TMP Tour Fliary Day One: Au/Ra – Paris

Discovering Au/Ra – A path of many obstacles

It’s June 10th, I’ve left my house just after midnight with a backpack slung over my shoulders and the understanding that I won’t see this place again for 9 days. Me, the month of June, and concerts go hand in hand like the white chocolate and cookies on the new Magnum ice creams (They’re not sponsoring me but damnit they’re tasty). I’ve gone concert crazy the last few June’s running, but this year would be something well beyond the realms of previous achievement. I catch my late coach to Dublin airport full of excitement and contemplation of the events that are set to unfold. Fast forward a few hours and the sun hovers low in the sky as I take my first steps off the plane that has just transported me to Paris. I’ve never been to Paris before. Why am I in Paris…?

It’s November 27th, 2018. I’m sitting on the 5PM coach to Dublin, I’m tired after working a full shift in Cork, but above that I’m excited. I’m gonna see one of my favourite artists EDEN play in the Olympia Theatre again, that’s twice this year now. I’m curious about the new discovery I’m gonna make with his support act. I like her name, Au/Ra, and a quick glance to her profile has my curiosity piqued big time, she looks fucking cool. What’s she gonna sound like, I wonder to myself. Sure, I’ve got my earphones on me, it’s just a click away. But I’m not about to break my rule. I’m a sucker for live discovery of music, if I know I’m already going to see someone live then I explicitly do not listen to their music in advance, I love that moment of it all unveiling right there before me from the stage. I’m gonna be in Dublin for 8 O Clock, if I’m quick on my feet I’ll barely even miss her first song. That annoys me enough, but I have to settle for it.

It’s 8 O Clock. Why aren’t we rolling through Dublin City center right now? We don’t even seem to be remotely near there. We suddenly come up to Dublin Airport, every passenger on the coach aghast. The bus is NOT meant to be here. Only one person on this entire bus is even going to the airport, the driver has messed up big time here and there’s outrage. He’s gone the wrong way on a 2 stop bus route, putting us all out by a 30 minute delay. I’m stressed all the way to Dublin after we leave the airport again. The bus barely stops at the curb and I’m off, running to the Olympia. I race through the streets and enter the venue quick time. There’s Au/Ra on stage, the unmissable green hair… As she says goodbye to the crowd and thanks everyone, her set over. You have goooot to be kidding me.

The concert is over, I’m on a bus straight back to Cork for work again in the morning, exhausted, elated, EDEN just put on an incredible show. I gotta see what that Au/Ra one was like though, so it’s earphones in and Spotify up. I didn’t think I could hate that bus driver any more than I already did. It’s apparent after just one listen through of what Au/Ra has online that, yes, I absolutely could hate that driver more. He kept me from hearing this live, this music that I am actively falling in love with from the first moment I’m exposed to it. And so, mission improbable is now in effect: See Au/Ra live, ASAP. Should be a piece of cake right, I mean she only lives in Antigua in the Caribbean Islands, so touring in this part of the world is tooootally gonna be a regular thing, round the corner as it is (/sarcasm).

It’s early 2019, and I get the notification I’ve been dying to see. Au/Ra has a mini tour of Europe coming up! Yes! It… doesn’t include Ireland. Bugger. But it’s in June, that’s when my holiday time from work is due. I narrow down the options to 2 possibilities, Paris or Berlin. It comes down to the flip of a coin pretty much, and I settle on Paris, I’ve always wanted to get to France eventually. Flights booked, ticket bought, the world ain’t stopping me this time!

Being a tourist

Having flown so early into Paris, I’ve a bright day ahead of playing the part of a tourist. I may be purely here on the basis of chasing the music wherever it takes me, but I can allow a moment to take in some sights. With that in mind I get the bus in from the airport, catching my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from a distance as we approach the city. The weather is beautiful so I’ve no qualms about the several KM walking distances I’m about to be faced with going every which way. I load up google maps, Spotify has Au/Ra on cycle, and I naturally aim for the Eiffel tower. Along the way I detour slightly to marvel at the Arc de Triomphe. It’s only then I make the fun discovery that the entire giant road surrounding the monument operates as a shared space. So, a free-for-all which made for quite the interesting experience just crossing to and from the structure.

I also encounter the less pretty side of a tourist city like Paris. The constant aggressive selling, begging and manipulation bombarding from all sides as everyone has one objective, part the tourist and their money from each other. Travelling alone and meek willed as I am at times, I’m not entirely successful at avoiding all these traps and am rather unwillingly parted with 10 or so euros of my light travelling funds in my first hour there, though I am hardier for it after and avoid repeating occurrences. I witness the Eiffel tower first hand, go see another few bits then I decide it’s high time I venture in the direction of the venue. A quick detour to look at the aftermath of the Notre-Dame, and I finally find myself outside the venue for the evening – Le Pop-Up du Label. I chill outside, making a new friend with a fellow gig attendee, and wait a few hours for the doors to open. It’s at this very moment that I am dealt a massive blow to my plans for the week. I receive a snapchat from my best concert buddy Kathryn asking if I’d seen Snow Patrol’s post, and her saying she’s so sorry. Confused, I race to Facebook to witness the news. See, Paris was not the only destination in my international plan of mischief, 2 days later I was set to fly to Germany to go and see Snow Patrol perform in Stuttgart, something I was extremely excited for and had spent heavy funds in planning. Snow Patrol have just posted that Nathan Connolly has completely lost the use of his hand, and their show in Stuttgart is cancelled. Safe to say, I’m distraught, and now I’m looking towards the show later more than ever as a beacon to pick me up and repair my bad mood.

Charlotte

We’re let into the venue and I excitedly make my way inside, getting a cozy spot right in front of the stage. Although I learned some French in school, I’ve typically lost it all when I actually find myself in France. For a while I wait in silence, before eventually piping up in English and starting conversation with some of the fellow fans, and I’m relieved that we pick up on steady chatter and make more acquaintances in the moment. Before too long the support act for the evening, Charlotte, takes to the stage. Another new discovery for me, hailing from Hull in the UK, it’s just herself and her Guitarist Joe with us on this evening. Early observations are that she’s chatty with good humour, and seems very nice and friendly.

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Charlotte and Joe on stage in Le Pop-Up Du Label

When she gets to singing though, that’s when the true magic happens. She absolutely blows me away with the beauty and depth behind every word she sings, channeling something special through every note hit. As it so happens, her debut EP ‘Nowhere To Hide’ has made its way out into the world only a couple days earlier. She has not acquired a Piano for this particular performance and thus has to refrain from playing a couple of her songs which rely heavier on the instrument, although she does opt to give us exclusive first ears on some new material she’s been writing which goes down a right treat. Elsewhere in the set she drops in a cover of ‘Redbone’ by Childish Gambino, which Joe has wonderfully adapted on Acoustic Guitar gaining particularly favourable response from the crowd. Standout songs to me from the performance are ‘Somebody To Hold’ from the EP, and her well known song ‘Nervous’. When she leaves the stage, it doesn’t feel like we got to see her for long enough and I’m already longing to hear more.

Au/Ra

F I N A L L Y. It’s perhaps been the most obstacle ridden path I’ve ever traversed to become a fan of an artist, but it takes a lot more than a little debris thrown by the universe to deter me. I’ve found myself right here, locked in the moment and the seconds counting down. The room is dark, there’s a palpable electricity in the air, I almost expect to see mini forks of lightning to flash through the smoke cloud shrouding the stage. The perfect storm brews nearly to the point of crescendo, then the music kicks in and Au/Ra flits through the crowd to the stage, masked up in very much the embodiment of her first song ‘Assassin’, and the wildness begins. This stage is very much Au/Ra’s domain as she dances the length of it performing her heart out to the crowd, emotions are running high all round in this intimate setting. She’s quick to crack out a new song when she goes into ‘Dance In The Dark’, the atmosphere dropping real low and thick for this heavy pulsing number. Beneath the veil of the heavy dancy vibes one can see this is really an intensely personal song and I’m in awe of Au/Ra’s power in delivering it.

AuRa Assassin
Au/Ra performing Assassin up close and personal

Moving through the set we’re treated to great songs from the catalog both released and unreleased, from Outlaws and Junk Food (Which is totally about Junk Food and only Junk Food, definitely no hidden meanings in this song whatsoever promises Au/Ra), to fan favourite X Games and then the cult gem that I was unaware of due to missing out on her sets before, Drake. Yes, about THAT Drake, a funny and somewhat adorable ode to the rapper where Au/Ra recalls a time she added Drake on Playstation Network and genuinely hoped he would actually accept. As you would expect, he didn’t, and to process that heartbreak she wrote this wonderful little song about it. I’m confident at this rate she’ll get to meet and/or collaborate with the man in the next couple of years and it’ll all come full circle. Following on from that Au/Ra smashes another fan favourite in the form of her song ‘Emoji’ before going into another new song, the exquisitely beautiful and hauntingly emotional piece that is ‘Medicine’. I’m not crying, you are, ok we both are, shut up. I was soooo not expecting the amount of oomph packed into this song and the room received it without so much as a sound, bar perhaps some sniffles, such was the respect it commanded. Coupled with the earlier track Dance in the Dark, Au/Ra delivers a harrowing look into Depression and Anxiety here and for capturing it like she has I just want to reach out and hug her soul.

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Au/Ra drops to her knees performing Medicine
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Au/Ra bringing the energy in her performance

At this point I’m really trying not to realize the fact that there isn’t too much longer left in this set as I totally just want to exist in this moment now and let it go on forever. Alas, we approach the end of the evening with ‘White Knuckles’ and a special acoustic performance of the song ‘Darkside’ which is a collaboration with the incredible Alan Walker. With that there’s only one thing for it, and all the Green Beans (Au/Ra fans nickname) in the room are in on a secret that we’ve been waiting all show to reveal to Au/Ra. Heading into the song ‘Outsiders’, this is our cue to pull out our phones collectively. Organized by a fan who goes by the name ‘Yungbludhearts’ on Instagram (Go follow!), everyone had been passed around green heart shaped pieces of paper before the show, which shining our flashlights through would produce a green filter of light. I’ve only experienced something like that once before, at a Twenty One Pilots concert, and it truly is a spectacle to behold with all our green lights waving to Au/Ra. Safe to say, she was so totally moved by this incredible display and had not expected it at all, and we all shared a special emotional moment. We finished up with an encore featuring the song ‘Panic Room’ which evolved into the remix version, and last but not least ‘Concrete Jungle’, and thus it was all over.

AuRa Outsiders
A heartfelt and emotional moment with Au/Ra during Outsiders
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Au/Ra is thankful to everyone who came out to support her

Outsiders

M&G

It’s probably worth noting at this point that I may have been a biiiit of an idiot. See, many months prior I purchased Au/Ra’s t-shirt and mini green vinyl from her online store and had been very much enjoying them. Somehow, just before departing my house the evening before flying to Paris, my Au/Ra shirt that had been top of the pile of things to pack had remained just there on my bed where I packed my bag. Epic fail. I was not impressed with myself for that one. Alas we started the process of leaving the venue, a Merch table on the way had the vinyl and shirt I already have, plus a poster I didn’t have so I added that to my collection. Charlotte didn’t have merch at the time but in July I got to see her perform in Dublin and picked up a very cool hoodie and her new CD at that show, so I’ma show ’em off here.

The queue leaving was slow moving as Au/Ra was waiting at the other end meeting all the fans and to her credit she really gave every single person the time of day and attention, properly meeting everyone and I respect that so much. I hung back towards the end of the queue and let everyone have their moment until it got to my turn. Au/Ra really was so wonderful to meet and was just so friendly and appreciative of the support. I got to tell her all about the tale of how I came to be in this moment and we had a lovely lil conversation. Eventually the time came to part ways and I made my way back across Paris, ready to fly away again early in the morning. Which, actually, is a bit of a tale in itself. If you haven’t figured by now, I’m just a biiiit of  a lunatic, and when I throw myself into adventure mode it really is full on. With that in mind, here’s something to understand about most of my flight based travel for concerts: I don’t really do accommodation. What’s worked out for me so far has been early morning flights, and overnight sitting the hours away in the airport itself until the flight, catching a few sparing z’s here and there. Fun fact: The smaller airport in Paris, from which I was flying, does something I had not yet had to deal with elsewhere, it closes at night. Completely. It also opens very late in comparison to a lot of airports, with doors at 6 AM. Yay me, rounded out the first day of my journey with a night of homelessness in Paris, what a magical way to end a magical evening.

AuRa Selfie
Meeting Au/Ra after an exceptionally awesome show

 

Next stop in the Tour Fliary: Bristol. Coming… At some point? I’ll try not to take too long!

 

Wax White Release Debut Single ‘Young Fella’

Wax White have burst onto the scene in emphatic style with debut release ‘Young Fella’. Consisting of Dublin duo Damo & Gav, AKA Haideez & Fuzzy, Wax White have been making waves in recent months building a name for themselves, featuring on a number of solid line-ups in venues such as The Grand Social and Fibber Magees. They’ve impressed greatly through each passing show with their confident, energetic performances building them a reputation for bringing the best vibes to get the crowd hyped up. Their latest achievement was headlining The Grand Social on August 10th as part of FlutterTone‘s new monthly gig night ‘YLOFI’. The lads are hotly tipped as one of the most exciting new acts emerging in the Hip Hop scene right now, with the potential ingredients to go on and surpass the likes of Versatile and rescue a piece of Irish Rap from parody acts, though admittedly it’s early days yet and there’ll be much hard work and grinding to get them elevated to those heights. This is a wave to get on early as it promises to be a thrill of a ride going forwards for these 2.

WW

 

‘Young Fella’ is a tune that’ll have you jamming out like nobody’s looking and put a pep in your step. With a tasty driving bassline running through the track courtesy of Granny on production, the boys effortlessly run away with the beat in style, bouncing off of each other’s flows to deliver a high energy barrage of lyrics from start to end. If you enjoy this first taster of what Wax White has to offer and find yourself fiending for more, fear not for you can go check out their YouTube channel here where you’ll find some more demos to tide you over for further releases.

 

TMP Flashbacks | Lōwli ‘Feathers’ EP Launch

Introducing TMP Flashbacks

Real quick before I get into today’s blog post I want to quickly introduce the idea behind today’s title ‘TMP Flashbacks’. As is probably clear to most observers with my sporadic content – Or lack thereof – I’m constantly hitting walls with my writing process and not getting material out. There are many factors at play for this, though 2 of the biggest are the sheer volume of gigs and concerts I attend, and my habit of writing an awful lot in my posts (It’s just naturally how my process goes) which means I’m oft unsatisfied with tackling a piece if I can’t give it the full attention I expect of myself. That said, with Flashbacks I intend to, at any given opportunity, revisit concerts and gigs that got lost by the wayside down the line and complete some posts for them, some of which will likely be proper flash pieces of a shorter length (By my standards, at least). Some of these will be posts I even began writing before falling off the map with them just before completion, which is where this current post began with about 80 percent already completed 2 months ago (woops). There wont be much different with this one compared to my other stuff considering how close to completion the post already was. So without further ado, let’s get back to the juicy stuff

The right place at the right time

Finding myself sitting in the Bello Bar in Dublin on February 23rd was very much an impromptu plan concocted off the back of a perfect set of circumstances lining up. Days prior I was not even aware of the event that would be taking place, indeed only learning through my old school friend Matilda posting on Instagram stories about band rehearsal for the occasion. As it would so happen, my intent for that evening was going to see me pass through Dublin anyway, as I was travelling up from Cork that day to fly out from the airport the next morning for a brief holiday in Scotland. The opportunity to pass a few hours in the company of assuredly good music was far too tempting to pass up, and I was sure this gig would be right up my alley. It had already been more than a year since I had witnessed Matilda in action at the Button Factory for Searchlight 2018 (Blog post about that here), and I had regrettably had missed Laura Ryder (Formally titled Laura Ryder Ampersand as a band) in action upon that fateful evening due to the nature of my travel. Being much overdue witnessing my first Laura Ryder performance, attendance was a no brainer.

In typical manner, I arrived early to the Bello Bar and made myself comfortable inside when the doors opened. My first time being in this venue, I was in awe of the set up within, where a beautiful atmosphere has been carefully and lovingly crafted everywhere the eye looks, from the candlelit table arrangement to the stylish but not overstated decor, there was much to take in. While sitting opposite the performance area letting my surroundings sink in, I was joined at my table by another gig-attending lone wolf by the name of Conor. We discussed much with keen interest and passed the time with ease, graduating from strangers to friendly acquaintances, a welcomed added touch to the evening’s experience. Conor talked of seeing Laura Ryder before with high praise, giving me a great indication of what to expect before the show kicked off.

Laura Ryder Ampersand

If somehow it wasn’t already set in stone in the leadup, it became pretty damn clear within no time at all once Laura Ryder & her band were out that we were in for a very special evening. Before even beginning, Laura is already seen sporting an infectiously vibrant grin that alone is capable of lifting your mood. She sets off into the tunes behind her keyboard, her vocals immediately capturing my full attention. Beside her is Conor Cunningham on Clarinet, and the vocal landscape is backed up by the ethereal combination of Hannah McKenna and Matilda O Mahony. Laura has the room latched on closely from beginning to end, brimming with positivity and filling the gaps between songs with her wonderful quirky quips.

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Laura Ryder & Conor Cunningham

Around the halfway mark or so of the set, the collective are joined by drummer Shay Sweeney to shift the tone a bit and carry us out to the end of the performance. By the time we’re at the end of Laura’s set I’ve already been carried on such an awesome journey of emotions that I’d nearly forget there is a whole other act to follow; but indeed this has merely been the warm-up and there is much yet to come for our eager hearts to fill up on. You can check out Laura’s brilliant album ‘Vestigial’ down below and it is available to purchase digitally or physically from bandcamp at the following link here! It has given me much enjoyment to listen to since attending this gig.

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L-R: Conor, Hannah & Matilda

 

Lōwli

A brief break, and then we’re off into the main portion of the evening as Lōwli come together before us. There is a familiar face among their ranks as Matilda retains her position, joined this time by fellow backing vocalist Lorna McDonnell. At the helm on Piano and main vocals is Roisin Lowry, Shay Sweeney sits once more behind the drums, and the wonderful string section is comprised of Aisling Bridgeman on Violin and Muireann Ni Cheannabhain on Cello.

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L-R: Roisin Lowry & Muireann

There are very few gigs which have so successfully transported me to another plane of existence within myself than what I experienced that night in Bello Bar. It was the perfect coming together of a room set in perfect ambiance hosting beautiful music. I found that I was often drawn into an almost trance like state, the flickering flame of the candle on the table serving as a hypnotizing tool which opened my consciousness to the delicate sound waves cast forth by Lōwli to hit on a deeper level. Safe to say that while the new EP ‘Feathers’ gives a delightful look into what Lōwli has to offer, there is most certainly much more to look forward to from this incredible artist in times to come. I couldn’t leave without purchasing the CD of course, not once but twice, impressed as I was I knew immediately of someone I needed to share this new piece of music with. Make sure you give her EP a listen to, it’s comprised of three tracks ‘Feathers’, ‘Fading’ and ‘Colourless’ and is linked down below

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L-R: Muireann, Aisling, Lorna, Matilda, Shay
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Feathers EP & 2 Badges

 

 

 

Ruth Brosnan Reminds Us That We Are All ‘Good Enough’ With Debut Single

It is with great pleasure that I direct your attention today to the Debut Single ‘Good Enough’ by emerging Cork artist Ruth Brosnan. Ruth is just one such example of the many incredible home grown talents that have come through the system of music courses on offer at Cork School of Music, with ‘Good Enough’ being but the first impression of what is sure to be a voice you’ll find yourself hearing more and more about in times to come. Coupled with her musical education in Cork, Ruth has also spent time abroad in LA, where she has honed her Songwriting skills to further her career as it begins.

‘Good Enough’ builds like a carefully tended fire, starting off as a slow burning flame and gradually growing in power until it becomes a soaring anthem of positivity. We all have this same fire and passion burning within us, even if at times it can be so difficult to grasp it and hold onto it, and Ruth calls on us all to slow down for a moment and take in the fact that, yes, we are indeed good enough. Moreso in fact than just good enough, we are strong and dangerous and capable of so many things if we just let ourselves. Check out this stunning debut down below and make sure you follow the artist for whatever projects may follow down the line. This song is Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Wavefield Recording Studios and the video brought to fruition by Epic Productions.

James OR New Single| An Attempt at Momentum

Last week I was delighted to present to you an interview I held with the wonderful James OR, which you can read here, in which the topic at hand largely focused on his new single ‘An Attempt At Momentum’. The single has since successfully launched out into the world and is making the rounds through radio plays and online streaming services. There is also an amazing music video accompaniment to the song, featuring the Directorial debut of Playwrite and Musician Jess Leen, filmed by Robin Guiton and starring Darragh Byrne who passionately portrays his role in the video to perfection. You couldn’t ask for a better team of individuals coming together and combining their talents to capture a visual befitting of the beautiful song that is An Attempt At Momentum, so do check that out below.

You can catch James OR live with his full band playing this song and many others that he has at his disposal on May 3rd in Coughlan’s Live, for which you can get tickets here. Joining James on the evening as support act is none other than Chris Ward who promises to put on a wowing performance of his own before James takes to the stage. If you are further afield Geographically, you may perhaps find solace in the fact that James OR will be having a Single launch show in London as well, at The Islington on May 30th, support act to be announced.

 

[Interview] James OR Talks Upcoming Single ‘An Attempt at Momentum’

Alright folks, got something a little different for you today! I recently had the opportunity to catch the fabulous artist James OR for a conversation about some of the things that he’s got coming up and had going on for himself. We cover his brand new single ‘An Attempt at Momentum’, and I must say I’ve heard him perform this a few times live, mostly Acoustic, and it was already a wonderful song, but it has emerged in the recorded version like a Caterpillar post-cocoon as this truly magnificent piece of art. I’m blown away by the leaps and bounds the track has taken to reach it’s final form. Elsewhere in the conversation we talk about the accompanying music video directed by Jess Leen, working on his debut album with Christian Best in Monique Studios, and his upcoming headline show in Coughlan’s Live on May 3rd (Grab tickets here!) among other things, so read all about it below! Keep an eye out for the single dropping on Friday as well, I’ll be posting it here on the page once it releases.

AAAM
The fab artwork for the new single designed by Hanna Dillon!

 

So to kick us off, your new single An Attempt at Momentum is out on April 26th, can you give us an introduction to what the song is about?

James OR: It’s about sort of meeting someone who you haven’t seen in a while, who you care a lot about and you know you’re gonna miss again when they’re gone, but you’re not gonna see them again for another while. It’s just getting that thing off your chest, that you’ve been thinking about for a while, and you’re just picking your moments to get it off your chest – Cause I went to an Elbow gig about 3-4 years ago and Guy Garvey said the two things you should never do when you’re about to meet someone who you haven’t seen in a while and you’re not gonna see again for another while, is you should never meet them at night and you should never meet them over alcohol. And so AAAM is about the time I did both of those things.

 

Is there plans for a music video release to accompany the upcoming single?

J: Yeah the music video is coming out on the release day, April 26th. I worked with Jess Leen and Robin Guiton on it. They put together this really nice concept and they went ahead and shot it. I got the finished video back last week and I really love it, I think it really sums up the message behind the song really well. The main actor is called Darragh Byrne and he is just fabulous in it, he’s incredible. He had just on the day of filming asked Jess ‘does this video require a lot of facial expressions’ and she was like ‘yeah it definitely does!’, and he said ‘great well I’m just after doing a class on mime, so I’m gonna use all the stuff that I’ve learned in this video’. So that’s what you’re seeing, this really cool expressive appeal that I can’t wait to show people

 

It must have been great to have such a creative mind in Jess involved, a fabulous Playwrite, Musician and Director too…

J: Yeah, I really love Jess’s stuff, she really is one of my favourite writers. I saw one of her plays Waiting For WiFi back in January 2018, and I just thought it was such a spectacular piece of work. So when I was thinking about who I’d approach to do the music video she kinda seemed the most natural choice, cause I love her sense of humour, and I love how witty her writing is. So I’m like it would be so great if I could get that witiness and that cleverness across in a music video. So yeah it was magic to have her on board and she actually connected me with Robin who shot and edited the whole video. It seems now if you’re looking at a music video in Cork, Robin’s name is attached to it. You’ll be watching a music video and be like ‘Ah it’s by Robin ok’, he’s just got this really clear shooting style and really great way of capturing images and really just sharpening them up and making them really exciting to watch.

 

How did it feel to close the book on your debut project Cold Open with the final music video for Safe & Sound last year?

J: Good question, it was really good fun because Safe & Sound was put out I think a year and a half after Cold Open came out, and it was nice to do something different with those songs. We’d done the music video for ‘The Fear’ and we were getting ready to record some new songs, and then myself and Dave Lyons got chatting and we were just like yeah look I mean there’s this track here and Dave had just started his company Speire so he was looking for projects to work on. He approached me and said look how about we make this music video, and originally it was a very straightforward idea of maybe just me singing to the camera. When we looked over the first shots we were really happy with it but we thought maybe it just needed a little bit more, and over the course of a day or so we started teasing out this idea for a little story. It was this really enjoyable process because we didn’t have an Actor on board and it was basically just gonna be me, it was nice and it was really good fun. I think it was the best way to close Cold Open because Cold Open gave me a lot of opportunities to bring my music to new places and to new people. So it was nice that we got to go back to it so long after the EP itself had come out and so close to when we were recording new music, it felt like a very natural conclusion and felt like we were giving it a proper send off.

 

I understand that you spent some time in the lovely Monique Studios with Christian Best, working towards your first album All The Beds We’ve Been In, how’s that process been for you?

J: Wonderful. I really love working with Christian, he’s got such a great way with people and such a great way with… I mean, saying he has a great way with music is definitely underselling him, he’s got a great ear for how a song should sound. He seems to be able to do this across the board which is obviously a mark of a great producer, I’ve seen so many other acts come out of his studio and their music sounds stronger for him having been a part of it. I can definitely say that was the case with me, cause when we went in to record the tracks, we worked very hard to get them to where they were but Christian definitely helped us to sort of… I suppose he helped to mature the songs a little bit, and he helped to bring all the songs to their final shape which was really nice. There’s just such a great atmosphere down there, there’s magic in that room that he has brought to it, and there’s a reason why people want to go down to him so much and why people wanna work with him. So he had done Cold Open, he’d actually just recorded the tracks for Cold Open, whereas this time I was really excited when he agreed to come on and produce the album. He really does just get the mood of each song and he gets the mood of the musicians he’s working with as well. He knows when to speed the day up and when to slow it down, and that was a really cool process to watch and a cool process to be a part of. I really loved it.

 

You’ve been living in London for about a year or so now, have you picked up and new insights or perspectives on your approach as an artist from being over there?

J: That’s a really insightful question. I mean I wouldn’t say I learned anything new as such, because I came out in the Cork music scene, and the Cork music scene is somewhere you can really learn a lot from. So when I was going over to London I think London is probably more hyperactive. There’s a lot going on there and it’s a much more communal music scene than I think it gets given credit for. There’s a very relaxed sort of confident vibe about musicians there in that they really wanna hear new music from their peers, and they’re also quite content with what they’re doing. It’s very much a you do you attitude, it’s very much like ‘that’s cool you’re doing that man, and I’m doing this over here’. Because it’s such a big city and there’s so much going on, so far it hasn’t felt like jarring, it’s actually felt like a really nice to place to be in and a really nice place to make music.

 

Your homecoming show at Coughlan’s is coming up on May 3rd and it’s looking on track to be a sell out, how much does this show mean to you?

J: Coughlan’s means a lot to me, it’s such a beautiful room and I’ve never had anything but great experiences in there. I think coming back to play in Cork and bringing a single back to Cork means an awful lot as well, and getting to do it in a room like Coughlan’s is very much the icing on the cake. It means a lot to be playing a full band show again, which we haven’t done in Ireland in a while, just over a year and Coughlan’s was the last Irish show we did. It feels exciting, it feels like something is starting again. It’s kinda that feeling when you get started in a new process and you’re building back up that momentum that you need as an independent musician to keep going and make an impact. So the Coughlan’s gig is a week after the single is released, so I’m also looking forward to the week before Coughlan’s. We’re gonna be practicing and we’re gonna be putting the songs and the set together. It means a lot as well that we get to play our music to a room full of people again I think that’s gonna be really great.

 

What do you think makes Coughlan’s a venue that so many aspire to play in, where you see so many calibre’s of artists choose to play there?

J: I think it’s the people that run it to be honest. I think they have a very set idea on what they want the venue to be, and from what I’ve seen it’s just such a welcoming venue. You come in there and you play and the funny thing about Coughlan’s is like – Obviously the first few gigs I did there was as a support act to some people, and when you’re a support act it can go one of two ways. You can be playing to a room of people and they can just be y’know at the bar getting their drinks or getting ready for the main act who, to be fair that’s who they’re there to see, or you can have a really attentive crowd. With Coughlan’s any gig I’ve ever played there the crowd has been so attentive, and I think that’s because the room demands it of the audience. It’s very much like if you don’t want to sit and listen to the music, then you can go outside to the beer garden or the bar, but this place here is for music. This is a place for people to appreciate art and new performers and have an evening of enjoyment through music. I think that comes from a certain respect that the venue has built up for itself. People don’t go into Coughlan’s and stand and talk while an act is playing, they realize you know we’re here, we’re listening to music now we’re not here for a night out of chatting. It’s never forced on you, it’s just kinda like, it’s like when you go into a church, you don’t know why you’re supposed to be quiet in a church, you just know you are. People sort of observe that, I think it just has that weightiness and that authenticity to it, just that organic feeling that just makes everyone go yeah I’m in Coughlan’s and I wanna see some music. And you’re right up in the face of the musicians as well so like it’s hard for you to stand at the edge of the stage and talk over them, you will feel the heat of their stares pretty quickly! 

 

So looking further forward beyond Coughlan’s, you’ve just been announced for Indiependence music festival once again this year, is this perhaps the first of a few announcements from the festival circuit?

J: Yeah, the plan is to tour the UK and Ireland throughout May-July this year, and that will include a few festivals as well. There’ll be more announcements to come, Indiependence is always a very special one because I’ve been involved in the festival in some capacity for a long time. The feeling of getting asked back, or knowing you have a slot and that’s where you’ll be for the August bank holiday weekend, it never loses it’s shine. Every year at the start of the year when I’m putting stuff in my calendar, like what do I need to put aside, where am I gonna be at certain weekends of the year, one of the first weekends that gets blocked off is Indiependence weekend. To be able to go back and to play, especially with new music and new releases is really exciting.

 

To wrap this up, you posted on Facebook that you’ve signed off on the artwork for your next 3 singles, after AAAM when are you aiming to put out your next song?

J: The next single should be out just before Indiependence, the second last weekend in July. The next one a few months after that. Don’t tie me to that date but it’s gonna just a few months after AAAM, the only reason we wouldn’t release a single is I suppose if we’re still working at getting AAAM out there. But the plans are that we have the next 2 singles after AAAM kinda ready to go, and then the plan then is to release the full album sometime next year. I love the tracks on the album, I just think my music has grown a little bit since we recorded the original tracks and so I think there will be a few new additions to what is going to be ‘All The Beds We’ve Been In’. The next few months are gonna be focused on showing people what we’ve done and then bringing it out in a fuller form in 2020 then.

Brand New Friend @ The American Bar Belfast

Four Hundred Something KM

Howya folks, your friendly neighbourhood procrastinator-blogger here, I’ve wasted enough time not writing til now so let’s skip the explanations and just get straight to talking about some crazy events, how about that? What better opportunity to return to the keyboard than to recount an insane evening in Belfast being swept away by Brand New Friend. For those unaware, Brand New Friend’s name has graced this blog once before, back when I finally saw Snow Patrol for my first time last year and made the epic side discovery of this very talented band. Given our positions at polar opposite points of this grand aul’ Country, rare is the opportunity with which our musical paths cross and I get to witness BNF rock out, though I have had a couple chances to do so and tide me over each time for the next fix. I managed to catch their set at Indiependence Festival at the end of the summer, and then once more they came down to Cork in December where they would play support to Ash at Cyprus Avenue – A gig for which I bought my ticket to see Brand New Friend – Ash being a mere bonus as they put on a helluva show too.

These fleeting opportunities to see the band were like morsels of food to my insatiable appetite, before long I would need something of more substance to feast upon and have my fill. When Brand New Friend announced a 3 day billing in January at a venue in Belfast called ‘The American Bar’, it occurred to me on closer inspection that the tail end of the gig run landed on a Saturday and there was a slight possibility that I could manage a show around my rota. It took a while after having that notion to confirm I could start making a mad plan, as I had to wait and see if the rota gods would be in my favour when my hours were dished out. When it came through that January 26th was aaaallll clear, my money ran out of my account at an alarming rate – Gig ticket, one bus, two bus, three bus and four, and finally a bed at a Hostel were booked super quick. And thus the mad plan was underway and the rest of January was an intense waiting game. Before long, I even had a travelling companion joining in on this conquest – My trusty music Compadre Kathryn was up for the journey from Limerick to have an awesome night in Belfast.

The American Bar

January 26th couldn’t come quick enough, but at last the wait was over and the fateful day was upon us. An early rise in Cork set the tone for the day of travel ahead, beginning with a 3 hour bus journey to Dublin. Earphones in – Spotify up – ‘Seatbelts for Aeroplanes’ queued… and queued again another couple times as I had a lot of time on my hands. “Why Are You So Tired?”, cry out Lauren and Taylor in my ears, to which I can only respond that I was silly and stayed up late the night before and this journey was loooong, but alas not very accommodating to sleeping through it. A rendezvous with Kathryn in Dublin and no sooner was I off one bus, were we hopping on another with Belfast as the final destination, rounding out nearly 6 hours of travel. Wild Youth’s new EP ‘The Last Goodbye’ provided the soundtrack to this portion of the journey, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices being made to make the spectacular Belfast mission happen – With Wild Youth playing Dublin that very same evening.

Bed Manager

We touchdown in Belfast, and after a few errands, we’re on our way to The American Bar. We hit the venue at pretty much the same moment that Brand New Friend arrive to set-up, a collision of hugs and greetings taking place at the door. Some behind the scenes snooping and chilling, and a large Apache pizza later, we’re stood front and center and the night is set to kick off, with the support Bed Manager taking to the stage. Bed Manager is Belfast duo Jake Harris on Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, and Sam Green on Electric Guitar, Keys & Vocals.

Bed Manager1

By all accounts a quieter and more contained affair than what the evening is culminating towards, Bed Manager give us a sound roughly rooted in Alternative/Folk. I find myself identifying quite strongly on an emotional level with their music from the early onset, reminded somewhat of French artist Syd Matters, whose songs ‘Obstacles’ and ‘To All Of You’ gained millions of new listeners, myself included, for their use in the soundtrack of the game ‘Life is Strange’ many years after the band itself had ceased to produce music. Likewise, much of what Bed Manager played to us wouldn’t be out of place in the emotional landscape of the LIS soundtrack. BM captivated our attention and drew us in close, with Jake’s melodic plucking of the Acoustic combining exquisitely with Sam’s guitar and keys across their repertoire of songs.

Sensing an unasked question lingering in the air, Sam spoke up between songs to clarify that despite Jake being BNF’s drummer Luke Harris’s brother, it was of course not that familial connection which had earned them the support slot. Instead, it was the fact that Sam himself was sleeping with BNF frontman Taylor that contributed to why they were playing before us now. The lads rounded out their set by inviting up a fellow musician to bash the drums a little for a somewhat more upbeat number, the fellow looking every bit the deer in the headlights who potentially never knew he was playing this evening. Nonetheless he got up there, shimmied his way behind the drumkit in the alcove in the corner, and took the set home with the lads to finish it off. I definitely recommend checking out some tunes from Bed Manager on their soundcloud page linked below.

Bed Manager2

Top 1 Favourite Gig Moments

And with that, there was only one thing more on the agenda and that was to rock the F out. The crowd in the small room of the American Bar packed up in eager anticipation for the main attraction of the evening, with a collective roaring and cheering confirming that our stars were making their way through to the stage. They kick straight off with a crowd favourite in the form of ‘Mediocre at Best’, getting us pumped up off the bat for what was for sure going to be a smashing show. They slam out tune after tune, a mixed bag of album tracks and set-list regulars, with throwbacks to their Soundcloud demo’s era intertwined within, topped off with a new track or two as yet unheard. The sheer joy the band have when performing their music can be read clear as day and translates to an infectious positive energy upon everyone who witnesses it. Taylor can’t thank everyone who’s come along enough, stopping after every other song to pour his heart out in gratitude, combined with the dropping of many sharp quips before returning to rocking the stage.

BNF Tails Lauren1BNF Tails2

Everyone on stage is digging deep and giving an extra 110% of their entire being to putting on the best possible show. Lauren’s busting moves to the left of the stage while she sings and lays down the keys, Taylor is putting in a wild performance with the full vocal capacity his lungs can provide channeled into his microphone, even drummer Luke can’t hide the smiles from cracking through his oft expressionless facade (Though he manages to escape it being caught on camera due to no shot coming out clean), and finally bassist Aaron is a picture of total delight, feeding off the crowd’s energy. Speaking of Aaron, he becomes the man of the evening as Taylor piles praise upon the wielder of the funk stick, leading the crowd into uproarious chants of ‘AARON! AARON! AARON!’, a feat repeated much throughout the remainder of the evening.

BNF Tails Lauren4BNF Tails Aaron3

BNF round out the main set in a sweat inducing haze with a few ultra energized anthems including my favourite ‘Girl’, and the crowd needs no encouraging to let loose and go absolutely crazy to the final moments. The band departs the stage, but of course that is not the end of it all. Letting the air linger with the ‘One more tune’ chants in their absense, they re-emerge and we’re straight back to business. Surely running on reserves after such an intense set, they didn’t let that show and brought the insanity back out immediately with penultimate song ‘Your Friends Hate Me’. This left us with only one natural conclusion to the gig and that was of course the banger ‘I Was An Astronaut’ off the album, which had just become their latest single with a brand new music video released in the lead-up to these headline shows. The already hectic action steps up even more at this point, with Sam from Bed Manager surfing atop the crowd. This is when my favourite ever gig moment happens, when unexpectedly Aaron steps down from the stage in front of me. Channeling the songs namesake perhaps thinking he’s in outer space from the adrenaline high, he relinquishes control of his body to the forces of Gravity, falling backwards into my arms where I hold him up as he plays the song through its final moments. As the final notes fade away, the crowd swallows him into their depths and just before he disappears altogether I gently rescued his bass from his outstretched hand and return it safely to the stage.

BNF Tails Aaron2

Merch & Mystery

And so the show was over and the band briefly retire away to freshen up. I already have one of Band’s shirts from the Ash gig in December, but I forgot to bring a spare shirt and the clever bastards had entertained us to the point where a change of shirts was a necessity, so of course I find myself people picking out a new shirt from the merch table in an alternative design and adding it to my collection. Then Taylor pops out and approaches to hug me, but I signal him to stop. I had immediately noticed the fresh shirt he was wearing had Drake & Josh on the front and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity not to pass up. I shout “HUG ME BROOOTHAAA” like the iconic step Brothers of television nostalgia and then we shared a hug. The next while is spent running around chatting to members of the band and Taylor & Lauren’s Dad, getting my set list signed, and getting photos taken, and as ever they are the most wonderfully friendly and wholesome bunch who emanate a super welcoming vibe.

BNF Photo

Before I finish, step a little closer and listen carefully while I indulge in telling a little secret. Today might seem like any other day upon which a blog post could fall on (Besides my super inactivity, my bad about that again), but it is in fact very much intentionally planned that this post would come out today (Saturday, February 9th). See, the interesting thing about today is as I put the finishing touches into the writing of this post, I may be in Cork, but quite shortly and indeed before this blog post is out, I shall be setting down in Manchester. Why am I in Manchester? Well a while ago a highly established league in UK Battle Rap (Another thing I follow with much interest) called Premier Battles announced an event taking place here today featuring some top names performing, including a couple Irish battlers from back home. I made my plans to fly over, and then completely by coincidence didn’t Brand New Friend go and announce an intense run of shows touring the UK with Sean McGowan, and where else would they be on February 9th but the Star and Garter in, you guessed it, Manchester. The events don’t even overlap, with plenty of time between them it’s simply a no brainer. The kicker is I have not told Brand New Friend anything about this so my attendance today has been a surprise (I hope) until now! Yay for more awesomeness, thats all for now folks, stay tuned for more posts from The Merch Perch that hopefully don’t take 6 month gaps to come out. Keep on Merchin’!