Sunday, 20 December 2015

Remy's Top 10 Irish Albums of 2015

Irish Albums of the Year 2015

I've been saying it all year that the current crop of Irish artists have music lovers like myself spoiled rotten. The last few years have been the best I can recall by a long shot since I went to my first gig almost twenty years ago, from a time when there about 15-20 regular acts playing in Dublin to a point where we now have hundreds, music on every night of the week, always somewhere to go and great people to meet. From that perspective I feel it's a great privilege for me to be writing about Irish music right now, and I'm incredibly lucky to have witnessed live, and listened to, incredible acts and songs. To put it on the record, I salute our musicians, their creativity, their dedication to a craft which can be far more struggle than reward at times, and their sense of community and helpfulness among each other, and those who play important support roles in organising and promoting Irish music in general. 

This was the most difficult list of the four I'll be putting together over the next few days, but each album was like an individual special moment for me during the last 12 months. I have distinct memories of listening to each for the first time, and the subsequent feeling of having spent enough time with the songs to try and understand what the artist(s) were attempting to create. Like all albums I've listened to and loved, each will reside in a special place in my head for good now, albums and songs I will revisit again and again. Below is a snippet if you like, of what good hands independent Irish music is in right now, the iron is hot, now is the time to listen, buy and go to live shows, I hope I'm wrong, but it might not come around for another good while!

Remy's Music & Film's Album of the Year 2015 - Naoise Roo - Lilith

Naoise Roo Lilith Album

Naoise Roo - 'For You'

The first time I went to see Naoise Roo live in The Workman's Club in March of this year I had only heard two songs, it was the single launch for 'For You' (above) and I'd also heard the track 'Oh Sun'. The gig that night was immense, helped by wonderful support acts I had also not listened to previously, the performance was so spot on it felt like hearing a recording rather than a live show. What really blew me away though was the slow dark build ups to the songs and the at times thunderous break outs of heavy rock, I came expecting a jazz vocal-inspired experience and was given so much more. From that point I was a fan of Roo's and when I got my hands on a copy of Lilith later on I felt like I already new each of the songs on the album despite having only heard most of them once at that show.

Naoise Roo, 'Stand In Black'

From the opening track 'Uh Oh' you know you're going to go on a trip into the underbelly of dark characters and themes, in my April review of the album I had written; 'Lilith itself spoils you as a listener, drifting between a tight selection of genres including alternative rock, blues and post-punk, Roo's vocals feel like black oil seeping slowly around an unsuspecting victim's head before getting inside and consuming you entirely', that final line summarising the album for me. Her voice is powerful and filled with a trembling and battering emotion, captured on 'Stand In Black' and the truly excellent 'Whore'. There's brevity and seriousness in Roo's lyrics, the cabaret-esque (and one of my favourites) 'Sheets' dealing with a flippant but passionate relationship between strangers, whilst the album's closing track, 'Tie Me Up - Tie Me Down' goes fully into a bare piano-led jazz number that stops you in your tracks. 

Naoise Roo Lilith The Workmans Club
Naoise Roo, Lilith Album Launch, The Workman's Club, Photo: Remy Connolly

The reasons I chose Lilith as my album of the year for 2015 are as follows; that this is a debut album is slightly beyond comprehension, if you compiled a list of requirements for what makes an album great, no matter how long it was, Lilith would tick every box. It moves between old and new sounds with such ease as to make them indiscernible, and then there's that sense, that Naoise Roo is operating on that plain that we all want to hear music from, one of knowing you are listening to an exceptionally gifted song-writer and artist, someone who innately is able to create something special because it is within them, rather than being learned over time, as a result, this album gave me the most satisfaction on many levels above any other Irish release I heard this year.

Favourite tracks: Stand In Black, Whore, For You, Sheets

2) CFIT - Throwaway Survival Machine

CFIT - Throwaway Survival Machine

CFIT - 'Dust Silhouettes'

Dubliner Noël Duplaa's second album as CFIT, Throwaway Survival Machine, was an album I listened to for quite a long time after I had reviewed it. My introduction was the above 'Dust Silhouettes', a barnstorming single that gives you everything you want, but also only gave the slightest hint of what waited in store on the full album. For me this album was a little piece of magic, there was oodles of creativity put into it, when I think about it right now, it probably appealed to me so much because in some ways it represented a type and style of music I grew up with, but entirely contemporary so as not to feel like a trip down memory lane. The album that kept giving in 2015.

Noel Duplaa CFIT Throwaway Survival Machine Grand Social
CFIT album launch, The Grand Social. Photo: Remy Connolly

Favourite tracks: Salvo, Dust Silhouettes, Don't Be Discouraged, All That Is Solid Melts Air

3) Kingdom of Crows - The Truth is the Trip

Kingdom of Crows The Truth is the Trip

Kingdom of Crows - 'Dreamless Sleep'

Dublin psychedelic rock band Kingdom of Crows' album, The Truth is the Trip, was one of those first listens when you go 'woah', as I mentioned at the time of review, it was definitely one of the best Irish rock albums I'd heard in a number of years. Singles such as 'Dreamless Sleep' and the amazingly haunting and doom-laden track 'Elizabeth' got me every time, and there was a weird and wonderful Celtic pagan thing going on throughout the album, best exemplified by 'Call of the Void'. A must for rock fans.

Favourite tracks: See above!

4) Dr Duloc - Bowl Cuts

Dr Duloc Bowl Cuts

Dr Duloc - Lady Lou

Henry Earnest, aka Dr Duloc, aka one half of Dublin duo Mr Rosso, released a superb debut solo album during the summer in Bowl Cuts. It was a hard album for me to get my head around with a reviewers hat on, but in terms of enjoying the music, it was completely effortless and 'Lady Lou' was and is still one of my favourite tracks of 2015. Whacky, fun, intricate and unceremoniously pop-tastic in parts, inject yourself with pure high-grade happiness and give this album a listen as soon as you can.

Favourite tracks: Portland Oregon, The King, Eton Mess I-II, Lady Lou

5) Elephant - HyperGiant

Elephant Hypergiant Album Shane Clarke

Elephant - Little Ghost

There's no escaping that Dundalk's Shane Clarke, who performs under the moniker of Elephant, is one of the best song-writers knocking about at the moment. His debut album HyperGiant was awaited with heavy expectations after his release of the single / video for the powerfully emotive 'Little Ghost' (above). From sincere folk ballads to electro-tinged rock numbers, the album see-saws between contemplative and light-hearted (cap doff to 'Monster') moments. Elephant has quietly amassed sterling reviews across the board over the last few months and these are entirely deserved, his recent performance upstairs in Whelans was also another live highlight of the year.

Favourite tracks: Crows, Little Ghost, The Lightning & The Breeze, Boiling Water Bin

6) The River Fane - Takes Forever

The River Fane Takes Forever

The River Fane - 'NOW! That's What I Call Untitled 3'

I'm still enjoying Wexford band The River Fane's excellent, and sadly after 6 years, final album, Takes Forever. Nothing else was released this year that was remotely similar to this album to the best of my knowledge. Production-wise it sounds quite like an established international artist and while I don't know the circumstances surrounding the drawing down of the curtain on The River Fane, it's hard to escape the idea that they may have just been about to reach a creative high, our loss.

Favourite tracks: NOW! That's What I Call Untitled 3, Water, Way Home, Where The Heart Connects

7) Oliver Cole - Year of the Bird 

Oliver Cole Year Of The Bird

Oliver Cole - Helium Heart

One of my biggest motivations in sharing Irish music here stems from my college days when I saw many quality bands such as The Frames, Future Kings of Spain, The Mary Janes and well, Turn! I was extremely frustrated as well, the naivety of youth perhaps, that these bands were not getting anywhere near the recognition they deserved, not just in Ireland, but abroad also. I was simultaneously delighted and curious when former Turn guitarist Oliver Cole released his second solo album, Year of the Bird. Not what I expected really, when I sat down to review the album in August and gave it my first listen I was struck by its beauty. Opening track 'Helium Heart' is such a gorgeous dirge, a lover-lorn lament that gets you a little choked before it takes off into headier heights at the half-way point, there's some lovely slide electric guitar playing here as well. One of my biggest emotional implosions of the year also occurred when I listened to Cole's take on Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, without being hyperbolic it was a devastatingly happy-sad moment (to borrow his duet partner Gemma Hayes' song title). 

Favourite tracks: Helium Heart, Golden Leaf, Ahh Ooh Ooh, The Happy Prince, Magnolia

8) Cry Monster Cry - Rhythm of the Dawn

Cry Monster Cry Rhythm of Dawn Album

Cry Monster Cry - 'Atlas'

I mentioned at the beginning of this post how I had memories of each of my first listens to these albums, one that is innocuous but sticks out in my mind is a Friday back at the start of the year when I popped into Tower Records and picked up Cry Monster Cry's Rhythm of the Dawn on vinyl, went home, possibly also with a nice bottle of red, and enjoyed every track fully. I loved how the album and songs by brothers Richie and Jamie Martin appealed to my interest in 60's & 70's folk music but also sailed so much higher than a lot of contemporary Irish folk music, of which there is a lot at the moment. This is one I've reached for a lot since it was released and I can easily see in some compilation book of Irish albums in the future.

Cry Monster Cry Whelans
Cry Monster Cry, Whelans. Photo: Remy Connolly

Favourite tracks: Atlas, Darkest Hour / Longest Day, Old At Heart, Gelert's Grave

9) Stephen Young & The Union - Eagle Fort Rumble

Stephen Young and The Union Eagle Fort Rumble

Stephen Young & The Union - 'Shadowman'

Stephen Young & The Union seem to be a mildly and unintentionally divisive band at home who have been embraced with open arms in the U.S., there's unanimous agreement that they are the best Irish band in their genre which we can loosely pigeon-hole as Americana (but also incorporates blues, country and rock). I don't know whether it's a lack of familiarity with their style of music in terms of where it's coming from historically, but thankfully for the band such views are in the minority. 

Front man Stephen Young and his band are exceptional musicians, as witnessed recently at the album launch for their second album, Eagle Fort Rumble, at The Grand Social last month. From the driving opener 'Shiver', rocker 'Lately I've Loved A Rose' and the hazy Thin Lizzy-esque 'The Blind Leading The Blind' to the penultimate track, 'Someone You Dream Of', which was the most heart-wrenching song I heard this year (I may have cried just a little), this album is a big improvement on the already great debut Wilderness Machine.

Favourite tracks: Shiver, The Blind Leading The Blind, Land Leg Blues, Someone You Dream Of*****

Stephen Young and the Union Grand Social Eagle Fort Rumble Launch
SY&TU, Eagle For Rumble Album Launch, The Grand Social. Photo: Remy Connolly

10) Silverbacks - Hot Bath

Silverbacks Hot Bath Album

Silverbacks - 'Fad 1995'

Since I first reviewed 'Fad 1995' (above) at the end of 2014 I've absolutely loved everything Dublin band Silverbacks have released, subsequent singles and finally Hot Bath when it came out in January. Like a lo-fi mash-up of American Analog Set, Pavement and Joy Division, the group have made an album that is unique amongst Irish bands this year, it has the grooves ('Mermaid Massacre'), psychedelic garage of 'I Kneeled Down' and 'Sloe Jam' (with the sweet line 'Don't question my life choices motherfucker, just walk in a straight line') to the tripped out summery indie of the Lou Reed sounding 'Sacramento', Hot Bath has a bit of everything, it's short and sweet and it's bloody brilliant.

Favourite tracks: Fad 1995, Sacramento, Mermaid Massacre, Sloe Jam

Live: Tonight In Aid of Focus Ireland - Christmas Craic'er @ The Button Factory

Christmas Craic'er In Aid of Focus Ireland Button Factory

Info: There's a super line-up in store for the Christmas Craic'er at The Button Factory this evening, tickets are €12.00 with all proceeds going to homelessness charity Focus Ireland. The evening, organised by Searchlight Productions will see live performances from Gavin Glass, Stomptown Brass, Mongoose, Gary O'Neill and more. 

Did you know that today 5,000 people are homeless in Ireland this Christmas and 1 in 7 using homeless services is a child?

Join us for a very special Christmas Concert in aid of Focus Ireland in the Button Factory on December 20th. This will surely get you in the festive mood this Christmas while raising money for such a great cause. With Mulled Wine & Mince Pies on arrival and a line up full of fantastic Irish musicians and a choir, this is one not to be missed. 

Tickets are available at the door or can be purchase online here

Gavin Glass

Stomptown Brass


Gary O'Neill

Album: Fiach Moriarty - The Revolution

Fiach Moriarty The Revolution Album Review

Fiach Moriarty - The Revolution

Info: Dublin singer-songwriter Fiach Moriarty released his second album, The Revolution, earlier this year, the follow up to his well-received 2010 debut, So I, since the release he has shared the stage with legendary Kinks guitarist Ray Davies and counts The Zombies' Chris White amongst his fans. Fiach's second record, The Revolution tackles subjects such as The 1916 Easter Rising, World 
War 1 and Los San Patricios (the Irish brigade in the 19th century Mexican Army) and debuted in the Irish charts at number 29. 

The record was produced by former Edwyn Collins collaborators Simon Quigley and Peter Meighan and features a guest appearance from Meteor award winner Wallis Bird.

The Revolution opens with it's self-titled track and first single (above), a peaceful call to arms and encouragement for us to lose our apathy when we are overwhelmed by the multiple wrongs we observe in the world around us. 'Mount Street Bridge' tells the story of a scene from the Easter Rising of 1916, of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the impact the violence had on the normal citizens of the city at the time. Two of Moriarty's strengths are evident here, both his knack of converting story to lyric and his vocals which are both calm-inducing and passionate as required.

Fiach Moriarty - 'Don't Want To Let You Down'

I quite enjoyed third track 'Confession', there's a slightly menacing tone, for want of a better word, to the determined acoustic plucking and vocals which are almost theatrical as Moriarty drives home his message which I interpret to be a welcome farewell to a certain organisation that held sway on this island for quite some time! On 'The Mother' the music veers into traditional 60's folk territory, in my opinion this is when Moriarty is at his strongest, I prefer the stripped down tracks on this album, the blend of acoustic and electric guitars and gentle percussion giving it a bit of a Nick Drake vibe. 

Another highlight is 'Oil and Water' with award-winning Wexford songwriter Wallis Bird, again you can hear everything in isolation, tender piano playing, both singers vocals, solo and in duet, there's a nice clarity to the music which, like 'The Mother', I found most enjoyable. The Revolution closes with perhaps the most indie sounding track on the album, 'Won't Lay Down' follows the trajectory of a quiet opening reaching toward a resounding finale. Fiach Moriarty has a lot going for him, he is an intelligent songwriter who can turn topics he is passionate about into rhyme with ease, add to that a great voice and musicianship and it's unsurprising how well both his debut and sophomore albums have been received. 

Fiach Moriarty The Revolution

From my own perspective I wasn't crazy about a couple of the songs that were a bit more on the pop side of things such as 'Don't Want To Let You Down' (although I did enjoy the live version in the above video), and the track which followed it 'Raindrops'. If Fiach were writing this album for me alone I would prefer the consistency of his more folk-leaning tracks to carry through the whole album and the type of electric guitar playing we hear towards the end of 'Nightingale'. That said I enjoyed the vast majority of The Revolution and it's clear that there's a charm and musical authenticity about Moriarty's song-writing and he's the type of musician whose output you want to observe over a long period of time with interest.

The Revolution is available to purchase / stream on iTunes or on CD here.

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Remy's Top 10 Irish EP's, 2015

CC Brez Her Alibi

I've spent about two weeks now going over and over the music reviewed on the blog since the start of the year, whittling down, changing orders of the Top 10 Irish E.P.'s and albums and it's done my nut in! but it's been fun too, without further ado...

Remy's Music & Film Blog E.P. of the Year - CC Brez, Her Alibi

As I mentioned in my Top 10 International Albums of 2015 with regard to Tame Impala's Currents CC Brez's Her Alibi EP which was released in June got a serious amount of listens and I regularly alternated between it and Currents whilst on my daily travels, the EP survived numerous culls as I updated my library from the start of the summer up until November. The reason was simple, all four tracks are excellent, mood improving and incredibly addictive. It may take some people a few listens (as it did with me on one or two of the tracks) before it fully gets into your bloodstream, but once it does it's impossible to not experience heightened enjoyment. Essentially this collection of songs are a sort of funk, groove, disco, soul drug, you'll need hit after hit of, and the superb E.P. launch in Whelans was a definite live highlight as well.

Cormac Breslin has totally nailed it here when it came to writing music that hit all of the right pop notes as well. From the title-tracks gospel opening to it's bluesy guitar riffs and funk-tastic bass-line, it oozes cool. At the 40-second mark of 'She's Cold' you're in wah-wah heaven and the hairs are up on the neck. I loved the light-hearted yet pondering message of 'Not Here For a Long Time', it's what we all know, life is short, but it's delivered musically like a timely and assured reminder, a smooth track with a slower tempo than the openers. Finally, and the track that took me a little longer to come around to, but eventually couldn't stop listening to and really looked forward to reaching is 'The Mighty Fall', CC Brez pops his head into dark club crooner territory, containing some lovely blues riffs during it's instrumental moments, the tracks final third is also a delicious and skilful blues deluxe, rounding off the E.P. with aplomb. A stand-out highlight of the last 12 months for me and I knew as far back as the summer that it would take something which appealed massively to me to come along and take top spot ahead of Her Alibi

And now here are the other 9 E.P.'s that gave me the feels in 2015.....

2) Robocobra Quartet - BOMBER - April, 2015

Robocobra Quartet - '80 - '88

Chaotic spoken-word jazz-punk from Belfast's Robocobra Quartet, every second on their BOMBER EP is filled with mania and intrigue courtesy of a group of highly talented musicians and front-man Chris Ryan. Their Bello Bar gig in November was undoubtedly the best live performance I witnessed in the whole of 2015.

BOMBER features four songs tied together musically and lyrically, based around a fictional character involved in a failed assassination attempt. Inspired by the stories of figures such as John Hinckley Jr. & Samuel Byck, the EP references a number of real-world events, related literature and social phenomena.

Favourite track: 'Flickering Blinds'

3) Variant Sea - Season of Mists - October, 2015

An achingly beautiful collection of songs from Dublin duo Luke Duffy and Shell Dooley, aka Variant Sea, here's what I said about Season of Mists back in October; 'By the time you've finished listening to 'Gathering Swallows', and managed to catch your emotions, you see Season of Mists as a whole rather than four individual tracks. That's not to say that they are indistinguishable, there are subtle yet noticeable differences, from restrained to dramatic, and that's what makes this set of songs so special, you have been lifted through moods and feelings by Variant Sea and you didn't even know it, until the second listen, or was it the third or fourth...'

Favourite track: 'River Sallows'

4) Segrasso - Too Late and No - September, 2015

Shoe-gaze, jangle-pop, hard rock, punk, Dublin band Segrasso cram it all into both their live sets and their sophomore E.P., the truly excellent Too Late and No, from September's review; 'Unsurprisingly Segrasso have produced another very strong recording with their second E.P., it's hard to shake the feeling that this all comes terribly naturally to them and they're just here to have a good time, whilst making great music of a of an almost forgotten recent vintage with their own stylistic twist.'

Favourite track: 'Blue Rose'

5) Saramai - Red Moon - November, 2015

With a voice that will knock for six, and lyrical depth, Navan singer-songwriter Saramai Leech has released one of the best Irish E.P.'s of 2015 without a shadow of a doubt. She recently played the main event at the legendary Other Voices in Dingle, Co. Kerry and is currently planning another E.P. release for the Spring. From last months review;'Red Moon is a debut showcase that spoils the listener rotten, the fact that it was recorded live and in just the one take just adds to how impressive it is. Add to that that 'Fall A While' is one of the most moving Irish tracks I've heard this year and probably in longer, and I know I absolutely have to see this artist live, and soon.'

Favourite track: 'Fall A While'

6) Cut Once - Cut Once - March, 2015

Cut Once - 'Playing With Fire'

Urban electro double act Cut Once released their 5-track debut E.P. in March and it's an example of just how far Irish acts are pushing boundaries with music these days, my own thoughts; 'Cut Once's E.P. is different, the tracks are all different from each other, and it works, both Heffernan and Browne have left everything at the door and gone au natural, and it's quite refreshing.'

Favourite track: 'Playing With Fire' (above video)

7) Noel O'Brien - Noel O'Brien - May, 2015

This debut E.P. from recent BIMM graduate Noel O'Brien impressed me greatly, the Tipperary 21-year-old cites Nick Drake, Dylan and John Martyn as influences and he shows a maturity beyond his years on this collection of five tracks. From my June review; 'While we have 5 solid tracks presented to us I found that the final one, 'Reprise', really stopped me in my tracks, it is heart-wrenching emotionally and the echoed effects add significantly to the overall atmosphere. The minor experimental tweaks at the end of it make you feel as though you've witnessed a progression in the space of just one recording, from opening to close, all of it thoroughly enjoyable and providing glimpses of even better things to come.'

Favourite track: 'Reprise'

8) Trick Mist - Jars in Rows - October, 2015

Trick Mist - 'Tummy Speak'

Dundalk ex-pat based in Manchester, Gavin Murray, released his debut solo E.P., Jars in Rows recently, a proper grower, Murray's deep-toned voice adding immeasurably to a wide-ranging experimental project which is ongoing with different visual artists creating videos for each of the E.P.'s five tracks. The more I listen to Trick Mist's first offering, the more I marvel at it; 'Trick Mist has presented a strong and very different debut that displays an undoubted ability to conjure up magic, like a conductor bringing order to the potential chaos of the many sounds that have spilled from his head and into our ears.'

Favourite track: 'Tampering Happy'

9) Rachael Lavelle - Superman - October, 2015

A striking, beautiful and atmospheric debut E.P. from Dublin singer-songwriter Rachael Lavelle with Superman, I was unable to attach her vocals to any other artist and was impressed by the confidence in her music and lyrical ability; 'The E.P.'s title track bursts with drama and strongly resembles a late 1960's / early 1970's song-writing tradition, the strings are rich and deep in tone and her vocals are especially pleasing here, musically it reminds me of something from Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left. Lavelle completes her introductory set of songs perfectly with 'Robot'; 'I was born a baby, I will die a robot...if this is where we're going I don't want to follow, my mind may be numb but my heart isn't hollow..'

Favourite track: 'Robot'

10) Heroes in Hiding - Decorated Absence - May, 2015

Heroes in Hiding - 'Casanova'

Few indie rock bands have worked as tirelessly and relentlessly over the past two years as Dublin five-piece Heroes in Hiding with regard to pursuing their goals and live performances. In addition there is a notable passion from HIH with regard to their love of music, and, as I witnessed first hand recently, this is conveyed on stage. Whilst all true, these platitudes are nothing without great music, and thankfully they consistently write highly enjoyable songs which range from alternative folk to indie-tinged pop and of course good old rock. On Decorated Absence, their second EP, I observed; 'you get the feeling Heroes In Hiding's music has skipped a number of progressive steps and reached a degree of maturity very quickly. It's with no doubt and comfortable ease that I say that they are among the cream of Irish bands currently making music at this very point in time'.

Favourite track: 'Casanova'

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Interview / Single: Navelin - Daydream

Navelin Gothenburg Music Interview DAYDREAM

Navelin - Daydream

Info: Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, indie pop five-piece Navelin, consisting of Elin Johansson (vocals), Fredd Jakobsen (drums), Andy Colbert (guitars), Martin Lajsic (guitars) Rasmus Lindblom (bass), released their latest single 'Daydream' just a few weeks ago. Accompanied by a wonderful animated video that reflects how we react to our ambitions in life, do we neglect them, embrace them, the track is a classic and honourable example of Scandic indie guitar music, taking a pinch of UK influences and then drowning them in domestic pop bliss as only Scandinavians (and Irish!) know how.

I caught up with Navelin at a busy time for the band as they head into the recording studio again, but first a bit about them; 'In the fall of 2012, Gothenburg based post-indie combo Navelin started to come together as a band. With members from Gothenburg (SWE) and Dublin (IRL) and a broad set of influences from indie-pop and alternative-rock, Navelin began developing their soundscapes. With equal parts dream pop, post rock and electronic minimalism - atmospheric guitars and vintage electronics - Navelin set a backdrop against which they build a dark, yet intimate vision. A beautiful mix of darkness and vulnerability where the interaction between five unique voices become bigger than the sum of their parts. It’s the twilight where dream faces the awakening; the forest's edge with the smell of mornings dew and wet asphalt.' 

Navelin Gothenburg Music Interview DAYDREAM

Remy: Firstly can I ask your thoughts on Swedish and Scandinavian music for our Irish readers. Why do you think Sweden in particular has had such success in exporting its music to the UK / Ireland and USA over the past 20 years? I'm thinking of some of my favourite albums like The Radio Dept's 2003 release Lesser Matters, Fever Ray, and Kent's Hagnesta Hill & Isola personally.

Andy: The first thing to consider is the thriving music scene here in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden. Take the amount of internationally successful Swedish acts: *Abba, Roxette, Europe, Ace Of Base, The Cardigans, Avicii, Tove Lo, Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Little Dragon, Peter Björn & John, Jose Gonzalez, The Knife, Tallest Man On Earth, Lykke Li, The Hives, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, Denniz Pop, Max Martin, Meshuggah, At The Gates, In Flames, Entombed, Opeth, Ghost... the list goes on. These acts are all producing what's regarded as high quality music in their respective genres. 

So quantity and quality are the big factors ­ I don't know enough about the Norwegian, Danish and Finnish music scene to compare the quality or the amount of bands they have. But with regards to Sweden's success with exporting their music, aside from those two key factors I just mentioned, I think this is also partly to do with their success on the global stage with many of their other exports, not just music. For example, companies like Volvo, H&M, Acne Jeans, IKEA, Electrolux, Metro Newspapers, Ericsson, Absolut Vodka, Soundcloud, Spotify ­ most of them are leaders in their respective fields. When there's an outward flow of quality product, across the board, from a country, I think that momentum can make it easier for new acts/music and products to ride that wave across to international markets, where they get the attention they deserve.

Raz: ­ It's also important to point out that it’s not all about the business. Sweden is a small, "far away" country, so there are definitely some knowledge in exporting and importing work. I think, in general, Swedes are pretty "international" and pretty quick to pick up new trends and ideas coming from e.g. UK, USA, continental Europe etc. (which sometimes comes with a price tag...). That’s, true for the "heavy" industries (Volvo, IKEA, Electrolux etc.), but
equally true for music, food, coffee, fashion, philosophy, literature etc. As a Swede you are pretty aware that Sweden is not enough, you need to get outside of Sweden if you want to make it, that makes Swedes pretty aware of what's
going on outside of Sweden. I think this is pretty obvious looking at Lykke Li, Tove Lo etc. Really "international" in every aspect, not just musically.

Apart from that, I also think that the quality of Swedish music needs to be addressed. Since the quality of bands / song-writers / musicians etc. generally are quite high, the industry obviously have lots of talent to develop and
exploit. There are a handful of really talented rock bands in EVERY Swedish town and that should not be forgotten!

Here I think we have the Swedish system of public music schools, free adult education, subsidized rehearsal rooms, and previously quite liberal grants/aids for unemployed, students etc. to thank. There are quite few obstacles to climb
before starting a band, or learning to play the drums. That allows lots of talent to bloom. Second I think that the old Scandinavian folk music have such a nice mellow vibe that kids learn to relate to from the time they sing their first songs at daycare (can probably thank Swedish composer Georg Riedel for this;)...). The Swedish scene in general is pretty good at incorporating this vibe into commercial genres. There is actually a pretty straight musical line going down from these old violin fiddlers in traditional costumes to the bands like Kent, Fever Ray, Radio Dept etc. There is a mellow, desolate, somewhat cold tonality that Swedes tend to handle quite good. That definitely goes for metal as well as pop music...

That said, isn’t it strange that Kent never did better abroad?

Remy: I couldn't agree more Raz, I always wondered about how they managed to release Isola and Hagnesta Hill bilingually, in their native tongue and English and it didn't seem to affect the flow of how the lyrics matched the music. 

Kent - 747

Remy: Can you share any upcoming Swedish bands that have not broken out just yet with us that you would recommend?

Raz: ­I don’t know if this counts since the band have actually disbanded due to a very tragic suicide... But if there is one Gothenburg-­based band I generally think that people have missed, I’d say Killers Walk Among Us. If they’d ever

gotten the chance they definitely should have bursted out of Gothenburg and straight into the stratosphere. Their first (and last) record was released after the they disbanded in 2014. While we’re talking Gothenburg­-based and slightly louder bands I’d also recommend Westkust. If your into electronic pop I’d recommend you look into bands like Call Me, Paper, Heart/Dancer. DNKL, Det Vackra Livet, IAMBEAR, Katakomb, David Sandström’s solo­ project A Heavy Feather are other great names. Actually the whole Stockholm based label Sommarhjärta, is fantastic, Luxxury is another one, this list can be endless...

Killers Walk Among Us - Two Hearts Getting Beaten As One

Remy: Andy, you were once a regular on the Dublin music scene yourself, how did you end up in Gothenburg?

Andy: How does any Irish man ever end up in Gothenburg?! ­In the company of beautiful Swedish woman... I've worked as a sound engineer and musician on the Dublin scene since '94 working with many, many great Irish and International artists. Over my time as a live engineer, I held residencies in The DA Club, The Funnel Bar and Isaac Butts /Radio City. In early 2000's, when Dave Allen was the booking agent in Isaac's, he persuaded me to "DJ" for our
Saturday night Indie club. It was during one of these clubs that a very cute little girl from Sweden asked me to play Oasis one night, and the rest, as they say, is history. The sound engineering work was eating more and more into the time that I should have been focusing on creating music, so in 2008, Tina and myself decided to move to Gothenburg where I started putting a band together. This is where I met Elin (Johansson, singer of Navelin).

Remy: Your new single 'Daydream' seems to start off with the monotony off modern urban life, where the character departs to a dream world once he goes to sleep. Is that a reflection of how you perceive your own situation with regard to music, it being the dream and the alternative being the monotony?

Raz: ­ Might be, but not necessary. I think Elin is the one to ask here, but to me the song posts a more general, existential question. Are you being honest to yourself regarding the life you live? To me it’s not about asking what your life is all about, but what your life really is or should be all about and whether you're embracing that dream or not... The Daydream can be just as much about trying as actually fulfilling your dreams along as you acknowledge what you dream about. I think you can be quite happy living a "monotone urban life", the important thing is to be true to yourself and admit that you are dreaming of something else, if you actually are.

Elin:­ I've always been a daydreamer for as long as I can remember. To slide in to the daydream is a survival instinct for me I guess, the need to escape the reality for a bit. in this case its more about a reminder. Life goes by and we have so little time on this earth. I want to make the most of my time and I want to remind people to do the same.

Navelin - Old Radio

Remy: Tell us a bit about the animation for the video?

Andy: ­Although we'd seen some of Michael Zauner's previous work, without realizing it, on Tame Impala's 'Mind Mischief' video, it was his work on a couple of Willis Earl Beal's videos that originally caught our attention. We approached him with the the idea of him animating a video for 'Daydream'. Much to our delight, he said that he loved the song and that he thought it would be a fun project to be involved in. Animation is not our forte, so we just gave him a few rough guidelines and left the bulk of the creativity to him. He'd report back every now and with new ideas for our approval until it's completion in mid­November. 

We liked the idea of a simple black and white animation. We also wanted there to be a storyline with a beginning and an end, something that would engage the viewer. We weren't looking for just some random artistic doodles and patterns to accompany the music, we wanted something more, and having an artist like Michael put his interpretation forward and pour in his creativity, led to a very successful end result. We're hearing back from our fans that they find themselves really empathizing, almost forming an emotional bond, with our protagonist. 

'Daydream' also carries a very universal theme, and asks the question “What's your life all about?”. It's something, I think, we can all relate to at some point, so we wanted Michael to tie this theme into the storyline. Also, the title itself, 'Daydream', left him with a blank canvas to take our man on any journey he wanted to! We're super­happy with the end result and Michael has expressed an interest in working on another project with us. Watch this space...

Remy: The Irish music scene has exploded in the last 3­4 years, with venues hosting performances 7 nights a week, what has been Navelin's experience of the local scene in Gothenburg since you formed Navelin?

Raz: ­ In general, and strangely enough despite what I said earlier about Swedish music, the live scene in Sweden in general is pretty hard. It’s usually harder to get good gigs inside Sweden the outside. Gothenburg have a rich and
blooming music scene, probably the best in Sweden, but there is definitely not a 7­ nights ­a­ week thing if we’re talking about the live scene. Swedes are not a very outgoing people and the government embraces this by being pretty restrictive when it comes to alcohol servings and opening hours etc. Live music, to most venues, actually comes down to cash an the ends have to meet otherwise they rater use a DJ or even Spotify. The vibe is that this is about to change with more small venues, cafés etc. having weekday gigs with less expenses to cover, so let’s hope for that!

Remy: I was in Helsinki recently and noticed a lot of large independent vinyl stores in the city centre, it seems to be a medium that is coming back everywhere, is it happening in Sweden also?

Andy: ­ Helsinki, that's a nice town, we've got a strong fan base there... Gothenburg has the Nordic region's largest and most well­-assorted record store, Bengans. It opened in '74, I think as half pet store, half record store. It's still going strong despite the current climate. We actually had our launch party for 'Side One' at Bengans. It has a very wide selection of music, I even came across a copy of The Immediate's debut album In Towers & Clouds there last year.
Vinyl has definitely made a comeback here too and it's a nice thing to see. In fact, shortly after we release our next EP Side Two, we'll be releasing both EPs on one physical 12”.

Raz: ­To me the renaissance for vinyl looks very obvious reaction to Spotify. Streamed music is fantastic, no doubt about that! People can consume music anywhere, and thats awesome. But for the ones of us that still want to sit down
and listen to the best records from A to B and have a physical copy to look at the artwork, read the info etc... Why on earth should you buy a CD when you can buy something big, beautiful, personal and collectable instead? There is also
something honest about the way these old LP’s age. When you listen to them you can actually hear that this record has have been listened to 2000 times before, they must’ve meant something to someone. My Cult of Luna playlists on
Spotify sounds exactly the same way today as they did five years ago...

Navelin Andy Hayball

Remy: Across your latest EP there's a strong mix of electronica ('Shake It Off') and indie ('Maple Train'), are all band members fans of both genres or do different people bring one or the other to the table, i.e. would some of you lean more strongly to one genre or is everyone into both?

Andy: ­Yes, to some degree we're all fans of electronica and to more of an extent, we all share a love for indie music. Part of our arrival in "electronica land" comes from trying to push the boundaries of the conventional drums, bass, two guitars and a lead singer outfit. We like to experiment with sounds a lot and shape the sounds in slightly unconventional ways. We may start an idea with organic sounds, but as we never like to take the easy route, we usually find an alternative way of expressing what it is we are trying to say with that organic sound. This can be a more time consuming process, but ultimately more rewarding. The beauty of Navelin is that we all bring our own flavours to the table, the meal wouldn't taste the same if one of us was absent during it's preparation.

Raz: ­ I think it’s fair to say that ones a song or production idea gets a thumbs ­up from all of us it have passed somewhat of a quality test. At least that’s the way we hope it works. Regarding our quite widespread preferences and musical
backgrounds I think we have to push parts into a somewhat eclectic territories (mix of electronica/indie) in order to get that OK from everyone so that’s a really important part of the Navelin sound.

Remy: What are the next steps for Navelin with regard to recording, and can we expect a European (Irish!) Tour in the near future?

Andy: ­ We're in the studio right now actually, answering your questions ­ finishing up work on our next single 'Saga', which will also appear on the next EP 'Side Two'. We're going to continue working on the rest of the EP while we're
fixing European dates for early Spring and beyond. Yes, there will most definitely be an Irish tour, sure it'd be rude not to!

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