Music has always been around me growing up as a child. My mother played piano in the house and my father used to always have music on wherever we went. I remember him introducing me to artists such as Rory Gallagher, Phil Collins, and The Police at a young age. During school, I made friends with others who were into making music and we would regularly make songs in the attic of my house. My parents bought me a second-hand drum kit and an electric guitar, which looking back now, really opened the door for me. I’m very grateful for that.
My name is Kieran O’Brien. I’m a software developer and musician from Galway on the west coast of Ireland. I create and release music through a local collective called Citog Records. I also write music for my other band called City Victim.
I remember being over at my friend’s house and seeing his older brother just pick up his electric guitar and play along to songs on the radio by ear. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don’t think I’ve ever told him, but he was a pretty big influence on me learning guitar. I think it was good having others around me who were big into music, especially my friend’s older brothers and sisters – they really influenced me to discover and play new music.
I play guitar, both acoustic and electric, bass guitar, drums, and piano. I also use a lot of virtual instruments when recording such as synths, organs and various other sounds. I love playing them all, but the guitar would be my main instrument of choice.
I’ve worked with many in my field who are either musicians, painters, writers, designers, so there’s a trend there for sure. I think it’s easy to regard software development as being a purely logic/mathematical type of activity, but it also really requires you to think outside of the box at times, and this is precisely where the creative element comes in, regardless of what that activity is outside of work. It also takes a lot of focus to write software and to have a good process – the same can be said for songwriting.
Lyrics are generally the last thing to come to me, which is interesting because they usually give so much meaning to a song. I guess I’m just more musically oriented; I generally have a chord progression or something to start with. I usually have a phone or a dictaphone nearby – if something happens, I can record it on the spot. The act of songwriting can be similar to that of writing code in the sense that you try to put all the various parts together in the right order, get some feedback, re-iterate what you did, maybe add or remove some more stuff.
Genre-wise, my music probably falls somewhere between indie-rock and ambient-folk. Thom Yorke from Radiohead is probably my biggest influence, along with many others such as Neil Young, Elliott Smith, and Mark Kozelek. Electronic/ambient like Tycho, Ulrich Schnauss, Shigeto, and Boards of Canada have also had an enormous influence on me. I’d also like to give a shout out to a fellow musician and friend of mine, Eoin Dolan, who is not only an amazing songwriter and artist who I admire greatly but is somebody who really pushes and supports the local music community here in Galway.
I’m currently the treasurer for Citog Records, as well as an active member along with many others within the group. There is no specific genre within the label; rather we aim to promote awareness and support various independent artists and bands that are active here in Galway. We are a non-profit and it is run solely by the artists and bands within the collective. We also organise regular gigs around the city. Galway, like many other towns in Ireland, has a great sense of charm and warmth; you can always strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and have “the craic” as we say, which basically translates to having fun!
Writing my own music or working with others is just an endless source of imagination, exploration, and creativity, and I really enjoy it. I’ve always loved the personal connection you get from listening to music, and the sense of relationship you develop with the artist. Making music brings an enormous sense of purpose and meaning to my life. Music is one of the most powerful artistic methods – the opportunity to create, record and release music from your own bedroom is now easier than ever. Focus on the music and your sound, find your voice, whatever that may be, and get involved in your local scene. Just get out there and do it!