The Gig Cartel - Artist profiles: Meryl Streek

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Meryl Streek

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Born and raised in Dublin, avantgarde-punk producer Meryl Streek remembers his childhood in Ireland fondly. “Growing up it was great,” he says. “I had a lot of family around me and things were good, we were a working class family of independent screen printers.”

During the leaner and more difficult years that followed, Streek grew up and the world changed around him. He lost several family members, and austerity closed in on the country. As the recession hit and work became steadily thinner on the ground, he moved to Canada—a 7 year experience that shaped Meryl Streek both as a person and as an artist, as he explains, “Seeing how countries work outside of Ireland, and seeing how unfair Ireland's work ethic and living situations are, I came back here fueled to try and make a change.”


With his father a talented drummer in his own right, and the call of punk rock’s ethics and morals so strong, it was perhaps an inevitability that Streek would eventually fall into that same world. “My dad was an unbelievable drummer,” he enthuses, “Like unbelievable. I was raised being around punk bands like Crass and anarcho-punks Rudimentary Peni. I remember seeing him play growing up as a kid and that was the start of my growth as a musician.”

Fast-forward to 2021 and holding over 15 years of touring and drumming experience under his belt in various projects, Streek had developed a taste for life on the road, despite its many challenges—but something had to give. “It's tough, and very shit financially,” he sighs. “Also dealing with people you don't like on a daily basis isn't good for the head.”

Playing the same beats in “absolute car crash bands” for years and relying on others to make money to survive, Streek was delighted when he found a new way to crossbreed different beats and genres electronically. “I love all music but I find I have a great ear for hitting strings that touch the heart. I actually listen to a lot of more dream pop records and easy-going music. I'm not always walking around screaming,” he quips.

The producer’s latest solo project, Meryl Streek, began in earnest when he finally quit his former band to try and give a voice to those he saw struggling in his home country. “I just said ‘I need to do my own thing’ and try to help the ordinary people in Ireland who've been suffering,” Streek says. “I do it for my father who has now passed on. I know what it’s like to feel betrayed and hurt, and I want to devote my life to helping others as best I can. The music may sound vicious to some, but times are changing and the government here in Ireland aren’t.”


Mostly recorded at home in his Vancouver apartment over the best part of a year, his forthcoming debut album 796 is perhaps one of the most visceral, important political records of the decade—a deeply personal and vitriolic calling card that sets Streek out as a gifted and timely new voice. “I dropped all social aspects of my life and just focused on this project,” says Streek. “I also quit drinking the day I started it and never went back.” 


Fittingly for such a politically-charged record, some of the drums were recorded in a Vancouver studio that was home to Rage Against The Machine's self-titled album. “I did it all for free as my mate worked in the studio,” remembers Streek. “We smoked a lot of weed and worked through the nights on it.” He’d then take the production stems home and stitch together the songs through Ableton. “I wanted to make an album that was so cheap but still sounded brilliant, as I think that’s the most punk thing you can do—not splash out tons of cash on an album using vintage tape reels and 60s gear. I'm over all that.”

After a year of work, Streek took the album home to Ireland with him, and alongside producer Dan Doherty (Fontaines D.C.) started recording the vocals for the tracks. He worked so hard during that time period that he already has another full album ready and waiting to go, but then he’s never been short of material or inspiration…


“Growing up in Ireland you tend to spend time in bars listening to people moaning about societal issues,” he confides. “I'm 32 now and I'm still reading about these issues, they’re still not resolved. I just felt it in my heart that I could have these issues heard via a different route, and also a more head-on, direct approach.”

Informed by everything from alcoholism, to abuse by the catholic church, familial suicide, the housing crisis, and many more of the deep-rooted, uglier problems that our society struggles with, 796 is a record that reaches out and demands to be heard.

“I like finding examples in Ireland that have been left to rot and finding a way to make music from them. Punk bands have been singing about these topics for years, but they don't get to a level that it's ever heard by the people who should hear it,” laments Streek. “The vocals deafen people and they can't understand the lyrics, so that was my thought process—make a different type of punk record that people can hear loud and clear, and understand what I’m saying. After losing half my family to a wide range of deaths I just felt I could make a change here and help the people who the government has been ignoring for the last 20 or 30 years.”

Influenced by the likes of Nick Blinko from Rudimentary Peni and Mark E Smith from The Fall—”two lads who did their own thing and stuck with it”—Streek gives short shrift to modern lyricists who aren’t addressing the wider issues. “I can’t stand modern music singing about nonsense sh*te when we've enough issues and topics right at our doorstep to focus on,” he says. “If you're gonna do it, make it purposeful. Stop singing about doing heroin in the ‘60s because you've never done it—it's all rock star bullsh*t. Use your head and stop trying to be Brian Jonestown Massacre.”

Using its very name as a devastating condemnation of the shameful Catholic church abuse scandal in Ireland, and penned following the findings of The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, 796 is an emotionally volatile and heart-wrenching collection of cutting edge punk that pushes genre boundaries whilst traversing extremely challenging political subject matter with aplomb and vitriol.

“I want all the media in Ireland to stop protecting our government and church,” seethes Streek on the subject. “Everyone knows how corrupt it is here and has been for many years. The church has so much control here that it’s utterly insane. I'm not a criminal—I've no previous arrest charges and have never had any dealings with the police here. I'm simply at my wits end seeing these leaders get away with whatever they want while ruining families’ lives while they're at it.” 

Ultimately, he says, Streek made the record for his father, who committed suicide in 2009. “After that my family all dropped like flies,” he recalls. “What you're hearing is a true expression of frustration and hurt from someone who tried his best to play the game of life. If you've been mistreated in life or simply have had enough of playing games, then this album is for you. If you're constantly wrapped up in cotton wool and receiving big salaries, this album is also for you. Listen to it and take a step back for a moment and have a think.”

An often harrowing audio diary of a person living through the darkest times, losing loved ones, and constantly fighting an uphill battle just to survive whilst creating meaningful art, 796 isn’t so much a plea for help as a call to arms.

“I wanted people to connect with it, and believe me people will, because we all think these things,” he says defiantly, “I just stuck my neck out and said them first.”

“Right now I’d like to get out on the road and meet people who can relate to this record. The messages I receive online truly mean the world to me. It's a case of meeting people who understand and relate to the issues I'm raising. I'm staying focused and determined. I say this to anyone supporting this project: if you ever need a favour, please hit me up.”

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