Photography by Seán Murphy
Seaweedjamrecords – Daniel Scannell
I get up this morning, tie up my hair, root around on the floor to find a mismatch of clothes that don’t smell too bad and amble downstairs for my high energy breakfast of Coco Pops and coffee. The same routine every morning but today is different. On the breakfast table sits a refill pad and a pen and they scare the shit out of me because today I have to write a blog for swellseekers.ie. I’ve never written a blog before… I don’t even know what the word ‘blog’ means and to make matters worse the kitten seems determined to catch and kill my pen as I scribble.
So writing this blog is a first, then I guess it can be added to the long list of firsts that I’ve experienced in the past twelve months; first album, first radio interview, first photo shoot, the list goes on yet in a strange way I feel like I’ve been teleported to this point because to be totally honest when I look back on the year from summer 2011 to now and all that has changed in my life it all seems a blur yet it triggers strong feelings in me. I feel surprised, I feel proud but above all else I feel humbled, I know that all I have done would not have been possible without the extraordinary support of the people around me. This is my story… so far…
In 2004 at the age of nineteen I finished school in Fermoy, Co. Cork. I had never surfed, or even really known that surfing existed in Ireland and although I enjoyed listening to music my cd collection didn’t deviate too far from the likes of Dr. Dre, The Wu Tang Clan and The Fugees. I upped sticks and moved to Castlebar, Co. Mayo enrolling in GMIT to study Outdoor Sports and Recreation. My move to mayo and the people I met from then on had a major influence on my personality and how I viewed the world.
Some of the first people I met in the West were surfers. A close knit group of friends with a laid back attitude to life who knew how to have fun and perhaps most importantly had great taste in music. Naturally it was around this time a myself started surfing and sure enough I lived up to the surfing stereotype, dropping out of college and picking up my first instrument, the didgeridoo (totally inspired by Xavier Rudd who’s music I had not long before been introduced to).
I became obsessed with the didge and I took it everywhere, playing for hours and hours each day and no doubt driving my flatmates insane with my ceaseless determination to learn the art of circular breathing. My efforts began to pay off and soon I was performing with the eclectic Mayo band ‘Sons of Gingerbread’ (who I looked up to big-time) providing didge rhythm to blues and folk covers to make an unusual and distinctive sound. I instantly fell in love with playing live music. The didge was interesting, it got people excited and that fueled my desire to play as much music as I could making it a massive part of my life.
Two years passed and it was time to move on again. Seemingly by chance I ended up living and working in Waterford City. My surfing had come on, I had gotten over that steep learning curve that is the first two years of surfing, I had my own car and I was loving living in a small City with a beautiful coast and fantastic waves just minutes down the road (in contrast to the hour-long drives to the beach I was used to in Mayo). In addition to the strong and vibrant surf community that Waterford holds it is home to an equally strong and vibrant music community. I couldn’t believe my luck and I dove head first into the music scene there. I was terrified, I felt like I was starting again but I was made feel totally welcome and felt a sense of belonging amongst like minded people of the city.
I met some great musicians in Waterford and amongst them some incredible guitar players. I was blown away by their music, Jazz and Blues but played with a delicate touch and producing a sound that reminded me of sunshine and saltwater and before long the didgeridoo had taken a proverbial back seat, the guitar was my new obsession. Never content with playing the plain and simple chords and progressions that every guitar player starts out with I wanted to learn more and more. I soaked up as much of the fundamentals of Jazz and Blues as I could and began incorporating that into my own style of playing and broadening my scope as a musician.
It was while living in Waterford that I decided to start work on building a career in music and after a summer spent driving around Ireland with my surfboard, a tent and a guitar I moved back to Cork where I wrote my first original song ‘Fish for Shooting Stars’ and signed up for a one year course in Performing Arts/Music. I was determined and in stark contrast to my previous experience in education I took this course very seriously. During the year I spent studying at Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy I wrote three more songs, recorded and released my debut EP (also entitled ‘Fish for Shooting Stars’), and passed my classes with flying colours feeling I had laid a solid foundation upon which to build a future career. My EP was received well by those around me (I gave most copies away for free – my skills as a business man not quite matching my skills as a musician!) and managed to get radio play on a few local stations (to my complete surprise) but I never managed to push it further than that. I was delighted with my work but I knew that I had to up my game and start thinking of ways to reach more people with my music.
My inspiration for setting up Seaweedjam Records came from a multitude of different places. My aim was to promote Irish ‘Surf Music’ and give some of the musicians that I have met through surfing a platform from which to showcase their own music on a national scale. I also wanted the Irish public to be aware of the music that our small surf culture is producing and to help it cross over into Irish popular culture. Jack Johnson’s ‘Brushfire Records’ was my muse. An all-round independent label representing soulful musicians and seamlessly showcasing a direct link between music and surfing. If I was going to do the same thing here it could not be an individual effort. I began making phone-calls to run my idea by a few talented people and to my surprise not only did they agree to be a part of this journey they also seemed quite excited at the prospect. The Seaweedjam Project was now a reality. We agreed that Seaweedjam Records would be run as a co-operative, each individual would have full ownership of his/her work but would share it free of charge with the other members of the team allowing each artist to build a multimedia portfolio to promote themselves with but in doing so by proxy help promote www.seaweedjamrecords.com and the co-operative as a whole.
With the launch of my own debut album ‘Seaweedjam’ just two weeks away (June 2nd, Maddens Bridge Bar, Bundoran) signifying the end of the first year of Seaweedjam Records I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for the label. Adam Cross (one of my favourite Irish Musicians) has recently signed with us and is currently recording his debut album due to be released in the Autumn.
I feel blessed that in it’s first year this project has gotten to where it is today and with progress being made all the while and the continued support of Irelands surf community I can’t wait to see where we will be in five years time.