Another year, another Other Voices event, and what do we have? You would have thought – reasonably, fairly – by now that there were no more surprises in the Other Voices bag; that in the event’s 15th year (or is it 16th – time passes so quickly), there wasn’t much more to do except trade on former glories, trade on its name, depend on old reliables to turn up, deliver the goods and then get the hell out of Dodge (or Dingle) before anyone copped on that they’d just witnessed the same-old/same-old. Yet as we have seen, year after year, surprises keep being delivered.
The first interesting shock of this year is the line-up of the acts performing at St James Church – In many ways, this year’s Other Voices directly references its early Irish roots with a predominantly native line-up. The amount of Irish acts in the church is revealing – it highlights just how genuinely vibrant the Irish music scene is. The acts include Lisa Hannigan, All Tvvins, Imelda May, Rusangano Family, Le Galaxie, Saint Sister, Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh & Cormac Begley, Girl Band, Rejjie Snow, and Pixie Geldof (she’s definitely one of ours, so no arguing!). The only non-Irish acts of the weekend performing were on Friday – California’s Margaret Glaspy and London’s Kojey Radical, more about which later.
I was at the church last night (the only time I go to church is when I’m in Dingle), and watched in awe and admiration the blend of cultures, music and mindsets. The evening got off to a brilliant native start with Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Cormac Begley, two young Irish musicians that are making sure to ruffle feathers with traditional music that is rooted in the source but which is invested with the kind of current why-the-feck-not attitude of young bucks. That they are able to plough two furrows at the same time isn’t necessarily alarming, but it is pretty damned brilliant. Trad music for people who think they don’t like trad music? Bring it on.
And then arrived the enthusiastic and effusive Californian singer-songwriter, Margaret Glaspy, who delivered a really smart set of alt.pop at the church, with all manner of good pop vibes filtered throughout the short gig. Glaspy – looking uber smart in a shiny jacket that sparkled under the spotlights – performed superb songs from her recently released album, Emotions And Math, concluded her set with a Lauren Hill song (Ex Factor) that was both subtle and spectacular. Not much of that about these days, is there?
The second half of the church gigs featured two musicians that came from different ends of the spectrum but which produced thought provoking and terrific displays of talent. London hip-hop/spoken word performer Kojey Radical delivered righteous and thoughtful hip-hop with precision and passion, all of it underpinned with an astute and intuitive sense of jazz-driven melody that referenced Bruce Hornsby as much as Steely Dan.
Pixie Geldof, on the other hand, performed several songs that simmered under the church lights. Unlike her famous Irish father, she wasn’t very talkative, but her seductive and subtle songs made up for the lack of between-song banter.
Of course, before and after the church gigs there are the many gigs in many of the town’s pubs and bars. You can see that this year in particular the Music Trail has come into its own, and is now such an integral part of Other Voices that if it were, for some unexplainable reason, to disappear off the face of the Earth, then Other Voices simply wouldn’t be the same. It kicked off on Friday at 5pm with the soulful Farah Elle (at Nellie Fred’s) and concluded with a surprise appearance at An Chonair Bar at 1am with The Rusangano Family. One word: Jaysus!
Today (Saturday) is when IMRO gets involved. IMRO has been a supporter of Other Voices for many years, and IMRO’s Other Room once again allows Irish acts to shine brightly. In tomorrow’s blog post, I’ll be reviewing all of the IMRO Other Rom acts (Aibhle Reddy, Cry Monster Cry, Fangclub, Overhead, The Albatross, Moon Looks On, and Roisin O) performing at An Chonair Bar.
Until then, take it easy, drink wisely, and dance responsibly!
The first instalment of the 13th series of Other Voices reached a conclusion last night on RTÉ 2 with a performance by Booka Brass Band in the IMRO Other Room. Booka Band only formed in 2012 but have had a string of successful live performances since then, earning the respect of their peers in the music industry in Ireland as well as the adoration of their live audiences. A successful 2014 saw the band perform at Electric Picnic, Glastonbury, main stage at Body and Soul, as well as play with Imelda May, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, The Hot 8 Brass Band and collaborate with artists like Lisa Hannigan, James Vincent McMorrow and Paul Noonan. So far 2015 has seen them release their debut EP “BBB” and embark on an Irish tour including a headline show at Dublin’s Vicar Street. The world stage awaits for Booka Band this summer as they look towards Europe and the UK.
Episode 1 of this season’s Other Voices saw Dublin electronic three-piece, Cloud Castle Lake, in the IMRO Other Room. The band have just finished their first tour of Ireland and the UK, which followed the release of their latest single “Glacier”. Despite only having released one EP (Dandelion) and a single to date, Cloud Castle Lake have managed to build a loyal following with recent support slots under their belt for Glasser, Lisa Hannigan and Ultraísta.
The Rusangano Family headed up the IMRO Other Room for Episode 2. Formerly known as Godknows + mynameisjOhn, they have rapidly become one of the most electrifying souls in music in Ireland. Godknows was the founding member of Shannon’s ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ collective, his unique MC fusion of grime, rap and spoken word has firmly established him as one of the most formidable front-men in the country. mynameisjOhn grew up on the cold hard streets of Ennis in the West of Ireland. He’s released 3 solo EPs, which both reference his gra for a dollop of hiphop, electronica, psych rock and straight up paranoia. Rusangano/Family is an 11 track album that cements the duo’s ongoing collaborative adventures.
Series 13 of Other Voices is presented by Aidan Gillen (well known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Charlie, The Wire), joined by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens.
Other Voices is renowned for introducing new artists and bands, interviewing established performers in an in-depth way and providing a platform for unique performances. It has wide viewership in major Irish tourist markets.
Other Voices is supported by RTÉ, FáilteIreland, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and IMRO.
We look forward to catching performances from Somerville, Staring at Lakes and Ye Vagabonds in the IMRO Other Room when Other Voices returns for the second instalment of Series 13 later this Summer.
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
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
This week the Church of St. James’, Dingle, will open its doors to Other Voices from 12th – 14th December. All the signature elements that make Other Voices so special will be there in abundance. The full lineup includes performances from Ben Howard, Buke & Gase, Ibeyi, King Creosote, The Lost Brothers, Damien Rice, Melanie De Biasio, Wild Beasts, Young Fathers, All We Are, Delorentos, Jessie Ware and Walking On Cars. This year
the Other Voices Music Trail will be bigger and better with over 30 new and more established bands playing in venues and unusual locations around Dingle, ranging from Trad to Hip Hop and beyond. Surprise guests are always a feature. All Music Trail events are free and take place before and after the church performances. For the full line-up including bands such as Lethal Dialect, Hawk, Somerville, Jape you can click on the link above or click join on the Facebook event page. Jim Carroll’s Banter Salon will be taking place in Foxy John’s Bar on Saturday and Sunday and full details on all speakers can be found on Other Voices’ Banter page.
Each year, Other Voices and RTÉ provides a TV and online platform for new acts in the IMRO Other Room. Applications for a performance slot in the IMRO Other Room were received and a shortlist of five acts were compiled – Come On Live Long / Staring At Lakes / Little Xs for Eyes / Wyvern Lingo /Zaska with the public choosing Staring At Lakes as the Viewer’s Choice for the IMRO Other Room. Each year, Other Voices and RTÉ provides a TV and online platform for new acts in the IMRO Other Room – Joining Staring at Lakes are Cloud Castle Lake, Somerville, Booka Brass Band, God Knows + mynameisjOhn and Ye Vagabonds.
All acts will all be filmed as part of next year’s series. Tickets, once again, will be free and can be won through various online and media competitions so keep an eye on othervoices.ie. To stay up to date with announcements follow on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter with the hashtag #othervoices. The music from the church is streamed live to venues and pubs around the town each night. Other Voices is supported by RTÉ, Fáilte Ireland, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and IMRO.
For more than ten years, Other Voices has welcomed some of the world’s most eclectic music-makers and captured on film scores of unique, one-off live performances. Beginning in the humble St James’ Church in Dingle, Co. Kerry, the show has recently branched out to Derry-Londonderry and London. As part of the series, Other Voices provides a TV and online platform for a collection of emerging musicians and bands in the IMRO Other Room. The IMRO Other Room aims to shine a light on these rising home-grown talents and give them an opportunity to be seen and heard by a global audience. For information and full submission details for the ‘Viewer’s Choice IMRO Other Room’ initiative, please go to othervoices.ie