The Casanova Wave arrived on my radar back in October. Looking back at that post, I don’t do the music justice. I just had a link to the five-track EP and very little information on the band. I had the name of the man behind it, Brian McCartan; I knew he was from Waterford; and I said the music was chillwave. Since October, everyone and their mum have derided chillwave as the genre no artist should be dubbed. So let’s just forget I ever said it. (I didn’t ask Brian what he thought of being labelled chillwavve.) The Casanova Wave has slowly but surely been garnering love from the likes of Nialler 9, Jim Carroll at On The Record and over at Stop The Lights. The live show also sounds like it’s been winning over fans, with the likes of Nay of Harmless Noise laying plaudits at his keyboards. So surely Brian had all this planned when he first powered on those keyboards, right?

Wrong. Brian explains that he had just been pottering away on a few songs when one of his friends threw a talent show party at her house one night “I thought I’d play these songs that I had,” Brian says. “I thought it would be funny if I tried to play all these different instruments myself, so I did that. Everyone was like: ‘Jeez, I really enjoyed that.’ So I played at someone’s birthday party and I thought, ‘I’ll start getting some gigs now.’” And he hasn’t looked back since: “Fortunately I was in the place where I could go for it, because I was out of work and there was obviously not a whole lot going on. I just thought I’d go with it and see what happens. So there were no grand aspirations and I didn’t plan out a big manifesto of how I wanted to do something huge. I just kinda kept going with it and one thing led to another and it’s been great and I’ve been enjoying every second of it.”

Brian is even more casual about his setup nowadays. The electronic drumkit is his little brother’s, as is an electric guitar; his acoustic is, in fact, his older brother’s; but the laptop? That’s all Brian’s. “Even the guitar cases I use I borrowed off other people. So that’s sort of what I did for the first few gigs: just borrowed stuff off people. I suppose it buys into the feel of music, just grab whatever bits and pieces [you can]. I don’t study anything technical and I hate when people tell me technical things about music cause I’ve no interest in it. I haven’t, like, studied the whole scope of instruments used in electronica and decided that this is the exact setup I want, it’s just the stuff I have to hand and so I just use that. If a friend had anything, like a harmonium, I’d probably grab it if I thought it sounded interesting and would try to use that. It’s not so well thought out.”

Brian had been in a number of bands in the past including a reggae band called The Violators who only played three shows and others “where all we ever did was rehearse and we never played any gigs”. It was this frustration – and the classic syndrome of not being able to get the other members to do exactly what you want them to do. But don’t call it a god complex – that led to The Casanova Wave. “It’s probably very telling that I ended up doing something I wanted to do all by myself,” Brian admits.

Playing in such a take-it-as-it-comes fashion brings its own problems – Brian calls it nonsense. Is the nonsense like people coming up to you after gigs and making you an offer that’s too good to be true? “That does happen, but that’s not so bad because it’s ego massaging. It’s just the venues and stuff. Some places you play you get a crowd who don’t ever respond or interact, and that really annoys me. There’s no onus on people to give a shit – I’m not saying people should be all over me or anything – but things can annoy ya. The way you can get treated, you really have to be a bit of a shark and be willing to put yourself before anyone else in a business sense. I have no time for that sort of thing. I just don’t like getting bogged down in it. And it can happen, y’know.

“If you take it all too seriously you can set yourself up for a very big fall. You can put in so much work and so much effort and you can fall flat on your face.

“When I say nonsense – promotion and selling yourself and that kind of thing – you can really set yourself up for a fall. People can take advantage of you and it can be a bit of a slap in the face if you put yourself out there too much. I think it should just be about enjoying it. So if I go into it with that frame of mind, I can play a gig to eight people. My frame of mind is that if those eight people listen to it and like it then I’ll have enjoyed it. Instead of being disappointed that why wasn’t it sold out, why wasn’t it huge, why wasn’t it written about and this sort of thing, I have no time for. I take it as it comes.”

A lot of artists could say something like this and not believe it, but talking to Brian you get the feeling he’s a genuine guy, making music just for the sheer joy of making music. He’s also self-deprecating: “I like playing in front of a few people and just saying, “Here’s a few sounds I like, I hope you like them too.” When they do like it that’s great. There’s a whole world of playing live, putting on a show, it’s a strange kind of world to get into. It’s a lot of work. So possibly, I would lean towards seeing myself as a producer, as opposed to a musician, who plays gigs.”

Read part two of this interview here.