Updated: Jan 7, 2022
It's safe to say that anyone who knows me understands exactly just how hardcore [read: perhaps somewhat psychotic] I get over any track that has a 303 in it. I mean, it’s pretty much 100% guaranteed that when those aciiiiiiid sounds starts filtering through any club that I will be racing to the dance floor, front left of the speaker to start L.O.S.I.N.G. my shit…. so when you pair that with some old school piano vibes and a catchy little gated vocal you are pretty much describing my idea of rave heaven! Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone when I say that I absolutely LOVE everything that the ridiculously talented Mr. Richie Blacker releases and for good bloody reason!
Born in Ireland, the Belfast-born DJ and producer who clearly lives and breathes that classic acid house sound has slowly been working his way up the ranks to becoming one of the most sought after up&coming talents in not only his homeland but around the globe. He is an artist who, whilst creating something new, is also giving a large nod to the 90s rave scene. A cacophony of house, techno, and rave (yes, rave) records from the early 90’s melded together to create that one elusive thing – an original sound of his own.
His EP ‘Summer of Rave’ has been a game-changer for Richie. A nostalgic sounding track that was put [exclusively] in the hands of Skream who played it a year before its release and kept it as his 'secret weapon' at many festivals and clubs around the world. Only known to many as THAT unforgettable ID-ID until Skream decided to release it on his 'Of Unsound Mind' label alongside two other euphoric rave tracks. Even before release, it had rapturous reactions - and a viral response on social media & consecutive spins on Radio One by the likes of Danny Howard & Pete Tong.
Once it was released, it rocketed to the top of the Beatport charts at number 1 and stayed there for a month. However, Richie Blacker is no stranger to the Beatport charts with both his 'Mess Express' EP on Sasha's 'Last Night On Earth' imprint & his 'Voices in the Echo' on Skreams 'Of Unsound Mind' label both jumping to the top of the Melodic House & Techno charts.
Following Richie's success, he was named Radio One's Future Fire artist of 2021 & has continued the year strong announcing his first EP on Anjunadeep '2 Late for Love' which in turn saw him play a hugely successful live stream for the record label in April. He followed up his 'Summer of Rave' EP with 'Ecstasy Jesus' which was supported by various high calibre DJs including the legendary DJ John Digweed which saw it go to number one on both the breaks single and release charts.
Tipped for success by the UK’s first superstar DJ Sasha [numerous times] as well as featuring on a plethora of other labels such as Anjunadeep, Limbo, Of Unsound Mind, Einmusika Recordings and Baroque, it's no surprise Blacker's star is burning bright.
In closing, what I love the most about Richie's music is the way it touches your soul. The way in which it can instantly transport you back to all those times of being young and carefree without a worry in the world… Music that reminds you of the best times of your life which inevitably makes you smile in the process… and you can’t ask for more than that can you?
So, without further to do, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you all to the dead set legend and all round nice guy… Mr. Richie Blacker :)
Hiya Richie :) We FINALLY got here and are making this happen!! How are you? Where are you? How are you feeling?
Hey Bean. I’m great. I’m currently in my new studio in Belfast. I moved in a week ago and I’m in the process of setting it all up!
So let’s start at the beginning…. What was the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself and what kind of music did you grown up listening to? Did you parents listen to anything ‘cool’?
The first album I ever bought was Daft Punk - Homework. I got into music at a very early age through my two older brothers who where in their teens at that stage. At that time in the early 90s they were going to raves and acid house parties. I used to look up to them and when I would sit with them in their bedroom they would play their rave and house music tapes on the hifi system. I knew then I wanted to grow up and go to raves like them.
How and when did you start DJing and what is it about dance music that drew you to it?
As I mentioned above, I got into music and dance music [especially] through my brothers. But I got into it a lot more than they did as I wanted to be a DJ and devoted my whole life to doing just that. I’m obsessed with music and I didn’t [and still don’t] want to do anything else with my life that doesn’t involve music. I started DJing in clubs in Belfast when I was 17 and have never looked back.
What were some of your main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing that makes it interesting for you?
Belfast is a small city. So the biggest challenge for me and most DJs was getting gigs. Belfast was very clicky at that stage and the clubs and events only booked the same DJs over and over again because they where all part of this click. So getting gigs was difficult at times.
Its not like that anymore tho! I kinda took a back seat from playing in Belfast for a few years though and put all my focus into producing music as I knew if I was going to get where I needed to be I had to think bigger than Belfast and get my music out there to the world! It took the best part of ten years to get here but I finally feel like it’s taking off. Some people will say I’m already there but for me I know I’m not. I still have bigger goals to achieve and I will get there. Nothing will stop me or get in my way. I am so hungry for it and I’m willing to work harder than anyone else for it lol.
When did you realise you wanted to produce your own music? Were you self-taught or did you have mentors around you to guide you?
I think if you are a DJ and love music as much as I do then you will naturally gravitate towards music production and want to make your own music. There is no better feeling than making something and then playing it to a crowd of people at a gig and watch them dance to it! A big mentor for me is my good friend Graeme Laverty. He has taught me a lot. I wouldn’t be where I am without him!
What was your first home set-up as a producer like? How different is your set up nowadays and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you and why?
It was always done on a midi controller and a laptop with Logic but recently I am becoming more and more of a retro synth and gear junkie. It’s an expensive hobby lol. You don’t need hardware to make music at all but making music with hardware will give you a different sound I find. I prefer it! The producers, DJs and artists that I listen too all produce their music on hardware and I find that sort of sound more interesting! It has a warmer and raw analog sound to it that you can’t really get from that fully digital produced music.
Speaking of producing…. What is your process when starting a new track? Do you start with a melody? The bassline? Tell us a little about how the wizardry happens?
Honestly it can start with anything. But usually I start with a vocal sample or a pad chords!
You 100% have your own distinct ‘sound’. How would you describe your sound in your own words? What is the inspiration for your music? How has your ‘sound’ evolved over the years and where do you see yourself as an artist in say a decade from now?
It’s definitely acid house & rave inspired with a melodic twist! I have always been into rave and acid house but I used to make a lot of melodic house and techno. I love that sound, but I was only making that sound because it was popular! However, everyone was making it and it was hard to stand out from the crowd and get your music noticed! So I decided that even though rave and acid house weren't that popular anymore [as much as I still loved it] that I needed to maybe start fusing together all the sounds that interest me as a music lover.
It seems to be working as things are blowing up at the moment. I’m the happiest now making music than I have ever been because I’m making music for me and not following a trend anymore! Its a lot more fulfilling. So to anyone that’s reading this. Just be yourself and stick to your guns. Be you and don’t try and be someone else.
Ok track names? I’m always interested to know how artists come up with their track titles…. I mean, ‘Ecstacy Jesus’ and dare I ask… ‘Tomb Raver’? What do they mean??
'Till death do us Rave' perhaps?
Haha I don’t know where the names come from! They just kinda come to me when I finish the track and need a name for it! lol
So super CONGRATULATIONS on your Anjunadeep mix earlier this year [link to the mix is at the end of the interview]. It’s almost at 147,000 views!! That must have been quite a pivotal moment in your career. Can you tell us a little about how this all came about and what your future holds with the Anjunadeep crew?
First off thank you. So Anjuna asked me to do a livestream for my new track “2 late 4 love” that was coming out on their label! I knew I didn’t want to do a livestream from my studio. I wanted it to be interesting and amazing to watch. So my manager and myself came up with the idea to do it at sunrise on top of a mountain at a 1000 year old stone fort in county Donegal in Ireland. I never knew or thought at the time that the livestream would blow up to be as big as it it now. As far as Anjuna goes, I’m playing a gig for them at the Printworks in London on the 11th December and we are looking at releasing more music with them in 2022.
If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into dance music, what would you give them?
That’s easy! Daft Punk - Homework. That’s what got me hooked and I’m sure it will get many more hooked on electronic music as well.
What track do you wish you wrote?
There are far too many to mention! I have a new one everyday lol. But that’s what keeps me wanting to make music.
Do you have a favourite Richie Blacker track or are they all your favourite?
Every time I finish a new track it’s my favourite until I get bored of it and then I have to make something fresh to keep me interested.
Which do you prefer: DJ’ing or producing and why?
I love both. I love creating something no one has heard before and I love watching them buzz off it when I play it to them live at a gig.
Tell us some of the proudest moments of your career to date?
There has been loads but to be honest! When I signed my first major record deal with Atlantic Records that was a pretty special moment as not many people get to that stage in their career. My older brother Ciaran came with me to London when I signed the deal. It was almost a full circle moment because he was more or less the main reason I got into music and 22 years later we are at Atlantic’s head offices in London signing the biggest record deal of my career to date!
So that is hands down the proudest moment,not just of my career, but my life! It was really nice to have my brother there with me to share such a special moment in my life but let me tell you this now. I have been doing this for 13 years now so I’m no spring chicken when it comes to this game but for me now, this is only the beginning! I have a lot more to prove and a hell of a lot more to give to everyone that has been supporting me on this journey. So thank you to everyone that has listened, bought, streamed, talked about and even illegally downloaded my music lol. Thank you for the support. You have no idea how much it means to me.
What is some advice you would give to someone hoping to make a career in music production?
If you want success then be prepared for hard work, persistence, discipline, sacrifice, late nights, rejection, self doubt, more rejection and even more self doubt, failure and fear. If your dreams don’t scare you then you are not dreaming big enough! So, I guess the most important piece of advice I can give anyone is... NEVER GIVE UP! I still don’t feel like I have made it and I don’t think I ever will and I don’t want to either as that is the hunger that keeps me going.
So in closing up today Richie, can you tell us what plans you have for 2022? Any upcoming collaborations/releases/events we should know about? What are you most excited about?
2022 is looking bright and exciting! We are working with promoters about doing a few different international tours and I have loads of new music coming out. First up is the Atlantic records release on the 3rd December on their new sub label “Signal >> Supply”. The track features the legendary Crystal Waters on vocals and it’s a feel good, uplifting, 90s house music anthem. It’s not my usual underground vibe though but it definitely has that Richie signature acid & uplifting 90s piano sound!
Leading into January I have a very special vinyl release on Limbo records. So keep an eye on my socials for this one as it’s a project I have been working on with my favourite artist “RYCA”. These will be limited edition and will not be getting repressed. So once they are gone they are gone. Then in February I have a collaboration with my bro, Skream. We have talked about doing this for a few years and over lockdown we finally had the time to sit down and get it done. It’s an amazing track and I can’t wait for you all to hear it. That’s all I can talk about at the moment!
So great to finally chat with you Richie and I wish you every success in the world!
Love ya work mate! :)
Links to all things RICHIE BLACKER below:
Anjunadeep Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSin49B1DzY
For more info on Global Dance Music Collective please follow:
We will be taking a little break over January but our next artist interview will be published on Friday the 4th of February at 7:30pm (AEST)
Wishing you all a very Merry Xmas and wonderful New Year!