By Lucy Murray
Galway’s music scene is livelier than ever and makes a statement with every beat. Yet, DJ sets are not a new phenomenon and have created a platform for many artists since the early 2000s. Bringing electronic dance music to the mainstream audience continues to transform arts and culture. From synth to swing and groove, ravers come alive with each mix. Following a resurgence of appreciation in recent years, Galway has seen many people attracted towards this realm of artistic expression, and it begs the question: why?
It was a simple premise for newcomer DJ Ryan Conway: find a new hobby and nurture an ever-growing love of music. It has turned into much more.
From the dance floor to the stage
Ryan bought his decks in March 2023. Fast forward to August, and he’s just played his first official gig. With a focus on hardgroove, a subgenre of techno, he spends his free time mixing audio and perfecting the craft he’s come to know well.
“I had loved the music for so long, but once I started going to gigs and meeting people, I just fell in love with the scene as a whole. When I first bought my decks, I told the lads, ‘Come with me; I’m going to buy something fun for us.’
But once I got the hang of it, it became something I really enjoyed doing and worth giving a shot. It’s like my time to think about nothing else. It feels natural now, that’s for sure.”
He recalls his first gig with an endearing smile and the sureness of someone who loves what they do. Packed with heaving dance floors and vibrant strobe lights, he’s always been in awe of a good DJ set’s transformative effects on a crowd. “I didn’t really know how to play to a crowd, and it was fun figuring that out by myself. I guess it’s about taking the audience on a journey. It’s the unexpected – it’s the crowd not knowing what you’re gonna do next. It’s all about the people lifting each other up.
The atmosphere is always amazing, the nervous butterflies and all. I think my favourite thing when playing is to see someone you don’t know having a good time. Your friends will dance around anyways, but to see someone you don’t know smiling, dancing, or even tapping their foot to the beat is the best thing.”
His excitable outlook and personality lay the basis for his style. Ryan’s changeable with his taste and can’t pick a favourite song. –Much like the current music scene, Ryan is unpredictable in his stylistic choices, always aiming to keep the crowd engaged. Is that what makes a DJ good? Ryan clarifies: “You can’t be selfish – you can’t play everything you want to hear. There’s always room for improvement and more to learn. It’s a craft, an art form, and you’ll never know it all.
You also have to enjoy it. I love it, and I think that’s what kept me coming back for more.”
Getting Galway’s party started
Ryan’s entry into Galway’s music scene since August has been an above-all, welcoming experience. With more and more musical acts on the rise, he talks about finding his footing amidst an ever-changing industry.
“The dance music scene can have a bad reputation; sometimes, it’s not treated the same as other genres. People are starting to become more open-minded to it now, though. It relies so heavily on the people involved to keep up the good name and keep it alive. It’s all about the people.”
Whether performing as a solo act or playing back-to-back with another DJ, Ryan believes there’s always something new to take from the opportunity, and you can constantly find alternative ways to entertain the crowd. “It’s a lot of fun playing with someone else and adapting to what’s going on.” His emphasis on a ‘community’ based experience seeps into every moment he mentions. From the camaraderie between musicians to the appreciation from ravers, there is a tight-knit bond amongst the people who follow these events.
Unsurprisingly, the influence that these types of DJ acts then have on Galway’s expressive and vibrant arts culture is monumental. Hoards of people sell out tickets in mere minutes for techno sets nowadays, and the city is abuzz with talks of the next big thing as soon as the gig ends. Everyone is gravitating towards these events, from musicians to photographers, and the ushering in of a new era of appreciation is bringing Galway to life.
“A lot of the people I’ve met through this are some of my best friends now,” says Ryan. “There’s so many different avenues you can take to get involved in the scene. It’s really welcoming as an attendee. I’ve explored so many more genres than I would have before this. It’s never-ending; I find it a lot of fun to sit down and find new music.”
To answer the question of why this electronic experience has captured the attention of Galway, Ryan notes: “I think a lot of people were not as open to exploring new genres and events before, but I think that’s changing. There’s a lot of underrated talent out there right now.”
Perhaps more and more people are starting to notice. In the words of Ryan, “Just get involved.”
You can follow Ryan’s next steps on his Instagram.