At 4pm on a Friday evening, Gary Byrne wraps up work in Tallaght.
He mounts his gold bike, leaves the Cycle Superstore and turns immediately onto the busy two-lane tree-lined Airton Road at the edge of the Broomhill Industrial Estate.
He briefly pulls in beside the footpath to reach across the handlebars and fiddle with an aluminium and wooden rack inside the bike’s shallow basket.
The rack holds three miniature Korg analogue synthesisers and a mixer, with an arch of coloured cables inserted into each device like a pastel rubber rainbow.
Adjusting the levels on the black mixer, he gropes behind the rack to crank up the volume on a cylindrical speaker set, and throws out a series of dance loops, a thick fuzzy bassline with a beat that clicks and pops like a vintage 70s drum machine.
Byrne zips down the cycle lane, passing over and under bridges, and veering off onto the occasional residential street, all the while capturing his trip on a GoPro attached to the handlebar.
His aim, he later says, is to perform and film his techno sets and journey on each of Dublin’s major cycle routes.
Already, he has done stretches in Sandycove, Tallaght, and the city centre from Merrion Square to Smithfield.
Lined up next is the N11 route up towards University College Dublin and the laneways from Howth back into the city centre.
The latter excites him in particular, he says. “I want to do that at night with all of the lights as you’re coming into the city.”
Byrne’s grandest plan, however, is to get a group of friends to go on a major cycle around the Phoenix Park. “You’d be really able to blare this on a nice slow spin around the park.”
Byrne began his techno cycle adventures in early March. But his interest in dance music has its roots in the mid-1990s, he says.
He was a dance-music head, he says. “Mostly acid house and hard techno and a lot of my friends were DJs or sound engineers.”
He lived with friends in a house in Phibsborough and, he says, whenever a big act came to gig in the city, chances are they ended up coming back there after. “Because we had decks set up.”
He also worked at that time as a bicycle courier.
It started as a summer job after college, says Byrne. “Nine years later, I was still at it. That was great fun.”
Each day, he cycled 70–90 miles around Dublin, often venturing as far as Bray.
In his downtime, he went mountain biking. He also partook in an underground “alley cat” courier race league.
Producing dance music came much later. In the 1990s, he would play a little on keyboards, using hacked software.
But musical hardware tended to require crazy money, he says. “The cheapest little sequencer box was £400.”
About a decade ago, he started to accumulate electronic gear.
His brother left him equipment when he moved house, and he scoured the musical sections of online marketplaces like Adverts.ie. After a few years, Byrne had enough of a set-up to produce tracks himself.
“In the 90s, you were looking at twenty grand to get a set-up like this,” he said recently, in his current studio upstairs in his house.
Mounted to the wall, next to a portrait of Garfield reimagined as the occultic goat deity Baphomet, is a square golden keyboard.
Handheld ribbon synthesisers sit on a shelf. Beside a laptop and monitor on his desk are more synths, a mixing desk, samplers and a sequencer with a grid of colourful light-up buttons.
GoPro cameras and webcams lie around the room. And behind his chair is a green screen. He uses that, he says, when he livestreams from home.
Byrne took to live streaming DJ sets during the pandemic.
He started on Twitch. It was a way to keep in contact with his three brothers and dad, he says, all of whom played Minecraft together.
He had been looking for ways to record himself jamming, says Byrne. “So I said feck it, I may as well start recording on this.”
Saturday nights, he would stream a two-hour live set. As he settled into this medium for DJing, the idea for his techno cycles slowly emerged.
Byrne consults occasionally for MyVolts, a power-supply company, based off Pearse Street.
Caroline Swords, its director of operations, says she remembers Byrne calling up one day in 2018.
Initially, Swords says Byrne was a customer looking to power his synthesisers. But quickly, he became involved in testing the company’s products.
During the course of the pandemic then, she says, “He was wanting to develop something that was completely mobile.”
“He just got that basket for his bike,” she says, “and I guess the two of those things came together.”
In March, the company was doing a demo at the Musicmaker store on Exchequer Street, says Bryne, now stood by his bike on a grassy hill by the People’s Garden pond in the Phoenix Park.
They asked if he could bring in some of his equipment to showcase their cables and a USB stick that could supply power for amplifiers and synthesisers.
Byrne doesn’t drive, he says. He packed up his gear onto his bike instead.
The rack of synthesisers fit perfectly in his basket, says Byrne, and he had an epiphany. “Happy feckin’ days.”
Byrne tested the rig out for the first time on the evening of the in-store demo, he says. “I set off down the quays by Pearse Street and just started experimenting around.”
Soon after, he started to film his cycles and superimpose the videos onto his weekend livestreams.
The footage is hypnotic, he says, playing back raw video of himself whipping by Leinster House under streetlights.
Evenings are preferable, he says. But everything is dependent on the weather.
Although the skies are grey, as Byrne cycles inbound from Tallaght to the city centre, the clouds disperse as he speeds along.
At a crossroads in Kimmage, a woman approaches to admire his set-up. The light flicks to green – and Byrne is off again.
He races through Harold’s Cross, over the Grand Canal, onwards towards the quays. He passes Deliveroo couriers and the odd bemused pedestrian, quick enough to catch a glimpse of the rig, but not enough to detect a full tune.
As he hits speed bumps or transitions up onto the kerb, his camera on the handlebar shakes violently, but the rack in the basket remains undisturbed.
Byrne has fastened it in place with bungees, zip ties and industrial Velcro. While wheeling it along a park walkway later, he demonstrates its strength, raising the front wheel at a perfect right angle to the ground. Not a single piece of gear falls out.
The only challenge, he says, is steering. The rack is heavy.
Still, he navigates the bustling quays with relative ease. He weaves around vans parked in cycle lanes, and stops outside the Phoenix Park’s main gate to give a short tutorial on how he constructs a loop.
Out on the roads, he can only play around with the volume levels on each synth as they are fed into the mixer, he says, rather than create new tracks on the fly.
If he could get a couple of group cycles going around the park however, that could change, he says.
With a few more bikes, he wouldn’t have to worry about traffic, he says. “I’d actually be able to do a lot more than just trying to stay alive.”
Byrne isn’t driven by a desire to recreate the spirit of the 90s. It’s more about figuring out ways to piece things together.
“Gary is very good at Tetris,” says Swords, laughing as she recalls his realisation that his rack of synthesisers could sit perfectly inside a bicycle basket.
A portable soundsystem compelled him, because, he says, “it was the fact that you can set this up in a field, if you want”.
Byrne says he grew disinterested in nightclubbing with the realisation that he no longer had it in him to stay out until 6am. Now, what preoccupies his mind, he says, is the question of where else that music could potentially fit.
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