Barra Carlin – Who Art Thou?


Posted 2 weeks ago in More

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

“This is weird, I’ve never been interviewed before.” The Who Art Thou Podcast, hosted by Barra Carlin, is a surprisingly prolific, always interesting and disarmingly well put together show. Over the course of its run, it has held incredible conversations with artists like promoter Chris Dardis, videographer Conor Beegan or Alexie Hagon of Mimosa Stick and Poke Tattoos.

However, it is often that he sits across the table from musicians, whether it’s national names like Shobsy, underground metal titans Uragh, and everyone in between, often granting artists their first interview. Barra’s congenial, conversational style, passion for championing new talent, and a disarmingly agreeable nature all conspire to create compelling conversation with each new episode.

Carlin has championed almost everybody I adore over the year that I have been listening to him, and whether it’s messy banter with Dublin shoegaze outfit Cabl or a heartbreaking confessional with Emily Jane O’ Connor of jazz punk pioneers Vernon Jane, the honesty and insights have made each show a highlight of my week. He hasn’t talked to No Spill Blood or Burning Realm yet. He probably should.

“When I started doing the podcast, I was reading notes. I’d have the questions in front of me, but you could hear it. I listen to podcasts all the time. Conan O’ Brien would be a big one. I love that it’s a chat, whereas so many of the other talk show ones feel formulaic. I can hear it in my voice so I just stopped using notes. Makes it much easier. Flows easier. Nicer to edit. I think people appreciate it more as well.”

Even the Who Art Thou? origin story has its own devil may-care-charm. “I love talking about art. I would wait in smoking areas to talk to bands about their sets. They never really liked that, because at that point I had about five or six pints in me as well. But I actually did want to talk to them. I mean, the level of creative talent in this country is unbelievable. Every avenue I turn down, I find another ridiculously talented person. I wanted to build a platform to chat with them about their work in a way that I had intended to, but also to get those conversations out there as well.”

In each episode, Carlin’s ecstatic enthusiasm shines through, with passion that often leads the discussion down unexpected avenues.  “It has led to conversations that didn’t go the way I expected, like the one with Emily [of Vernon Jane]. I didn’t think it was going to be as intense as it was. It was surprisingly personal. And as well it can be incredibly relaxed, friendly. I had A Lethal Black Ooze on, had never met Andy before, sat down with him and we were like old friends for an hour and a half.”

One of the more poignant episodes was with graphic designer Conor Leech, just after his work for the 2023 NCAD Works exhibition garnered national notoriety. “I had seen an announcement on RTÉ that an NCAD graduate had done a project on the Stardust fire in 1981. Conor’s grandmother lost three children that day. His graphic design project was a video that brought me to tears. I’d done a bit of research on the Stardust fire prior to our talk, and watched a number of documentaries in the lead up to our talk.

We had a very frank conversation for hours. It was eye opening to chat with somebody who really knows what they’re talking about. It was a somber episode, a bit of a change of pace for the podcast, but the work that he does is fantastic, and meaningful. That’s what I want the podcast to be.”

Words: Ahhamh Ó Caoimh

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