We asked a few of the artists who performed at various strands of Other Voices in Dingle this year (IMRO stage at McCarthy’s, IMRO Other Room, St. James’s Church, and the Music Trail) to describe their experience and feelings about the project and series, which has essentially become a vital platform, as well as reflections on the last year, and hopes for the next.
First up is the Dublin-based Floor Staff, who released The Good Luck EP earlier this year, with the debut full-length due for release in 2015. Floor Staff is “the musical moniker of Anthony Donnelly”, and is more of a musical project, “and not a band in the traditional sense”, he says, and they performed on the IMRO Stage at McCarthy’s this year.
–“To meet with, and to play alongside some of my favourite artists on the billing for Other Voices in Dingle this year was something very special. The whole town, which is completely engulfed in the atmosphere of the festival for that weekend is like a film set designed for a movie. There was a great vibe among the musicians and audiences. As if everyone had benefited from the cleansing effects of traveling across the island.
2014 saw the release of my debut EP ‘The Good Luck EP’ in The Button Factory. It was a great night and encouraging to see such support. This year there was a lot of growth, music video releases, nailing down a live performance and the first festivals and shows outside of Dublin. Floor Staff has been included in a number of encouraging lists including, Ones To Watch, HWCH and faces of 2014. People have been kind in the blogosphere and online in general.
The objective now is to move forward, not just to maintain a standard but to improve in areas which I feel are important. To challenge myself not to lose sight of why I’m doing this or what I’m trying to convey and also not to be defined.
I’ve begun steadily to grow in confidence creatively and feel I’m beginning to etch out a musical identity for myself. This is something I would like to strengthen in 2015 with the next release, probably an album. A confidently presented, cohesive piece of work that is meaningful to me.
The next show and last act of this year is on the 31st of December in Bello Bar in Portobello. I’ll be performing along side some artists who are both my friends and musicians I admire: Participant, Tandem Felix and The Magpies. It will undoubtedly be a night to remember.” – Anthony Donnelly
Staring at Lakes were voted as “viewers choice” for a place in the IMRO Other Room in Dingle in December, as well as playing McCarthy’s. The six-piece released their debut record Warm Wars in September 2014, and explain what being part of Other Voices meant to them –
“When we were chosen to perform as the viewer’s choice in the IMRO Other Room, it really was the cherry on top of a great few months for us. 2014 was probably the busiest year we have had together as a band, and the first half of the year saw us putting the finishing touches to our debut album Warm Wars. Due to various complications, the album had taken a lot longer than planned to finish, so when we finally wrapped up recording at the beginning of the summer, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Putting the album together was obviously a wonderful experience, but we were all more than ready to go back to playing live gigs and creating a live show that would match the atmosphere created on the record. We finally released Warm Wars in September, and the months following this were spent playing various gigs around Dublin to get the music heard by as many people as possible.
Having been fans of the show for years, getting to play our final gig of the year on the Sunday night in McCarthy’s as part of the Music Trail was brilliant. The atmosphere around Dingle is something special all year round and is only made better when Other Voices comes to town. The following morning saw us record ‘Consanguinea’ on the IMRO stage. It was a completely professional, non-stressful experience. We’re an admittedly awkward bunch of perfectionists at the best of times, so we were sure we were going to end up having to do about 20 takes to be happy with the performance, but 2 or 3 takes in and we were ready to wrap up. The whole Other Voices experience was the highlight of our year as a band and we’re hoping that 2015 will be a year filled with similar wonderful opportunities.” – Laura Shearey
The Lost Brothers are Mark McCausland, and Oisin Leech, and their distinctive vision of folk, country, and blues has radiated across their four albums, including this year’s brilliant New Songs of Dawn and Dust, which was produced by Bill-Ryder Jones in Liverpool. They played St. James’s Church, as well as the Music Trail in An Diseart as part of Other Voices 2014.
–“Dingle is like Liverpool. It’s a town made of song with a big energy running through it. It always feels like we have had a about 90 coffees when we get to Dingle. We feel like either writing a song or climbing the nearest mountain.
Coming to do Other Voices was the perfect end to what has been a very lucky year for us. Many of the recent tour dates sold out, and just when we are nearly home we get the news that Other Voices love the new album and want us in Dingle. What an honour! Mark is from Omagh and I’m from Navan so it feels like we have come to some far distant magical town when we arrive in Dingle. Every footstep feels right.
It’s strange but Dingle is a home for us. We always go there at the beginning and ending of chapters in the “Losties” stories .
We usually gig as a duo but for Other Voices we decided to invite our pals Steve Wickham and Colm Mac Con Iomaire along to try present our new songs in a different way, and take a risk with the gig. The two lads are like lighthouses for us. Very inspiring people who we see on our travels .
On the last night of Other Voices when all the work was done Mark and I went down to the harbour and had an end of tour aperitif in an empty pub. A big fire was burning and we just sat there in total silence staring into the flames for two hours trying to take the whole Other Voices experience in.
Then we went back to Benners and danced til dawn.” – Oisin Leech
Whelan’s & Opium Rooms
Thur 8th – Sun 11th January
Kindly supported by HMV & Musicmaker
Tickets €5 day / €10 festival, available from Whelanslive.com soon [Lo-Call 1890 200 078] (50c per ticket service charge applies on phone or creditcard bookings)
Now in it’s 5th year, Whelan’s Ones to Watch festival continues it’s crusade to champion brilliant new Irish music. From Thur 8th to Sun 11th Jan in Whelan’s and Opium Rooms it will play host to well over 60 of the best and brightest emerging acts that they think you’ll be hearing a lot more about in 2015.
For the first time Whelans will be inviting new bands to submit their music – free of charge – for a chance to play on one of four stages. The festival covers a wide range of music, from folk, indie, hiphop, electronic, experimental, rock and more in between, so spread the word and get your submissions in.
Apply here: http://bit.ly/1zQ8r1b
Bank of Ireland is delighted to announce the ninth year of this event in memory of their colleague Catherine. The Catherine Judge Memorial award aims to support a new generation of musical talent on the Island of Ireland and is seeking applications from talented young musicians who would like to continue their music education at third level. The award was created as a lasting tribute to Catherine Judge, an employee of Bank of Ireland, who passed away in August 2005. Catherine had a great love of music and loved to see young people get opportunities to grow and develop.
The 2015 winner will receive a bursary of €5,500 to assist them with the costs of undertaking their third level music studies and for the first time in the history of the award, their nominating school or society will receive €1,200.
Conor McGlynn, Youth Marketing Manager, Bank of Ireland said: “This Award is one of the most exciting opportunities for young musicians on the island of Ireland. It provides young students with a chance to showcase their talents to a new audience and I’m really looking forward to celebrating and enjoying the wealth of musical talent that is out there.”
Abigail McDonagh, winner of the award in 2014 said: “The Bank of Ireland Catherine Judge Memorial Award is a unique competition set apart from any other as it offers an invaluable musical experience and considerable financial support for young musicians. As well as providing a goal and a performance platform, it creates opportunities which otherwise would not be possible for young music students.”
The Grand Final will be on Saturday 18th April 2015 in the Great Hall in Queen’s University Belfast. The top applicants will be shortlisted to perform in front of a distinguished jury who have, in previous years, included world famous conductor David Brophy. Past winners have received considerable publicity in the local media and further afield.
Please note that the application process allows students from throughout Ireland to apply, provided they achieve at least Grade 8 (ABRSM, LCM or Trinity) or Senior Certificate (RIAM) in their chosen instrument (or voice) and who will commence the next stage of their studies in Autumn 2015.
Students must apply online and provide:
a) A recording of the applicant on their chosen instrument (or voice)
b) A copy of their qualification
c) The name of one referee who will verify the authenticity of the recording and the standard and suitability of the applicant.
The closing date for applications is 12 January 2015 and applicants may be invited to preliminary auditions in February 2015. It is anticipated that the musicians who have been selected to perform the the preliminary auditions/Grand Final will be notified by February.
Further information on the Award, including details of last year’s event and full terms and conditions including age limits, can be found at www.boicjma.com.
Quiet Arch is a new Belfast based record label brought to you by the team behind the successful Belfast based electronic label Champion Sound Recordings. The focus of the label is to explore the area just left of mainstream, where live musicianship, art and technology meet. Quiet Arch will pride themselves on releasing artist material on beautifully designed vinyl and digital platforms.
Quiet Arch signings to date are; Ryan Vail, Tucan and SlowPlaceLikeHome plus a very special collaborative project between Ryan Vail and Lurgan-based folk singer Ciaran Lavery.
Ciaran and Ryan met at a music showcase event in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Realising they were fans of each other’s work, they began writing an EP together that was recorded at Ryan Vail’s studio in Culmore, close to Donegal. The music is hugely inspired by the coastal setting, with sound recordings of the Atlantic waves, sea birds and the biting Irish wind.
The marriage of Ryan’s cinematic, electronic sound (Ryan recently scored BBC1 NI’s Hit the North documentary The Longest Night) and Ciaran’s wistful folk is a thing of beauty, bearing comparison to artists like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, or Peter Broderick. It will be released early in 2015 on marbled, sea green vinyl, supported by a short tour taking in some unusual locations.
Ryan Vail is an electronic composer and singer from Derry/Londonderry who aside from this collaborative EP will release his debut album on Quiet Arch in 2015
Ciaran Lavery is a homegrown success story, a Lurgan-based folk singer that has racked up an impressive eight million plays on Spotify with minimal promotion up to now. As a result, he is attracting great interest from the USA and Canada and has been invited to play at both the Folk Alliance in Kansas and Canadian Music Week on the strength of his fan base in those territories.
Tucan are one of very best live bands in Ireland right now, think Explosions in the Sky meet Horslips at a raucous Irish wedding and you get some of an idea of just how charged their performances are.
SlowPlaceLikeHome is the brainchild of Keith Mannion , whose debut album Romola has appeared in more than one Irish Album of the year lists.
It takes certain levels of skill and resilience for a band to exist for more than 25 years – not only that, but to maintain the nerve to change music from within – but Kila have the necessary reserves of energy and creativity to have done precisely that. Continuing to this year, this day, this moment, this new song, this new album and (another string to Kila’s bow) this new soundtrack – The Song of The Sea.
Their tenth album Suas Síos, once again engages in unpredictability wrapped up in tensile threads of world music, Irish traditional and much more. Due for release December 2014, it consists of all originally composed tunes and songs, which have been toured and honed with audiences over the past eight years to arrive at the, finished recorded pieces. “We are writing traditional tunes, which is an ancient craft. To write a tune, which is a sophisticated series of patterns it can sometimes take years of playing it or many different people playing it to reach a point where it can stand alone and you can feel confident in the tune not just your performance of it, but that the tune itself can carry the message you are trying to express. This can take years of witling it down, its not something that happens in a studio generally but in front of audiences”
Even now, over 25 years after they first found common ground, Kila continue to explore new musical territories through composing, performing and recording. Individually they have grown to master their instruments, a measure seen when they comfortably converse through music with masters from other traditions and cultures including Baaba Maal, Zakir Hussain, Sidiki Diabate, The Dubliners, Liam O Maonlaí and jazz cellist Ernst Reijseger and popular musicians including Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, U2 and Sinead O Connor, all whom they have jammed, recorded or performed live with.
The soundtrack to the feature animation ‘Song of the Sea’ which is earning critical acclaim and momentum as it screens to film festivals across the world before theatrical release next year, sees Kíla return to their musical pairing with film composer Bruno Coulais to create a sublime soundtrack to accompany this tale of celtic mythology set in a modern world.
Kíla also continue to be something of a touring machine, frequently playing shows in Ireland (Electric Picnic, Festival of World Cultures), UK (Glastonbury), throughout Europe, and further afield, including Australia (Womadelaide), Africa (Zimbabwe) Borneo (Rainforest Festival) and many festivals in the US.
The Stoles bring to their songs the energy of The Clash and a guitar sound flavored with essence of home-country legend, The Edge. What the band adds to that blend are pop/punk-infused vocal harmonies and a post-modern melodic slant. Formed in 2012, The Stoles released their eponymous EP in 2013, recorded at the renowned Westland Studios. The Dublin-based band is composed of bassist Antonio Derosas, guitarists Jacek Matysiak and Clement Tournay and Marcel Preib on drums; although none of the members hail from the city, have successfully adapted their bright, upbeat songwriting to the city’s storied melancholic history.
The band have recently released their video for ‘Man In The Cave’ and will be playing two shows this January
January 10th – Crane Lane, Cork
January 17th – Twisted Pepper, Dublin
The special thing about Other Voices is that each day has its own rhythm and atmosphere. After Friday evening’s packed and brilliant programming, Saturday folded in another different strand – the conversations amid the music. Not the kind that most pubs have, but that of Foxy John’s and the Banter series. Curated and presented by Jim Carroll, this is Banter’s third year in Dingle, and Saturday afternoon was an eclectic, informative, and entertaining four hours, featuring music from SOAK, as well as interviews with large-scale mural artist Joe Caslin, author of Here are the Young Men Rob Doyle, RTE2’s Channel Controller Bill Malone, and Paul Galvin, among others – it is, in a sense, a spoken word extension of the Other Voices ethos. Paul Galvin particularly impressed, because of the different context we were seeing him in, it allowed him to track his position in Irish cultural life, from gifted, All-Ireland-winning Kerry player, to his work in fashion and design, to thoughts about the GPA, GAA, and Irish craft history, with still so much more to say – his sincerity was completely disarming, which can only happen in the right setting, which Banter tends to provide.
The Music Trail is a really pleasing addition to the Other Voices festival, immersing the whole town – for example, today you could have seen Jape play in the Dingle Brewing Company, August Wells in An Díseart, or Floor Staff in McCarthy’s. Meanwhile on the IMRO stage, the special guest was Derry’s talented SOAK, and this is all before we settle in to the cosy environs of St. James’ Church.
As we do, Philip King reminds us that this entire project is carried by over 100 production staff, only a handful of which are in the church, and that their dedication goes beyond the norm – this is acutely evident. This year, Welsh BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens has been enlisted for presenting duties from the church, as well as co-hosting the programme along with Aidan Gillen. His dry wit, and warmth is a welcome addition, as he recalls how his day has been, including a trip to “Linda the dentist”, and this lovely, slightly absurd detail, is the perfect foil for the first artist up tonight – Melanie De Biasio.
Revered in her native Belgium as their own Billie Holiday, De Biasio has constantly bucked what is expected of her. A classically trained flautist and singer, she filters these aspects through a smoky prism, retelling songs of deep loss – of faith, and love. Her interest lies in how people misunderstand each other, and the consequences of those misunderstandings, and as she twists and turns in the half-light, a dark, yet revelatory atmosphere descends on St. James’ and provides a truly transportive experience, bringing to mind notes of Portishead, and This Mortal Coil, David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini.
Damien Rice is next, and there is a definite sense of weighty expectation about this artist’s performance. Many have been waiting 8 years for a new record, and songs from his new record, My Favourite Faded Fantasy are stripped back and played as he had perhaps initially imagined them – just him, and his guitar, from The Greatest Bastard, to It Takes a Lot to Make a Man, as well as crowd-favourite Delicate from 2008’s O. He prefaces his last song Trusty & True, by suggesting that this is a “bonfire of a song”, for “all those things you haven’t let go of yet”, asking us to visualise all the men in Ireland on a “moundy hill” joining hands, and as they look upon the women of Ireland on the plains, they simply say “sorry”. For this one, Rice is joined by the Dingle community choir, who are in good voice to add to his quite singular vision. Overall it’s a sincere performance, punctuated by off-kilter stories from the Celbridge native, who received the warmest of receptions (especially when he later led the crowd at Benners Hotel in a rendition of The Auld Triangle).
As ever, with Other Voices, what came next was completely different, from another plain entirely. We went from the “moundy hills” of Ireland, to the urban-meets-gothic sprawl of Edinburgh, and Scotland’s Young Fathers. Supplied with ear plugs, we braced ourselves for the Mercury-prize-winning quartet, whose trio of frontmen Alloysious Massaquoi, ‘G’ Hastings, and Kayus Bankole are compelling, and intense, holding you with a vice-like grip, never veering from their sense of performance art-meets-punk-and hip-hop sound. It’s wonderful. Their sense of otherness and unity, is refreshing, challenging and powerful. Their record Dead is anything but, with a sense of vitality and life on Low, War, and Get Up, it’s partly down to their great percussionist, partly down to their intelligent, passionate take on the art of live performance. As they leave the stage, singing, and walking in single file down the middle of the church, there is a particular kind of excitable tension in the air, it is a different kind of coda to Ibeyi’s singing entrance from the side door the night before, but no less prayerful. Truly epic.
Young Fathers’ performance would be incredibly hard to follow for anyone, but luckily we have the immense sound and vision of Kendal’s Wild Beasts, with Hayden Thorpe’s beautiful falsetto flying around the deep baritone of Tom Fleming. They were previously here in 2011, and lit up the space – tonight is no different, as they play songs from this year’s Present Tense, which showcases an even greater musical intelligence. There are layers upon layers of sonic exploration, and intricate details, from Wanderlust to the baying, epic Palace, and at different turns they filter drum and bass, electronica, folk, synth-pop, and so much in-between. Like Young Fathers, their percussionist is key, providing a strangely meditative and immersive sound that sets Wild Beasts apart from their contemporaries. Their return to Other Voices is particularly gratifying – when they first performed here in 2011, they were explosive in their brilliance, and three years on, that explosion has deepened into true artistry. It all goes back to those thoughts from Foxy John’s about great craft.
13th December, 2014
It’s always a privilege to make the pilgrimage down to Dingle. For me, it has long been associated with summer holidays with my family, but around December 2003, my relationship with the place deepened further, when I set off from Dublin to take in Other Voices at St. James’ Church. That year, The Jimmy Cake were playing – an incendiary force of nature, they seemed to lift the roof off the church with their “space rock exploration”, while also lifting our hearts.
This has always been the beauty of Other Voices, understanding the poetry with which great musicians make their work, and providing the most sympathetic context for them to express that poetry in. Space is the place, as Sun Ra said, and An Daingean is that space.
Over the last few years, IMRO have collaborated with Other Voices to promote emerging voices with the IMRO Other Room – applications for a performance reach over 1000, each year, illustrating how special it is for artists to play at this moment, in this place, as well as the IMRO Stage at McCarthy’s Bar. Over the last few years, Other Voices has expanded, with their Music Trail, taking in many different places in the town with different musicians, Banter in Foxy John’s, curated and presented by Jim Carroll, and each evening, the main event – Other Voices, from St. James’ Church is broadcast to pubs and venues around Dingle, as well as streaming on the RTE player. This gem of a project and festival has unfolded over the years to reveal even more worth, yet its spirit remains the same.
He was followed by one of the beacons of Scottish independent music – Kenny Anderson – King Creosote – hailing as he does from the Kingdom of Fife. Along with his stellar band, he delved into his massive back catalogue of guitar-drenched beauty, performing the moving, beautiful Favourite Girl – (written around 2005 for his daughter), and, in true King Creosote form, matched this with a more recent song about his friend Ziggy’s (Scottish art-pop wonder Ziggy Campbell) “drunken alter-ego” Wayne, who features heavily on the song For One Night Only (from this year’s From Scotland With Love), it’s a rampaging kind of a song, a swaying, lolloping, big-hearted wonder, much like King Creosote himself.This year, IMRO’s artists are; Cloud Castle Lake, Somerville, Booka Band, God Knows+mynameisjOhn, Ye Vagabonds, Staring At Lakes (viewers choice), Lethal Dialect, and Floor Staff, with Lethal Dialect playing a firebrand of a set last night in McCarthy’s pub, introducing Dingle to some of his most recent record, 1988. While Paul Alwright was raising the roof at McCarthy’s, over in St. James’ Church, a raft of musicians were endeavouring to do the same. Ben Howard had to cancel due to poor travel conditions, so the young, Leeds-based songwriter Eaves stepped into the light. It is a heavy yoke, to open the thirteenth Other Voices, but he wore it lightly, playing guitar and piano with equal care. Signed to Heavenly Records, his debut EP – As Old as the Grave came out a little while ago, and its title song was the set’s highlight, managing to be both sentimental and weighty.
The idea of kings also filtered into the The Lost Brothers brilliant set, with Oisin Leech remarking that Other Voices “treat their artists like kings”, and that he and his musical partner Mark McCausland had only “been polishing their crowns” the night before. Everything about their performance reminded us why Other Voices is so important – Leech took us through a potted history of their journey as musicians, from struggling and busking in Liverpool as “The Weirdoes”, to getting the chance to go to Portland, Oregon to record their first album, getting a tape in the post from one of their favourite bands The Coral, offering a song, to basing their most recent record New Songs of Dawn and Dust around that very song, and having that record produced by Bill-Ryder Jones. They are a band that had almost given up, but didn’t. And because of that, their set was quite emotional – this was a sort of homecoming, as they have essentially come off the back of touring for two and a half years. At different turns they invited up on stage the wonderful Colm Mac Con Iomaire, and Steve Wickham, collaborators with The Frames and The Waterboys, respectively. Described by Leech as “two beacons of lighthouse” in their journey, they complemented their great musicality. They mainly played songs from their new record, including the sad, lovely Soldiers Song, penned in a hotel somewhere between waking and sleeping, the rousing Poor Poor Man, Derridae, Stones Throw, and a reimagining of the great blues standard Corrine, Corrina – which has been covered by everyone from Bo Carter to Muddy Waters, and the Mississippi Sheiks to Bob Dylan, and Dylan is how Leech and McCausland first came across it, joining the dots once more between not only blues and folk music, but community and legacy.
Then it was time for something completely different. New York’s Buke and Gase were exceptional in both tone and content. Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez’s music is an experimental kind of hybrid, as their instruments are (ukelele/guitar, and guitar/bass), and they sound like Pavement-meets-PJ-Harvey-through a grimy melodic blender. The duo have been signed to The National’s record label, and they strive to stretch the instruments and voice’s capabilities, with a vast array of effects pedals, and wry humour – with Dyer messing around with effects on her voice superbly, including a funny segue where she introduces a song with a deep baritone. Their epic song Houdini Crush was mind-bendingly good, essentially forcing you to look on aspects of music anew.
This is certainly the same kind of palette that the French/Cuban twins Ibeyi (which means “twins” in the Yoruba language) create from. Walking into the church from the side door, while singing, lighting two candles as if in prayer, the audience knew that this time with Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz was going to be special. The twins’ father was Anga Diaz, a member of the Buena Vista Social Club, and when he passed away, the twins, who were by then 11 years old, learned to play his instrument, the cajón, filtering the folk songs of Yoruba – a Nigerian language that travelled to Cuba through slavery in the 18th century. Listening to the Yoruba language being sung or spoken by these women is pleasingly dislocating, creating a particularly electric atmosphere, and this gaeltacht area is a strangely perfect place to experience it. Every song is powerful, as they mingle piano, harmonies, and percussion that takes in everything from afrobeat to hip-hop, to create truly interesting art. Their sound is a mingling of the ancient and modern, from the Yoruba language, to jazz and electronic. They cover Jay Electronica’s Better in Tune with the Infinite to dizzying effect, and somehow that great lyric, “The church you go to pray in it, the work is on the outside/ Staring out the windows is for love songs and house flies” seems even more pronounced in this setting. Mama Says (dedicated to their mother in the audience), and River, were other standouts, but it was a standout performance. Just before we leave, we find out that the twins turn 20 at midnight, and as a cake is produced, and everyone sings Happy Birthday, the sisters seem overwhelmed with emotion, but then so are we.
12th December, 2014