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Irish Indie - Our Top 5 new Irish artists
With the recent success of Inhaler (enter our Inhaler giveaway on Instagram) who grabbed #1 with their debut album 'It Won't Always Be Like This' and became the first Irish artist to do so in over a decade, we thought it was time to dig deeper into the bustling Irish Indie scene and share some of the best emerging artists both Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland have to offer.
"The Irish are natural born storytellers"
(skip to our interview with ROE)
Following a live show for Scruff Of The Neck and a support slot for Louis Berry, Dublin trio Fruitz have been emerging as one of Ireland's most exciting newcomers. They started to gain attention after their hard-hitting Grunge debut 'Knotz' yet since then they have developed and turned down a more melodic path. After a success of singles and some impressive live Dublin shows in recent years they have established what they stand for as a band and their two new singles from 2021 demonstrate this perfectly.
The first, 'Be Like This' is a soaring track worthy of the big festival stage. The bass led verses are there to build a mellow tension that the huge chorus usurps, arriving with a rising vocal harmony that begs to be sung along to, reminiscent of The Sherlocks. 'Set The Motion' is more stripped back, allowing more room for the intricate guitar work to float around you and create a sonic funnel towards the emotive lyrics. It is classic Indie Rock, blending angst with sentiment and huge chorus' with impressive technicality. Probably the hardest to dislike on this list so get listening.
The dark and intriguing electronic project from Kevin Gleeson, Sour Blood, is less than a year old yet it offers a sound that is mature and meticulously thought out. It is a project focused on other worldly aesthetics evoking emotions of suspense, fear, danger and melancholic acceptance that you would more commonly get out of a Norwegian crime drama than an emerging Irish artist. However, when you read into Gleeson's past you can begin to understand how he manages to conjure these strange electronic textures and where the unusual emotive inputs come from. He is a long time collaborator with award-winning Irish theatre company Dead Centre and has previously worked on acclaimed productions at leading international venues, including Schaubühne, Berlin & Burgtheater, Vienna. This love for theatre and experience of working across Europe sheds light on both the cinematic soundscapes and, at times, peculiar instrumentals that feature on his EP 'Good Nevers'.
Although each of the 4 tracks carry the same mysterious vibe and sit together as one pretty seamlessly, the standout moment on the EP would have to be 'Silence'. The track is so dense and full of dynamics that it is almost difficult to take in all at one. Beginning as a dreamy beat that allows the spaced out vocals to loosely fall around you, the whole entity of the track is then swamped by a metallic drone. At first it is abrasive and potentially hard to deal with but its not before long that you realise that it is just offering a new platform for even more intricately placed haunting electronic elements to enter and leave you somewhat overwhelmed but undoubtedly impressed with the layers upon layers that you are hit with.
Bursting full of colour and life is the brightest new Derry girl on the scene, Singer Songwriter ROE. Her debut EP 'Things We Don't Talk About' arrived last year and established her mastery of both style and substance. The self described "Existential Indie Pop" is both hugely melodic and deeply sentimental. The honesty and open desire to talk about things that, as she said herself, we often don't talk about struck a chord with many. People began to fall in love with the content and themes of her music just much as they did with the sound. So we had a quick chat to see what initiated her desire to create this fun pop sound with lyrics that are honest and often even brutal at times.
What inspired you to want to make music?
"I’ve grown up around music my whole life, from early on my Dad would take me and my brothers to concerts and my mum would take us to weekly piano lessons. It wasn’t until I was about 15 that I took an interest in guitar and found writing with it really natural, I’d also starting picking up secondhand CDs totally ‘judging a book by it’s cover’ and discovered loads of bands that I loved that way and when I got to see them live it definitely sparked something. Music was the only thing I could see myself doing when it came to choosing A-levels so I took a chance on it and ended up in love with what I do".
Many of your songs are very personal lyrically - do you find it important to communicate these kind of emotions through your songs or is it something that just naturally happens?
"Writing for me is really therapeutic so it just makes sense in my head for what I write to be true to who I am, even if it means putting thoughts that I can’t say out loud yet down on paper. It’s scary but there’s always some kind of relief that comes with it and i’d rather be honest in what I create rather than cushion how I feel".
ROE didn't stop with that 2020 EP. She has come rolling into 2021 with two brand new singles. The second of which 'Cruel' really announced her quality and demonstrated her continued development as it turned in an unexpected direction. It is a Grungey Skater Pop track full of angst and packed with her trademark lyrical honesty.
"Cruel is about being manipulated by someone that you care about without knowing how destructive they are until you leave. It’s like this huge realisation of how much better off you are without that burden and I wanted the lyrics to reflect that feeling. Lyrically it’s back and forth between the person manipulating and the one being manipulated which is why vocally I wanted it to be conversational rather than lovely and melodic".
The bittersweet melancholic energy of the synth opener is instantly catchy and by the end the energy has built up all around it making it certainly her most punchy and in your face track to date. It is the perfect remedy to listen to when someone has pissed you off and you want to blast some angsty tunes while thinking of that perfect argument you should have said 10 minutes ago.
As one of the most exciting new artists coming of Ireland we wanted to dig into the effect that the Irish culture and heritage has on young musicians.
Do you think there is a distinct style influence you have inherited from living in Ireland?
"I think that the Irish are natural born storytellers and that’s something that directly affects my own music, I grew up writing stories and eventually they found there way into the songs that I write, my love for music with a lyrical beginning middle and end definitely comes from where I was raised".
"Derry has a lot of heavy history and because of it I feel responsible for being open with everything that I write because you never know who’s going to listen to it and relate and know that you might have started a conversation. I think that a lot of the music that comes from here is like that".
Do you think the Irish scene differs from that in the UK?
"The Irish scene are really supportive of one another, because it’s such a small island it feels like everyone pretty much knows everyone so there’s a huge sense of community. I don't know if that differs from the UK but it's just something I've noticed from growing up and being a part of the scene here".
Who are your favourite Irish artists right now?
"Kynsy, Orla Gartland, Denise Chaila and Kojaque!".
We'd be hard pressed to class the DIY project from Luke Rabbitte as Indie by any stretch but when we came across his new single 'Circling Away' we couldn't not include Type Face in our rundown of Irish sounds. We'll come onto the vocals in a second but first you need to understand the vast electronic landscape that his vocals sit on top of. Sonically it feels a lot like a Foals remix (if you haven't checked out the double album of their remixes then we strongly advise it!). The track begins by building up layers of dance driven beats with an infectious keyboard hook that, as mentioned, could have come straight off Foals' 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost' collection. Cinematic vocals then soar over the horizon bringing a real majesty and rich warmth to the atmosphere. Yet this is only a platform for what is to come.
In surprising fashion for Type Face newcomers, Rabbitte then drops a tangle of spoken word, delivered with a cool monotone punch in a thick Dublin accent. After their recent success it is hard not to initially think of some Fontaines D.C tracks such as 'A Lucid Dream' due to the confident neglect for the beat and the words that are spat out with a vicious twang. But their effect is far from it. Here, the words actually manage to manipulate the sound, accenting new moments of the electronic beat that you may not have been focusing on before hand. The lyrics are of course a standout as they are introspective, unapologetic and delivered in a rapid flow. All in all it is a unique concoction but it is one that is insanely hard to ignore. This is definitely one to put on by yourself, alone...and just let your mind get pulled left and right by the winding roads of the lyrical Dance fusion.
Initially beginning as a solo project, Connor McCabe joined just as the new single 'The First Time' had finished being written. Connor then added his own flourish to the track and the final product was complete. It is only the band's second single yet it shows the maturity of musicians that have been honing their craft individually for years. The first single 'A Matter Of The Heart' was audibly a personal creation. With intimate guitar acoustics and heartfelt vocal placements dominating the early portion whilst the slow keyboard sounds bring a melancholic overtone.
The new single however is more full and more expansive, with the jangly acoustic drums replacing the subtle electronics of 'A Matter Of The Heart' and the vocals carrying a lot more depth to them. The tone of the song is a stark contrast too. The keys create a warm feel-good intro whilst the chorus vocals are really uplifting and create a sunny summer road trip vibe. It is clear to see what the addition of a second member has added. The overall sonics are much more at one as the layers of 90s guitar sounds and rolling drum beats build up a much richer and energetic vibe. You can imagine this track playing out the final scene of your favourite drama, as the friends are reunited once again and dance along with pure freedom. Freedom is what the track brings as it sets the tone for what is to come with this exciting new duo format of Idle Dream.
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