The False and the Fair Whelans, Dublin Live Review

Live Reviews, Uncategorized
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The False and The Fair; EP launch at Whelans, Dublin (18-11-2018); photo credit: imagery.by.ro

Despite the late switch to the larger venue tonight, there wasn’t much room to move in Whelans for The False and The Fair’s EP launch. Ahead of the main event, we were treated to fantastic support from Aisling Jarvis and a solo performance from Vernon Jane.

The False and The Fair arrived on stage to the ambient glow of a projector showing off their new EP artwork, kicking off with their always popular “Blue Bottles Blues”. The catchy riff helped set the tone for the evening as they passionately launched into their ever increasing and established repertoire.

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It’s hard to pin down a genre for The False and the Fair, they play their unique and brand of hard rocking blues-folk but they are not afraid to branch out into different styles with the likes of “Psychedelic Smile” (which features on the new EP) that wouldn’t be out of place on a Radiohead album.

 

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They were joined by a host of guests on the stage during the night, including the familiar face of Emily Jane from Vernon Jane who jumped in to lend her vocals to the fan favourite: “Bald Apes” (just as she had done on the recorded version).

The evening drew to a close with one encore, the lead (and personal highlight) track lifted from their EP: “The Space in Between”. The band were joined on stage by a trio of backing singers which enhanced their already expansive sound, giving an edge fans hadn’t seen before. All in all, it was yet another great set from the South Dublin band which certainly piqued interest here tonight – there’s really no limit to how far these guys can go!

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Their new EP: ‘The Space In-Between’ is out now!

FOLLOW THE FALSE AND THE FAIR ON: SPOTIFY // TWITTER // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

WORDS: Niall McDermott: @NiallMcDermott7

Photos: Róisín: Imagery By Ró

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The False And The Fair Interview

Interviews, Uncategorized

The False and the Fair press shot 1 2018 - photo credit Joanna O'Malley

We spoke to The False And The Fair who were in the heart of Hell Fire Studios recording their latest single: ‘The Space In-between’ lifted from their eponymous EP (released 16th Nov) ahead of what will be an epic headline show at Whelans tomorrow (18th Nov).

The lads have a great way of volarising nature and romanticising the otherwise mundane band origins, inspiration and recording processes, and are proud to be belong to Dublin’s thriving music scene. For us, their record is an exquisite slow prog-rock burner with warm harmonies and transfixing layers of psychedelic guitar lines that just narrate the EP so well.

Rachael: I was gutted to narrowly miss you playing The Crow Bar when I was last over in Dublin – how did the night go, and generally speaking, how do you find the local music scene – where’s your favourite haunt to play?

Jacob: The crowbar gig was great. We stripped back all the songs, took away the drum kit and rearranged some of them to suit the more acoustic vibe we were going for. The crowd were really attentive and respectful too which is nice when you’re trying something new.

There are times when it can feel like parts of the songs, such as the harmonies, can get lost during gigs so it was nice to expose those a bit more and put the songs in a new context. I got to play a wooden box that Adam found in a warehouse so I enjoyed the challenge of playing the same songs in a different way on a different instrument.

The music scene here is booming. There are so many new bands being born every day and they’re all so different. No matter what type of music you play everyone just seems really supportive and encouraging. Having colleges such as BIMM Dublin and Newpark jazz has made people realise that they can actually have a career in this industry and it’s very encouraging to see you friends succeed at doing what they love.

Tommy: In terms of venues, we’ve had fun playing all over. Workmans, Sin E and the Grand Social are all great spots, as well as Whelan’s where we’re launching this new EP. The Harbour Bar in Bray also has a special place in our hearts. We’ve got roots in Bray as well as Dublin so it’s always nice to come back to that home crowd.

Your origins of the band sound awfully romantic…atop the Wicklow Mountains at dawn, which feed seamlessly into the outdoors themes of this EP. I suppose coming from such a beautiful country it’s inevitable that you become consumed by it’s natural beauty – can you continue the story as romantically as possible please, haha…

T: I can try, although the songs on the EP might do a better job of it! There is something about being out in nature, isn’t there? You just feel so big and small and lost and hopeful and peaceful all at the same time, and it’s nice to have space to breathe and think. There’s something about the headspace of writing songs that I always connect with the outdoors, even though I’m usually inside when I write. I think looking out at something bigger than yourself is one of the major themes with this collection of songs, so hopefully some of that energy comes through. You’re not just yourself; you’re part of a living, breathing world and it’s too easy to get stuck inside your head sometimes. I hope people will be able to put this EP on and let their minds wander a bit.

You dropped a reference to Townes Van Zandt – I’d love for you to share with us more what this American artist means to you as a band?

T: Townes is the man. Listening to him up in the mountains that morning definitely helped spark the creative energy that ultimately led to this EP coming together. There’s such an aching beauty to his writing, a real rawness and a yearning quality that I find utterly breathtaking. A lot of it’s really sad actually, but whatever way his voice hit me that morning just made me appreciate what I’ve got and where I was at.

Psychedelia seems the compass of TFATF’s sound – are there many likeminded souls that you’ve collaborated with/do you find yourself part of a scene, inspiring, jamming and gigging together?

Adam: I think we’ve been really lucky with the people we’ve gotten to collaborate with over the years.  We’ve all been huge Vernon Jane fans since seeing their first show, so getting Emily-Jane O’Connor to lend her voice to Bald Apes made us all a bit giddy. Having been a part of the BIMM scene, we got a chance to mingle with tonnes of unbelievable musicians. Through the college we met Laura O’Sullivan and Claire Z, who provided vocals for the last half of The Space In Between and have really promising projects of their own.

Ultimately though, I think we’re still trying to find our place in the broader Dublin music scene. No one here wants to be pigeonholed, which is amazing because you end up getting some really incredible genre-bending acts like Wastefellow and Fehdah, but it can also be a bit of a pain when you’re trying to put a show together! Ultimately I think it becomes more about quality over genre at a certain point though.

Cormac: When I joined the band, there seemed to be an established sound that I felt was very organic yet unprotected. Knowing that we had mutual interests, I felt that as we progressed we would be comfortable exploring each of our individual personalities as musicians. I think it’s evident that we all like psychedelic music to one degree or another, but we aren’t psych rockers. We enjoy much more of the genre’s soft, playful nature but you’ll get the occasional freak-out. Collaborations are always fun, Emily’s vocal on ‘Bald Apes’ is amazing. That section would have suffered without her. We’re currently taking on a lot more as individuals when it comes to the recordings. Rather than feature a new musician, we might try out something new ourselves. We like to experiment with different instruments and effects because it’s a lot of fun.

Have you ever heard of TAU – only discovered the artist myself recently (Shaun Mulroney is the mastermind behind the project) and they’re actually heading over to Dublin next month, I could really see your soundscapes sitting well together! 🙂

A: I hadn’t, I can definitely see what you mean though! Myself and Cormac are big fans of a Swedish psychedelic band called Goat and there are a lot of similarities there. We might have to shoot him a message!

The False and the Fair Space EP artwork by Grace Ryan

‘The Space In Between’ EP artwork by Grace Ryan

The guitar work is exquisite, I have to say, it’s warm progressive rock that just seems to narrate the EP so well – how do you each approach songwriting?

A: Tommy will come into our rehearsal room with the bones of a song and we’ll all sit around feeling out the track and throwing melodies about until we find something we like and the vibe sits right. Once we all have an idea for our main parts, we’ll start arranging it and adding little flourishes and accents – we’re basically just kids with crayons and a colouring book at that stage.

J: We’ve all played together for so long that when we work on new material it all comes quite naturally. We know what we like and we know what to expect from each other from a musical standpoint. We’re at a stage where we can trust each other and nobody is afraid to try something to see if it works.

C: When writing guitar parts I usually try to hear what the music is telling me. I hear how the lads gravitate to it and I find a way to make my own emotional tie to the sound. That said, we’ve all had a hand in writing the main riffs on this EP. I tend to become very attached to the sounds that I develop in the early stages of an arrangement. If it works I usually don’t try to push it too much, but there’s always room to explore new ideas.

T: I spend a lot of time writing by myself so it’s always a joy to get together with the guys and play. The more they contribute creatively the better, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve had a lot of fun writing together in the same room recently, so I hope some of those songs take shape and find their way onto future projects.

You’ve included ‘Gone’ on this EP which you previously released as a single, this song must bear a particular weighting – what does this song mean to you? 

T: Gone Tomorrow’s one of those songs that’s been with us forever, must have been the second or third song we ever worked on as a group and it’s certainly the oldest song remaining in our set these days. I think we’ve all got a certain fondness for it and it helped define our sound early on, to some extent. We released it last year but it was out on its own, and since it was just one track we only did an online release for it. We decided we’d like to have it on this collection for the blessed souls who want to buy our CDs and listen to the tracks that way, and when we realised that it worked nicely leading directly on from our new song ‘Psychedelic Psmile’ we knew that was the perfect place for it.

Would it be fair to say that you’re recognised by your most popular track: Bald Apes, which is very different sound to where you’re at with this EP, two years on, would you agree, not least in reference to the vocals (screamed to gentle-vocal hooks)? Can you talk us through this journey?

A: I think Bald Apes has always felt like a bit of an outlier for us tonally. It was written around the same time as Gone Tomorrow and In The Shade of the Mountain, yet it has this totally different perspective and scope. We’ve always been open to experimentation and I think back then we were still very much crafting our collective voice. I’m really proud of what we came up with, considering we actually recorded it 2 years prior to releasing it. This last year has really helped me to understand our dynamic and the direction we’re going in together, but I think that our recent musical development has had a lot to do with the shedding of pretense, a new level of openness, and a mutual acceptance of our individual voices and talents.

T: For me, I just thought Apes was one of our strongest songs at the time. As Adam says, we didn’t necessarily know what direction things were going for us musically. We decided to just go for it with a tune we were all excited about, and that seemed to have a great impact and energy when we played it live. I also won’t rule out more shouting in the future.

Even the location you chose to record your EP was in the heart of the Dublin Mountains – Hellfire Studios, where some Dublin legends like Hozier and David Keenan have recorded – how was the experience?

A: We got really lucky actually, I was studying Music Production in Bray and it turned out one of my lecturers Ivan Jackman is heavily involved with the studio. We ended up recording In the Shade Of the Mountain, Gone Tomorrow and The Space In Between with his students as part of one of their assignments, then once we realised that we wanted to make this EP, we booked in another few days to lay down Another Life and Psychedelic Psmile. It’s not your typical stuffy studio and the distance from the city gives you an opportunity to really focus on what you’re doing. It’s amazing up there – totally secluded with this amazing view of the city and the sea! I think we all fell in love with the place. Besides, their gear is delish!

What elements of an era do you hear in your songs – whether they are conscious choices made or unconscious results?

J: As far as the drums are concerned I grew up listening to a lot of Nirvana, Tool and The Smashing Pumpkins. It may not come across in the songs too much but there are definitely elements of that mid-late 90’s angst in the drums. Another Life is the best example of that, I really let loose on that song.

T: In terms of a broad influence the most obvious reference is probably a late ‘60s, early ‘70s kind of vibe. The likes of Love, Pink Floyd and Neil Young would be touchstones for me, but we’ve got such varied musical interests within the group that I hope we’ve come up with something reasonably unique that stands on its own two legs. We recently put together a Spotify playlist featuring some of the tracks that influenced us on this EP and I’ve really enjoyed listening back over them and reflecting on where we’re coming from.

Check out their latest single: ‘The Space In-Between’, recorded live by Ivan Jackman at Hell Fire Studios:

Catch them live at Whelans tomorrow (18th Nov) €8.50 (Adv) €10

Follow The False and The Fair on: Spotify // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

Introducing // Shaky Shack

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Shaky Shack; Josh Byrne (copyright)

Shaky Shack (Alex Winter & Mateusz Kosnik) – Photo credit: Josh Byrne

You cannot beat the feeling of discovering new artists with incredible potential. The instant we discovered Dublin duo, Shaky Shack, we were mesmerised. Their home-recorded and produced debut single: “Selfish Fever” is a shimmery slice of electronica-jazz paired with harmonies that would melt butter, and lyrics of palatable sweetness.

The track is a perfect lead into their smooth and super-chilled genre-bending aesthetic. Having only emerged officially as a band a few months ago, everything is still very fresh.

We spoke to one half of the band, Alex Winter, who went onto explain: “We’ve been together the last year, but we wanted to get things right before we put ourselves out there. We met through friends involved in the Dublin music scene over a year ago and have been writing together ever since. We have a strangely unique creative chemistry that works so well and we both instantly felt that creative click. We definitely bring the best out of each other.”

They are currently rehearsing ahead of gigging across Ireland: “We are mainly focusing on the release of our upcoming single ‘Pavement’ from our upcoming E.P ‘Flaked’ that is set for release in the next 2 months.”

We could definitely see their acoustics thriving in a Sofar Sounds setting!

Their debut single: “Selfish Fever” is out now and available on all platforms.

Shaky Shack: Spotify // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Ten Fé // Interview

Interviews, Uncategorized
Ten Fe; Press Shot; Abi Raymaker

Ten Fé; Photographer: Abi Raymaker

The thing with ‘new music’ is that there’s always ‘another’ band to discover (surprisingly) but like everything fresh, a new song begins with a wave of excitement, the thing is, you can often end up spiralling off from one artist to the next like a Radio DJ (forgetting a few along the way), it’s only the exceptional that stand testament to this, consistently nailing both that ‘excitement’ and ‘freshness’ with every listen – for us, over the past year now, Ten Fé have been that constant force. They play an unmissable homecoming show at Camden’s Dingwalls in less than a week (Thursday 23rd Nov).

Ahead of next weeks show we were keen to chat them on a personal level, discussing everything from living up to their namesake ‘to have faith’ (as it translates from Spanish), to conquering America this summer and capping off their manic year by recording their second album in depths of winter in (one hour of daylight) Norway next month. They stand true to themselves and are content from standing devoid from ‘coolness’ and ‘scenes’. These are romantics at heart, but in head, real, deep and inclusive – once you’re into Ten Fé, you’re in for good! 

We have an inkling that we’ve caught you at a very exciting time – not only have you just released a new song: ‘Single, No Return’ but ultimately, a teaser to your second album. To be honest, there is such an infectious buzz surrounding you at the minute, we’re literally counting the days until your London show next Thursday (23/11). Tell us more about recent events for you – what have you been up to as of late, festival-wise this summer, any touring stories to share from your experiences of Europe and America?

Yes, good times on Planet Fé at the moment. These last few months, and the whole of the last year really has been wicked. Things feel like they’ve been building and falling into place for a wee while now, so we’re just cracking on. The US tho – being able to go there and find people are into what we’re doing was a mad mad trip. We’re all hopeless romantics, so starting off the first US tour in Manhattan, and playing our way across the country and reaching the Golden Gate at sunset for the final show, was heavy.

You said in the past that you have a lot of strong American music in your veins, and that America remains a romantic place for you? Do you think there’s any fear we might loose you (hopefully not, please God) to the States one day?

Ha, well you can only go where you’re loved … so if they want us over there it’d be rude to say no! America is just mad fun really; and yeah, course, on a deeper level it’s a romantic place for us; all those artists and places that are so clear in your imagination when you’re sitting in a bedroom in Birmingham or London. But going there this year, it’s allowed us to see that there’s a reality behind that too. You get a tangible feeling that there’s an attitude towards music and playing live which is different to here – in some ways it feels a lot more solid, less ‘flavour of the month’ than it is England, or London in particular. That definitely chimes with us, and we want more of it!

Would everyone in Ten Fé associate London as home now or is there a closer bond to the north of England – Birmingham, where a few of you were born and reared?

Ah, if you’re not from London in the first place, it’s always hard to call it home. So, I’m not sure. We couldn’t have been born anywhere else as a band, we clearly ended up here cos we were hungry for something other than Brum, and we’ve got a lot of love for London. But there’s something pretty Midlands about us no doubt. No one in this band tries to sh*t higher than their own arse, which is a Brummie way of saying, everyone’s got their feet on the ground.

I have to ask – you mentioned you busked in Dublin via Twitter recently and I was intrigued – can you share with us details? What’s your thoughts on their approach to music over there? I love the city myself (Rachael) and go back and forth to family a lot. Have any of you any Irish relatives, possibly even involved in music back home?

Glad you asked 🙂 yeah I (Leo) have a lot of family over there – my dad’s from Dublin … I used to live in there myself for a time. It’s a deep, deep city. Especially the music side of things – like I was taking about with the US – there’s a tradition of music, performance, song which is just under the surface. It’s not necessarily a ‘folk music’ thing, but it just seems to be there – everyone has a song to sing, a poem to say. My family are no different to everyone else’s in that regard I guess – once the guitar comes out, everyone gets involved.

It’s funny, it’s not as though your music can be pinned to a particular country, I wouldn’t necessary say your music is distinctly English, (or Irish as it stands) – is it something that you’re proud to say doesn’t shoehorn into a particular style, scene or modern wave?

Yep, I think you’re right. We don’t come from a scene or a sound that could be associated with a particular place; and we try to ignore the pressure to fit in to one. Because that’s an outside pressure – from press, peer pressure, or social media. As a band, you shouldn’t be worrying about what scene you fit into, or band you sound like. You should just be making music you like the sound of. And we do; so in that sense we’re proud of not fitting in. That’s where you’ve gotta have your faith, stick to your guns.

You recently supported the Music Venue Trust campaign, performing a set for them for part of their series of gigs at the Ultralounge, Selfridges – the cause felt something close to your heart, can you explain why?

There’s a lot of pressure these days to appear as the finished article when you’re starting out as a band. And I’d say we just think that’s not very helpful: you need time to develop playing live, and being a bit sh*t for a while, and find things out about how you want to sound. The more small venues close, the less bands are able to do that; and the more you get these one-off, stacked, industry ‘events’ / showcases – which aren’t good for the music. Just makes everything tense and spontaneity gets swept under the carpet.

But ultimately, we’re not into fighting the rising tide on a point of principle; if venues are getting shut down, so be it, that’s the way of the world and it’s up to bands to put on their own shows in venues they’ve found. As we did.

For those unfamiliar with your music and background, can you take us way back in the day, where playing bongo’s at a house party spiralled off into this brotherly bond and busking duo – how much have you overcome to get to where you are today?

Yes, it’s fair to say much ball-ache has flowed under the bridge since that fateful Night of the Bongo. I’m not sure ‘overcome’ would be the right word tho; we’re no martyrs – we love what we do. For a long time we were just having fun, busking around the place before we decided to do this band. Since then, the things that have taken time and effort are the things every band has to do – writing good songs, finding good people to play them with and the money to record them with; and finding the right people to manage you and work with you on your dream. Like I’m saying above, plenty of people think you can short-cut those things – us included – but you can’t, dammit.

Busking has been an important element to your band right from the start. Has performing in this way helped build confidence in both your delivery and style of playing? It takes a lot of guts to put yourself on a stage of your own making, would you say that this has encouraged you to pursue/realise the potential between you, Ben and Leo?

Busking is very intense. Certainly the way we do it: jumping on the trains, playing to everyone sardine-d in a rush hour, and running from the BTP, and all that (not the CARLING sponsored, sanitised buskers-corner nonsense, with amps, lighting rig, etc) – so yeah, it’s gonna have an effect on how we perform in general. You get a good sense on how to hold someone’s attention with a song, and how you have to be inclusive – and that is definitely something we have in our live shows. We hate the way some of these style bands act like they’re cooler than the audience.

Busking is brutal though, and we’ve definitely paid our dues on the District Line, not to miss it if we never did it again. We’d have formed the band with or without busking, it was always a way to make money first and foremost…pimp or die.

As a five piece now the live shows have taken on a new dimension – you seem to understand each other live really well, like you’ve always been together. How long have you known Johnny, Alex and Rob, and at what point did you decide to pool them into the band (willingly or under duress, haha)?

Well, if we’ve learnt anything its that you CANNOT form a band with an iron rod – believe us – we’ve tried! We’ve know everyone in the band a long long time – either directly or through other people. And when it’s your best mates you can’t bullsh*t them, or start twisting arms – think everyone can see is that the five of us together has something deep going on, and long may that continue.

When you think you have a decent song what’s the process you go through in deciding if it’s recording material? Who’s opinion do you value the most, as individuals, and collectively as a band?

We play everything we write to our managers, Russ and Clare (Some Kinda Love – give me some looove) are the best in the biz. They’re f**king amazing and we sound everything off them.

A sublime and timeless album hits that perfect chiaroscuro of light and dark, it’s all about the emotion created, how did you go about achieving this with ‘Hit The Light’ – would you say the choice of songs was consciously crafted to deliver this bittersweet pathos, tell us more?

Kind words indeed, thank you. I think that light and dark you’re talking about comes from the way Ben and I are as songwriters. We’re really quite different from each other; definitely not in the way that one of us is ‘light’, and the other is ‘dark’ … more that we compliment each other – so when he’s light, I’m darker, and vice verse – we naturally balance each other. That’s not a conscious thing at all though, and if we started to try and engineer that we’d be curtains.

The way both the band’s name and music captures a mood, a feeling, almost a guiding light for us listeners, ‘to have faith’ as it translates from Spanish – how do you keep this binding and driving faith as musicians?

Tough question! Not too sure, how does anyone keep their faith? By not questioning it I guess. Surrounding yourself by good people; “be nice, not cool” is another old Brummie aphorism that can’t really be argued with. A bowl of porridge every morning certainly helps.

Instead of attempting to categorise your music, because to be honest, who likes being put in a box, reminds me of that scene in The Mighty Boosh, (are you fans?) that conversation between Howard and Vince: “People are always trying to put people in boxes”. (Haha, miss that show big time!) Instead, let’s talk about what musicians you look up to in terms of their style of playing and songwriting?

Ha – yes – love that show! The Moon has provided much spiritual guidance over the years.

Around now, we’ve lot of time for War on Drugs; saw them at Ally pally a couple nights ago. F**king Amazing. Feels like he doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think – just does his own thing. Others, for the same reason: Kurt Vile, Kevin Morby, Khruangbin, Twin Peaks, Mac D, Delicate Steve, Courtney Barnett, Angel O, King Krule …

So your debut album was recorded in Berlin and you’re heading off to Norway for the second album – do you choose to purposely record abroad, (escapism from home and routine) or does it just happen to be where the best producers reside?

Yes we do purposefully escape. We’ve noticed that we’re not really into how things end up sounding when we’ve recorded them in London. We are buzzin to get over to Norway too – there’s an hour of daylight there in December, so we shouldn’t get too distracted by whats going on outside the studio. We’ve heard its £15 for a 1/2 a shandy over there too, so light relief may be at a premium. Can’t wait.

Do you feel at peace with who you are as people and artists, content and know exactly what you want to achieve at this stage in your careers, if so what do you think has helped this?

 Ooof, too big. Ask us when we come back from Norway.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and also, if you was to give any advice to musicians starting out, what would it be?

‘Stick to thy guns, lad’…and I’d say the same to any wide eyed and bushy tailed ones starting out.

Not long now until you headline Dingwalls, Camden, have you thought through the set-list and any covers that you might play – you recorded (and often encore with) a sublime cover of Born Slippy (Underworld) – is there another cover that you feel as passionate about sharing with your fans?

Ah, cheers – yeah we loved doing that Born Slippy 🙂 I reckon we’ll be up to a few tricks at Dingwalls, but which ones, I don’t know – we’ll be in the lap of the Gods by then.

And finally, any updates that you can give us on your (hotly anticipated) second album?

We’re rehearsing the new tunes every night in bunker below Oxford Circus. They’re sounding goood: deep and upbeat.

Ten Fé headline Dingwalls,  Camden Thursday 23rd November // Tickets are available here – we’ll see you there!

In the meanwhile enjoy their debut album, ‘Hit The Light’ here (released Feb 2017) and their latest single, below.

Ten Fé  // Website // Twitter // Facebook

Words: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

 

Nocturnes Interview // Introducing

Interviews, Uncategorized

Nocturnes Band Pic

We have been following this mystical, ambient Irish band, Nocturnes, since Dublin’s Hard Working Class Heroes Festival last year, only we discovered (sadly too late) that they were playing a different venue altogether! Considered “our favourite Irish record of the year” by RTÉ Culture, for us, their recent album has been on repeat since HWCH and the intrigue of their back catalogue of songs and the magic behind them, recently got the better of us, so we caught up for chat. Get to know the band ahead of their headlining slot at the Workman’s, Dublin (Nov 16th) where we discuss their coinage of a new musical genre: Electronic Chamber Music, the magic of songwriting and the ethereal, otherworldliness of Ireland.

The first thing that struck me was that were born in Sligo, Pearse, where we tend to connect the legend that is W.B Yeats to (even though he was born in Dublin) – how much would you say his legacy is firmly ingrained in the people and the place? 

Sligo has a pride about Yeats and his poetry. But I think that it’s a loose sort of a feeling. Maybe his poems come to mind for Sligonians when they’re in a particular place.

‘I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head’. That kind of thing.

There’s the Yeats Building in the town, a statue, paintings and quotations and the annual festival. In that way Yeats is ingrained in present day Sligo.

At any points (if any) has Yeats ever had an influence upon your life and work? 

I read lots of Yeats at college. I like going out to Lisadell House and imagining a young Yeats swaning about. But in truth he hasn’t really inspired my writing. Maybe the idea of Yeats has; all that ghostliness and otherworldliness.

Maybe the idea of Yeats as this eloquent ethereal character has inspired me. Not the reality of Yeats. Which is quite a Yeatsian idea in itself. 

Ireland is connected to so many literary and musical ‘greats’ so much inspiration can be drawn from the historic, poetic and wildly romantic land alone. But I was reading that it was during your time spent in France and Montreal that you became ‘hooked on songwriting’ – what drew you towards this aspect of writing?

Essentially singing a melody is what got me ‘hooked on songwriting’. It’s quite simple really and not an intellectual thing at all. I love to sing. I love putting shape on thoughts and words. Too often in my life I say the wrong thing or say things in the wrong way. I think lots of us are like that. With a lyric you get a little while to frame things in the way you want. 

You can lean on melody and harmony, draw connections between things. It’s a lovely art form, songwriting. There’s a sort of magic in it.

Though my songs are generally inspired by a specific feeling or sometimes a specific event, that’s often only the catalyst. They end up somewhere else. I used to think that was vague or pointless. But a song’s not a thing you measure. It’s just a song. An insubstantial thing. But it can be very meaningful.

You spent a great deal of time away from home, living and working within various bands and as a solo artist in France, Canada, Norway and England – what is the project you are most proud of and why?

Maybe Idiot Songs, my collaboration with Justin Grounds. I think that was a great record; artful, rich, poetic, lots of compelling use of instrumentation, it had depth. It was contemporary and as good as anything released in 2013. But I am proud of all the records I’ve released. 

I’m really keen to know more about is this concept album – Idiot Songs – inspired by/based on the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s: The Idiot – can you describe the process, it’s outcome and resulting new musical genre you coined: electronic chamber music?

Good question. Well, Justin and I had done some shows together and we always ended up talking about different novels or thinkers we both loved. He recommended reading ‘Idiot Songs’. So, I did and then I wrote the first song for it, ‘Nastasya’s Tears’. It’s such a good book. About an innocent and awkward character called Prince Myshkin. He’s the kind of character who points out the simple truths in society, the kind of person people fear in a strange way. Me and Justin loved this and just kept writing songs about different situations from ‘The Idiot’. The process was really cool. We were using Dropbox to exchange files. It’s an excellent way to collaborate. You get to hone in on your own little approach without being influenced by someone else in the room. We just passed files back and forth. We did some studio recording. Justin is a very fine violin player and is interested in chamber music and as we had some electronic beats in there we called it ‘electronic chamber songs’. 

How have you evolved into the band you are in today, Nocturnes, and how different is today’s live set-up?

Different from Idiot Songs? Hmm. Well Idiot Songs is a pretty visceral experience. But I hope Nocturnes is moving too. I really enjoy playing live. Music is transient. The song comes and then it disappears. It’s gone and the moment can never be recaptured. I love that. In Nocturnes I have some musicians I love playing with me who get what I want to create. Or maybe who want to create the same thing as me, would be a less egotistical way of saying that. I’m lucky to have lots of incredible collaborators: Justin, Billy Donohue, Christophe Capewell, Enda Roche, Sweeney Lee, Christian Volkmann. The live set up can vary but at its core its myself, Enda and Billy. 

You have talked about Nocturnes’ latest album drawing a lot upon childhood through to parenthood experiences – can you tell us more about this collection? 

I wrote a lot of it after the birth of my daughter. I guess that’s a wide open time, a time of growth. Many, many emotions. So, some of the tracks deal a little in that. Like ‘Whale Song’ is about parenting in some way but it’s also about wanting to be strong for someone else, to be noble. And it’s about this strange little life cycle we have. 

Your brother, Kevin McGloughlin who’s a Videographer/Filmmaker on the rise in Ireland has worked with you on several videos now – how was this process, perhaps you can talk about this latest release: ‘Humans’? 

Kevin is a wonderful filmmaker. The attention he pays to his work is so impressive. He is the real deal, as artists go. He’s true to his vision. Not too many people have that. So it’s cool when we work together. The process is interesting. I sometimes have a few ideas and Kevin warps them. Often too he’ll already have an idea he wants to work on regardless of the song. 

The latest release ‘Humans’ was quite straight forward. It was just a live take of a song we were rehearsing. Looks great and gives a little bit of the character of Nocturnes. Kevin and another of my brothers, Eoin shot it. 

How are your live shows going? You have a headline show at The Workmans next month which is pretty exciting! Would you say the live show is a really important factor in giving the band its identity? 

Ha! I think we are really good live. And I love playing live. It takes a good while to get the hang of a live show. It’s a funny thing. 

I would say that the live show helps to give us our identity, yeah. One of my friends says when you see us we look like we should be in a band together which I find quite funny. Hairy weirdos. 

And lastly, what Irish music are you enjoying at the moment – have you seen any good gigs recently, any artists that we ought to check out? 

I like lots of Irish acts. We did a show at Nighthawks recently with Little Green Cars and they were just phenomenal. Their third album is going to be great. I like the new Fionn Regan record. I actually think our opening acts in The Workman’s are going to do great stuff over the next few years. Arch Motors and Aural Air are quite new to the scene but both have something special. 

Nocturnes play The Workman’s Club, Dublin on November 16th with support from Aural Air and Arch Motors.

Nocturnes: Spotify // Website // Twitter // Facebook

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

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Hard Working Class Heroes Review

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

A little bit of life has been lived in-between our last post; we have been meaning for ages to up date you all with our photos and videos of HWCH – Dublin’s annual new music festival – from last October, I know, mad…sorry it’s taken until now!

Dublin, a city long associated with arts, culture and music was into it’s 13th annual new music showcase of over 100 Irish artists. And in avoidance of hopping from a one song set of one artist to the next, we set ourselves one-to-two venues for the night. Thursday, we ventured north of the Liffey to a band (and festival highlight) Orchid Collective.

A pleasant festival surprise came in the welcoming form of Hozier at the door of Wigwam who we later learnt had duetted with the previous act: Alana Henderson. As we grabbed our pint of Guinness and found our way through the crowds of the cosy basement of Wigwam we had good feelings on how the evening would pan out.

Orchid Collective, a young four-piece who only recently graduated from BIMM College, Dublin, from first listen agreeably already demonstrated to us huge potential. Tonight, was our first opportunity to catch them live since we discovered them earlier in the year, when they sold-out Whelans just before St Patricks Day. These are exactly the kind of band that translate live as you anticipate they would. Between their smooth guitar riffs and variance of vocals there was drama and subtlety to their layered harmonies.

The launch of their first EP: ‘Courage’ happened just days after HWCH’s and it’s an Alt-Folk-Rock gem of a record to add to your playlist:

 

The Workman’s Club, Friday, was home to act after act of constant appeal; Wyvern Lingo, Hail The Ghost, Beach and Basciville. The all female three piece, Wyvern Lingo brought a freshness to the stage with their Rn’B pop melodies. Their energy was palpable; they’re a band who sure know how to encourage a raucous crowd with their soulful and sassy lyricism – it’s catching too…

On the other side of the canvas, Hail The Ghost dapple in dark post-punk textures that are as richly absorbing to listen to, as they are entertaining to watch live and are a definite appeal to all fans of The National. The set had a great development from the sparse to the full throttle of percussive arrangements.

In smooth transition, a psychedelic five-piece, Beach, entered the stage. Their heavily distorted vocals and electronica blends hooked us in with their immediate artsy appeal. There’s a slight Radiohead to them at times – with an ever changing sound scape. Ones to keep tabs on for sure.

Basciville were an ironic festival closer for us, with such reminiscence of Hozier. The appealing jazz and bluesy fullness to the band (with a saxophone solo in the mix there) was almost a bit Zaska at times, really mellow. Beautiful.

So by the time Saturday’s sun disappeared we found ourselves returning to the venue that we started out at, Wigwam. On this occasion we were itching to catch Nocturnes, only to discover we were in the wrong venue…yep, it was one of those evenings. But the wine was gorgeous and the laughs we had were timeless. Before we knew where we were, we were over the Liffey around 1am spending the last of our euros on Brennan’s bread and Cadbury’s chocolate to bring back (because, as my Mum says, the bread and chocolate is ‘nothing like home’). We left Spar with the chaps behind us thinking we were on something. I think what made the whole episode even funnier was the cashier’s dry sense of humour, particularly in response to our lack of change: “What about the Whole Nut?”.

Of all the artists mentioned above, we’ll be running interview pieces with them all shortly to catch up with their current touring and new music releases…until then, enjoy our videos capturing just two of our festival favourites, Orchid Collective and Hail The Ghost:

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Photos and Videos: Elizabeth Andrade (@LizzyyEA)

Record of the Week // Album Review // Lisa Hannigan // At Swim

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Lisa Hannigan; Album Artwork; Rich Gilligan

Lisa Hannigan: ‘At Swim’ released: 19/08/16 on Play It Again Sam, Recordings.

I was immediately taken in by the enchanting Celtic Folklore element running through Lisa Hannigan’s ‘At Swim’. Before you know it, you find yourself on a journey you have no intention to return from, remaining in a world altogether far removed from here.

‘At Swim’ reminds you of the fragility of life; reaffirming the beauty and the poetry that can be found in the simplest of things. Each song is framed in a way that is effectual and sensitive to the natural elements and movements of the tides, transpiring skies of mist, uncloaking the sun that soon fades to welcome a painting of stars. The quaint notes gently dance their way into your world inviting you to feel a closer connection with nature, the sea and it’s serenity.

As soon as the record begins, a sense of calm fills the air, reaching the most evocative on the last track: ‘Barton’. There is a very sensual element about this closing track; you can feel the fresh wild gorse underfoot, and smell the peat burning nearby as you reach the edge of the cliff: “You can see for miles and miles” and can taste the Irish sea. The echoed vocals and eerie piano chords that see the record out remain about you long after, mirroring the haunting, distant calling of the A-Side finale: ‘Ora’: “Won’t you come with me…won’t you.”

Hannigan’s vocals that range from husky depths to light and delicate heights are often self-harmonised and are always accompanied by sparse arrangements. Ethereal and darkly poetic throughout, featuring a fitting three-part a cappella of a poem (practically passable as Hannigan’s own) from the late Seamus Heaney: ‘Anahorish’.

Distinctly Irish in its innate wisdom and imagery expressed through the economy of language, mirroring that of the late Seamus Heaney and W.B Yeats. Simple lines navigate their way into your conscience with connotations of loss and bereavement within lyricism on the record’s most moving track: ‘Funeral Suit’ : “We advance in tender increments, between the past and future tense, test the weight of both.”

Thematically, the infatuation with the ocean is not least timeless, romantically, but also in its resonance with the mind’s sense of calm and clarity. Perhaps it is this attachment to the sea that aligns me in greater symmetry with the record; the lapping waves lulling as though Innisfree “I hear it in the deep heart’s core” (Yeats) and the increasing desire to be closer to the water, and essentially, Ireland; “I’m going home…won’t you come with me?”…Suffice to say, this album is a treasure that deserves your discovery.

Lisa Hannigan: Website // Twitter // Facebook

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

 

 

An Interview With Orchid Collective // 2016’s Ones To Watch

Interviews, Uncategorized

 

Orchid Collective press possibleAhead of their Offset Festival stage in Dublin last week, I caught up with alt-folk-rock quartet, Orchid Collective (consisting of David O’Shea, Shea Tohill, Brian Rooney and Hugh O’Neill), to gain an insight into their band, their thoughts on what it means to be original in music today and how Dublin is one of the greatest cities on earth.

Orchid Collective caught my attention the other week when music venue, Whelans, announced a sold-out show for the launch of their latest single: ‘Lay As Stone’. I don’t know about you, but following music venues on social media can sometimes be an excellent way of discovering new artists. Especially when there are hundreds of flipping strong acts out there, going frustratingly unnoticed, though I doubt I’m alone in feeling aggravated by this?

So when I discovered I was missing out on Orchid Collective’s gig I was pretty mad, you only have to have to listen to their organic, textured single: ‘Lay As Stone’, to feel these are very much a live band. Their guitaring hooked me from the start, convincing me these were a band to keep tabs on.

Would you mind talking me through the band’s origins – did you all meet at Dublin’s music college (BIMM)?

Yeah we all studied together in the music college BIMM Dublin, three of us are graduating this year and I (Shea) graduated last year. It’s funny looking back now but Dave our singer posted a thread looking to start a band in the BIMM Facebook forum when we started the course. I replied and me and Dave started meeting up and writing songs and jamming a few ideas. Soon we started gigging the local open mic circuit. We soon got our drummer Brian on board and built a seven piece band around us. We toured Ireland and played a few festivals with this line up but quickly realised that touring with such a big band was impractical. Last year we found our bass player Hugh and we haven’t looked back since!

What was that experience like, do you think that the training always had you unconsciously aiming to ‘make it’ as a band?

BIMM Dublin is a great college and it provides advice and training on all area’s of the music industry. Without studying in BIMM we would never have became a band! It helps you carve a path to “making it’’ as a band but not in a Fame Academy sense. The tutors make us very aware that the music industry is a very difficult industry to make a career in, but if you put the work in and with the right amount of luck things can start to take shape. They provide great advice and encouragement and what we are doing now as final years is to try and apply that advice in the real world.

Have you all been in similar sounding outfits pre-Orchid Collective? Or have you jumped about the genres? Would you say the sound you’ve got today has taken a while to shape and how would you describe your sound?

Our singer Dave used to be in a pop-punk band, Brian and Hugh are heavily influenced by Michael Jackson and John Mayer. Hugh is a songwriter in his own right and I used to play in a grunge band! Don’t ask how we came to sounding like Orchid Collective… We all bonded through a love of folk music and harmonies, we are all big fans of Fleet Foxes, Local Natives and Bon Iver. The sound we have comes quite naturally, we all gel really well as a band. Our press release says we’re an alternative folk band but we’ll let you, the listener decide. There’s too many genres to choose from these days!

When it comes to the writing process, what do you find comes first, the lyrics or the musical arrangement?

Quite often Dave comes with the bare bones of a song on the acoustic guitar and a handful of lyrics. As a band we build around that, adding our own ideas and shaping it into an ‘Orchid Collective’ song. Other times we bring our own melodic ideas and we write around these. We have a back log of little ideas we hope to turn into songs, you might hear some on our next EP who knows!

Do you find that there’s any difference between writing poetry and lyrics?

I’ll let Dave answer this one…I think the only difference between writing poetry and lyrics is that when I approach lyrics they are written to fit the melody therefore having to say more or less depending on the structure of the song. With poetry you have more freedom on how much you want to say in the piece of work by not being restricted by any length of time or rhythm.

In Dublin, you’re so fortunate to have everything on your doorstep; the city, the mountains and the beach…plenty of space to escape to, is there a favourite sanctuary you go to write?

Yeah Dublin is a beautiful city. We would probably venture out to the Dublin Mountains to write if the weather was a bit better but usually we just find we write in our bedrooms looking at the rain from our windows!

Do you find that living amongst such beauty is almost taken for granted, sometimes?

Yeah definitely! We always chat about this, we think if you were a tourist visiting Dublin it would definitely be up there with the greatest cities on earth. It’s a beautiful city with lots of things happening but living in it we often take it for granted.

Congratulations on selling out Whelans for your first single launch the other week! I bet you can’t wait to share your first EP? I’m itching to know when we can expect that?!

Thank you! Yeah that was definitely our favourite show to date. You can expect the new EP in late September/ early October. We are currently in pre production and we’re hitting the studio this summer. We can’t wait to share it all with you!

That’s fantastic news, and for the year ahead, what else can we look forward to?

We have a few festivals confirmed for this summer ahead of releasing the new EP in the Autumn. We’re planning on touring pretty hard until the end of the year and I think a trip across the pond to the UK is on the horizon later in the year. We have loads of exciting things in store!

If you were to tour with a band of choice, who would be up there and why?

Bon Iver, Half Moon Run, Local Native’s, Fleet Foxes, The Tallest Man on Earth… any of our influences really, it’s hard to choose one!

What do you think it takes to be original in music today?

There’s so much music these days and so many genre’s and sub-genre’s it’s quite difficult to be ‘original’ anymore. Our outlook is taking something that is already there and putting your own stamp on it is enough to create originality in this day in age.

How difficult do you all find it is to get recognised as a musician? Surely it’s harder than ever, and everyone is after the same end goal, there must be moments when you become disillusioned, but what/who has given you the most confidence to pursue ‘Orchid Collective’?

It’s very difficult but we’re all quite focused on trying to make something of this band! We’ve had our down days but the highlights hugely outweigh these. We’ve recently started working with a manager who has encouraged us even further that there could be a career in the Orchid Collective for us.

That’s really positive, aside from working with a really great manager, what other moments have been particular highlights for the band?

Releasing Lay As Stone to a sold out Whelan’s if definitely up there. Just the reception to our latest single has been pretty amazing so far!

What advice would you give to budding musicians, like yourselves, needing to get the recognition they deserve?

Just be yourselves! If you put the work in it really does pay off and hopefully it will continue to pay off for us!

Absolutely, being true to yourself is probably the best recommendation you could give! And finally, before you go, are there any musical recommendations you’d like to share with us?

There’s some brilliant Irish music coming out at the moment. Check out Saint Sister, Wyvern Lingo, Ex – Magician, All Tvvins. There’s loads of new Irish music, it’s a great time to be part of the scene.