Odd Numbers: “I could easily spend a couple of hours searching for old soul or jazz samples to flip”

by James Hendicott

Odd Numbers is the stage name of Odhran O’Brien, a Carlow man currently working hard in the sparkling North Dublin Irish hip-hop scene, where his debut album ‘The Golden Éire Tapes Vol. 1’ serves up a shiny collaboration with many of the scene’s stars.

O’Brien’s role is in laying down the beats, with the likes of Hazey Haze, Local Boy, Sea High and Wallfella offering the lyrical backdrop. The result is a little like a compilation, held together by Odd Numbers’ consistently memorable backdrop.

“The idea was born from my goal of working with as many artists as I could” Odd Numbers explains. “I love collaborating with other people, not only because I can tap into their fanbase and connections, but because they can bring a whole new energy and feeling to a project. It also challenges me to create styles and sounds that I wouldn’t normally consider so I’m inadvertently levelling up my production skills in the process.”

“Everyone involved in the project are artists that I’ve held in high regard for their creative output. A number of them are friends that I’ve made through gigging, while others are just dominating the scene in their respective areas.”

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“Aside from the features, I really owe it to the Arts Council for bringing this project to life. It’s been a tough time for everyone involved in the music industry recently but they’ve been monumental in supporting independent artists like myself. It fills me with pride knowing that they saw promise in a collection of underground rap tunes.”

O’Brien is particularly taken with the local hip-hop scene in Swords and other areas of Dublin, and hopes to work towards expanding what’s going on.

“More cohesion within the Irish Hip-Hop scene [is important],” he says. “I’d love to see a greater network of support here, and I’ll be working strenuously on this network going forward. The end goal is mainstream appeal both here and abroad and we should all be working together to make that a reality. I’ll certainly be working with a lot more Irish artists in the meantime so I’m hopeful my name will be popping up a lot more frequently.”

“As a producer, I find that most of my inspiration comes from other people’s music; whether it’s an interesting drum pattern they used or just the general mood or progression of the track. I tend to listen to a lot of Irish Hip-Hop and that keeps me up to date on the direction of the sound and current trends.”

“Other times, I could easily spend a couple of hours searching for old soul or jazz samples to flip. There’s no shortage of inspiration there as you can find pretty much every release online these days. I try to pull from any sources to create a beat.”

That creativity, though, might be largely limited to the kind of collaboration that Odd Numbers is launching this week, heady with collaboration. The ‘Tapes’ record is funded by the Arts Council and is clearly about more than just the title artist. It will also be difficult to reproduce live.

“I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of performing live,” he says. “I love the buzz of gigs from the crowd but the thought of being on stage does nothing for me. One day I’ll hopefully be able to get all the artists together for an intimate gig but for now I’m more than happy being the guy making beats and silently organising in the background.”

“North Dublin has birthed an endless number of amazing artists. I’m not a native myself (I moved from Cavan to Swords seven years ago) but I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by incredible talent who share the same hunger and mindset as me. I may be biased but I’d name North Dublin as the hub of Irish Hip-Hop, followed closely by Limerick. Great art is born from struggle, and the socio-economics surely had a huge part to play in the area’s musical development.”

Odd Numbers ‘The Golden Éire Tapes Vol. 1’ is out now.

Click on link to read more in this weeks Digital Edition

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