For our first Truancy Volume of 2024 we turn to a DJ, promoter and label owner based in Dublin, who for the last few years has had an undeniable gift in embodying a heavy sound seeped in rigorous low-end frequencies and modern soundsystem culture. Founding the party series turned label Woozy in 2020, EMA’s intrepid sense of discovery and joy in platforming other DJs and producers has seen the label now go five releases deep, with all music featured primed for bass intents and club purposes. Be it bumper-packed compilations of low-end futurism and throbbing wubs, to standalone releases from aspiring producers such as Coe and Sha Ru, the label has done an incredible job at incorporating emerging talents from both Ireland and the further global community. With the first Woozy compilation featuring producers such as Jurango, Sputnik One, Glimmerman and Yushh, who have all gone on to release further fantastic music, it’s a wonderful look at her vision as a top curator. Deeply passionate on continuing to expand the foundational musical infrastructure in Dublin, she is also the co-founder of collective Skin&Blister, a platform curated to nurture and encourage female, trans and non-binary creatives in the city. With all this in mind, we caught up with Emma to discuss growing up in the coastal town of Bray, throwing parties in a small cap room at the back of a Japanese restaurant, her approach and vision for Woozy as a label, landing a show on Rinse FM, and the issues Ireland has had to face in regards to their nightlife the last decade. Her Truancy Volume takes on a darker and hypnotic approach from the get go with music from the likes of Sendai, J:Kenzo, Pugilist, and Katatonic Silentio, showing a dual sensibility to her approach to mixes. It’s a matured and steady adventurous ride with plenty of weighty, warped rhythmic advances that culminates in a raucous but warm 170 send send off.
Hey Emma, thanks for taking out the time to answer some questions and doing this mix for us! So just to start, how have you been, and if you were to summarize the last 12 months in a small paragraph what would you say? Highlights? “Thank you for having me! Truly an honour to be part of this series that has so often soundtracked and accompanied me. Hope you enjoy the mix! I am doing okay all things considered. The past few months have been a pretty harrowing time for humanity, specifically what is happening to Palestinians, so it kind of feels like a lot of highlights have dwindled or seem pretty unimportant. I’ve had a lot of conversations the past few months with friends about the current iteration of this scene we are a part of. I’ve had a lot of realisations, discovered I was pretty naive in many ways and as a result I have tried to re-evaluate and re-focus on what it is I want to achieve within this sphere and who are the people aligning with that. I think looking forward to this year it’s all about intention, the “real ones”, using your voice/platform, Free Palestine and patience/sitting in the moment.
To really answer the question about 2023 though, few highlights were playing at REEF in November, out to Fallon and the crew. HVYWGHT at Troxy. Dancing at Sustain Release in September was another high.”
So you’re originally from Bray, can you tell us a little bit about growing up in Ireland and the location in relativity to say Dublin? “I grew up in Bray, a beautiful coastal town in Co.Wicklow just on the outskirts of South Dublin. Definitely took living right by the beach for granted, regrettably only appreciating it when I moved out. It is still pretty underrated even though you’ve got some key attractions like Bray Head, Bray Bowling Alley and Harbour Bar (one of Ireland’s best pubs). Whenever someone is over visiting for a couple days, I will always make the trip out on the DART (Train) with them to Bray and try coaxing them into a sea swim. I’ve been pretty successful at that so far!”
When did you start to get the party bug then? I imagine there were numerous ventures into Dublin? Were there any parties you were attending that had started to scratch the dance music itch for you? “It was towards the end of my school years that a group of mates at the time started to head into Dublin’s city centre to clubs. It is pretty wild actually looking back on some of those lineups at clubs like the Twisted Pepper (now Wigwam). Nights like MUD and Pogo were booking acts such as Ben UFO, Randomer, Loefah and Mosca circa 2012; a great time to be going out in Dublin! There was a weekly-ish party on Wednesdays called Strangeways, they pushed mainly DnB, dubstep and jungle. Some other nights I look back on and think wow, I was lucky to get to that: Marcus Intalex at the Hanger (this club is now closed), DJ Fett Burger played a free in party in Sweeneys (a tiny basement of a pub), I saw Hunee in the back lane of an Italian restaurant called Pacinos. Sim Simma on a Sunday in the smoking area of the Twisted Pepper was on the go during college, this was where you could listen to a lot of reggae and dub sounds.
House parties were where I really soaked up a lot of music, unknowingly the itch was scratched there lol. The crew of pals at the time were playing out a lot of really great music. Sounds from Butterz, White Peach, Happa, Julio Bashmore, SBTRKT (ofc) and lots of great Hip Hop too. To be honest I look back at my college years as being pretty toxic for various reasons, but the music I encountered and the nights I was brought along to is something I am truly grateful for, definitely shaped me musically in ways I couldn’t ever imagine. Honestly half the time I’d no idea what I was listening to.”
After college had finished you had a three year stint in Berlin. Can you tell us about that? Was the move at all an indication that you maybe weren’t getting what you wanted out of Dublin nightlife at the time? “In 2015, any Irish person who had an itch for a proper nightlife moved to Berlin. It was and still is a bit of a cliché, but I felt you could not experience that type of nightlife in Dublin. Also rent was and still is totally extortionate here, so if I wanted to move out of home it would have to be to another country. The person I was seeing at the time was on the same kind of agenda so we moved and settled in Wedding one October, which was pretty bleak. One of the first nights we went to was Call Super and Objekt in Sameheads. Overall it was pretty mad being able to stay out later than 3am, smoking indoors, long sets from DJs, millions of nights to choose from every week not just once a month. It really unlocked this whole new world.”
Sounds was one of your favourite dancing spots in Berlin when you were there right? Were you going to a lot of bass and dub centric sort parties in Berlin? Is this where you kind of fell for that sound or had it been prior? “I think my favourite dancing spots were OHM and Sameheads. Sounds was a venue at Ziegrastraße across the way from Griessmuehle and Schrippe, this space sadly burnt down in 2019. I played my very first headline slot there. I so clearly remember playing Hanna – Savior at that party. My time in Berlin was definitely moving away from the bassier sounds, it was a bit of a floaty breaks and electro era for me. Feel like tracks that narrate my Berlin stint were the likes of, Giraffi Dog – Coololo Toms, DJ Sports – Fertile Crescent, Francis Inferno Orchestra – Hygiene and anything from the label Saltmines – on repeat.”
So what was going through your mind when you moved back to Dublin? “So I met my current partner Nevan who was living in Dublin at the time and we decided I would move home. Berlin was starting to run me into the ground and I had fallen into a bit of a cycle of not doing much but going out a lot. In my last year there, Gash Collective (Irish collective and label focused on supporting female, trans, queer, non-binary and other underrepresented people in music production + DJing) had brought me back home for a show with Peach in Galway’s Electric club and Dublin Digital Radio had also booked me for an International Women’s Day show in the now sadly closed Dublin DIY space Jigsaw which was amazing. It felt like there was a lot going on in Dublin and I really wanted to feel a bit grounded in a community again.”
Can you tell us about the venue Yamamori Tengu? This is where you threw your first party right, and have continued to throw the rest. Did it all just click on that first Woozy night? Re:ni played correct? “Yamamori Tengu is now my full time job, I’ve programmed and managed the venue for the past two years. It is a small 300 cap room at the back of a Japanese restaurant, bar in the room, a booth in the corner, haze machines and red static spotlights. It kind of feels like a house party when it’s rammed. There aren’t many roles for dance music in Ireland, so I am truly very lucky to be able to run that ship, shape its environment and work alongside a bunch of brilliant people, artists and collectives in the Irish music scene. The venue previously had an upstairs room called Kaizen Bar where I threw the first Woozy show with re:ni. Sadly this space can no longer be used due to noise complaints; another constant battle venues have in Dublin.”
What can you tell us about the ‘Give Us The Night’ campaign in Ireland? You’ve been vocal in their support for them. What have been some of the nightlife issues in the last decade in which a campaign like this needs to exist in Ireland? “It’s a pretty hostile environment for venues and artists in Ireland. The Give Us The Night campaign, spearheaded by Sunil Sharpe and Robbie Kitt, is the key vehicle for achieving any hope for the industry here. Key issues we face are lack of venues (supposedly in Ireland 23 years ago there was near to 500 venues active, now there are close to 80), Special Exemption Orders, archaic licensing laws and rising insurance premiums.
To touch briefly on a couple of these points, if you run a venue and you want to open till 3am you have to apply for a Special Exemption Order (SEO) which allows you to run a ‘special event’ till late. The thing about this is you have to pay 205 EUR per night and as well as this you have to apply for them through the courts a month prior. This is a huge cost for venues as well as inhibiting any spontaneity for events. Initially this cost was double per night but the Give Us The Night campaign combatted this post Covid. The licence is set around venues selling alcohol as well which inhibits other spaces like theatres to apply for these licences. Other funding efforts have been granted for sound-proofing funds and once off late night events but it just isn’t enough.
Give Us The Night has given our Government ample suggestions on how to re-imagine our Night Time economy, the legislation is there although there are constant setbacks. We were set to have our late licence extended to 6am by summer 2023 but once again the Govt has kicked it down the road to summer 2024. In the meantime we will probably see even more venues close and more young creatives leave the country. Managing Tengu has definitely given me a razor-sharp focus and awareness of the issues whereas before it was more from a punter or artists POV. Huge respect and gratitude to Sunil and Robbie for their ongoing drive to make these changes, we are lucky to have them.”
What can you tell you about starting Woozy the label? It’s great to see so many producers from that first compilation you put out in 2020 really progressing through their careers – Jurango, Sputnik One, Yushh etc. Feels like you had a knack for A&R from the get-go. “Woozy started off as a club night for the same reasons a lot of people start nights, I wanted to book the acts that I wanted to see in Dublin. Honestly at the time there were so few women running parties here which did not make sense, also the only other bass-focused label I knew of here was Daire Carolan’s First Second Label. I knew running a label was something I was interested in too. I saw the enjoyment Nevan got from running his first label Pear with Fio Fa, and also as a DJ I was being sent so much good music and I wanted to release these tracks. WZY001 comp & WZY002 by Coe were projects I worked on with Sputnik One who is now running his own label N-Face. I love pulling together different artists and tracks to curate compilations, so definitely more A&R in the future would be great.
I have made so many new mates all across the globe through Woozy and it’s great to see artists connect via the imprint. I’ve been very lucky so many artists have put their trust in me to release their music as I’m still learning more and more every release. Ultimately I feel like you want to be able to go out for a coffee or food with whoever you work with on your label or whoever you book. My best mate Blixa designs all the artwork, he really injects such a unique flair into Woozy, I’ve no idea how his mind works. *disclaimer he did not make the artwork for the first release lol.
It’s been special hosting nights with people I look up to and building the party in Dublin. It’s allowed me to run pretty cool shows like Keep Hush x Woozy, which was the platform’s Irish debut.”
What sort of plans do you have for the label and nights going into 2024? “Releases wise this year, an exciting physical release with NYC’s Laenz is due to come out next month-ish with a very special remix from a huge inspiration of mine. Will definitely be two more comps this year, pulling tracks together for the next one at the moment and some dance on wax. Party wise, Woozy will be going to some new cities and boats which is very exciting! Seeds have been sewn for a Woozy night in Dublin outside of Tengu with a lush rig. Woozy socks also have always been on my mind. Would you wear Woozy socks?”
You also set up Skin&Blister with a bunch of friends. Can you tell us about the ethos and thinking that went into setting this up in Dublin? “Yes, Skin&Blister is a collective that was formed during Covid to combat the lack of diversity and inclusivity in music and arts in Ireland. The crew behind it is Gina, Megan, Eva, Ana and I; all of us with different backgrounds or skill sets in music & arts but all in agreement of the necessity for a Dublin based collective of its kind. We did a lot in a short space of time: interviews, podcasts, mix series, workshops for DJing and production, curation of a database for female, trans, non-binary creatives (which was totally needed at the time), and ran multiple events in the city in various spaces also. I think it really served a purpose at the time to help encourage and nurture creatives here be it as new promoters or DJs or producers and also kind of gave bookers who were consistently booking all male lineups zero excuse to continue to do so, bit of hand holding needed (Dublin is definitely still far behind when it comes to inclusivity and diversity in lineups). Although right now Skin&Blister is a little quiet I think we each will drive various projects through the platform over the next year.”
I saw you had some pretty high profile gigs this year. The 10k crowd one at Electric Picnic and Darwin’s Reef night stand out as ‘moments’. Apart from telling us how they went, can you give us some insight into what you played, how you structured your sets in terms of pacing and the crowd reception? “Yeah these were two mental shows for me that also were so so so wildly different. Irish festivals are really another breed of buzz and energy. For that show I knew I was going to play a good bit of techno (incredibly prominent at Irish Festivals), few drum rolls, some bassline garage, one classic (Champion – Gunshot) and always at these shows I will try to play a tune that gives me goosebumps and means a lot to me. At these kinds of shows, ones that could really be once in a lifetime opportunities doing that is so important. In this case it was Sully – Memories to end the set. Seemed fitting!
REEF was a dream come true. I had been to the previous REEF in August so I was shitting myself after seeing the big house deep on the bass tip. Forever grateful to Darwin for putting her trust in me to open that room, it was such a joy to know I could literally sit in wub territory for the entire set.The sound guy had told me to definitely only play WAVs or AIFFs so I spent the evening of the gig sussing that, RIP MP3s.
Planning the set I wanted to tick some boxes of deep moody dub-step, tracks from mates, a weird shake up moment and a classic. A memory I’ll cherish forever is dropping Hard by David Rodigan/Newham Generals/Breakage and a rush of pals running to the booth demanding a rewind to which I obliged; that was the goosebump tune. Yeah, that was totally fucked. Never would I ever have thought I would play Berghain let alone get a rewind. Mad scenes. But yeah, I was blessed to have about 40 mates make a trip over for the show. We sank some pints of Guinness in Molly Malone’s pub around the corner pre-show (apparently it’s the worst pint of Guinness in Berlin?). The Irish crew ended up at Hoppetosse for Shonky on the Sunday. Perfect brain massage to top it all off.”
I’ve noticed with your Rinse FM shows (congrats btw!) the guests usually have a bit of theme be it 100% production mix or music from labels they own. Is that something you’ve proposed as a support in getting their music out? I’ve tuned into a lot of those mixes this year! “This was a huge invitation for me. RINSE FM!? RRRRRRINNNNSSSSE. I cried when I got the offer. I remember making a list of intentions for the show: Irish talent, idols, pals and future Woozy sounds. Beside idols I had written RSD and Martyn. Maybe manifesting works as they have both since been on the show. 100% production is just a big wtf moment, it is so impressive to put together a mix of your own productions. Means a lot that these artists have been up for it: Plus One, Beatrice M. and Rory Sweeney. But yeah, theme-wise it’s nice to have a vision to make the show a little cohesive for the listener but also a bit easier for myself, I do find it a lot sometimes to record a show monthly. Challenged myself to a 100% vinyl mix with Mia Koden as well, that was a nice little mission for me mid moving gaff to dig out records.”
Can you tell us about three albums that a) define you getting into electronic music in general, b) maybe a midway album when you were fully invested in DJing and and c) a recent album that you’ve especially enjoyed? “On repeat at the time of getting into electronic music; Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie xx – We’re New Here, Leon Vynehall – Music For The Uninvited, Calibre – Spill and A Tribe Called Quest Vs. The Pharcyde – Bizarre Tribe: A Quest to The Pharcyde. When I was deep in the DJ world I guess I was drawn to more non-dance music records: The Sea and Cake – The Fawn, Tirzah – Devotion, Clifford Jordan Quartet – Glass Bead Games. Not really recent but recently on repeat a lot is Keiyaa – Forever, Ya Girl.”
What sort of other hobbies or interests do you have outside of electronic music? Are there any books, films, shows or other things you’ve seen or been reading/watching that you might want to share? “I used to run a lot and in the past 5 months have picked it up again. Getting out for a run, listening to a mix; it’s free therapy! Cooking recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s The Food of Sichuan. Currently reading a Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Currently watching The Curse, a series written by Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie. Some classics in the house, Joe Pera Talks With You and How To With John Wilson. Nevan recently brought home all six series of Sex In The City on DVD from a charity shop, so I begrudgingly watched all of those with him. Really enjoying Chal Ravens and Tom Lea’s No Tags podcast also.”
Could you describe the process in making the mix? Was there a particular vibe you wanted to create with this? “This mix was put together when I was in a bit of a low, anxious mood; early Jan can often feel like that for a lot of people. It’s not what I was expecting to record for a Truants mix, say if you asked me a year ago, but I just wanted to play tracks more so linked to how I was feeling now and some I wouldn’t usually get to play out. Might be a bit uncomfortable at times, but I feel it progresses into some warmer and hopeful sounds toward the end. I really hope some listeners can lock into it and enjoy!”
What are you looking forward to for this year? Do you have any artistic goals you’re looking to achieve? “I plan on carving out some more time for making tunes, learning with friends, sneaking a track onto Woozy, hopefully play some festivals outside of Ireland and I am really looking forward to dancing at Waking Life again this summer.”
Last, usual question from us, what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face and when was the last time you had a proper dance? “Went dancing with my mum in Bray over the Christmas holidays, Mano Le Tough was playing in the recently opened Echo Bar, an actual spot for electronic music in Bray run by The Drifter. That was really lovely, she loved the tunes.
Proper dance; probably HVYWGHT with Sinai Sound System in Troxy mid December. That was incredible.”
You can download Truancy Volume 322: EMA in 320 kbps and view the full tracklist on Patreon here. Your support helps cover all our costs and allows Truants to continue running as a non-profit and ad-free platform. Members will receive exclusive access to mixes, tracklists, and discounts off future merchandise. We urge you to support the future of independent music journalism—a little goes a long way.