is in download stores and also for anyone who listens on Spotify etc. A mixed version of that will follow in the coming month or so.
Phraktal – Transfer which is the last single off our “Why 1 is One and 2 is Two” album gets released in September with remixes by Damon Wild, Orlando Voorn & Laurent Maldo. More rehearsals for our upcoming festival appearance at Electric Picnic in 2 weeks time, which we are currently road testing our second album which will be released on ICONYC in Jan 2019. Oh and the second part of Paperheart – Torn Apart in December and lastly my Socket Hog alias has a tech house album called Blue Dragon due for release in late September, the culmination of 5 years work.
Paperheart’s ‘Torn Apart 01’ is out now on ICONYC, you can purchase the release: here