A disclaimer: Technology let me down in the course of conducting this interview, and failed to commit it to hard disk. At all.
When I was looking for the recordings, all that lay there was a forty six second long sample of me attempting, in a manner as far from nimble as possible, to extract a confession of racism from a person of indeterminate identity. A person who, upon listening back to the recording, seemed audibly and genuinely frightened.
This has clearly not been enough words to finish this article, so I will press on regardless.
The events and words pertained to herein will be recalled entirely from memory. A memory that , like technology, fails me more often on a daily basis than my will to live amongst you dirty, dirty people, or that aforementioned candidate for bigotry’s fight or flight response.
Some of the details may be somewhat inaccurate. Many, one might even go as far as to say most, of the following may be entirely imagined.
I make no apologies.
Under the banner of 7AR, Maynooth based musician Kathal Larkin produces some of the more original, inventive electronic music I’ve heard come from these harrowed shores. He makes the kind of songs that, were they to be somehow transmogrified into some form of candy, would almost certainly be Jelly Babies.
I recently sat with him in the grand confines of Bahia Palace, Morocco, sipping mint infused green tea and eating some kind of bird I had never seen before from an especially ornate tajine. He had invited me there to ask him from whence he gathers his bouncy ideas and boundless joy.
Good day to you sir. This fruit basket is impressive.
Kathal: This is indeed an impressive fruit basket. Eat this orange. It is from Fez.
You are incredibly handsome, but also humble. I can see this in your eyes, and their furious uncertainty.
You are also handsome.
Monstrously so. My symmetry is almost unnatural.
Enlighten me as to the source of your many, many talents. Their history. Fill me in on the details of the pleasantly smooth, but somewhat laborious and admirable because of it, birth of your legacy.
It began, as it always does, with my own pleasantly smooth, but somewhat laborious and admirable because of it, birth. I was raised around various locales in the vicinities of Dublin, Drogheda, places like that.
As I grew and matured with frightening speed and exquisite grace, I heard music, and realized that I could do it, quite easily. I was about fourteen, I believe. After a few short months spent mastering several instruments, I joined some local bands, groups that in my infinite charity, I deigned to sit in with.
I still do this on occasion.
I like the warm rushes of generosity I feel when I play with people. To them, it must be like the sensation of flight.
Absolutely. You are as a contemporary Daedelus.
I now largely make my own music, under the 7AR moniker, I find it most creatively satisfying when I don’t have to… tone the clever down so to speak.
But you are working with some other people right now?
I recently put out an EP with with a pleasant young man named Cillian Grant, for a project called Lab Team. We named it ‘We Have 'Til New Years’, but not for the reasons you might think, and it is on the internet. It’s difficult to avoid.
I decided to complement his MC vocal work with my next-level shit, and some sounds from the future.
It’s devilishly tasty. We’re planning on working on some new material together soon.
I’m also working with a violinist, producing some more downtempo/ambient noise based work, just improvising everything. We just released an EP, have another in the pipeline and are currently arranging some live shows.
Common, fawning adulation that is old hat to young Kathal.
Just small things. He wouldn’t be used to the crowds, or indeed, the sycophancy that I would be. We’re called 7ARDOOM.
You are an infinitely munificent man.
Totes! And you, an observant and flattering one.
What could you tell me about your process, and making your music?
When I want to just relax and make something unsettlingly brilliant, I’ll often just think at the computer, these days whilst reading Sun Tzu or Tolstoy. If I’m feeling both frivolous and nostalgic, watching 'War of the Buttons’.
However, this seamless concordance with my machines tends to terrify those who witness it, so I use things like Ableton Live, Reason, a Minikorg and a Kaoss Pad, a samplepad, microphone, those kinds of tools when I’m working any other way than alone.
I like to use a living Pegasus for a table. That’s a pretty key element to my sound.
Le premier verre est aussi amer que la vie, le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour, le troisième est aussi doux que la mort.
Nevermind. Just take this tea. Drink it. Question me.
You’ve worked with a number of vocalists on your 7AR material, and recently remixed the work of a few artists also?
In my own music, I’ve worked with a lot of people, Cillian, Kevin Griffin, Foo Farrell, though a lot of that material is offline for the moment.
As for my remixes, sometimes I hear a band, and in an effort to show them how it could have been done, I try and… fix some of their work. You know the old saying, give a man a fish? I’m teaching 'em. They’re generally pretty grateful.
Some have abused the gifts I’ve afforded them. Now they abuse heroin, their spouses, unhappy things like that. I curse them, you see. I burn a small effigy, and they forever live their lives beneath a black cloud.
Other bands have been wiser. Those guys generally do okay.
One of my remixes was of the work of a fine man I’d regard as a contemporary. Yeahbuzz makes some lovely music. He and I summer in Valencia. We laugh.
What about that art that accompanies your work?
Using my talents, I open up jpegs as text files, and then manually edit the codes, rearranging it, erasing lines and writing new code. The results entertain me, and this vast tattoo of a reptilian beast that covers the majority of the fore of my Adonis-like body.
Impressive work. Arabesques would regard it with envy, had they eyes, or sentience. And who do you listen to? Who can you bear to listen to, really?
Well, as you can imagine, it’s difficult to find something that I can even bring myself to accept hearing.
I know! I’m just baffled that so many get it so very wrong. The curse of genius is the inability to do anything but correlate the evidence of the idiocy of those around me.
It must be a burden.
I know nothing of burden. I have the bounty of unlimited strength. It is a mild annoyance though. Like waiting at a bus stop. Except that bus stop is people. And everywhere. And it talks. Stupidly. Often.
Kathal “Come At Me Bro!” Larkin, discontent with all the bustops.
So what’s next for Kathal Larkin?
Madagascar. A few live shows, by myself and also with 7ARDOOM. New Lab Team. Andalucia. New 7AR. New remixes. Then I conquer the Poles.
Northern and Southern, not the nation.
I just finished a new track, I’m about to finish several more.
I am both prolific and consistent.
So. Our final cup of tea. And your final question.
Can… can I be you? Even briefly? I must touch the vaults of heaven, sup of those sweet honeyed cups of the sparks in the sky. To live as you do.
You can’t. But you can look at me, which I cannot do, so we are both in enviable positions.
You can listen to this mix put together by the wonderful young Mr. Larkin for us, here below.