Cian Finn & The Uplifter

What’s up Ireland family, I’ve got some good vibes to be sharing with ya today. Summer is nearly over, so let me take you back to the other side of it once more. This one takes place in May, and was actually during the very week that I decided to take up the idea of blogging and was setting everything up to begin posting. I was still living in Skibbereen of West Cork at this point, and it was a Saturday night. I was without a plan for the evening, when I received a message from my good friends Sonia & David inviting me out to the village of Leap for the night. The evening’s entertainment was to be taking place in the renowned venue Connolly’s of Leap, and was set to be a night of Reggae provided by Irish artist Cian Finn with support from The Uplifter coming from the UK. I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t know of either artist nor was I typically one to listen to Reggae on the regular, but in usual fashion I was down to give it a try. Thus, off I went, and also discovered that my friend David is a massive fan of Cian Finn, speaking highly of him so I was looking forward to what was in store.

The Uplifter and Cian Finn poster
Poster for the evening from the poster archive on The Uplifter’s website here

I showed up early enough and met up with my friends, and the evening was underway. First up on the agenda was The Uplifter, a fellow by the name of Tom Earwaker hailing from Southampton. I mean, that right there has got to be an indication of what was to come. Even his ordinary name is suggestive of what’s in store, as I personally feel like my ears were woken to something new that evening (Yes, I just did that. Carry on.). With that out of the way, let’s get to his performance on the night to open things up. An electrifyingly energetic and enthusiastic character on the stage, he was an absolute joy to watch as his personality swept through the venue infecting (In a good way!) everyone present. Take away the music, and he seemed like he could still convince a room to dance. We didn’t have to test that theory however, as fortunately he was indeed providing music. From his DJ set-up he sent forth waves of good vibes and beats to warm the souls and soles of the many inspired dancing feet with humans attached in attendance. However that is only part of what The Uplifter was doing on stage. The main thing about his performance, and what is great fun to see unfold, is his incorporation of live-percussion to compliment the DJ element of his set. To one side of him, DJ set-up, to the other, complete array of percussion instruments with which to drum away at. The overall result is an art form in itself, as he dances around on stage with a care-free manner and a love of life and what he’s doing evident in every aspect. Just a genuine character through and through, having absolute fun whilst providing the means for those around him to experience an equally great time.

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Enjoy a GIF I made showcasing The Uplifter in action

Next up it was the turn of Cian Finn to carry on the evening. Like Tom before him, Cian is an artist with an incredible presence on stage that embodies his passion for what he does. His music is deeply infused with a Celtic energy and rich culture, combined with a solid foundation built on the solidarity of love and happiness. Also an exceptional vocalist, Cian Finn’s songs spread great messages about life, freedom and kindness. Cian had the floor rolling as everyone in the venue let loose and moved to the music, dancing and having a brilliant time. There was no space for negativity or sadness in this atmosphere, only purely good vibes and emotions. I personally recommend checking out his music video for his song ‘So Nice’ on YouTube here, and you can also listen to a bunch of his music on the home page of his website here, they’re all really good but the song ‘Ireland’ is one I particularly really like.

The end of the night rolled around and I was just about ready to depart the venue and be on my way, when I spotted Tom hanging about, with a bunch of Vinyl’s for sale. Well inevitably, I made my approach. My wallet screamed at me that I said before I came out that I couldn’t afford any merch tonight if there happened to be any. I ignored it’s pleas, and greeted Tom when I got the opportunity. True to everything that he came across as before, Tom is about as down to earth as they come, and was an absolute pleasure to meet and converse with. I purchased his vinyl, and he took the opportunity to give one of the more unique signings of Merch I’ve ever had, and nabbed a selfie with him for good measure. Eventually we parted, and I left the venue, where I happened upon Cian outside, where he was very friendly and also posed for a picture with me. As it so happened, Cian had intended to bring merch and forgot to bring it, but then my wallet was as barren as anything by that point so it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. Cian does have an album out called ‘This Applies’ and I’ll probably pick that up for myself at some point down the line when I can.

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The Uplifter’s Vinyl, with awesome unique signing by Tom Earwaker
Me and TU
Tom and myself
Me and CF
Cian Finn and myself

The Vinyl I collected on the evening contains 2 tracks with 3 variations each. On the first side is his song ‘Flag So High’, with variants ‘Brass So High’ and ‘Dub So High’. On the other side is ‘Freedom Chant’, with ‘Freedom Melodica’ and ‘Freedom Dub’ accompanying. I’ve had a whole lot of fun listening to the vinyl the last couple months as the songs are really good, and also feature vocals from Tom aswell! I’ve been following The Uplifter’s social media since that evening, and evidently West Cork had as much of an impression on him as he had on us, as he wasted no time in planning an immediate return and has a permanent pin now embedded into his locations to reach as he goes about performing. He put together a fantastic short video about his trip here and the time he had which I highly recommend as it’s a great recap of the events that happened. You can check that out on his Facebook here. He made his return to West Cork in De Barra’s in Clonakilty about 2 weeks ago, though unfortunately for reasons out of my control I was unable to make the journey to attend, much to my dismay. However I at least got a small taste of it from this video he threw up from the night and it looked like great fun. I believe I read somewhere that Tom is currently working on putting out an album which should be really awesome when that gets launched, and I’m sure on that occasion I’ll be returning with more to show y’all. Tom is also half of a DJ Duo called “Still-Moving DJ’s” which you can check out on their website here. That’s about it for now, so as always remember, keep on Merchin’!

Links:

Tom ‘The Uplifter’ Earwaker: Facebook Website Youtube Instagram

Cian Finn: Facebook Website Youtube Instagram

Oh I almost forgot. Tom is a massive fan of Dinosaurs, so here, obligatory Dinosaur pic.

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Stephanie Rainey with Tiz McNamara

Aloha! Welcome to the last post in this 3 part blog series featuring Stephanie Rainey. The rise that Stephanie’s seen this year has been amazing to follow, and continues to be an awesome journey. Back towards the start of the year, after my first two Stephanie Rainey shows, I said on Facebook that I was looking forward to seeing them again and that I had hopes she would be the headline act when it would occur. Although a month later saw Stephanie Rainey as the support act once more with the Dan Owen gig, fortune would have it that my wish would soon become reality in an unexpected turn of events.

On July 10th, Scottish artist Emeli Sandé was due to perform at Live at the Marquee in Cork, and Stephanie Rainey was to open for her on the evening. I was not particularly planning to attend this concert, however as the date for the show loomed, it was suddenly cancelled. Although the reasoning for it was unclear (and still yet seem to be from my checking, though some reports suggested it was due to fatigue with other shows around the same time also being cancelled), Stephanie Rainey took to social media to announce an impromptu gig in it’s wake as she wanted the fans who had anticipated the concert to still get to experience a good evening of music. Once more taking place at Cyprus Avenue, great venue as always, Stephanie scheduled the gig for the same evening as the concert was planned, offering free entry to all who had tickets for the concert without affecting their refunds, while also selling some tickets which is of course where I enter the picture.

Despite just over a week’s notice of the new gig, and although offering free entry to those who had been due to attend the concert, Stephanie still impressively packed out Cyprus Avenue with an almost sold out show. The night rolled around and I got in nice and early. To join her on the night, Stephanie Rainey recruited folk artist Tiz McNamara to support. On stage accompanying Tiz with his acoustic guitar and fantastic vocals were his 2 live band members on guitar and piano. Tiz played an awesome set to get the evening started, dropping some new tracks aswell such as ‘See You Soon’ which he has pegged for release very soon and is going to be pretty awesome. He also did a bit of a cover/mashup of ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon which sounded really cool. He had an EP for sale which I naturally picked up immediately, containing 5 songs that he had released as singles over the last 5 years. His first single ‘Steady as You Go’ most notably has almost 2 and a half million streams on Spotify (Check out the music video for that here). Tiz has been busy since the show, with performances such as supporting Hermitage Green, to playing main stage of Indiependence festival 2017. With a spot on the card at Electric Picnic and a headline tour coming soon, there’s no sign of slowing down in the foreseeable future for Tiz McNamara.

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Tiz McNamara playing on stage
TIZ EP
Tiz McNamara’s EP

After Tiz it was time for the highly anticipated Stephanie Rainey to take to the stage, the venue packing out to see her play. Back again on stage with her again was the dynamic duo Sarah Power on keys and Gary Keane sporting yet more percussion than before, a feat I’d have thought to be nigh on impossible after the first time seeing them play. If that man had coughed right there and then while on stage, I swear it’d probably have sounded like a kick-drum. It may have been my 4th time seeing Stephanie Rainey live so far this year, but this night was something special above and beyond what I’d experienced thus far. From the crowd at it’s most responsive level yet, belting her songs back at her as she sang, to a set list boasting the most complete selection yet with a couple new additions, the whole night was an anthem of brilliance. If my understanding is correct, Stephanie will be releasing her song ’13’ at some point in the near future as her next single and I certainly cannot wait, it’s an amazing song and it feels like the right time for it to emerge from the studio. Stephanie also debuted a new song on the night called ‘Question Mark’. Finally when the set came to a close, naturally the crowd shouted one more tune, and Stephanie and co. obliged, breaking out a surprise. As the whole evening was happening off the back of the cancelled Emeli Sandé concert, the trio had rehearsed a cover of her song ‘Heaven’ to play on the night, and they absolutely nailed it.

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Left: Gary Keane and an abundance of percussiony stuff Right: Stephanie Rainey and the ultimate Baesist Sarah Power

After all that was over, the band sought me out in the crowd to say hey. Sarah Power was awesome and had saved her copy of their Set List to give to me after the show, and they were also brilliant enough to sort me with a copy of the three signed lyric sheets of their singles ‘Please Don’t Go’, ‘100 Like Me’ and ‘Nothing Of You Left To Love’ which they had started selling on the night. I also had the opportunity to meet Tiz McNamara and say a quick hello there, and he was a cool down to earth chill dude. I was definitely in great spirits after all of that. In the time since the gig, Stephanie Rainey and co. have been very busy. I had really wanted to go to Indiependence this year, but the opportunity didn’t present itself, and Stephanie Rainey played main stage there. I’ve been seeing videos on social media and hearing about it, and it looked like an absolutely unbelievable experience. The crowd was insanely huge and from the looks of things, I’m surprised the band wasn’t blown away by the gale force that was the entire crowd singing (Seriously, check this clip out from it, I’d give anything to have been there for that). Stephanie Rainey has also been recently announced to play Electric Picnic soon (Ugh, I swear last year I promised myself I’d do Indiependence and Electric Picnic this year and I failed on both fronts and now I regret it so much. I mean for christ sake, you know who got announced at EP this year aswell? EDEN! Kill me now or invent time travel. Either will do). She’s also supporting ‘Hermitage Green’ at their Olympia Theatre Dublin concert next month (Hermitage Green are amazing, only just started listening to them recently but they’re great, worth checking out). I know one thing, I for sure am looking forward to the next opportunity to see Stephanie Rainey play some more. I’ll leave it at that, til next time. Keep on Merchin’!

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Set List and Lyric Sheets!
Me and Tiz
Me and Tiz McNamara with his EP

Links:

Tiz McNamara: Facebook Youtube Spotify Instagram

Stephanie Rainey: Facebook Website Spotify YouTube Instagram Sarah Insta | Gary Insta)

Dan Owen & Stephanie Rainey

Welcome back! We’re kicking this one off with a familiar name from last blog post, none other than Stephanie Rainey! Ever since those 2 gigs I went to, I was for sure looking forward to the next opportunity that may arise to witness such magic again. I was not kept waiting long for news to emerge of her next show, as she announced across social medias that she would be supporting Dan Owen in Cyprus Avenue on May 14th. My mind had just long enough to ask ‘Who’s Dan Owen?’ before I had already pressed process payment on the purchase of a ticket. I was still living and working in the countryside of West Cork at the time so I had to go through the motions of getting work off and arranging travel and accommodation and then all was set.

Hailing from Shrewsbury in the UK, a brief look into Dan before the gig showed that he is an impressive rising talent with an incredible singing voice and story telling ability beyond his years. I went to check out his tracks on Spotify and ended up constantly listening to them over and over cause they were just that good. His song ‘Made To Love You’ is thus far his biggest achievement, a heart-rending track based on a friend he supported that was suffering in an abusive relationship, gaining over 7 and a half million streams on Spotify alone (Wowsers, catch the awesome YouTube video to the track here). Needless to say after my little discovery session, I was more than a little bit excited to see the real deal.

In typical me fashion, I ended up outside the doors far too early, and while waiting around for time to get it’s merry ass on the move, caught Stephanie heading into the venue and said a quick hello and good luck before she went in. Inside I was greeted by an entirely different atmosphere than the gig I’d been at in the same venue nearly two months prior, with an intimate setting of tables and lit-candles glowing around the room in front of the stage. I nabbed a seat at a table right up the front and waited for the evening to carry itself forward. This particular Stephanie Rainey performance was one with a difference, as there was an absence on the stage of percussionist Gary Keane, leaving Sarah Power on keys and Stephanie with her acoustic guitar to play on the evening. They carried the show beautifully with the slightly stripped back sound which was quite befitting of the intimate atmosphere in the venue. At the time of this performance, Stephanie had also just released brand new single ‘Nothing Of You Left To Love’, an upbeat powerhouse of a love song through which her song writing prowess shone through as usual. (You know you want to check that one out here). All in all, it was another amazing set of a high caliber I’d come to expect and admire by this point.

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Stephanie Rainey and Sarah Power belting out a tune together

After that, it was time for Dan Owen. The solitary figure on the stage, no band to back him up, and brandishing a black acoustic guitar with as much of a story to tell on it’s surface as the stories it’s strings would soon be bringing to life. I’d been told that Dan was well known for his eccentric and energetic style of playing that oft led to broken strings, and the chipped paintwork and scratch lines provided quite the aesthetic image of this. Despite his solitary disposition on the stage, Dan played fervently with heart and soul, putting on an astounding display of raw musical talent being unleashed. The power in his vocals was absolutely astonishing as he went from strength to strength through an impressive playlist. The song with which he finished the evening was the perfect choice of a single song that could encompass every bit of his performance the whole evening, a track by the name of ‘Little Red Rooster’. The song also simply could not have come at any other point in the evening, as I suspect there would be no words left in the lungs or energy in the limbs remaining afterwards to continue on. Already an intensely energetic musician throughout the night, Dan managed to up the scale to a new setting with a spectacle of a performance that is breathtaking to experience live. Along with his acoustic guitar, Dan’s arsenal of musical devices included a pad at his feet that he’d stamp on to produce a drum sound, and a harmonica on a holder wrapped around his neck. To perform Little Red Rooster, he sits upon his stool, and while singing, uses all of these tools at once in epic fashion, upping the speed continuously to a raucous climax. There is a video of him performing this live that can be found here to give a taste of what it’s like.

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Dan Owen, photo credits to new acquaintance I made on the night, and Dan Owen fan, Tania.

Now of course, where would we be without a good ol’ Merch table? I was certainly glad to find there was an ample selection to choose from. Having not just one, but two shirts on sale, aswell as a CD and a wristband, I was faced with a conundrum of what option to buy. But it’s me, so there was naturally only one choice to make in the end. And so the familiar words were spoke ‘I’ll take one of everything, cheers’. Dan’s salesman at the table looked at me perplexed, but of course made the sale. Once more I had the opportunity to meet and chat to Stephanie and Sarah, and likewise I got to meet Dan and chat and get a photo and some stuff signed by him. Oh and Dan, if you’re reading this, get your ass back to Ireland, I along with many others I see commenting on your social medias certainly seem to agree that it must occur again! That’s all for now folks, catch me back here on Monday 21st with the 3rd in this sequence of blog posts, it’s an awesome one I assure you. And remember, keep on Merchin’.

Me and DO
Me, Dan Owen, and a helluva lot of Merch
DO Shirts
Both Dan Owen Shirts
DO Bracelet and CD
Dan Owen CD and Wristband

 

Links:

Stephanie Rainey: Facebook Website Spotify YouTube Instagram Sarah Insta | Gary Insta)

Dan Owen: Facebook Website Spotify YouTube Instagram Twitter

Little Hours & Stephanie Rainey X2

Yo yo, can’t tell ye how excited I am to get this post and those to follow it out there. This will be the first in a kind of 3-piece sequence of blog posts I’ll be putting out in the next week. Got some more music discovery journeys to bring you, starting with this one. As I’ve mentioned, I really love discovering new music, especially when the first time I discover them is during a live performance they are putting on as it’s a much more immersive way to come across some really cool music. Such is definitely the case with this one. Roll back to March of this year, and I receive an invite to a gig for a band called Little Hours. I’m like cool, never heard of ’em, I’m down let’s do it. To give myself a tiny taste of what I’m in for, I check out the music video for a track they have called ‘Water’ and I’m definitely intrigued at this point because I can already tell from this that they definitely have some merits as an up and coming band in the Irish scene. The video itself has over half a million views so far (You can check out that music video here). I leave my research at that for the time being, opting to do most of my discovery at the actual gig.

The date for the gig comes around, March 24th 2017, and it’s taking place at the venue in Cork called Cyprus Avenue. The gig in question has been completely sold out. I learn that there’s also going to be a support artist called Stephanie Rainey. Again, another artist I had yet to discover so I was pretty excited. We enter the venue and wait for the evening to proceed. Eventually the time comes for Stephanie Rainey to come out and play. I’m caught up immediately in just how comfortable a stage presence she seems to bring and exude throughout the entire venue. She easily captures the crowds attention and is brilliant in building a rapport with the audience, whether it’s describing the meaning behind a song she’s playing, or just bantering with the crowd, she brings charisma to the stage in abundance.

With her on stage is Sarah Power on keys and backing vocals, and percussionist Gary Keane, who’s set up of the evening consists of strapping a million and one types of percussion instruments onto every available surface around him, and the cajón upon which he sits. Quite the impressive array, of which he puts every piece to good use. Between them, the tight knit trio puts on an absolutely amazing gig from which they definitely earned many a new fan, myself included. Stephanie Rainey’s music comes from a place of pure honesty and forgoes the glossy pop mainstream plastering on a lot of music these days. When you listen to Stephanie Rainey, you’re listening to something authentic to the very core.

The song and accompanying music video that first catapulted Stephanie Rainey into the limelight of the music scene was the heart-wrenching track ‘Please Don’t Go’. The song is an emotional tribute to the loss of her young Nephew many years back, the writing of which was sparked from Stephanie visiting a friend in hospital and fearing that she’d be going down that road of heart breaking loss once again. Very much a somber song, to pull it off in a packed venue must be a tremendously difficult prospect, and yet as Stephanie stands on stage and speaks from the heart about what the song means to her, and then begins to play it, the level of command she has on the entire audience is breathtaking, everyone is captivated and feels the depth of emotion that pulsates through every second of the song. The music video has amassed over 650,000 views on YouTube, and you can check it out at the link here – A word of warning though, it will make you feel things. Following on from the success of ‘Please Don’t Go’, Stephanie came out with the song ‘100 Like Me’, a powerful anthem of a song tackling issues of self-consciousness, self-image and self-worth, and also has a music video with some incredible imagery telling the stories of just a few of the many people that the song resonates with (Video here). In contrast to the first song, this one commands the crowd in a whole different way, with it’s catchy up-beat chorus finding itself reverberating around the venue from the lungs of everyone in the audience along with Stephanie. Along with those two powerhouse tracks, Stephanie’s set list was packed with many incredible songs with strong meanings behind them, and also featured a brilliant cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’.

After Stephanie Rainey, it was time for Little Hours. The County Donegal duo John Doherty (Piano and Lead Singing) and Ryan Mc Closkey (Guitar and Backing Vocals) took to the stage, accompanied by the members of their live band (Identities of which are unknown to me). The stage certainly featured an abundance of charisma that evening, as where Stephanie left off, the duo were quick to pick up the mantle and keep the entertainment level high, and looked to be having a very fun time of it all. It’s no surprise the duo has been on a tremendous upward trajectory to the upper echelon of Irish indie artists, as their performance showcased their brilliant talents quite clearly. As the lead singer, John has an amazing singing voice (Most recently the one and only Elton John himself has commended John’s singing voice highly) and Ryan’s backing vocals harmonize with his perfectly. Their songs had great energy and pacing, and the set list seemed to be perfectly crafted to maximize their impact on the evening. Although much of their set was new to me regardless having not heard of them before, it was apparent that with the small sample size of tracks released to the public thus far that they were playing a lot of new music, hinting at great things to come in the future. Little Hours have been constantly reaching new heights at an unprecedented rate this year and previous years. They had a massively successful Ireland tour this year, of which this show was a part, and upon completion of it they immediately launched into the summer circuit, playing a lot of international gigs and festivals. While the band is likely putting in work towards a debut album, their most recent release ‘How Could I Love You’ is certainly a good indication that they are looking to raise the bar further and further with every step they take. The track has been getting a lot of radio time, and has even been featured by Elton John on his Rocket Hour, which is where he is quoted above commending John’s singing voice. All in all it was a fantastic evening and my Spotify listening afterwards featured some new additions for sure. Much to my dismay, there did not seem to be merch selling on the evening as far as I could see, so I guess I have to leave it at th-

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Nearly two weeks after the cork show, I caught wind on social media that their performances in Cork did not finish there on the tour. In fact, they were due to hit West Cork in the venue De Barra’s in Clonakilty (Remember Picture This and Orla Gartland? That’s the one!) and they were bringing Stephanie Rainey to this one aswell. No sooner had I read that than I had purchased a ticket and roped my mate John into a new plan for the weekend. I had extremely enjoyed both artists very much, and I was very much excited to live the experience all over again. And so on April 9th, I set forth to enjoy another evening of music, with a more experienced ear for what I was in for this time. What I think is great about it all, is that even though it was the same artists, same tour, no two performances are ever the same and it was a fresh, new experience with new things to take away from it. Naturally, Stephanie Rainey set things off for the evening, putting in another exceptional performance. Little Hours followed suit with their set, and then the evening produced a new twist that had not been present in the Cyprus Avenue performance. The night before this show, Little Hours and Stephanie Rainey and her band members had been hanging out and jamming in their room until all hours of the night, and at 5 AM they had very quickly rehearsed a song to perform together and brought it to the show that night, the lot of them (8 in total, I believe) cramming the tiny stage to belt out a track together which went down a right treat.

And after all was finished, praise the merch-lawd this time there was a Merch table! I quickly made my way over and naturally I bought everything there was to get. I nabbed myself a Little Hours T-Shirt, their debut self-titled 4 track EP from 2014, and Stephanie Rainey’s ‘100 Like Me’ CD which had ‘Please Don’t Go’ and two versions of  ‘100 Like Me’ (Normal and Acoustic) on it. This time I also stuck around for a little bit and I was able to meet Stephanie, Gary and Sarah and have a quick chat with them. They were all lovely people to meet and Stephanie signed my CD for me. I also got to get a picture with them, and that led to a rather interesting little occurrence of it’s own. Typical of West Cork I tell you, that when we handed my phone to a fellow to take a picture of the group of us, he first turned it to selfie mode and captured a damn good selfie before turning it back and photographing us. I still do not know who the gentleman was, but to this day his majestic selfie lives on. That’s all for this one, I’ll be back with the second in this triple-sequence of blog posts (And you’ll see then what the common thread is between them!) this Thursday at the usual time of 5 PM! And remember, keep on Merchin’.

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Little Hours and Stephanie Rainey Merch
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Group Photo! L-R: Sarah Power, Stephanie Rainey, Me, Gary Keane
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And why is this here? Why not, immortalize the photo fiend.

Links:

Stephanie Rainey: Facebook Website Spotify YouTube Instagram ( Sarah Insta | Gary Insta)

Little Hours: Facebook Website Instagram Spotify YouTube

Trigger Part Two: Double Perspective Album Launch

Hey, it’s me again! Running on time and such, fancy that. Could get used to this. So, after the hiatus I returned to writing with a piece about a series of gigs I went to last summer right on my doorstep. One of those was the Irish Hip-Hop artist Trigger, and he just released his second album at a launch party 2 weeks ago, so I figured with the timing we may aswell tackle that while it’s fresh. His second album takes the name Double Perspective, the naming of which has a tragic backstory. I wrote in part one about how Trigger talked of his friend and fellow artist Basic and that he had commit suicide. Back in the day when they would rap together, Basic and Trigger had plans to create a collaborative mixtape called Double Perspective, a goal that was to be their crowning achievement. Unfortunately that never came to be, and now Trigger carries the torch for both of them with the release of this album. Having worked at the album for over 2 years to perfect it, Trigger has confidently said in interviews on the lead up to it’s launch that he doesn’t feel like any tracks on the album are filler, and that not only do they all have a deep meaning to them but he feels any one of them could be taken as a single. Indeed even looking at the tracklist, the album boasts a plethora of strong features with artists such as Harry J, Ophelia, Myles Gaffney, Bubba Shakespeare, B-Wonder, An Buachaill Dana, Nichole Desmond, Red The Future and Kreo Ghost collaborating, and most impressively, the rap group Outlawz of 2Pac fame putting in a feature. Not a bad accomplishment for the resume of this Cork Hip-Hop artist that’s for sure.

The venue in question for the album launch was none other than Cyprus Avenue in Cork City, with entry on the night even being free. Arriving on the evening and waiting on doors to open, all eyes were drawn away from the doors and up to the top of the street at a spectacle taking place. Pulling up to the curb was a silver Stretch Limo, from which emerged Trigger and co. Taking a moment to lavish in the attention of photographers and media presence alike lining up to preserve the moment, Trigger stood with Champagne bottle in one hand and a fresh copy of his album in the other.

With the grand entrance made, the doors to the venue opened and we made our way inside. A nice half-and-half setup had been put together inside, with a wide open space towards the front by the stage for people to crowd up or dance, and then table and chairs set up around the rest of the room. So before I jump into all the details, I’ll just make a quick disclaimer. There was a LOT going on that evening in the range of artists who took the stage and I do not entirely know who all of them were, so I may miss parts or get some parts wrong, but for the most part I’ll attempt accuracy. If you were involved and wish to rectify any gaps or mistakes, by all means contact me and I shall amend. For the first while of being in there, DJ Jus’Me was working at his booth in the corner of the stage to provide music to keep the atmosphere up while people began to fill out the place and all the formalities were made among various parties, with several different photographers and interviewers getting their shot at Trigger and the rest of the entourage. He would continue through the night to spin the beats for the various artists to take the stage. Stage host, presenter, and general character of the evening was Bubba Shakespeare, and I gotta hand it to him, he’s got a talent for working the crowd and the stage and is quick on his feet when he needs to improvise to keep the stage presence going.

The first act to take the stage is one I was already familiar with from the last show, none other than Anthony Jackson. It was no surprise that he absolutely killed it with his set, offering up a solid opening for the evening with some proper bangers. After he was done, Bubba took to the stage to keep things running until the next artist, Costello, was ready to take the stage. With quips galore, starting crowd chants, and more 16-bar freestyles than he bargained for, Bubba kept the crowd entertained. Finally, Costello came up to perform, and the fella I was standing next to and chatting to for a while was definitely a big fan of his already, singing high praise for him so I was intrigued what I was in for. As it turned out, I was definitely in for a treat. Costello was phenomenal, from his flow to his style, Costello was absolutely owning it on stage. I was breathless just listening to him as his non stop pace and intensity carried through track to track to track with no let up, with very clean delivery of his bars. He even clambered down from the stage with his mic to rap around in the crowd for a bit which was good fun. It turned out that he was selling an album on the night as well, by this point I had already bought Triggers new CD and my wallet groaned when it heard there was more, but nonetheless I added it to my collection. Hell, even the fella I was talking to already owned it and ended up buying it again cause he was having that much fun.

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Anthony Jackson opening up
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Costello
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Costello’s Album Overnight Legends

Following Costello’s performance was the duo Red The Future and Kreo Ghost, repping the group Flowstate Movement which acts as an ambassador for much of the Irish Hip Hop scene. Both individually brilliant rappers, they worked off each other with excellent synergy, continuing to contribute to a jam-packed evening of solid entertainment. Kreo Ghost had a surprise in store though, as they came to a track in the set called ‘Lately’ and Red The Future delivered his verses, Kreo topped it off by singing a breathtaking chorus at a pitch one would not expect and showing that not only could he rap, but he could sing really well too, then diving straight back into the rapping. (Check out the YouTube video for Lately here) The duo of many talents finished their set and once again it was time for Bubba to grace the stage. For the next while to kill some time, they began freestyling some more, with loads of people hitting the stage to deliver their 16 bars, continuously keeping the action alive. Anthony Jackson, Costello, Bubba, Red the Future and Kreo, Costello’s friend who’s name I think was Hanzo but I’m not sure on that one, plus many more from the crowd. Whole thing was pretty incredible to watch, and it was all building to the big moment.

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L-R: Red The Future & Kreo Ghost

At last, the next step was for Trigger himself to grace the stage. With an Irish flag draped over his shoulders, he got up there and put on the performance the whole evening was culminating towards. With many of the artists who had features on his album in the venue, there was a lot of people up and down to put in their part on stage with him, making for a very fun evening all round. We even got another appearance from the ever brilliant Dylan Brickley for Triggers song with him ‘Let ’em Know’ from the previous album. When that was all finished, DJ Jus’Me tagged out of the DJ booth to let in the one and only Stevie G to take over for the rest of the evening. Once again another round of freestyles started up, with Trigger taking part aswell in this round with many of the aforementioned artists also doing some more. And that is how the album launch party went, it was an absolutely amazing and well put together evening and I’m glad I went and discovered a lot of new stuff from it. The kicker was that during his performance, Trigger threw out a copy of his previous album Triggernometry out into the crowd, right into my hands, so now I have two. That’s all for now folks, and remember, keep on Merchin’

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Double Perspective CD

 

Links:

Costello: Facebook

Bubba Shakespeare: Facebook Instagram

Red The Future: Facebook Youtube Instagram

Kreo Ghost: Facebook Youtube Instagram

Flowstate Movement: Facebook Youtube Instagram

Dylan Brickley: Youtube Instagram

Trigger: Facebook Youtube

Stevie G: Facebook

 

Tune in to the Merch Perch at 5PM on Monday (14/08/17) for the first of a sequence of 3 blog posts I’ve been itching to get onto this page for quite some time, it’s gonna be a good one.

The Collective Sessions 2016

Greetings peoples! Sorry I’ve been away, had a lot happening over the last two months, hopefully I’m back now. In short, I’ve moved house, started a new job, spent a month living on a floor, been attending more gigs and concerts to write about in the near future, and then procrastinated a bit before finally getting back to this. Just to quickly address the last blog I wrote before this about EDEN, I spoke of wondering if EDEN himself might have actually read the blog after the reaction to the first part. Well, to my amazement, he revealed to me shortly after posting the second part that he had in fact read both, so I mean that’s kinda #BlogGoals right there, I was really happy about that.

So, let’s get into it! I want to continue this on with some of the smaller, more intimate gigs I’ve been to and come away with Merch from, so we’re going back to the Summer of 2016 for this one. It was pretty much the same time of year as now, the cusp of June and August, when weekly music sessions began to take place in a venue in Skibbereen, West Cork, called The Eldon Hotel. The driving force behind all this was local musician Paulie Fahy of ‘My Secret Collective’. Paulie set out with an ambitious undertaking: Collecting 12 promising artists from all around Ireland, and bringing them to West Cork week by week to showcase them for an evening of entertainment and general fun. And indeed, ambitious as it was, the whole endeavor was quite successful and brought some interesting variety of artists to the local spotlight. I personally made my way to three of these sessions and had a wonderful ol’ time, so I’ll detail them to the best of my recollection here.

Lily Connell Bass

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Picture from the facebook event banner

The first of these I went to was actually for a close friend of mine, and is more of a talent to look out for in years to come as she is currently studying music in college and has yet to put something out into the world. That being said, if the night were to be considered an indication of things to come, then I would certainly be expecting to see her name circulating in the far reaches of the land and perhaps beyond some day. Brandishing her acoustic guitar and with great vocal prowess, Lily took to the stage and brushed aside any first-gig nerves that may have been present with a stunning performance. Joining her at times with his guitar was Matthew McCarthy, hailed by many in Skibbereen to be one of the most promising young guitarist talents coming out of the region, and some collaborative backing vocals from Paulie Fahy himself. With her unique renditions of a set of great songs ranging from Mr Brightside by the Killers to Zombie by the Cranberries, needless to say those who were in attendance were highly impressed with her abilities. Naturally there was no merch to obtain, but nonetheless it was a brilliant night. Towards the latter end of the evening, things took an interesting twist, as in a surprise turn of events one of the bar staff of the Eldon Hotel by the name of Cillian took to the stage, nabbed an acoustic guitar for himself, and belted out a few tunes in quite impressive fashion. Such is the artistic nature of West Cork, there are many talented musical gems hidden away in every nook and cranny that can turn around and surprise you at the drop of a hat.

 

Fintan McKahey

This next one I attended upon recommendation from a friend, and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Another West Cork native, Fintan had already at this point begun to establish himself, with an EP in existence and the assurance of much more to come. A lad of a similar age to myself, Fintan blew me away when he began to play. With his acoustic guitar, every bit of his own unique style permeated through the sound he was producing, utilizing his guitar to also add an impressive emphasis on percussion to his music. Vocally, Fintan showcases abilities beyond his years, employing an almost rap-like approach to his powerful singing at times. His set for the night was a mix of his original songs with a few covers spread throughout. Truth be told, I don’t have a strong enough musical ear to accurately represent the depth of what was going on with the music that Fintan makes, but it’s safe to say that I’d highly recommend it and he’ll be going far. His EP is available on most streaming platforms, and he’s also put out some music videos. On the night itself, I gladly picked up his EP in disk form to add to my collection. On a last interesting note, with my interest in vinyls, I was quite jealous to see on Instagram that recently Fintan celebrated a birthday and received an amazing gift of his EP pressed onto Vinyl. Suffice to say that was definitely a really cool present to get.

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Aint no Vinyl but this is Fintan McKahey’s EP Two Lifetimes Late on CD in all it’s glory

 

Benzo, Trigger & Support

Finally, the biggest evening I experienced of the Collective Sessions was definitely when Cork/Irish Hip-Hop artist Trigger and his entourage were brought out to Skibbereen for a show. If asked before the night in question about Irish Hip-Hop, I’d have shrugged and said I know absolutely nothing about it, so the evening certainly served as a fitting introduction. But first things first, before Trigger or his fellow artists were to take the stage, there was a local artist to open up the evening, Benzo. Prior to this event, Benzo had been making waves locally with his Rapping, quickly racking up a large repertoire and improving his skills rapidly over a short period of time. Posting regularly on Facebook and other social media, Benzo had been building a name for himself with the tracks he put out, from producing great beats to spitting his bars over them. With elements of old school rap and hip-hop oozing through his sound, he was on a mission to prove his abilities and show that he meant business. Opening on the evening for Trigger was to be his big live debut, and it did not disappoint. Benzo owned the stage, delivering a performance that solidified his emergence into the scene and also importantly proved that he was just as good as a live-artist as he was on recording. Benzo signed with the label Money on Demand Entertainment, and recently released his mixtape called ‘Diazepene’. Link will be at the end

With Benzo’s set finished, the second portion of the evening began. Trigger was not the only Irish Hip-Hop artist to come all the way out to Skibbereen for the evening, as he had also brought along some of his mates. Anthony Jackson, and Darragh Ryan both had their turn on the stage, putting on amazing performances and showing a portion of the depth and variety of talent that could be found in the Irish Hip Hop scene. I remember talking to Anthony afterwards and he was a proper genuine lad who was enjoying what he was doing and proud to be representing the scene and bringing more attention to it. Trigger then took to the stage and put on a brilliant show, the honesty of hardships and struggles seeping through his tracks. Joining him on stage at times to provide an acoustic track and backing vocals/chorus vocals was Dylan Brickley. Dylan is a talented musician in his own right, mostly known for his busking, and most recently won 1st place for best solo at a busking festival, earning him a spot on the line-up for none other than the brilliant Indiependence Festival next year. One thing that Trigger touched on that rang incredibly true and deep was the topic of suicide. He spoke honestly and openly of a fellow artist and friend named Corey, or better known as ‘Basic’, who himself had commit suicide. In a year that locally had been hit really hard by suicide, there wasn’t a single person there that Triggers words didn’t ring true with. Trigger dedicated a lot of his work in tribute to the memory of Basic, and continues to carry his legacy with him, and he also played Basic’s only recorded song ‘Act This Way’. Trigger had an album out at the time called ‘Triggernometry’ which I picked up for myself after the show.

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When Triggers set was finished, the night was not yet over. Benzo, Darragh, Anthony and Trigger all took to the stage and started a bit of a Cypher, freestyling over beats and each having a go or few to spit some bars. When I thought things couldn’t get any better, Trigger then asked if anyone in the crowd of people there could rap. I was sitting at a table with my friends, and we all turned towards my friend Josh. He’d recently been telling us that he was gonna be making rap music in the future, and even had some songs written. He hid in the corner but we pointed him out and Trigger told him to come up on stage and spit some bars with them. What happened next was brilliant though, as for a moment Josh hesitated then realizing he probably wouldn’t get out of it now, confidently stormed his way up to the stage and was handed a mic. They started up the beat, and we watched in anticipation. Josh absolutely nailed it, much to the surprise of the crowd and Trigger himself, earning quite the loud reaction from the crowd. An immensely fun time was had all round, and Josh even put in a second round of bars when they continued to Cypher some more.

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L-R: Anthony Jackson, Darragh Ryan, Paulie Fahy, Trigger, Dylan Brickley, Benzo

That’s all for now folks! Glad to be back, I’ll be keeping at this I promise. Keep tuned for my next post, which will be a part 2 about Trigger as he recently launched his second album. And remember, keep on merching.

 

Links:

My Secret Collective: Facebook Website

Fintan McKahey: Website 

Benzo: Facebook ‘Diazepene’ Mixtape

Dylan Brickley: Youtube Instagram

Trigger: Facebook Youtube

 

 

Oh and shoutouts to Mihaela on her birthday as this gets posted for all the support and stuff

EDEN Part Two: ITYTTMOM, Futurebound Tour Feat. Majik

Hey look, I’m late again to the blog! Sorry to keep my devout followers (Of which I am sure there are legions of, naturally) waiting in suspense. Changes in the circumstances of my life at the moment are making it a bit more difficult to complete these blog posts within the schedule I have set. Hopefully in the not too distant future things will settle somewhat, but until then I’ll do my best to keep up with the schedule when possible! Now where was I? Oh yes, a blog to write! Before I proceed actually, allow me to share a useless piece of information and personal observation. So when I posted part one, I put the picture on Instagram like the rest of them and linked the blog and all that. Interestingly, the photo has about 81 likes now, of which a small margin of them actually did click the blog, so welcome, if you ever decide to return. Of those 81 likes though, was EDEN himself, which I’m totally happy about. I know there’s a very high chance he liked it for the picture only, but a tiny part of me likes to believe that maybe, just maybe, he clicked on and maybe read the blog. Just saying, he was in the states at the time for part of his current festival circuit, and there was about 3 visits from the USA via Instagram around that time. I choose to interpret that however I like. Anyway, enough about that. Also I’m not gonna lie, this post is probably gonna be really long, I have no intentions of holding back on this one as it’s the one I’ve been looking most forward to writing. Sorry, not sorry, read it anyway sure, be good fun hopefully.

If you missed part one, feel free to drop it a read here. I’m gonna run things back just a tiny bit into where we left off in the last one. When I said that his second tour was one of epic proportions, I really meant it. In the first tour, he reached 7 locations, and it was proper awesome. The EP and the tour for it really set the bar high for the caliber that EDEN was capable of and there was absolutely no doubt that he could come back with something even bigger and better. The new tour, labeled the Futurebound Tour and accompanying the new EP ‘I Think You Think Too Much Of Me’ (Called ITYTTMOM from here on out), boasted a highly impressive, if not ambitious, 33 locations in the US and in Europe. I for one couldn’t be more excited, I was going to see my favourite artist for the second time in a single year.

Before we get into the tour side of things though, there’s a few interesting things of note to get through beforehand. As you should know from part one, I bought the EP on Vinyl, and sure enough when the EP launched it arrived in the post, autographed and all. The only catch? I didn’t actually have a record player, it was purely on the basis of supporting EDEN and having it as a collectors item. Call it embarrassing if you want, but I figured it’d be comical to take out the Vinyl, blast out a song from it on my phone while spinning the record by hand and snapchat it to EDEN with a witty caption. Sometimes you just gotta be creative to entertain yourself. On the bright side, EDEN found the concept funny and snapped me back to convey as much. What can I say, I’m just a complete fanboy and thought that was awesome. So how was the ITYTTMOM EP, anyway? Fucking awesome, if you’ll pardon my French. With 4 new tracks, aptly named ‘Sex’ ‘Drugs’ ‘And’ ‘Rock + Roll’, all of which make individually solid cases to be EDEN’s best tracks to date alongside the likes of ‘Wake Up’ and ‘XO’ (‘And’ being a shorter almost interlude style song, it’s more the other 3 that achieve this status). These were then accompanied by a revival of three tracks from The Eden Project days: ‘Fumes’, which contained a brand new feature from Gnash that wasn’t on the original version, ‘XO’ and a remastered version of ‘Circles’. All this equated to a stellar EP of pure amazingness. Not to mention some really cool music videos, with Drugs getting not one but two official music videos. One in the more traditional sense of a music video, and the second one being a Virtual Reality experience 360 degree video.

So. I bought 2 tickets. I knew Christopher would naturally have his own one bought aswell. I didn’t actually have anyone I planned on bringing to the gig though, nah, my intentions were very much different. If there’s one thing I can be sure of Christopher being likely to do on a general day to day basis, it’s attempting to convert his friends into EDEN fans. A feat that honestly isn’t that difficult, people tend to get hooked pretty quickly from my experience doing the same. With that in mind, I waited until the EP had come out, the tickets sold out, and for Christopher to get his friends well acquainted with all the music available. I then told Christopher that I in fact had a spare ticket and that he should announce to a friend of his choice that they were going to EDEN’s gig after all. Well hadn’t no time passed at all pretty much when I immediately received a skeptical message from a random name “Tell me that Chris was just pranking me about the EDEN ticket”. As it turned out, this was a rare instance where Chris was in fact not making a practical joke. To be fair to him, EDEN is sacred to him, he’d never lie in that context.

The 18th of November finally rolled around, and the gig was set to take place in the same venue as before, The Academy, Dublin, only this time in the main bigger stage part. I made my merry way up to Dublin in as speedy a manner as one could considering the transport was not under my control. This time, I had been saving religiously and my wallet was pretty stacked. There wasn’t a hope of me falling short for anything this time. I arrived outside the venue early, and as I had the VIP Upgrade for myself, waited eagerly. The time came for me and the other fans that had opted for VIP to enter. The first thing to happen when we went inside is we were each given our own VIP poster, a VIP lanyard, and a free Jaunt VR headset to watch VR youtube videos on with your phone. I would later discover that my phone was far too big for such a device and thus it didn’t end up being of any use to myself.

EDEN VIP
VIP Package Items: Poster & Lanyard, Jaunt VR Viewer

Next up was pre-sale access to the Merch counter. Naturally, I was straight up in there, one of the first to hit the table, and I eyed everything up hungrily. Damage was about to be done to the wallet. EDEN caps in both black and white? I don’t even own or wear caps. So of course, I bought both. Black short sleeve EDEN shirt and a white-ish/grey long sleeve shirt? Done, mine! Black EDEN Jumper? Hell yeah! Wait, what do you mean you don’t have any in small or medium even, I’m literally the first person to even look at it. Damnit, whatever. Mega bummer that was. Ooh, white shirt and an EP belonging to the support act I’ve never heard of? Are they even good? Probably, EDEN picked them. Bought! At this point I had cleaned out the table of anything purchasable and I’m sure the person manning the counter thought I was bloody nuts.

EDEN Merch
Merch Haul of EDEN Items: Black shirt front and back, White long sleeve shirt front and back, Black cap with ‘Futurebound’ imprint, colour makes it hard to read. White cap with ‘EDEN’ imprint.

I quickly donned the black shirt and headed upstairs to the next portion of the experience, which was the Meet & Greet and Signing. Finally, I was getting to make up for the total failure of trying to meet EDEN after the first tour. I got to meet EDEN, who I suppose I should mention at this point actually has a name, that being Jonathon Ng, and we had a brief exchange of words while he signed my VIP Poster, and then we both posed for a picture together. Finally, once EDEN had made his way through all the fans, the last part of the experience was a half an hour viewing of the sound-check, where we got a nifty behind the scenes peek at him getting his instruments and mic in order, blasted with some of the songs he would perform later, and also of some of the light-work configuration that would accompany the performance.

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Meet and Greet photo with EDEN, me on the left, Jonathon on the right. Also low-key wearing Orla Gartland shirt below the EDEN one

Scurried back out onto the streets of Dublin with a couple hours wait until doors would open again, my spirits were very much elated as I made my way to meet up with Christopher and Co. Fully decked out with merch, I found them perusing the shelves of a nearby shop. There, I met Christopher, another friend he had brought along with him, and Abi, whom I greeted by handing her the spare ticket as promised. And off we went, grabbing food before heading to the venue again. There, I briefly departed their company again as VIP’s had 10 minutes advanced entry to the normal ticket holders. One more check of the merch counter confirmed the disappointing news that unfortunately, they had been unable to get in the jumper in any decent sizes for this gig. Reunited again with the others, the night kicked off with support by Majik, consisting of a duo named Jamie and Marcus. They were definitely the ideal candidates to take up the mantle of setting up the crowd for EDEN’s entrance, with their music and chemistry providing a great opening to the night. The best way to describe their music, and the members of the duo personally, is to visit their Facebook page (Link will be below) and read their Bio in the About section, it’s quite the interesting read. Once Majik were finished their performance, EDEN came out and put on a masterclass of a performance in which it was easy to see he had used the experience from the first tour to vastly improve and refine his set. Overall, I can quite easily say that this was pretty much the best day of my life so far.

After everything was finished, we bumped into the duo of Majik outside and had a chat with them, both lads proving to be really cool, down to earth blokes who were great fun. They autographed my copy of their EP I had picked up earlier, and then posed for a photograph with the group of us. I was certainly glad I took the leap of faith and picked up their merch before even hearing them, because I was certainly interested in following them from that point on, and thus the journey of discovering new music continued.

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Majik Merch: White Hourglass Shirt, Signed EP front and back
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Photo with the group and Majik. Christopher on the left, then me, then Abi between the Majik duo

Huge merch haul aside, my quest for EDEN merch had been incomplete as I was missing an important piece of the collection, the jumper that had been out of stock. Therefore I had to go to extra lengths in order to acquire it. Thankfully, EDEN continued the tradition of putting the merch online for an exclusively limited amount of time after the tour was finished. Unfortunately, despite being an Irish based artist, his store was American based with no Euro store, so picking up the jumper set me back an arm and a leg, but such was the necessity of my quest. At last, I was satisfied. I’ll probably give a brief follow up to this blog post on EDEN in the near future, because even as I write this there is a limited edition EDEN hoodie being shipped to me as he released for 2 weeks only exclusive new merch. Find the social links for the artists below, and as always, keep on merching!

Majik:

Facebook – Merch ShopWebsiteYouTubeTwitterSpotify InstagramSoundcloud

EDEN:

Website – YouTube Account – Instagram – Soundcloud – Facebook – Twitter – Spotify

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Lastly, EDEN Merch Jumper to complete the collection at the time, front and back