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The Spark: How a group of kids from Ireland created the summer‘s biggest banger

Think you can stop what they do? We doubt it! Producer Garry McCarthy and members of the Kabin Crew tell us all about the biggest banger of the summer.

By Nick Reilly

The video for 'The Spark' (Picture: YouTube)

“I was speaking to a friend recently and explained I was so busy that I can’t afford to drop the ball,” explains the Cork-based music producer Garry McCarthy.

“She just said to me, ‘You’re not dealing with a ball here. You’ve been landed with a meteorite’.”

You sense that McCarthy’s friend has something of a point. The producer is the brains behind ‘The Spark’, an infectious drum and bass banger written for a youth project in Cork that has racked up millions of views and been hailed as the song of the summer.

Fans have lauded the song’s banging beats and the fact it’s performed by a group of youngsters aged nine and 12, but the message of positivity has struck a serious chord too.

“Any obstacle we find a way around it, If you’re proud of who you are and what you do, shout it,” sings one youngster in a thick Cork accent.

The song is performed by the Kabin Crew, named after the studio where McCarthy is the creative director and runs weekly workshops which aim to create youth empowerment through music. A number of the children come from the Cork suburb of Knocknaheeny – one of the Irish city’s most socially deprived areas.

“When they come to the Kabin, we want to make those kids proud of their identity, proud of their accent and proud of where they’re from,” he explains.

“Knocknaheeny hasn’t had the best reputation in the last 20 or 30 years, but it’s changing for the better. We’re always telling the kids to be proud of where you’re from – whether that’s Cork or someone who’s moved to Ireland.”

On that latter point in particular, the song sees the Kabin Crew joined by the Lisdoonvarna Crew – a group of youngsters living in refugee accommodation in County Clare. At a time when far-right protesters are increasingly intent on making their voice heard in Ireland, there’s something genuinely heartening about these kids coming together to create an almighty DnB banger.

“Those kids from Lisdoonvarna are legends,” beams McCarthy. “We’ve done a few outreach workshops and we don’t get to see them that much, but they’re just naturally gifted. We first met them in April last year and I couldn’t get over how confident they were and their ability to perform too. Why would you not want more people like that? They’re positive, inspiring and we wanted to show that these kids are part of our future so let’s amplify what they do.”

The track, which was written partly for Cruinniú na nÓg, the annual Irish celebration of youthful creativity, has now found a massive global audience. Last weekend, it even found its way into some of the sets performed on electronic music dance stages at Glastonbury – as documented on the Instagram stories of Irish DJ Annie Mac.

But did McCarthy ever know he was onto something special?

“I had the energy levels in the room at 110 percent from the kids and I was beaming ear-to-ear,” he recalls of the recording process.

“We had a feeling it might attract some local news media and maybe nationally, but nothing like this,” McCarthy reflects. “Look, the funniest reaction for me was when I saw the Teletubbies using it on their TikTok.”

As well as viral fame, it’s opened up real life opportunities too. They have been visited at the Kabin by Irish YouTube star  jacksepticeye, while last month also saw the group perform the track in front of a crowd of thousands when they were brought on stage by dance star Becky Hill at Cork’s Musgrove Park.

“I was crying so much!” one of the Kabin Crew kids tells me. Another lad, it seems, has already developed a sense of rock-star cool. “I didn’t even know she was!” he says. That’s fair – but Hill certainly knew them.

The group say they’re still working with McCarthy on more bangers down at the Kabin, but for now it’s been the experience of their young lifetime.

“We’ll keep creating more songs because there’s a lot of other songs in the Kabin. They might not be as famous, but they’re just as good,” says one of the young gang.

“If we have kids later, we can tell them that we’ve performed with Becky Hill and did all this stuff. It’s just a really cool tale for when we get older as well. We can tell that story to other people, and we can hopefully inspire them as well.”