The top five acts for the IMRO Other Room OPEN CALL 2016 have been announced:
In December 2015, for the first time, the IMRO Other Room was filmed in front of a live audience as part of the Other Voices Music Trail. In July 2016 an hour long special on the Other Room aired on RTÉ 2, featuring performances from Saint Sister, Talos, Gavin Glass, Bitch Falcon, HAWK and 2015 Open Call winner Saramai.
You have until Friday 11th November at 1PM to cast your vote for your favourite act via the link below:
As of writing this report on a sunny Sunday morning, it’s as clear as the nose on my face that the wind has died down, the rain has stopped, and that Storm Desmond has passed into the history books. As for Saturday? Oh, Saturday was almost Biblical.
With the rain pelting down and the wind buffeting us from pavement to gutter and back again, there were a few furrowed brows as to whether the IMRO Other Room marquee would withstand the force of the storm. Located in the back garden of An Conair pub, we can now safely report that the marquee stood its ground, and that the sound of the raging storm (and it really was very angry!) only added to the fine music that was played within.
For the first time of its tenure at Other Voices, the IMRO Other Room performances (which were filmed by the Other Voices camera team for broadcast at a later date) were open to the public, and it’s a serious understatement to say that it provided one of the stretched-out highlights of a seriously good weekend. What perhaps surprised the most was how all of the IMRO Other Room performers (Saint Sister, Talos, Saramai, Hawk, Bitch Falcon, and Gavin Glass) held the audience in the palms of their hands (so to speak).
From relative newcomers such as Saramai to experienced musicians such as Gavin Glass, each act played to their strengths. The result was a full afternoon of remarkably assured music that ranged from the fragile to the ferocious. (And speaking of ferocious, we should say that as all of the musicians played, Storm Desmond continued to make its unruly presence felt.)
Saint Sister (Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre) started the afternoon with the kind of dreamy folk/pop that in other hands might have had to be uber-weird to get it noticed. Not so Saint Sister’s approach, which subtly blends old-school folk, non-rock instrumentation (that’d be a harp on stage, then) and a gentle delivery of music that warms the heart.
Another believer of how whispered delivery can sometimes be preferable to getting hot under the collar is Cork musician Eoin French. With Talos, the former Hush War Cry member has honed his artistry even further by developing a sparser sound that is typified by tracks such as Tethered Bones, an absolute beaut of a song.
Meath musician/singer/songwriter Saramai has family pedigree in that she is the sister of Oisin Leech, one of Other Voices’ favourites, The Lost Brothers. Initial nervousness was quickly overcome, and Saramai – the winner of the IMRO Other Room open call – delivered a series of songs, including Red Moon and Butterfly Waltz, that made her many new friends, and tipped her as a singer-songwriter to watch out for in 2016.
Another band to keep an ear/eye out for next year is Hawk, a London-based Irish/UK act that perform the kind of sublime post-punk that is equal parts hypnotic and clear-headed. Fronted by Galway singer Julie Hawk, there’s more than a buzz about this band, and it’s easy to see why – the music is powerful, innately melodic and so credibly commercial it’s a shoo-in for success. Hawk’s self-titled EP is released in early 2016, so, as they say, watch this space.
Next on stage is Bitch Falcon, a trio that has been on the receiving end of so much adulation you might have bitch falconthought the band was too good to be true. After only one song, however, you quickly come to understand why they have been praised so much. The music is straight ahead rock/grunge – no frills, little subtlety, but so full of power you wonder whether Storm Desmond will give up trying to batter everyone and just let Bitch Falcon get on with it. In the end, we think it’s safe to say that Bitch Falcon won the arm wrestle.
After such a crescendo of chords, it’s good scheduling to have the final act offer a direct opposite. Of all the music acts here this afternoon, Gavin Glass is (it would be fair to say) the most experienced. And so we get a short set full of wise Americana-hued songs – played to near perfection by a bunch of equally wise musicians – that lend themselves to the tapping of toes and the clicking of fingers. As the camera crews zoom in for close-ups, as the tent coverings flap this way and that, and as the wind and rain continues, the music brings to a close an afternoon that conclusively proves that excellent music arrives in many forms and shapes. Quiet? Loud? All points in between? We’re looking forward to next year’s IMRO Other Room at Other Voices already.
Don’t go yet! As the changeovers in the marquee were taking place, I sneaked out to see a few of the Music Trail acts: Maria Kelly at Grey’s Lane Bistro (sturdy singer-songwriter tunes), Conor Walsh at The Lab (elegant piano/electronica), and Slow Moving Clouds at An Diseart (intriguing folk/trad of the highest order).
Meanwhile, at St James Church we had singer-songwriter honesty (Glen Hansard), head-shaking disappointment (Richard Hawley), gobsmacking brilliance (Mahalia), impressive newcomers (Bleeding Heart Pigeons), and super-soaraway headliners (Low).
And that’s it from me – I’m off now to Foxy John’s for a bag of nails and a Banana Daiquiri. Until next year, Dingle!
Tony Clayton Lea
IOther Voices Dingle 2015f you’re lucky enough to be in Dingle this weekend, you will no doubt be enjoying the unique atmosphere that comes with the annual music gathering that is Other Voices. If you haven’t made it to Dingle this year, don’t fear – our guest writer, Tony Clayton-Lea, is on hand to bring you all the details – from the famous St James’ Church performances, to the growing Music Trail. From new sounds in the IMRO Other Room to Banter sessions and the newly created Ireland’s Edge.
It’s the day, evening and night before Other Voices officially starts, and the mood in Dingle is so warm and cosy (even though it’s very, very chilly outside) that it’s like a Christmas movie right in front of your eyes. For those who have been here before, the vibe is well known. For those who are new to Other Voices (and this year, the event’s 13th, there are more people than ever experiencing it for the first time), the overall sense is that this is something they should have been coming to for years.
The atmosphere? It’s a bit like a reunion of emigrants that have come home for a family gathering: people that haven’t seen each for many months greet one another like long lost friends. The people you have kept in touch with by email or Twitter/Facebook are now right in front of you. Babies that winked at you last year from their carrycots are now taking their first steps. People that were single last year are now married. People change but not the work – in fact, the people involved work just as hard, if not harder, to get the event off the ground, onto television, and into the ether.
What has changed radically this year, however, is the profile of the Music Trail. A recent addition to Other Voices, the Music Trail (now in its third year) is overseen by Martin Byrne, a dab hand at sussing out music talent, and an even more experienced person at corralling that talent in a way that puts many other people at the same game in the ha’penny place. There was a time in the life of Other Voices when it might have seemed as if the event was an open door to music industry and media people and a closed shop to everyone else – you can only fit so many people into the beautiful but low capacity St James Church, after all. Over the past five years, however, what with live streaming of the church gigs in numerous pubs around the town, and the aforementioned Music Trail taking place in many venues, the reach of the event has really broadened out. On checking into my B&B accommodation on Thursday, I asked what the buzz around the town was like. There isn’t a room to be had, I was informed. The reason? The success of the Music Trail.
In other words, people are now coming to the town not just for the estimable gigs at St James Church. The amount of music acts playing the Music Trail has increased by 50 per cent in the short space of three years, and we won’t be surprised if it increases slightly further. What is amazing about the Music Trail, however, is the wealth of genuine talent on display. Today, for example, there are eleven acts performing in various venues from 5pm (Sorcha Ni Bhriain at Coach House) to after midnight Rusangano Family at An Chonair). Tomorrow (Saturday), the Music Trail commences at 1.30pm (Conor Walsh at The Lab) and over 20 music acts later finishes at 12.30am with New Jackson/Simon Bird at An Droichead Beag.
Life goes on, of course, but for many it seems as if the Other Voices event has an internal dynamic, an informal community, perhaps, of its own. It feels good, frankly. And it’s not just because cosy/comfy Christmas is a few weeks away, either – this is an event that justifiably feels good about itself, and because of that all but the obstinate or ungracious feel that way, too. What’s crucial to note, however is that the words ‘Other’ and ‘Voices’ are really just that. It might be seen by some as a brand, but if you parse the words that’s exactly what this event is about. New voices. Different ways of saying things. Original perspectives. You might not agree with all that’s being offered, but you can’t deny that it does exactly what it says on the biscuit tin. You’re looking for the usual suspects? Move on, ambulance chasers, there’s nothing for you here.
No, we’re more into the unusual suspects, and having a gander at what’s out there that doesn’t always stick to the tried and tested formulae. This year, for example, for the first time there is a conference element to Other Voices. Titled Ireland’s Edge, it’s part Think Tank and part showcase. On one hand you have chaired discussions about creativity, cultural remits and emigration, while on the other you have special music performances (specifically Shakey Graves and Richard Hawley) and interviews (specifically with musician Hawley, and with editor of The Observer, John Mulholland). We see Ireland’s Edge as being the beginning of a TedEx/SXSW-style strand to Other Voices, so it will be interesting to see how it develops in years to come. Also on the subject of talking, don’t forget Banter, a series of fireside chats in Foxy John’s pub, host by Irish Times writer Jim Carroll. Running on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, expect smart, provocative and insightful dialogue, as well as special guest music appearances.
Did we mention music? Yes, we did, and this is where IMRO gets involved. The organisation has been a willing supporter of Other Voices for many years, and tomorrow IMRO’s Other Room once again gets an opportunity to shine. Taking place at An Chonair, from 12.30pm, IMRO’s Other Room features Saint Sister, Talos, Hawk, Bitch Falcon, Gavin Glass and Saramai (the recent winner of the IMRO Other Room Open Call, and, just in the case you don’t know, the sister of Lost Brothers’ member Oisin Leech).
Until tomorrow’s blog posting (which will include a run through of what took place at Ireland’s Edge, a few Music Trail performances, and the St. James Church gigs), stay safe, stay warm, stay tuned!
The top five have been compiled as follows (in no particular order):
Voting is open now on the RTÉ website and will close at 8pm on Wednesday 3rd of December.
The Other Room Viewers’ Choice will be announced at 12pm on Thursday 4th of December. The winner will travel to Dingle in December to record their winning track for Other Voices Series 13.
To vote for your favourite band – click the link below.
Ahead of their hotly-anticipated festival appearances at Camden Crawl and Vantastival, Dublin-based band swords have just announced their first ever headline performance in Whelan’s, Dublin on Friday July 5th.
Since their début EP Launch in 2012, the band has played an impressive number of shows throughout Ireland, including a headline slot at Electric Picnic. swords began 2013 on a sweet note, performing for Whelan’s Ones to Watch in January, and recording a live track for RTE’s Other Voices in February.
Drawing comparisons to Beach house, Portishead, Feist, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, their blend of guitars, synths, samples, loud drums, and keyboard hooks, along with Diane Anglim’s haunting and intimate vocals is something quite unique.
They approach songwriting with a passion and a need to express themselves honestly, and in the moment. ‘Our songs are changing as we change’ Anglim says, ‘they reflect the things we go through, and the energy we feel as we write. It’s important to us that we follow our ears and our own energies, instead of aiming for a certain musical genre.’
swords’ upcoming album ‘Lions and Gold’ is set for release in July 2013
Book Now on: entertainment.ie/tickets
Details: swords – Whelan’s Main Room – Fri July 5th – 8pm
Tickets available from Tues March 19th.