Nialler 9 selects six emerging Irish acts for your consideration over the summer festival season.
Electro-pop duo bringing their thrilling live show to a festival near you
Ireland could do with more bands who are versatile enough to get a late-night party started but who can also write a catchy tune you could imagine on the radio in the daytime. The Dublin-based duo of Christy Leech and Aimee Mallon have that potential.
Le Boom’s beginnings formed in New York where Leech DJed and played warehouse parties in Brooklyn in the summer of 2015. Debut song What We Do was a succinct example of the project’s lo-fi electro-pop roots and became a calling card for the Le Boom’s future prospects. Mallon joined the live show shortly after Leech returned home and the pair set about working on a live show that utilised glass bottle percussion, synths and Leech’s falsetto to create one of the most energetic live shows in the country.
A Le Boom show is an infectious dance party and while there are plans for a followup single soon, the duo have established their live credentials to the point where this summer, they can be found at Body&Soul Festival, Sea Sessions, Electric Picnic, Indiependence, Castlepalooza and UK festivals Latitude and Truck Festival.
The impact of Le Boom is bound to grow deeper into 2018.
A Cork artist embraces her accent and a global pop sound
The internet has meant that local sounds and scenes don’t remain in their bubble for long. That is a double-edged sword. Scenes don’t get to develop in isolation but it also allows for a potential greater impact beyond their hometown borders. The Cork artist Lyra embodies the one thing that a globalist new music system can’t transport – an accented singing voice.
The ambitious artist moved to London a couple of years ago to give her songs the best support they needs but she wisely didn’t lose her Cork brogue. On her debut EP W.I.L.D., Cork inflection of her singing accent is one of the highlights having learned to embrace it. “I tried to sing differently for so much of my childhood,” Lyra says. “It made me unhappy trying to be something that I wasn’t.”
The result is modern pop music that has the big chorus and crashing drum sensibility of the Swedish production methods and an Enya-style ethereality. Her recent homecoming Irish shows demonstrated an artist with a cheeky sense of humour and new songs that are feature melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Florence & The Machine record. You can catch her at Body&Soul Festival.
Alternative pop with melody and ambition
Aoife McCann and Ellie McMahon met at BIMM College in Dublin in 2011 and are part of a new generation of young Irish musicians who don’t lack in the confidence department. The pair have been developing their synergistic avant-pop music since then, drawing inspiration from the versatile indie artist tUnE-yArDs and the melodies of Anita O’Day.
Their debut EP channelled Afro-beat pop and child-like vocal lines as best represented by the exuberant Feel It In My Bones.
They have since demonstrated a flair for creativity, collaboration and performance in their live shows which make considerations for things most young artists are only beginning to grappling with – costumes, set design, style and movement.
Their recent single I Walk, a song about “self-belief and determination,” adds some textured maturity to their bright harmonies and was accompanied by a artful music video in collaboration with upcoming photographer Ellis Grace and and set designer Ciara O’Donovan. They play Clonmel Junction Festival in July and Body&Soul in June.
Mix & Fairbanks
A Kildare duo mastering classic dancefloor edits
Rob Smyth and Gary O’Reilly are two young Kildare DJs and producers who have been immersing themselves in the DJ scene over the last two years in Dublin’s dance venues and clubs.
They have developed a reputation for DJ sets that feature eighties’ classic disco, electronic and pop, perfectly calibrated for the dancefloors of the city, more often teeming with house and techno heads.
They’ve since been creating their own line of edits that just happen to showcase the deep knowledge of the history of dance floor pop whether it’s their edit of Womack & Womack, Indeep or Angie Stone. Last year, they created a mix for Nialler9 featuring tracks from the eighties that only utilised the Linndrum machine and they’ve recently provided long-form remixes of Le Boom and Bantum that capture the spirit of the era they are are clearly enamoured with.
A bigger surprise was their debut single Girls on the Kildare label 045 Recordings. Their first original track managed to both conjure the synth-bleeping giddiness of Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse and the celestial disco-funk of Daft Punk. Oh, and the name? It comes the two western actors Douglas Fairbanks and Tom Mix. They play Bare in the Woods, Body&Soul, Dublin City Block Party and Longitude this summer.
Dublin rapper moves out of the online realm and into the real world
There’s no genre more underground in the country than Ireland than rap and that’s largely down to the sheer volume of rappers and producers making music of a hip-hop strand of expression. Many are doing it not for the fame but for the love and are seemingly content to operate from their bedrooms, rarely playing live and posting videos on Youtube or tracks on Soundcloud for their friends for whoever happens to find them.
Kojaque is one such artist who has been making music for four years who initially fit into that mould. The Dublin rapper captured the attention with Midnight Flower, a jazzy downbeat song with a video performed underwater (which required advance training) that currently has over 300,000 views.
The Sunday Roast mixtape followed with guest vocals from Little Green Cars’ Faye O’Rourke and with it a sense of an artist stepping into the public eye. Now playing live sets and with recent track Wificode, Kojaque’s step out of the online shadows feels almost complete helped by laser-focused lyrical references to Tame Impala and Dublin Bus. He plays Bare in the Woods.
A singer-songwriter poised with a purpose
There’s usually a point in an emerging singer-songwriter’s career where they graduate from a starter to the next level. Sometimes that means kicking things off with a promising debut solo single and moving an established sound on with embellished arrangements. In the case of Ailbhe Reddy, her earlier material already sounded fully-formed if sparse, and the Dubliner sang with an quietly intense assertiveness that has only become more obvious since she appeared in 2015.
Recording sessions with Darragh Nolan of Asta Kalapa Studios resulted in the layered singer-songwriter folk of Hollowed Out Sea EP. Appearances at prominent festivals like Other Voices and Electric Picnic cemented her steely resolve and fanbase and the EP went on to gather up over 1 million streams.
Reddy kickstarted 2017 with a spate of small sold-out shows in Dublin and London before the release of her recent EP Attached To Memory. In songs like the pained relationship confessional of Relent and the pleading Disconnect, Reddy’s voice maintains a magnetic force. Live shows at Another Love Story, Body&Soul Festival, Clonmel Junction Festival and the Cambridge Folk Festival are on the cards.
Words: Niall Byrne
Image Credits: Le Boom: Ruth Medjeber; Lyra: Corinne Noel; AE MAK: Bríd O’Donovan; Mix and Fairbanks: Declan Kelly; Kojaque: Anthony O’Connor