An Irishman relocated to Berlin – though not right now – delush has found the German capital has crept quickly into his very identity.
His music is a thoughtful journey of self-discovery, with tracks of self-examination, gentle, soulful takes, alongside creative collaborations and almost jazzy undertones.
The whole thing stems, in part, from finding his crowd aborad, spending years working on their music, and then finally turning around to lean into his own output.
I spoke to him about his forthcoming album, and to learn all about his lifestyle and music…
You’ve been in Berlin for a few years now. We all hear about the city’s artist lifestyle – how have you found it, and has it influenced the way you work?
More freedom means more ability or even responsibility to figure out for yourself who you are and what you want and do not want in your life.
Without judgement, who would you be? How do you want to spend your time? The city gives you a close approximation to this particular ideal.
If you are to survive more than a couple of years in the city, reflection on yourself is essential, and of course, this naturally seeps into my work like water.
There are many chances to get lost in the city, in music and nightlife and everything that comes with it, and many do.
There are also chances to find yourself, and many do find themselves.
There is every extreme and everything in between being expressed by artists here. Both in consciousness and unconsciousness. And still there is always space for an artist who is simply him or herself.
What have been your favourite experiences from your time in Berlin?
Our collective, Welcome to the New World, hold annual rituals with music, poetry, and sound journeys. They have been special and transformative for me. You can come to the next!
What prompted you to move to solo work instead, and how does it compare to your previous work with others?
After many years helping others with their music the feeling just came up: “it’s time now”.
When helping others as a producer, I was very focused on developing artists. Rather than go into the studio for longer periods and hope for an evolved record, I preferred to work with artists in rehearsal rooms and small studios over the course of a year, so that they instead would have evolved as artists in the way they wanted to by the time the record was produced.
It meant I had their interests and vision in my mind and heart for long periods of time. It wasn’t really possible for me to also focus on my music during those years. Now I can. When I collaborate with artists as a vocalist or writer, I tend to have a lot of fun, and enjoy the opportunity to explore in a new territory.
With my own music, especially when I’m also the producer and writer, the music walks hand in hand with my own growth and outlook on the world. My natural way of creating shifts over time from one approach into the next. I would say because I am the artist and producer I get to take care of every detail. That is both a great power and privilege and a heavy weight sometimes. But I love it. It’s a greater ask than collaborating for sure.
Can you tell me the story behind the formation of ‘delush’ as a concept?
I was on train to this town in Slovakia where I volunteer every few years.
It’s a very long train journey.
I was playing around with a blank sketchpad and trying to unify all the things I cared most about into one way of expressing myself that would be truthful to me.
For many years I had been exploring psychology, and healing and therapy and I had also been considering why I cared so much about some artists and their music.
The answer was that listening to it illuminated self-knowledge within me, inspired wonder in me and gave me love.
I wanted my project to do that for others. And I wanted it to have psychological depth and therapeutic qualities.
On my first release I had a series of interviews with a psychologist about the themes coming up in the song and released those as videos with the song.
Though it was really well received and it proved to be a really interesting concept, it’s difficult to have those conversations without it coming across as prescriptive – as in, “people should do this”.
Ultimately, I believe people know in their own hearts what the right thing to do for them is.
So I simply let the music speak and everything is there for the one who seeks to find it.
‘Slow Your Attention’ is about destructive relationships. Has it come with some self-evaluation?
Yeah, it’s about a destructive pattern in one or both people in a relationship.
Unexplored patterns can even turn a good relationship bad, or keep you in a bad one, or have you reject a good one.
Even after one explores the roots of such a pattern they hold a chemical power over you which takes further time and awareness to overcome.
This song is about trying to consciously navigate a relationship which could go well but is in great danger of destruction if the patterns are not watched carefully.
Is your music typically a type of therapy for you?
What can we expect when the full album comes out in a few weeks?
When I listen to it, it picks me up wherever I am, it carries me through experiences and struggles that make up the human experiences, trials and elation, but finally brings me home
It brings me through betrayal, self-sabotage and victimhood, problems of the ego and patterns of the subconscious, into forgiveness of oneself, enjoying being alive, the wonder of it, and experiencing true freedom.
But we are all coming home one way or the other. We will return to the world of spirt many times or at the time of death. And so the album is cyclical and brings me home every time I listen through. I’m curious if it will do the same for others.
You’ve been gone from Ireland as a home for some time, does it matter to you to have an impact on the music scene over here, or are your focuses different now?
If the album affects one person anywhere in the world then I will be totally accepting of that.
Even though I’m in Berlin most of the time these last years, if it was to make an impact anywhere I think I would like it to be Ireland. As I’m working now with many Irish artists I’m here more and more once again.
My family and my roots are here and I have a feeling the record could do a lot of good here. But let’s see.
How have you found working with your Berlin label?
It’s been really rewarding. It taps into a different part of myself that feels very good to express.
I started building the label in 2018 when Don’t Let Me Win was released and I’ve developed it since with the help of my teammates Habib and Rico and the small number of beautiful people we work with like Louise Barker and now Christian Rich.
It’s been a ride to get it to this point and a true challenge. With every release we become stronger, more knowledgeable and more able and that feels beautiful.
It’s a label which leaves total creative control with the artist so it’s a dream from that point of view as well.
How will you spend the enforced downtime we’re all going through at the moment?
I’m making music for myself and for other Welcome to the New World artists.
I’m making an album of music in a very untypical way for Strange Boy and I’m making tracks for Willzee and a new collaboration with Tolu and two other artists which is very exciting. I’ll announce some of that after the album.
I’m letting myself relax too. I’m at my grandfathers old place in Kilfenora. There’s no internet or even phone coverage. I’m blessed to be here. It’s rare to be alone. I let every day be different in terms of what I decide to do.
What are your hopes for the future?
I would like to keep making music and have that music be more and more beneficial, insightful and impactful for others.
I would like this record and my future records to impact people in a positive way.
I would like all of the artists in my care and in the label’s care to flourish.
As a world I hope we think bravely about how to do things differently before a much harder form of change is forced upon us at true breaking point.
I have a lot of hope for the future. I hope the people heal. With healing I think people will naturally and spontaneously do the right thing.
I trust people and I hope I live to see us in greater harmony. I appreciate we have a great deal already. It’s easy to forget how good most of us have it.
I hope we can drop the ideas that no longer serve us, the fear, the greed, the ignorance, the ideas that people have different value, that the planet is just a stock of resources.
Many hopes. I hope I stay awake whatever happens.