A multitude of Roger Doyles but only one composer
The 62-year-old pioneered Irish electronic music, and it returned the favour by saving his life
Doyle’s music isn’t for everyone, of course – it is, according to taste, either dull and tuneless or imbued with an ecstatic kind of melodic inventiveness. He has written letters to music critics bemoaning their occasional cavils, which can often be construed as an artist suffering under the weight of either arrogance or self-belief. How self-critical is he?
“That’s a difficult one to answer because I embarrass my friends, and myself sometimes, by liking my own music far too much, so maybe I’m not critical enough. Most of the time I’m jumping around the studio at what I’m listening to. But the technology helps you; sometimes you’re trying a technical thing – let’s see how this works – and the results are amazing.”
We are squaring the circle; talk turns once again to his forthcoming opera at Kilkenny, and future plans for it. “In January next we apply for a larger grant, and then the work will be done for 2015 or thereabouts. We’re planning to make it as super as we can. How super? Well, there’s a significant electronic score to it, four instrumentalists and five singers – not operatic in the traditional sense, more early- music singers.”
So aims and ambitions are still important, then? “Well, yes, of course, but what I would love to be able to do is to send this music I’ve created back to the 18-year-old Roger Doyle. I didn’t have much of an idea back then, and so I’ve achieved way above what I thought I would. It would show the Roger Doyle back then that things would happen.”
Were things that bad? Were you that bad? “Oh God, I was lazy – I was heading for nothing. I played poker all the time, wasn’t that brainy, got a pass in the Leaving, didn’t get into university . . . ”
Where was he heading, then?
“Limbo? Long-term unemployment? I don’t know where. But I do know this: music saved my life.”
Roger Doyle performs the opening act of his debut opera, The Death by Fire of Giordano Bruno, at Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, August 14th, as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival. kilkennyarts.ie