DJ - BILL KEALY
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Suit Yourself caught up with Irish Legend Bill Kealy for an exclusive interview, Bill has been part of the Irish Mod fabric for many years and has now conquered the rest of Europe with his selection of stylish foot stomping, very cool sounds of the underground. He has graced some of the most prestigious clubs and events and here he shares with us his past, present and future.....Ladies and Gentleman, we give you Bill Kealy.
Hi Bill tell us a bit about yourself, how long have you been part of the mod scene, how you became part of it and what or who were your early influences musically.
I got into the Mod Scene in the early eighties...I happened to mention to an older fella in school that I loved 'A Town Called Malice and the next day he brought me in a blank cassette with All Mod Cons on one side and Setting Sons on the other...From there I got into the Mod Revival thing and I've never really looked back from there...There's never been a period where I took a break or got out of it for a while...long may it continue...
What turned you on to the DJ culture of the scene?
I started djing in 1987 when I was in college in Carlow...there was a massive Mod/Scooter scene there and plenty of college nights that I could play at so it just carried on from there...I played at loads of scooter rallies etc right through the 90's and then on to the Mod Scene.....I really enjoy djing and it gets to some amazing places that I would never even dreamed of going...
Who gave you your first break and how did it feel?
I can't really remember a break as such in Ireland because I used to promote a lot of the things I dj'd at but my first break in the UK was Davie Hudson asking me to play at the fantastic Basics R&B Club in Edinburgh....totally out of the blue..Neil Henderson from The Hideaway Club in Manchester happened to be there that night and he invited me to come and play there a few months later. I remember I was shaking like a leaf at both of them but I'm eternally grateful to those two fellas....
Do you have any favourite musical styles and has your style of DJ’ing changed over the years?
Without a doubt...when I started I was playing lots of revival stuff and 60's Mod stuff..i still love all that and still have all the records thankfully...From listening to the Kinks and The Animal etc I soon got into John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and the like and then after visiting The Hideaway Club for the first time a whole new world of music opened up and there's loads out there still to discover..
Do you have any current favourite DJ’s / Bands? and who were your favourite bands back in the day?
There are so many Djs playing great stuff and I hate picking favourites but off the top of my head the people I'd really travel to see are guys like Mace, Bald Mark, Fonsoul, Steve Longworth, Liam Large, Lee Miller, Alan Handscombe, Sean Courtney and of course The Pow Wow team of Gav, Mik and Callum....All these fellas are really on top of their game..every single time they play they bring something new to the table and always deliver on the dancefloor...There's more that I've missed and some great young D|js coming through aswell , we're very lucky to be able to go out most weekends and hear great music.... Band wise these days I love Les Grys Grys, the Limboos, The Arrogants, the Urges...back in the day my favourites that I managed to see were the Blades, The Prisoners, Making Time, Small World....
Can you tell us about any promotions that you are involved with.
I've ran 'For Dancers Only' R&B Club in Dublin for the last 12 years or so although we don't have as many nights as we used to.....I'm also a resident DJ at The Federal R&B Club in Crewe which has been absolutely fantastic, one of the best days out you could possibly have
Tell us about some of your favourite times behind the decks, where, when and with who?
I haven't had too many bad experiences behind the decks totally and again I hate picking favourites but some of the big European weekends are like Euro Yeye, Mojo Workin', Two Men From Linz, The Boiler are just amazing... On the club scene its been such an honour to play records at places like Pow Wow, The Hideaway, RNB123, Mousetrap, Friday Street...there's many more of course...I'm never happier when I'm out with good people, listening to great music and having a few beers...
Scooters, we all love them. Can you tell us if you own one, and ones you’ve owned in the past.
I actually don't own a scooter at the moment but have been massively into them ever since I was old enough to ride one...up to about 2007 most weekends were spent at scooter events across Ireland and the UK...its about time I rectified the situation and got myself back on two wheels
What do you think of todays scene?
Its better than its ever been...any weekend theres events all over Europe and the UK with great music and cool sussed people attending...If theres a downside there's probably too much on but I ain't gonna start complaining about that
- Tell us about the scene in Ireland, where you play and some of your favourite places to play, is it a growing scene or a more established scene?
The scene in Ireland is very small but the promoters and the punters are a dedicated lot...because of the lack of numbers you generally get a lot of the same people at Mod/Soul/Scooter events so theres always a great atmosphere... At the moment there a few great clubs around the country...Pow City, Bubbles,For Dancers Only, Mindfuzz, Mash it up plus numerous soul clubs in Dublin...Soulboys vs Rudeboys and Shuffle in Galway, Rhythm'n'Booze in Limerick...Under A Plastic Cloud in Cork....The B Side Soul Club and Dr Crippens in Belfast....Its really never been better.
In these days of digital DJs, are you a vinyl purist?
It honestly doesn't bother me if people play laptops or Cds at clubs...it's their club so they can do whatever they like.. Personally though I only use original vinyl and only attend clubs that do likewise...this is where all the forward thinking Djs are, the ones searching out new tunes, the ones pushing the boundaries...I reckon that should be the absolute minimum you should expect if you make the effort to travel to a club... The one thing that really does annoy me is Djs playing boots, an absolutely pointless excersise...pretend Djs playing pretend records...it's the lowest of the low in my world...
What are your favourite current club nights/events?
We're lucky at the moment that theres lots of great clubs to choose from....Current favourites are The Federal Club, The Birth Of The Cool, Pow Wow, MG Blues, Mousetrap, Teen Scene, Ad-Lib....Theres also a few that I've heard great things about but haven't managed to get there yet like Fast Way Of Living in London, Somewhere Down The Line in Cleethorpes, Mojo in Hull
You have been part of the scene for a long time and your name is becoming synonymous with cool clubs both here and Ireland, have there been any further DJ destinations that you have conquered?
I've been lucky enough to get to play in lots of brilliant places over the years...mainly in Italy and spain but also Germany, Sweden, Norway, France and Denmark for the first time in a few weeks...The scene in Europe is just fantastic, I've never had a bad experience...
What advise would you give to a young mod or DJ, fresh into the scene, fashion music, attitude?
I don't know why anyone would wany advice off me but if I had to give some it'd be just to do your own thing, find tunes that you love, dress however you like and most of all don't take it all too serios....its meant to be a laugh at the end of the day.
Can you tell us 10 all time favourite tracks.
Ernie Washington - Lonesome Shack
Garnett Mimms - As Long As I Have You
Danny Owens - You're A Little Too Late
Charles Sheffield - Its Your Voodoo Working
Bobby Mitchell - Well I Done Got Over It
Banny Price - You Love Me Pretty Baby
The 5 Royales - Catch That Teardrop
John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightning
Little Walter - My Babe