Master manipulators of trippy vocal elements, tech house rhythms, and acidic analog, Irish brothers Disfreq - aka Joe and Cahir Kely - have energized dance music fans worldwide with rave-ready stompers. Born and based in the picturesque, coastal setting of Moville, Ireland, the duo produces electrifyingly powerful material from unexpected surroundings.
Hellbent on ascending in rave scenes across the globe, Disfreq was featured on BBC Radio 1 on numerous occasions and released tracks through Trick, Top Flight Records, and Tech City.
The Disfreq brothers roots in dance music run deep. They started producing music together ten years ago, releasing under various aliases and experimenting with multiple genres.
As Joe explains, "We were crazy into dance music and Danny Howard's show, and then we were like 'how can we make tunes ourselves?' I think that Cahir actually downloaded a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation): FL [Studio]. Of course, we were lost for the first few years, lost for a good few years actually, and making a lot of bad music. We skipped through a lot of genres. I think we've done them all nearly, trance, dubstep, even progressive house like Eric Prydz-vibe stuff with other aliases."
Having made most of their progress through the COVID lockdown, the pair are a shining example of the fruitful outcomes that isolation and copious free time can occasionally bring.
As Joe recalls, "We've had a few aliases, but lockdown really is what started Disfreq. We actually had time to go at it because, during lockdown, there was nothing else to do. We were living in a house, just us two, and basically had the laptop and speakers hooked up in the living room. It was just a matter of getting up, eating, going and making tunes, and then you might stop to eat again. We were living and breathing it, just making tunes and having parties."
Their open-mindedness towards electronic music took them on a journey with a purposeful conclusion. They eventually landed on a unique form of tech house, earning them the respect of esteemed club giant Patrick Topping.
The duo's eclectic outlook was never restricted solely to dance music. Joe explains that as a child, he was a fan of Arctic Monkeys, Paolo Nutini, and acoustic artists, but that electronic music always came first in his eyes. Their passion for house and techno thrived even though few of their friends mirrored this enthusiasm.
Joe tells us, "There's only really a couple of my mates that listen to [house and techno] … where we live it's in Donegal. It's a bit far north. The next big techno artist [from around here] I would say is Rebuke, he's about 45 minutes away. But there's not a huge, huge techno scene in Donegal."
Similarly, Cahir confesses that growing up, his friends listened to different music to him. Living in a fairly remote town, the duo's closest clubbing destinations continue to be Belfast and Derry. According to Cahir, the former has a particularly buzzing nightlife scene.
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"Belfast has actually got a massive scene at the moment with lots of artists. Shine does events. They've had some of the best artists you can think of, like Fatboy Slim, Alan Fitzpatrick. Patrick Topping did a Trick event in Belfast. There's a big scene there, Mall Grab, Brame & Hamo, Floorplan. There's AVA [Festival] as well. So, with Belfast, there's no comparison with anywhere else on the island."
Disfreq's artistic inspiration came from an amalgamation of family, friends, and their surrounding environment. "On a broader scale," Joe explains, "Listening to [BBC] Radio 1 all the time, digging deep into YouTube and Soundcloud. We used to work in the factory, and we used to listen to music all day long. Earphones in and listening to Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify, just all day."
But what influenced Disfreq's sound more than anything else was hardware.
Joe says, "We very rarely look at software, it's all just hardware and synths. I think that was definitely the most influential thing for Disfreq."
The brothers' social media pages are teeming with photos and clips of an array of synth and drum machine wizardry, ranging from the Roland 909 and TD3 to the Behringer Wasp and beyond. Their investments in gear like this reflect a tunnel-vision desire to pursue music full time, no matter what the costs.
Cahir admits that "I wouldn't be interested in much else. I know that's probably very narrow-minded, but [dance music] is the only thing that I could really, really focus on and be interested in."
Eventually, tech house aficionado Patrick Topping saw the brothers' potential. In October 2021, the brothers released their All My Friends EP through Topping's Trick imprint, acting as a launchpad for their career in the dance music industry.
But in Disfreq's eyes, their biggest turning point to date came when Topping dropped one of their tracks live at Creamfields. It was this, above all else, that shifted their gaze towards taking music more seriously and fueled their unstoppable ambition. Beaming smiles expand on the duo's faces as they reminisce about that crucial transition.
Joe reveals that he's "getting shivers thinking about it," while Cahir explains, "We didn't even know that he was going to play it!"
Creamfields was the culmination of the brothers' decade-long struggle to get their music heard on a bigger scale.
As Joe recounts, "Before Disfreq, with all our projects and aliases and stuff like that, it was really hard to get anyone, anyone, to play our music. We sent thousands of demos to labels. If you got a listen, you were buzzed. There were so many kicks, so many kicks in the backside, and then all of a sudden, that Creamfields video was there. It was mad."
Topping's decision to expose Disfreq to wider audiences didn't come out of mere kindness but out of an unfailing commitment to elevate high-quality music regardless of its origin.
"He's a great guy. He's really personal with the artists," Joe tells us. "He gets back to you fast. You send him a tune. He loves it. He doesn't. It's just really simple. Whenever you're connecting with him, it's just so easy. You know what I mean?"
In an industry oversaturated with new tracks from unsigned artists, it's refreshing to hear that Topping is indifferent towards the following of upcoming producers. Instead, as Cahir explains, he focuses exclusively on whether he likes their material.
"It doesn't really matter who you are because it's all about the music. He doesn't care about your following … if he likes the music, he's game." As Joe puts it, "Trick's class because if the music's good, it'll get on Trick. It's not about, 'I've got 3 million followers, and I played this, and I played that, and I've done a massive release for this, massive release for them'. It's just about if you've got a good tune, and they like it, you'll get on Trick. That's what it is, and that's why it's good and why it's succeeding."
The development of an artist is marked not only by significant achievements like releases and performances but also by smaller, more personal achievements, which can be equally instrumental in the long run. Disfreq are quick to highlight this fact.
Joe remembers the excitement of signing to other labels that we of some stature. And the disappointment of finding their music didn't always resonate with that specific audience. An important lesson for any producer that makes for even more triumphant moments when you find a label where things hit.
Their wins have paved the way for an exciting future. They look forward to releasing with Topping's label regularly, as well as other large label signings.
Joe says, "We're making music every day."
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