Our Stories: Niall Roche

Tom Aston

Niall Roche is about to graduate from our Electronic Music & DJ Practice degree, and he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Although COVID-19 has put a slight damper in his plans, Niall has no intention of letting this deter him. We had the opportunity to chat with him about his new EP, how he’s taking care of his mental health, as well as his plans for the rest of 2020.

Thanks for chatting to us today Niall. To start, let’s find out what drew you to DJ’ing as a career choice?

My parents ran a nightclub in the Acid House days and always had a passion for music of all kinds, which rubbed off on me. After progressing through a wide variety of musical stages in my life, it all equated to a flat out drive for electronic music. I got my first set of decks at 17 and set about playing as much as I possibly could.

And so, why did you decide to study at Spirit Studios?

I have always done music, but at the time I was struggling to find the time and resources to pursue it properly. I was DJ’ing locally and had completed my Level 2 music technology at college, and soon as I found that I could apply for a course as a mature student I went searching. 

Initially, I had my eyes on Salford University, however the course wasn’t specific or specialised enough for what I wanted to do. After hearing about Spirit Studios, I looked into the courses on offer and realised they did everything I wanted to do, so it was a no brainer for me. 

Fast forward a few years and you’re now about to graduate, so firstly congratulations! Tell us, what are you looking forward to most after graduating?

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone at Spirit Studios for their time and expertise

The easy thing to say would be the rest of my life but that’s a bit of a cop out, isn’t it! 

While studying, I set up my own small business – an online record store, mix series and record label called Do As You Please’, so I’m really excited about seeing where this takes me and what comes of it. Also, I’m just looking forward to making music without any specific purpose or looming deadlines. 

Sounds great! And so, what else have you been working on?

I’ve just released my first EP on vinyl through ‘Do As You Please’, so I’m really pushing to get that out into the world. 

Given the current situation, there will not be any gigs for the foreseeable future, and so, I’m looking into taking some new release vinyl stock from a distributor and selling those online. 

In addition to this, I’m trying to make as much music as physically possible while I have the time. 

How are you staying productive during lockdown?

I’ve found when I can keep a routine and exercise each morning it really helps with knuckling down and working through the week. Obviously, this naturally comes and goes but when I can do it it definitely helps! 

Definitely. Do you have any advice for others on how they can stay productive as well?

I say just start. The thought of an empty project can sometimes seem a bit daunting but as soon as I get going it’s hard to stop. Turning my phone off and putting it in a drawer or something also helps because it’s much more rewarding if I don’t break my workflow. 

As well as your physical health, how have you been taking care of your mental health while in lockdown?

I’ve always believed in taking life on with a level of stoicism and getting on with things with a degree of reticence, but being creative in any sense gives you a social vulnerability, and not dealing with that won’t just hold you back creatively, it’ll become detrimental to your self-worth and health. 

Constantly quantifying your creative output and comparing it to who or whatever’s big on the scene isn’t sustainable. Developing a coping mechanism to deal with an art form and the people that come with it isn’t easy on your own; I’ve been involved with community projects like Reform Radio & Brighter Sound that are really fantastic places to seek help creatively and emotionally. 

I’ve learnt all these things the hard way, and implementing them can be even harder. Emotions and confidence are like muscles, the more you practice them the stronger they become.

Great advice. Do you have any tips for people who may be struggling with their mental health right now?

Don’t get down if somebody has made something you think is better than what you’ve made: take it as inspiration and reference it, use it to your advantage. Don’t fight against competition and accept there are thousands of people working in the same field. 

Start a community and share as much as you can with each other. Don’t invest your time into people or things that make you unhappy, what’s “cool” is subjective, so find your own cool and run with it. 

Never underestimate how beneficial exercise and looking after your physical health can be on your mental health. Make sure you have as much balance in your life as life permits. 

Whenever you feel yourself worrying unnecessarily – just rationalise as much as you can and close down the negativity in whatever way you can. 

Finally I’d like to add, just enjoy yourself, and seek help if you need it. 

Of your career to date, what piece of work are you proudest of?

That’s a very difficult question – I find I become more critical of my work the more I learn. 

There’s a track I made called Figment a few years ago, and it was made completely up of Logic stock sounds and plugins with no samples. All the parts had plenty of space and this was before I even knew what a proper mix down was. I’d say this was the pinnacle point when I realised that I could do this.

For a more recent one, Rock n Roll, the B2 on my EP. It just hits the nail on the head for what I’d want to hear on a dancefloor somewhere. 

Tell us, who are you listening to at the moment?

There’s a couple of DJs I’ve really been enjoying – Alex Kassian is a Japanese born DJ/producer based in Berlin via Sheffield, and has a kind of a blend of 80s synth, classic US house, ambient and then the Asian influence from the Japanese roots. 

I’ve also really been into Colleen Cosmo Murphy who’s this amazing disco and classic US house DJ. She was a good friend and business partner of the late and great David Mancuso in New York; famous for The Loft parties. Her mixes are unbelievably fun and indisputably cool. Perfect for a quarantine weekend. 

Before you go, tell us, what’s the first thing you’re going to do once lockdown is lifted?

Go and see my family! Being starved of human interaction and nature isn’t good for anybody so I think replenishing that will be the first port of call. Then music-wise I want to start throwing Do As You Please parties in Manchester and beyond and just play out as much as I possibly can.

Thanks for chatting to us Niall. We wish you all the success in your post graduation plans!