The Creative Islanders is an new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life.
The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.
Next up is Emmet Condon– DJ, Founder of Homebeats, Another Love Story and Fading Light festival organiser, avid tea drinker, surfer and dog lover.
Having jumped ship on a career path in physiotherapy, for the last number of years Emmet has been popping up in people’s homes and quirky spaces, bringing beats to unlikely venues. He has also collaborated to bring Another Love Story boutique festival to life, initiated the Fading Light Festival in West Kerry and most recently had a dream come true when he hosted his own stage Tree Haus at Body & Soul Festival. But beyond the music, it is the way Emmet operates which has been part of the appeal and growth of his ventures- with an open heart, a collaborative spirit and a sense of adventure, bringing community together in meaningful, musical ways. He can certainly get a crowd dancing too.
Now over to Emmet…
What makes you tick? What motivates you?
In terms of motivation, to be honest, a sense of lost time. It took me a long time to find the courage to go after what was in my heart, so I’m still keenly aware of making up for a lot of time spent not persuing the right thing.
What makes me tick? Attention to detail and commitment to a small but perfect vision. That, and the want to present music and spaces in a way that opens them up to the audience and the artists. Following on from that the incredible buzz of seeing it all come together and people being happy.
Last week’s adventure on our Tree Haus stage at Body & Soul Festival was perhaps the ultimate experience of this so far – Avril Stanley & co’s dedication to making Ballinlough a wonderland sets the bar high for anyone producing something there, especially for the first time. I can honestly say that the Homebeat team that worked on every facet of it put their hearts and souls into it. To see the stage in full flight at the woods at 3am in the morning was something that might never leave me. There are many difficult parts to being involved in the events industry, but the ability to truly create magic with friends in a place like that is just an incredible buzz- and that’s the feeling that you keep looking for and that keeps driving you to do it the right way.
What does the creative process teach you?
I think mostly it has thought me the hard won value of patience. When I was younger I was sure that people created art without any effort; that great artists, no matter the medium, simply exhaled a piece of art in one perfect, concise breath. Learning that everyone has and needs exactly that – a process, was a very profound thing for me.
What keeps you in Ireland?
I’m really glad to say, so many things. First and foremost the incredible bunch of creative people I’m blessed to know here, and especially so in Dublin. It’s a community that seems to be growing closer and denser over the past number of years and the genuine inspirational innovation and support amongst that group is something that would take years to encounter and foster somewhere larger and less connected like London or New York or even the hallowed ground of Berlin.
Secondly, I suppose it’s the feeling of growing something with Homebeat. It took me a long time to find my way in terms of a career, and though I would be hard pressed to legitimise the adventures I’m having at the moment as a “career”, I’m certainly invested in it enough to feel like it’s the vehicle for my dreams here and I suppose a lot of work has gone into even getting it to this lowly level. I would hate to leave that behind right now.
Beyond those two things, obviously friends and family, but also the incredible little island that we live on itself. Dublin town, my adopted home, is nestled twixt mountains and sea, and if one manages to escape the heady attractions of incredible music, art, pubs and clubs of a Friday night, not to mention the incredible burgeoning coffee and food culture every day of the week here, you can be walking next to a giant red lighthouse, or flying down a mountain bike trail in under a half hour from your kitchen. And that only begins to explain the wonder of getting up even a little bit earlier on that Saturday morning, jumping in a van and finding yourself surfing in Sligo, Clare or Kerry by mid-morning, amongst friends in uncrowded waves, and in the most beautiful setting possible.
Festivals, music, Guinness, our natural humility- I could go on and on. I travelled for a long time to find the day that I decided this was undoubtably the place for me on this planet, and I’ve never looked back since.
Photo: Chequerboard at Fading Light (Ruthless Imagery)
How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?
I don’t know if I feel I get necessarily stuck, more fatigued from having a few projects on the go all at once. If you are working in the field that you are most interested in, it’s hard not to be inspired. Certainly I’m someone who feels like he’s completely making it up as he goes along so talking to peers helps a lot in terms of advice and reassurance. But if genuinely stuck for want of headspace, it’s time to pack the van, head west and jump in the sea for a few days.
What do you do just for the love of it?
I’d say DJ but there’s definitely an element of ambition in that, so purely for the love of it – surf, snowboard, read the sports pages, golf, drink tea, make it my business to talk to most dogs I meet on the street.
Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?
Most certainly in what’s happening here at the moment. I truly believe we are living through a golden age of Irish music and culture, not only this, but my generation has been paradoxically empowered by the recession I think – the drop in commercial rent prices during the recession meant places like The Fumbally Café, and our beloved Mabos sprung up. These spaces are real hubs of incubation and inspiration – at the end of the day it’s all about the realisation that people and their interactions is what make it all happen – and most of all it’s people who are true to their voice and their passion (stand up Donal Dineen & co.) who inspire me continuously.
But outside of people: good design – be it a pair of runners or a café, nature, and a gazillion websites / instagram accounts / blogs / magazines. I actually find Instagram a really handy source of visual inspiration.
Great music obviously is something that brings me to a different place, though that might be more emotional inspiration rather than a creative one (usually it makes me feel creatively stupid!!)
How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?
Sitting myself down and breaking things into small bits. Lists. Lots of lists. Once I do that I feel like I’m in control of the situation and the panic tends to subside a little. This and tea. Gallons of tea (this is probably the substance that sustains me also). I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not someone who can leave their troubles behind readily, so I’ve got to face them and break them down or I end up driving around the country trying to run away from them but not being able to escape!
Photo: Ruthless Imagery at Another Love Story
What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way? What have you learned from your ‘failures’?
Trust your own artistic vision – it’s the only thing you have that makes you stand out.
Trust if you do it well, more work will follow, if not immediately, then soon after.
Always over deliver and follow through to the very end – the extra attention to detail is what people remember.
Say yes often, say no sometimes.
In terms of failures, often (as in most things in life) you already know in your heart if it’s not going to work.
Do you have a morning routine? Or other creative habits or rituals?
Wake, tea, check mails / facebook for anything new that has been announced or popped up. MORE TEA. Generally I need a space to be pretty tidy to think, so there’s a lot of straightening magazine / notebook edges involved.
What books have inspired you? Or what websites do you turn to?
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Crossings – Michel Kew (the best travel book I have ever read)
Grapes of Wrath – John Stienbeck
Vernon God Little – DBC Pierre.
Websites – Monsters Children | Resident Advisor (brilliant podcast series on djs and promoters) | Soundcould
What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?
As I said earlier, that I had realised very few get it 100% right immediately, and that the confidence you get from the very simple act of just trying is huge.
And what advice would you give to your future self?
Try to stay patient. If you do it right, trust that the work will come. Always be grateful! Trust yourself!
Another Love Story (in collaboration with Happenings)
Thank you Emmet- see you on a dance floor soon!