Welcome once again to Under The Street Light With Dave McMahon. This time I spoke to seminal Irish rapper, Collie to see what he has been up to and to generally find out more about him. For example, who knew he was in a metal band?
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a musician?
Not sure exactly when to be honest, as early as I can remember though, probably when I was about 7 I think I first started making home recordings on this gammy tape recorder we used to have in the gaff. I can still remember some of my ‘compositions’ from back then, the less said about that the better though ha
How did you get started?
Besides a few of the above wranglings I picked up a guitar when I was 15 and that was what got me kicked off properly.
Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
Was mainly a metal kid for most of me teenage years, started off around 10/11 with AC/DC then when I was 12/13 moved on to Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura, Metallica, Machine Head etc. One of me pals was listening to Black Sunday, Doggystyle and The Chronic so that was when I first got into Rap, I’d given a few spins of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton previously too when I was about 10 but never had a copy. In saying that though the first albums I ever bought were ‘Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Them’ and a compilation album called ‘It’s Awesome’ (for the first track on it, which was Ice Ice Baby), both on cassette. Got them with me Confo’ money if memory serves me correctly…
What inspires you to write?
Different things I suppose, either I’ll get a specific idea for a song and try run with that or something will just annoy me and I’ll start writing about it just go from there. Usually something I feel strongly about I suppose!
It seems that rap music in Dublin is made primarily by people from disadvantaged areas, do you think that ends up working as an advantage?
I wouldn’t say that meself tbh, maybe it just seems that they’re the more likely to be into this music but I’ve heard plenty of stuff from lads from non-problematic area’s that are just as good. Personally speaking I like to hear someone be passionate and convincing about what they’re talking about, that’s more important to me then where someone’s from. In saying that it can also put something in perspective knowing where they’re coming from.
How much do other musicians influence your music?
A lot. I’m a music lover at the end of the day, and I take my influences/inspiration from a wide range of sources. I don’t tend to stick to one style with my songs because at the end of the day they need to be songs I’d enjoy listening to myself, so my main priority is keeping myself entertained.
When and where did you play your first gig?
Very first gig I played as a rapper was in the ‘Cellar’ in what was called Isaac Butt’s at the time beside Busaras, I had done a few gigs in the metal band I was also playing with before that but im not sure where/when the first one was, might have been Voodoo Lounge possibly.
What has been your favourite venue to play?
Vicar St. The sound from the audience and the stage is the best I’ve ever heard. Althought the Point Depot and Odyssey Arena weren’t bad either ha.
What has been your worst concert experience?
As a fan: watching 50 cent man-handle the mic like it was his mickey at the first gig he played in Ireland.
As an artist: getting penny’s thrown at me onstage in the Odyssey when they realised where I was from.
What was your favourite concert that you went to see?
Wow, SO many over the years would be hard to pinpoint, Eminem in Punchestown seems to spring to mind, some craic was had that day.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Again, hard to pick just the one. Probably getting signed to a major label and having me singles/album in every shop in the country, which was nice. Meeting Mike Skinner was good too, I’ve always wanted to loaf one of me heroes…
What do you think of the rap/hip hop scene in Ireland today?
There’s some great artists out there at the moment, and some of them making good moves too, it seems the ones with the decent heads on their shoulders are the ones coming to the forefront which is always great to see, the likes of Lethal Dialect etc
How does it differ from back when you first started out?
To be honest, it’s really not that different. Ignoring social media/youtube etc, it’s still a lot of people making tunes in their room and looking for someone to tell them how great they are, which is not the case most of the time. Just nowadays people record something and 5 mins later put it up on youtube, which obviously wasn’t around ten years ago.
You have entered a few battle raps, is that something you would like to do again in the future?
I participated in a few DFI’s previously as they were stuck for battlers, but I proved myself in that arena more than 10 years ago. When I first started out 8 mile was prevalent so there were battles popping up all over the place, which I found a good place for cutting me teeth. As far as participating these days, I’d personally prefer to do the actual freestyle over beats as opposed to the accapella style of the last 5 years or so. Plus a cash prize, that helps….
How did you feel when you were invited to be part of the latest in the Boss Level Series alongside the likes of Akil The MC?
Amazing, Jurassic 5 are one of my fave hip-hop groups, and possibly the best hip-hop act I’ve seen play live, their energy is unreal. I opened for them in Vicar St. 10 years ago and they were the soundest bunch of lads ye could meet, so it was a pleasure and an honour to have Akil on board for Boss Level 3.
Music streaming sites such as Spotify seem to divide opinion amongst artists, where do you stand on the debate?
Tricky one alright. As an artist I’m aware of the low revenue generated from it, but ultimately it’s a great way for people to hear your music, and no-one wants to pay for anything these days anyways so it really doesn’t make much difference at this point. So, essentially, I stand with Dave Grohl, not Taylor Swift….
Who do you currently listen to?
At the moment in me car I have a Beatles compilation getting regular spins, and the Lethal Diaelct 1988 album, and whatever new tunes I’m working on meself ha.
What are your top 5 albums of all time and why?
Damien Dempsey – Seize The Day. A buddy of mine gave me this album because he wanted me to figure out a few of the chords for some of the songs for him and I fell in love straight away, amazing artist and a true gent to boot.
Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle. Just a classic, one of the first hip-hop albums I really latched on to. Fe’shizzle…
Pantera – A Vulgar Display of Power. One of my favourite albums of all time, and for a metal album nearly every song sounds different on it style-wise, something I’ve always tried to adhere to with me own albums, as per my above comment regarding entertaining meself. I don’t really listen to metal these days much but that one still gets thrown on every now and again when I’m gearing up for a night out.
The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come For Free. Loved the first album too, benchmark no doubt, but I think this one proved it wasn’t a fluke how good his music was. Big inspiration on me too and not musically necessarily.
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi. Another masterpiece, she has some range on her voice and can twiddle that guitar like there’s no tomorrow too. ‘Desire’ still makes the hair on the back of me neck stand up when I hear it.
Whats the best advice you have been given in your career?
Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, worry about what YOU’RE doing…
What do you have lined up for the future?
The video for ‘Lazy Bones’ from me last album is dropping end of April/start of May, which is gonna lose me every ounce of ‘street-cred’ I have, ha. Vantastival and K-Fest festival in May, Swell festival in July, and a couple of others still waiting on confirmation. After that I’m hoping to get another album out by the end of the year, which will likely be a collaborative effort between myself and Alan Newman, we’re about 5 songs in so far with it so my current mind-goal for it is November this year.
You can catch Collie performing at Vantastival Festival this May Bank Holiday weekend.