Sporadically throughout the evening, a faint chant could be heard across the venue. As enthusiasm built, fan engagement increased the chant's volume before it eventually consumed the room. At its climax, the mantra was unavoidable and permeated the audience in a way rarely seen in trance shows.
"BRYAN. BRYAN. BRYAN FUCKING KEARNEY."
The chant has developed into a sort of hymn for fans of Bryan Kearney. The Irish DJ and producer has garnered an extensive following within the trance community, primarily due to his ability to transcend the genre with his many projects.
A fan of dance music himself, Kearney, alongside fellow trance DJ John O'Callaghan, was an avid clubgoer as a teenager. The Irishmen recalled their youthful ventures through various Dublin nightclubs in the mini-documentary, Tales From The Temple.
Apart from depicting how Kearney took his first steps in turning his DJ hobby into a full-time career, the film also shed light on the inception of his successful project with O'Callaghan, Key4050.
Derived from the access code from the Dublin apartment O'Callaghan stayed in, Key4050 has been showcased in music festivals around the world including Dreamstate SoCal. The enterprise generated plenty of new material, the majority of which ended up on their debut album, also named Tales From The Temple.
As label head of Kearnage Recordings, Kearney is preparing to deliver plenty of new music in 2020. His first release of the new decade is "Snarl," a club banger that has been reverberating through speakers since last spring.
We caught up with Kearney on the heels of his four-hour-long set at Academy LA. As his first time back in Southern California since his two performances at Dreamstate, Kearney spoke on the hectic times leading up to the trance festival.
EDM.COM: This was your first time in Los Angeles since Dreamstate SoCal back in November. Take us back, how was that experience for you?
Bryan Kearney: It was a great experience. Dreamstate is always one of the standout events of the year. The lead up to the event was quite intense with a huge amount of time spent in the studio in preparation for both my solo performance as Karney and as Key4050 alongside John O'Callaghan.
What kind of preparation was needed for your two Dreamstate performances?
September to November were intensive months of touring with shows all across the world on a weekly basis. It was a real challenge to balance the touring, studio and personal life during this period.
It was during this time where I stopped drinking alcohol at my shows in order to give my body and mind the best opportunity to focus on the tasks at hand. I tend to work better when I have something to focus on, such as a Karney set where the intention is to play as many new tracks as possible, the same with Key4050. John and I are continuously working on new material to introduce to our live shows.
And how did those two very different sets turn out for you?
I was really happy with how the Key4050 set went. We played a lot of new tracks for the first time and the crowd seemed to enjoy it, which is always the most important thing. We finished our set on the main stage and I then had my Karney performance on the Vision Stage an hour later. I really enjoyed that set. The crowd was really up for it, the area was packed and full of people that really knew their music, the diehards.
I had put a huge amount of work and effort into that 60 minutes of music, especially on the brand-new dark dub of "By My Side." That was a track that I spent an abnormal amount of time on. It was a very intensive day but it was all worthwhile in the end.
It can feel quite surreal at times to fly halfway across the world and then to be onstage playing in front of 10,000 people in a matter of hours, trying your best to process everything that is going on and to give the best performance you can.
How was the fan reaction to both of those unique performances?
I don't read comments on Facebook, Instagram, or Soundcloud and I haven't looked at my Twitter mentions in over two years. The only thing that I look at in terms of direct feedback is DMs on Instagram. I'll check the stats of a post but I won't get distracted by the comments attached to it.
At the end of the day, I have absolutely no control over what people think about me or my music. All I can do is perform to the best of my ability in the studio and onstage and the people can then make their choice based on their own subjective opinion.
Not everyone is into the techier side of dance music and that's fine. I am and I always have been. The Karney project allows me to showcase my darker creative side. Some people will prefer the trancey or vocal stuff, etc., but this sound is equally as important to me. I'm excited at how the project has developed over the past couple of years and I'm sure the music will continue to improve. It's a constant learning process.
How have you seen the Key4050 project grow?
I think we sort of take for granted how much the project has grown over the past few years, but I think that's always going to happen when you're so deeply involved in something. It's only when you step back and take a breath that you can see how much has been achieved in such a short amount of time.
Key4050 started out as a bit of fun in the old Music First studio. There was no plan or anything in place. I had a mess about on Cubase, got some rough ideas down and went home. I came back in the next day and John was after transforming the track into the final version of "Dinklebot."
From there we just kept on adding to a growing discography of Key4050 music. We released an album containing 32 tracks around this time last year, and we embarked on a worldwide tour throughout 2019. We now have a huge amount of original music and we are adding to it all the time.
We made our first vocal track in September 2019 called "I Love You" with Plumb, and this has been our biggest track to date. That track is set for release very soon.
Speaking of Key4050, about a year ago you released the YouTube mini-documentary Tales From The Temple. What inspired you guys to take viewers on a trip down memory lane?
We wanted to give people an insight into the project and a detailed backstory of Key4050. We wanted to show people where we came from, the people that inspired us, the experiences we had, and the part that they played in the project.
We were both clubbers and lovers of dance music and were always obsessed with music and everything to do with it. Key4050 draws inspiration from all of our past experiences but is produced in a modern-day production style. The documentary gives a detailed account of the Key4050 story, the venues that we attended, the DJs and producers we idolized, and how we took our first steps in turning a hobby into a full-time career.
Social Media is usually all about presenting this perfected, idealized version of yourself to the world. This documentary cut out all that and gave the viewer a proper insight into the history and story behind Key4050.
If you come from the same era of music as us I think it will resonate with you, but it can appeal to people only new to the scene as well.
The latest release out of your label is "Snarl." What can we expect from that track?
"Snarl" is a track that I've been playing in my sets since April of last year after its debut at Subculture Belfast. It's a simple enough track, to be honest, designed for impact in a club. It's out now on Kearnage Recordings. It's the first of a number of Karney tracks that will be released in 2020.
You indicated online that there are a number of new releases for 2020 out of Kearnage. Are there any that we should keep an eye out for?
I don't look too far ahead when it comes to releases on the label. I've recently signed a couple of great tracks from Will Rees and Paul Denton and they will be released over the next couple of months. I have a number of Karney tracks to put out this year and there will be a number of Key4050 tunes released on the label, too.
You had a great kickoff to 2020 with your extended, four-hour set Academy LA. Out of all of your upcoming 2020 gigs, do you have any that you're looking forward to?
The show at Academy was unreal, I'd probably put that as my favorite U.S. club show to date. I suppose the main show that I'm looking forward to at the moment is A State of Trance 950 in Utrecht where we are playing as Key4050 for the first time. ASOT is the springboard for the rest of the year in terms of new music. I'm really excited about that show.
Finally, what is your favorite subgenre of trance?
I don't believe in genres. I don't believe in limitations when it comes to music.