Thursday, 31 March 2016

Single Premiere: Motions - Back To Where I Begun

Motions - Back To Where I Begun

Info: Motions are an alternative rock band based in Dublin formed by Tom Daly and Dave Nulty in 2015. With powerful vocals accompanied by minimalist textures and heavy driving guitars, their sound ranges from shimmering soundscapes to bold anthemic rock. 2016 sees the release of their debut single 'Back To Where I Begun' - contemplating starting over when you're close to the point of no return.

Opening up with a solitary vocal and vibrating chord progression, 'Back To Where I Begun' slides along a slow-building and pensive trajectory before exploding into life. The ante is executed carefully by Motions, cautiously placing layer upon layer as each instrument enters the track, by the time we reach the second chorus the pendulum has started to swing with greater tempo before the band fully announce their arrival. Walls of sound surround the lead vocal towards it's finale, almost, but not quite over-taking it, aside from a really nicely placed interlude in the last few seconds, we're left at the opposite end of where we began and an abrupt finish wraps things up perfectly.

I would be quite comfortable predicting a very quick rise for Motions, they've melded indie, rock and pop into a single that you would expect a very good band to release at the third or fourth attempt, perhaps following their debut EP. This introduction is attention-grabbing and sincere, they succeed in placing you at centre-stage and when 'Back To Where I Begun' hits its stride half-way through you're already fully enjoying the experience. The Motions mast is one I'm pinning my colours to from today, and I'm quite looking forward to seeing them everywhere before long.

You can pre-order 'Back To Where I Begun' on iTunes here

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Video: REWS - Shake Shake

REWS Shake Shake Single

REWS - Shake Shake

Info: Irish / London female indie-rock duo REWS return with their infectious new single ‘Shake Shake’ released May 6th, hitting us with another slice of their ultra catchy alt-rock.

The track is released on 6th May with REWS playing lots of Irish & UK dates (see below) to support the release, including The Great Escape Showcase Festival where they will join a select few Irish artists including Pleasure Beach, Mmoths and Ciaran Lavery.

'Shake Shake' sees REWS retain their high energy dark-tinged rock sound whilst also having a hella lot of fun at the same time. Musical touch-points in this shake shaker would see Yeah Yeah Yeah's It's Blitz! as the salt and The Hives 'Hate To Say I Told You So' residing in the smaller pepper compartment. It's an amp-bursting, skin-pounding single that anyone with even the slightest sliver of rock n' roll in their DNA will instantaneously find gratifying. That's three out of three singles for REWS now, roll on number four.

Upcoming shows:

Whelans, Dublin, April 15th
Crescent Art Centre, Belfast, April 16th
The Social, London, April 19th
The Great Escape Festival, Brighton - May 20th.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Single: Ofelia K - Cinco

Ofelia K Cinco

Ofelia K - Cinco

Info: Los Angeles act Ofelia K's Plastic Flower EP featuring "White T-Shirt", "As A Bell", "Gone" and "Hawk Fly Tiger Run" reintroduced Ofelia K.’s voice to the world - compelling songs worn down to perfection that balance wistful maturity with a certain earnest and eternally young expression. With spins from Annie Mac at BBC Radio 1, over 1.8 million Spotify plays, and features on multiple NBC television shows, the world heard her starry eyed songs and asked for oh-so-many more.

With her upcoming single release, "Cinco", this LA songstress once again sets her sights on capturing the public’s heart with her tunes. As Ofelia herself mentions, "I was embracing the freedom to get loose and play, and I think that energy that comes through in the songs."

'Cinco' was a track I felt compelled to share, my kind of contemporary pop, instantly captivating, with hammer-blow beats and keys laying down the law either side of Ofelia K's polished vocal performance. Everything is sharp and cut so neatly to the extent that there are points where the music takes you aback, as if someone's just taken a swing at you for no apparent reason. Vocally it's at times close to Lykke Li on the chorus, and the sound, particularly in the final third reminded me a little of Go! Team meets Goldfrapp, quality pop juice!

* By the by, do check out her Plastic Flower EP on SoundCloud below.

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Single: Zen Anton - I'm Not Bitter

Zen Anton I'm Not Bitter
Photo: Marvin Mendlinger

Zen Anton - I'm Not Bitter

Info: From Queens, New York city, Zen Anton is a jazz, blues and classically trained musician who released his debut self-titled E.P. in September 2014 which was reviewed here at the time. In his own words, Anton has 'thrown out my acoustic guitar (metaphorically!), hit the distortion button and did some primal shrieking!'. 

Quite a departure indeed from that soulful and folk sounding debut, his new single 'I'm Not Bitter' is a playful and humorous affair, it's protagonist simultaneously wishing misfortune and good luck to a former love whilst acknowledging the song's title is not being adhered to at all! It's a big leap to go from his early and original sounds into a new genre and it's clear that Anton has a grasp of the task ahead of him at this early stage, but for now it's about having a bit of fun on this catchy punk-rock self-effacing satire. 

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Single: Fell Runner - Dirty Money

Fell Runner Dirty Money

Fell Runner - Dirty Money

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: It’s only a few weeks since we reviewed Fell Runner’s last single, 'Dream Catcher', but it was so good that the quick release of its follow up was met with some anticipation. And the LA four piece are more than successful in delivering another perfect slice of African-tinged math-pop, this time with the politically minded 'Dirty Money'.

I think it’s probably a safe bet that Fell Runner are feeling the Bern in the current US electoral race, given the lyrical content of ‘Dirty Money.’  Both a rallying cry and an angry 'fuck you' to corporate greed, its a marked change from their first single, although still admirably continuing to tread less obvious lyrical paths than the vast majority of their contemporaries. And sure, it’s petty to point out that the lyrics start with an earnest plea to "save your disillusionment for another day, cos time's running out", yet in the very next verse are despairing that "no one cares enough, and for those higher up don’t give a shit at all." But then, I am a small man in some ways. A small, petty man.

All jokes aside, this track brings their count to two for two in terms of knocking it out of the park. Their instruments deftly interlock, like planets orbiting around a central sun, aligning for a moment, before swooping off into space again. They’re well aware that the clever and complex groove they’re building can take a few listens before fully revealing it’s charms, so they’ve made sure to strap it to a nuclear bomb sized chorus. In fact, there’s a perfect moment at the end of the second verse, where they manage to fully capture the seething anger at the heart of this song: as their voices angelically harmonise on the line “…don’t give a shit at all,” the drums start to flail and the guitar swells almost to breaking point, until four huge snare hits usher in the chorus of "We don’t want your dirty money!" And it’s fucking amazing.

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Video: The Crayon Set - O'Connell Street, 1916

The Crayon Set O'Connell Street 1916

The Crayon Set - O'Connell Street, 1916

Info: Dublin indie and alt-pop six-piece, The Crayon Set, have released a video for 'O'Connell Street, 1916' from their forthcoming second album produced by Gavin Glass, Lost Languages, which is due out this year. As well as the obvious reference we can glean from the track's title, it is also a look at some of the darker aspects of Irish life.

This song is a thing of sweet and understated beauty, from the twinkling piano throughout to the softly-spoken monologue which reminded me of A House's 'Endless Art' or Whipping Boys' 'When We Were Young'. The lyrics are poetic and moving, such as the second verse; 'Mrs McCanns not looking to great / Is it her hair, has she lost some weight / Her son Paul went to my school / When Paul took his life, he took hers too' and opener; 'Jim's out of work and back on the booze / He's living on crisps and John Player Blue / His wife Lil is down in the Bons / They think that it's back and spread to her lungs.' 

With symbolic and upfront references to the country's deeply religious past, and an assessment of our national character, vices and apathy, 'O'Connell Street, 1916' is perhaps a question about what improvements we've made ourselves, both personally and nationally, to make Ireland a better place, with the capital's maligned main thoroughfare used as an imaginary stage for us to make the judgement for ourselves. 

I agree with a previous review that this song from The Crayon Set has all the hallmarks of an Irish classic, it has both substance and depth and is musically powerful and moving. As this is my first exposure to the Dublin act, I am now curious to take in their debut self-titled album from 2013 and looking forward to their next release at the same time.

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Live: Upcoming Gig Highlights - Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 plus more

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5

 Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 - These Are Not The Drugs (You're Looking For)

Saturday, 2nd of April, The Grand Social

Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5

StG Promotions and The Yellow Movement are proud to present Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 live in Dublin. 

On the back of winning Best UK Act from those lovely people at Pure M, Best Live Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and after fourteen storming 2015 UK festival appearances from Liverpool Sound City to Jocktoberfest in Inverness, the Yellow Movement will be coming to Ireland for what promises to be an unmissable party!


The Shades
Mannequin Sex Drive

Tickets will be 10 Euros in advance or 12 Euros on the door.

Saturday, 9th of April, Sin É

Mongrel State

Mongrel State - How Many More Times

Saturday, 16th of April, St. Finian's Church, Adelaide Road, Dublin 2.

Ríona Sally-Hartman & Bonniesongs double-bill

Ríóna Sally Hartman - Song For The Dead, Song For The Living

Bonniesongs - Mousetrap

Saturday, 16th of April, Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Irish Youth Music Awards

The Irish Youth Music Awards, Ireland’s only all island youth focused music awards and festival, is set to return to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 16 April. Organised by Youth Work Ireland, the national event will see young musicians aged 12 – 19 from across the country representing their community and gaining business experience in the music industry. This is the ninth year of the programme which brings some of Ireland’s top music industry personnel directly into contact with young musicians.

Tickets available here from Eventbrite

Irish Youth Music Awards Aviva Stadium 2016

Video: Dusty Residents - Wanted

Photo: Tara Morgan Photography

Dusty Residents - Wanted

Info: Dusty Residents are a hip hop duo from Dublin consisting of MC Bradshaw and producer Taaffeman. Following the release of their debut album Seabury Heights in 2012 they have returned after three years of crafting their sophmore album Orbits with their first video single 'Wanted'. Their second album is due out this April with an album launch date soon to be announced to coincide with its release.  

The video for Dusty Residents' new single, 'Wanted', which was directed by Jonathan Lambert and produced by Alan Newman, looks at filling the void, self-affirmation through technology and upholding an image of being together in a personal capacity whilst the opposite is true. Bradshaw goes for soft vocals over a mellow-vibed backtrack which includes some nice solo guitar riffs and trumpet to give it an extra layer which tie in well with the videos visuals. Keep an eye out on the Dusty Residents' Facebook page linked below for the album's launch and release dates.

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EP: Segrasso - Jokes To Tell

Segrasso Jokes To Tell EP Workmans Club
Photo: Remy Connolly

Segrasso - Heartbeats

Info: Last week saw Dublin five-piece Segrasso launch their third E.P., Jokes to Tell, at The Workman's Club, Dublin. With support coming from Good Cop, Bad Cop and Cat Palace, the venue was busy from the very beginning of the night and packed by the time Segrasso took to the stage. Having seen them at the venue a number of times before last Wednesday was different, the crowd was bigger and the band seemed more relaxed and determined that, if nothing else, they were just going to enjoy the occasion as much as they could.

This attitude carried to the crowd and had a positive effect on their set which included old favourites such as the immense 'Blue Rose' (below), the as always wonderfully coordinated 'Cell' and rock blow-out 'Seriously', and obviously their new material such as the cover of José González's 'Heartbeats' (above) and latest single, 'And Let's Not Even Talk About Balzac'. 

Segrasso - 'Blue Rose'

Earlier in the evening a group of American tourists arrived at the venue's door and enquired about the nights line-up, they were told in no uncertain terms that they should come in and will not be disappointed. The leader of the pack (who looked uncannily like Mr. E from Eels) was to be seen front of stage a few hours later fully getting into Segrasso's set, to the extent where he insisted on shaking the band members' hands after the show, Mr. E went home a happy man that night, as did we all. From my own perspective they never disappoint, but this was by far their finest hour and I left the venue elated after seeing such a strong and energising performance, there was a sense that Segrasso are now in a position to move to larger venues, perhaps reluctantly in some ways, as The Workman's holds a special place for the band.

Jokes to Tell opens with 'The Pact', Segrasso immediately announcing that they are taking a slightly different path on their third release with it's opening feedback and trash drums, it's a crashing grunge-fused number with nonchalant vocals and distorted guitars, at one particular point at 48 seconds briefly providing a Pixies-esque interlude. In a recent review regarding 'And Let's Not Even Talk About Balzac' I observed that; 'The guitars hover on the outside of Ash's Free All Angels when the Downpatrick trio abandoned indie rock for power pop on their third album...a post-punk soundtrack of a black and white summer.'

Segrasso The Workman's Club Dublin
Photo: Remy Connolly

A big highlight on the EP for me was third track 'London', opening with a distinctly punk hue, it veers into mellow shoe-gaze, a contemplation on the ex-pat's experience in a new city coupled with a smidgen of romance, 'I'm not that lonely, just far away' frontman Jake Regan informs us before the song elevates to higher and higher levels of soaring guitars. As covers go, Segrasso have certainly made 'Heartbeats' their own, and it's evident by the crowd reaction to their version that they've done a fine job of putting their own slant on it. The originals soft hum and meandering sound replaced by higher tempo electric guitars and a wall of noise finale, you could almost dance to Segrasso's interpretation, in fact, you definitely could.

The EP closes with the wonderful 'But They Do', an atmospheric electro introspective, simple beats and keys which are very effective, a little bit of an East India Youth meets The XX thing going on. The track's 7 and a half minutes are fully justified and as it progresses it takes on a more early 90's shoe-gaze and dream pop feel, before they do what they do best at times and have a fuzzed-out explosive finale. This is the third EP on the bounce now where Segrasso have beguiled us with pleasant surprises and notable progressions both in style and sound, achieving such consistency is not easy and few of their contemporaries could manage the same, it's time they reached a wider audience as they are undoubtedly one of the finest alternative rock bands in this country for over 2 years now. 

Jokes To Tell will be available for download shortly on the band's Bandcamp page below.

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

E.P.: District Daze - District Daze

District Daze - Stay

Info: From Maynooth, Co.Kildare come five-piece District Daze who loosely describe their sound as ranging from funk to rock, they recently released their debut self-titled EP and accompanying video for their first single 'Stay' (above).

'Stay' is quite a mood-driven single, setting out with a lush bass-line and mournful surf-rock guitar riff, we meander slowly down the stream of Niamh Murray's crystal clear vocals and the added harmonies until everything comes together very nicely indeed at the songs half-way point. District Daze then charge up the batteries and hallelujah here's the funk on second track 'I Think I'll Pass', a nice contrast early on and it's filled with the smooth swagger of the beat and swinging guitar progressions. There's a jazz-soul club feel to the whole song which gives it a bit of an old world charm and feel, groovy stuff. 

Third track 'Settle Our Scores' seems to come out of nowhere until you remind yourself that the band are not confined to any strict definitions in terms of genre. This is where we rock, the thick 70's glam rock guitar riffs and chorus have a contemporary slant on them that at times reminds me of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's or Goldfrapp, but also Joan Jett meets Blondie! Guitar solos echo Pink Floyd and as the song progresses it just gets better and better, I can totally get down with this sound any time.

District Daze - Settle Our Scores

The musical journey continues with the closing track, 'Drop Down', it's rockabilly intro melding into a blues-rock funkathon, the guitar solos again reminding me of what Jeff Beck might describe as blues deluxe, there's nice interplay between Murray and rhythm guitarist Daniel Ffrench who also more than holds his own vocally adding extra punch to an already highly enjoyable track. 

It's a cliché, an overused one, but I have to invoke it, that this E.P. maybe shouldn't work, but it does, there is such a mix of styles that each track could almost be presented on their own and not necessarily be identifiable or connected to the same band. It works because District Daze have arranged their order carefully, we leave from a departure point of mellow calm and steadily arrive at a place of uplifting abandon, and from my perspective it's refreshing and enjoyable when this works, I'm getting bang for my buck across a number of genres that I happen to love, thumbs up all the way for this EP.

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E.P.: Brass Phantoms - City of Wolves

Brass Phantoms City of Wolves EP

 Brass Phantoms - City of Wolves (single)

Info: Dublin four-piece alternative rock troupe Brass Phantoms released their sophomore E.P., City of Wolves, this week. The collection of four tracks was recorded at Westland Studios in Dublin and follows the release of the very well-received title-track and lead single. 

The opener 'City of Wolves' grabs the attention straight away, with a deep rolling bass-line and snappy drum beat leading up to the rapid looping guitar riff which carries both verses and chorus very well. My observation last month that 'There's a sharp focus on matching pop inclinations on the guitar riffs with a more expansive sonic range which is particularly evident in the backing vocal effect. 'City of Wolves' is enjoyably hectic and upbeat simultaneously and three and a half minutes never went quicker...' still stands with the title-track providing a huge amount of appeal even on first listen.

'One O'Clock in Bangkok' initially had me thinking Julian Casablancas vocally and to a lesser extent musically nodding toward The Strokes debut album, but there's also a distinct jangle-pop The Smiths' strain running through parts of the track, and a very interesting, almost Oriental if you will, opening guitar riff. Another stand-out for me came in the form of third track, 'Every Sensation', Brass Phantoms showing zero signs of toning proceedings down, if you're looking for a weepy lovelorn ballad you've come to the wrong place. This track glides so easily, notably pop-tinged but again lead-guitar and especially the drums put the rock stamp all over this on, and the solo after the 2-minute mark is delicious.

Brass Phantoms - Every Sensation

After the first few bars of closing track 'I'm Accessible' I thought, ah here's the slow-down, wrong, as the band crash in once again, and here is Brass Phantom's strength, they are comfortable writing the big songs but also back it up with how tight they are in executing them, rhythms are solid and clean. The raucous finale of distorted guitars and drums land one last punch before they decide to give us about 20 seconds respite with a Pixies-esque bass-line and twangy guitar outro. On City of Wolves Brass Phantoms have done pretty much everything right, there's little room for improvement, as pop-tinged rock goes they have nailed it with their song-writing and successfully achieved what they set out to do.

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Single: Stereophonics - White Lies

Stereophonics White Lies Single
Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven

Stereophonics - White Lies

Review by - James McGregor

Info: After the Stereophonics announced seven huge shows for summer 2016, including a very special show Kilmainham, the band’s anthemic new single White Lies is set for release on 8th April.

Written by Kelly Jones and produced by Kelly and Jim Lowe, 'White Lies' is taken from the band’s UK number one album Keep The Village Alive. The single is one of the album’s many highlights and showcases the band’s ability to create a sound that is at once both powerfully atmospheric and endearingly intimate.

Stereophonics' new single 'White Lies' is an unapologetic pop song, which comes as a surprise to me as the band’s third single from the album Keep the Village Alive: the previous two singles being 'C’est La Vie' and 'I Wanna Get Lost With You'. I’m not sure what exactly it is about this song that gives it more of a pop sound than the rest of the album and certainly the two previous singles taken off it, but 'White Lies' is clearly in a different place to the other songs. The chorus is huge, and the melody catchy as they come. 

With lyrics that are both simple and direct there's a sense that Jones & Co. had 'White Lies' ear-marked with large live venues in mind. I feel like this bodes well for the band, who I imagine will receive a great public reaction from this release: perhaps moreso even than the previous singles, which, while able to stand on their own merits, were closer to the bands original sound. Here we are experiencing more open top balladry than their trademark pop-rock.

I do think the decision to make a single out of, what I perceive to be, a clear outlier in the album is bold, but I also have an inkling that this bold move will pay off for the Welsh four-piece. It does leave me wondering whether, with this third release, the band are foreshadowing the future Stereophonics’ sound and moving further from their starting point as we edge closer to the 20th anniversary of their 1997 debut album, Word Gets Around.

Stereophonics play on June 30th at Royal Hospital Kilmainham with special guests The Vaccines. Tickets are on sale now from and outlets nationwide.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Single: Rollercoasterwater - Avey Tare Said

Rollercoasterwater Avey Tare Said

Rollercoasterwater - Avey Tare Said

Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: Still in their early twenties, psychedelic LA duo Rollercoasterwater have released their new single 'Avey Tare Said', in anticipation of their forthcoming EP Umami Sounding Fireball. Building from an impressive back catalogue that already includes 2014’s album Dripping Retina along with 3 packed EPs, self described "vocalist and samplist" Chuckie Behring and "mind altering percussionist" Robin Levy, have shifted up a gear, already catching the attention of Consequence of Sound with this release.

With it’s Animal Collective shout out, Rollercoasterwater clearly have no problems proudly displaying their influences right there in the title of the song. In fact, Behring traces the origins of the tune to a backstage meeting he had with his hero when he was just 19, where Avey chatted to him about a wide range of subjects from psychedelics to marriage, ultimately delivering some profound advice about life and the music industry, including touring as much as possible and the succinct "never perform high".

And while the Animal Collective influence is there musically speaking, the most evident element that they’ve co-opted is the Portland natives' love of sonic experimentation. It makes a lot of sense when they describe their sound as, "existential music… psychedelic pop, noise, rhythmic, forest music. With samples of everything from old video games, to garbage trucks, edited sometimes to sound like rain". This is experimental psychedelic music, heavily focused on creating interesting, rippling textures, but making sure to not lose sight of the song at the heart of it. With their blissed out, reversed dream pop harmonies, they embody a similar Beach-Boys-on-acid aesthetic to their namechecked heroes: but while they may be looking at the beach, they’re viewing it from under the waves.

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Interview: Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan Interview Dublin Musician

Kevin Nolan - Last Days of Harry Carey

Ahead of the release of his new album, which is currently being recorded, I caught up with Dublin musician, poet and writer Kevin Nolan about what he's been up to since the huge success of 2014's Fredrick & The Golden Dawn. We also have a competition for you readers, Kevin has generously provided a copy of his E.P. Here's A Piece Of Ivan's Head, all you have to do is a leave a comment at the end of the interview and Kevin will pick his favourite.

Remy: It seems not that long ago since we chatted around the time of your last album, Fredrick & The Golden Dawn, but it has been well over a year! Alas, a new one is about to be born, what do you hope to achieve from a personal perspective from the next album that will differ from your expectations the last time round?

Kevin: Yes Remy, I remember fondly our interviews and conversations last year or thereabouts. I’m not really a hundred percent sure what I hope to achieve this time around but it appears to me from the material that there will be dramatic changes from the style I explored in my first album. My palette is different this time. Although artists like Don Van Vliet, Tom Waits, Steve Reich, Stereolab and Glen Branca and many others are still very important to me, they’ve pass the baton onto another family of artists which are becoming increasingly significant now in my formulations about this new album. 

I’ve returned to people like Jimmy Durante, Al Jolson, Roy Orbison; one of the best voices of the twentieth century also Van Morrison, The Ink Spots, Marlene Dietrich,  and lots more besides. So there’s a possibility these sorts of atmospheres might leak into my new stuff. I remember Nick Cave once said when asked a similar question, that with any new albums he makes he just wants to make one as good as his first. Also it’s different because I’m not doing it totally by myself this time. I have a few people composing parts on my new record, Vyvienne Long, Peter Murphy, Mick Pyro, Alabaster Deplume, Rob Doyle and a few others too.

R: I've heard that you are to be the subject of a piece of film, which will explore various themes and subjects, can you tell us more, sounds very interesting?

K: The film is a documentary directed by the award-winning documentarian Nathan Fagan. To tell you the truth, I’ve been kept in the dark about the essential narrative and overall sense of the film, for the creative reasons of the director. However I think it’s a documentary about me and my music and also something about what is called mental illness. Also over the last few months of filming I’ve found that it's about, ‘the self’, a kind of exploration into the various definitions of the self.  The transformative power of art and performance is also a very prominent theme throughout and something I have an interest in myself too. 

R: Can you expand a bit on what the 'transformative power of performance/art' means to you?

K: Sure, just one way of looking at it is this. There’s a German word Weltschmerz. My understanding of it is that, you are born and as you grow up you notice the world is asking you to fulfill a role within it, which is essentially to be a working part of the Leviathan in whatever way you choose, however you don’t have the choice not to choose.

With Weltschmerz  you try to be the person the world wants you to be instead of being who you actually are as a human being. The process of your endeavour to fulfill this task causes friction in the self. Friction, because you are repressing the your true self in a sort of martyrdom for the greater interest of the workings of society at large.

Shamanistic healing ceremonies are a good example. One way of looking at it is that the shaman is healing the tribe of the malady, Weltschmerz. He is stripping them of their tribal or in our case societal identity and thus freeing their true selves in as much as is possible. The ancient Greek word 'ekstasis' from which we get the word ecstasy means to be or stand outside oneself, a removal, or extraction. So essentially the feeling of ecstasy is a feeling of being outside of oneself.  How do you get outside of yourself? Well there is only one way and that is to die. My point being both the shaman and those at the ceremony seek to extract themselves from themselves. For me in this case the shamanistic experience is not death literally, but instead death of the self. The death of the unwanted repressing identities which are forced on us by society or the world, as posited in Weltschmerz. It was Freud who said at the end of his life, and I’m paraphrasing, he said that man will always be repressed by the conventions society and so will never be free and will never resolve his unconscious desire so will always be in a state of anxiety.

For me music and art in general is a transformative act, a kind of ekstasis, for like the shaman healing ceremonies it frees you from Weltschmerz. It is a release of the hidden genuine self into a safe place which will not try to  it contort it into something that fits in with the conventions of the world but instead commends it and celebrates its unique existence. Art is a safe place in which to be human, in a world where, what is is to be human in an invented definition persecuted upon us and this definition is rooted in a wish to control and control is one of the most basic reasons for the existence of The society.

And so the artistic act for me is ekstasis, extracting one’s self from one’s self. This transformation for me is in the creative act and also in performance.

One of my guitarists once said, ‘Kevin, when you perform, ten demons leave your body’. At first I thought this a funny statement and still do in fact. But Stephen my guitarist was kind of describing the shamanistic cathartic elements of my performance. There’s an old blues term called ‘real gone’. It’s hard to define but it means when you are really inside the song that you are performing, it’s when you lose yourself in the act of performing and almost forget yourself if you follow me. Real gone for me is another term for the transformative experience of art. Some painters say that when they are painting they lose all sense of time and are just completely lost in the experience of creating art. 

When I perform I become bewitched by the music and the narrative of the lyrics, it’s almost like a hypnotist has hypnotised me and I completely believe I’m a chicken, I believe in the essential nature of the song. It is true and real for me but I think it is very important to the enterprise that I am seen and my performance is perceived by the other. Because essentially on one level all art is an expression and when one expresses oneself the expression can only be truly completed or resolved when it has been witnessed by the other. That’s one of the reasons why therapy is so good for people and there are people who see art as self therapy. Sometimes though the witnessing other can be the self. Think of Narcissus staring into the water. Meaning when the creator/artist witnesses his or her own finished work of art then it can be resolved by the artist witnessing his or herself within the work.  This is well understood by those who write in diaries to sooth their mental state, I’m one of them. When they read back what they have written they witness their own expression, thus quantifying a type of resolution, think of the Augustine’s Confessions. There is a theorist who posits that every human endeavour from theoretical physics to art to philosophy to medical science to gardening, is all rooted in a urge to ‘express’ the self to the other, with the wish to attract a mate, cure loneliness thus propagating the race, going on towards going on, as is the object of our genes.

When I perform there’s an incantatory element, an attempt to evoke an almost ethereal sense or presence inside the music. Captain Beefheart once said, ‘I don’t write songs, I cast spells’ there those who see music as a type of magic, one note in a song can move a person profoundly to sadness or joy or even have a maddening effect, this is a type of magic to me. Performing is an exalted experience, Kerouac spoke of his ‘exalted exhaustion’ when explaining the term ‘Beat’. For me on one level it kind of means you are tired of having so much energy or weary of your in built genetic sometimes unwelcome will to exist.

Some insight into the album, Fredrick & The Golden Dawn

R: Aside from music, one of your most powerful passions and creative preoccupations has been poetry as well as performance art which is a mainstay of your live shows, have you had time to indulge in either lately?

K: Yeah both actually. I’m currently working on a few things writing-wise and I am also working on a new book with my collaborator Artist/Poet Susanne Wawra. It’s poetry, but also performance art. 

In my live shows, well, I’m just back from playing The Black Box Theatre in Galway. There I performed a rendition of my song 'Blood Wedding' for brick and hammer. Meaning, I sang the song solo, with a hammer in one hand and a butterly brick in the other. As I sang I crashed the hammer into the brick, in time. When I hit the brick bits of it shot out onto the stage and some of the audience, it created a kind of smokey effect coming from the brick as it was chipped away, debris flying everywhere by the force of the hammer. I have also experimented with symbolism and sounds when performing recently. For example, I used old cameras on stage. I’d take photos and mic up these old cameras so the sound of the lens and the click made it a percussion instrument, while they actually took photos of the audience also. In the same vein, when live on stage, I’ve wrapped up cutlery in a tablecloth and took a hammer to them. I’ve also used vacuum cleaners, electric razors, hair dryers, jigsaws, books slamming shut, dead cordyline tree leaves, clocks and electric fans. 

Also I performed the story which was printed in the liner notes of the vinyl version of my debut album “Fredrick & The Golden Dawn”. The story was written by author Rob Doyle and recounts (not without irony) a meeting he had with me during the making of the album. 

R: Do you ever become overwhelmed by all that is going on, despite the fact that these are all interests you hold dear to your heart, or are they in themselves, how you give your head space?    

K: I think there’s a part of me that constantly overwhelmed by all that’s going on. I don’t really have too many ways of giving my head space. I’m now reminded of that Iggy Pop quote of advice, "Always maintain a spiritual exit". However, as you say these things are in themselves a way of escaping so in that sense I’m really glad to be working on my new album. 

Kevin Nolan Interview Musician

R: You spent much of your time in the run up to releasing Fredrick in your flat in Rathmines, writing, making rough recordings for your own reference etc. have you done the same with the new album or opted for a different approach?

K: It’s a bit like Star Wars in the sense that a lot of the second album that I’m working on now was written before I wrote my debut album, Fredrick. But yes I have a lot of notes and rough recordings for references. The making of the new album is quite different. I didn’t opt for a different approach consciously, instead this new process has just presented itself to me. Arts & Disability Ireland The Arts Council and Axis Ballymun have awarded me a six month residence so this means I have an office where I can go to write also a recording studio in which to record the album, there’s also a performance space where we hope to film a music video and also a dance studio. This in itself alters the approach. 

R: Will you planning any live shows before and after the release and are you considering a different approach with regard to line-up etc.?

K: I hope to tour the new material. There’ll be a lunch for the new album and I hope to have a more substantial line up in order to be able to perform the music. I hope to play a few shows with an artist from the UK named Louis Barabbas, he’s just released an album and wants to come over to Ireland to do a little tour with me, sometime in September.  

R: Finally, where do you see Kevin Nolan, musician, poet, thespian and artist in 40 years time, and what will you hope you'll look back on as your greatest creative achievement in old age?!

K: Well If I make it that far I think I’d see that as a bit of an achievement. I remember a while ago I was sitting having a coffee with my friend. We were sitting at a table outside as the sun was shining, lost in conversation, when suddenly a middle aged man approached us. He was very obviously in bad shape and very likely was homeless. Myself and my friend were a little fearful as he said to me excitedly, "Ah would ya just kiss her!" Then he said "You know, I used to be a writer". Shortly after, he sped away still keeping up the conversation with himself as he bounded down the road. My friend in relief said "don’t mind him Kevin". I kinda took from the guy that he used to be an artist, a writer, who knows, maybe as a young man he was a frequenter of the coffee shops, a stringent debater of Balzac and Emmerson. Maybe forty years ago he was just like me, sitting outside in the sun by a coffee shop, lost in conversation with his friend. And so I took from that guy that, anything can happen, nobody know where they’ll be. But he did say also, "Ah would ya just kiss her!". As he was a writer, I kinda took that statement poetically, I felt he was saying to me, listen kid, I used to be a writer, now I’m old and homeless and this is what I’ve learnt, love, express love.  

For more on Kevin's poetry, music and happenings head over to his website here