Smoothboi Ezra Talks Their New EP, Lyrical Subjectivity, and Their Pet Cat

Photo by Leon McCulloughl

By Hannah Quearney

Since the drop of their ever-suave single “Thinking of You” in 2018, Smoothboi Ezra has established themselves as not only a transient producer and thoughtful songwriter, but as the renaissance songster to watch. Known outside of their moniker as Ezra Williams, the Greystones-based muso excels at a sonic balancing act that few musicians are able to accomplish. Their instrumentals are sparse but harness their own lo-fi splendor as their confessional lyrics lift everything into equilibrium. One aspect isn’t underpinned in favour of the other; both are attuned to the forgiving musical imagination that they have created.

This sentiment lingers three years later, even as Ezra makes their musical transition from acoustics to electronics on their new EP Stuck. Exploring the intricacies of adolescent relationships, Stuck follows a formative relationship with a self-awareness and maturity that scarcely falls in the realm of grovelling or melodrama.

Nameless Faceless caught up with Ezra to discuss their creative process for their latest release, their musical growth, and the people that inspire them most.

Nameless Faceless: Congrats on the new EP! We’re really looking forward to hearing it. I know that you’ve said previously that your music is about whatever your listeners want to take from it. I find this perspective really interesting, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Smoothboi Ezra: I think for me a lot of the time a sad song could actually be a happy song for me and vice a versa, people tend to associate certain songs with different time periods one person could listen to my song during a terrible time in their life and have it mean something really important, and another could listen during the best time in their life and have it mean something completely different. When I go to listen to a song I purposefully don’t listen to Genius interviews or look up what it means because it feels more personal when I come up with my own meaning.

NF: In light of this release, can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?

SE: I write in the middle of the night, it’s a brain dump of my thoughts about the day or an event. There isn’t a plan, it just happens. Songs are sometimes whole when I write them, other times they take years to come together as amalgamation of lines from other unfinished songs.

NF: Did you take any new approaches with the EP? Were there any new sounds or ideas that you really liked and wanted to take inspiration from or experiment with?

SE: I never set out to do anything I usually just go with the flow, my songs usually end up sounding nothing like I intend them to.

NF: A lot of growth and maturity can spark in three years – both personally and musically. What do you think are some of the ways in which you’ve matured and progressed as an artist?

SE: I feel I’ve grown as a writer and producer. I’ve learned more about production. I suppose I’m older and so my writing is naturally evolving with me.

NF: I know you’ve cited Elliott Smith as a big influence (I’m a huge fan!) and I’m just wondering what qualities of his music inspire you most?

SE: His melodies just hit with me. I like the honesty of his lyrics, he was an amazing artist.

NF: What artists would you love to work with in your dream collab?

SE: I would love to collab with Phoebe Bridgers, Haley Heynderickx, Soccer Mommy, Kate Bush and Snail Mail.

NF: Do you have any thoughts on the Dublin music scene? I feel that artists who aren’t super central in the city rarely get the look-in that they deserve.

SE: I don’t know much about the music scene in Dublin as I was just starting out in October 2019 and I did four live performances and then COVID and lockdown hit. I was 17 when I started and wasn’t going out much so I’ve yet to learn about the scene but I’m looking forward to it.

NF: In your opinion, what Irish artists should we be listening to?

SE: Patricia Lalor, Sammy Copley, Soapy Rain, Pillow Queens and Anna Mieke.

NF: I love your cat Frog! He’s a very cute boy, could you tell us more about him?

SE: He’s great. He’s a big brother now cause I’ve just got another kitten called Pixie. They’re great friends and keep each other company, which I am pleased about because I wasn’t sure if Frog would accept Pixie, but it has just worked out perfectly.

NF: What are you anticipating most from 2021?

SE: Getting to do live shows with my friends and to travel and see exciting places. I can’t wait to go to Iceland in November.

Listen to Smoothboi Ezra’s EP Stuck below.

Exclusive: ELKAE Debuts New Single “Distraction,” Talks Nostalgia, Queer Yearning, and Community

By Ellen Pentony

“Distraction,” the irresistible new single from ELKAE (Laura Keane) is premiering right now, here on Nameless Faceless! The disco- and funk-infused dance track is the second single from ELKAE’s upcoming EP Girls Like You Like Me, set to be released on July 9th.

Listen to the track below — a necessary addition to your outdoor party playlist — and read our interview with Keane to hear more about the inspiration for the EP, teenage talent shows, and nostalgia for queer nights out.

Nostalgia is the dominant theme of ELKAE’s upcoming EP Girls Like You Like Me.

“Thematically it was definitely inspired by my life before the pandemic. It’s very much meeting different people and being in different relationships and going out and the whole gay scene – which I think doesn’t really feel like it exists in at the minute,” Keane explains over a Zoom call.

Exploring the subtleties and everydayness of the queer experience was a priority for Keane, who says that “as queer people we’re kind of sick of seeing the whole ‘this person’s gay and let’s make it all about them being gay and coming out.’ ” She wants her music to be universal but also specific to a queer audience, so that those who know, know and those who don’t still enjoy it for what it is. For Keane, there’s a “subtle difference to queer music. I’m not sure if it’s the tone, or if it’s the kind of manner in which we speak about the person were writing about or what it is, but I’ve definitely heard songs where I think, That’s about a girl and it’s a girl singing it.

She reflects on how her song writing has been a journey, recounting a particularly cringe-inducing moment at a talent show as a teenager: “I did a song that I wrote called “Just Leave It.” I wrote it when I was 12 or 13.  And the judges were like ‘Oh it’s good,’ but they called me cynical.” She laughs and says matter-of-factly that “you haven’t been offended until you’ve been called cynical as Gaeilge – at the age of 13.”  

Since that humbling moment, Keane’s musical style has developed into a sophisticated yet free-spirited sound, blending elements of funk, disco, and contemporary pop to create tracks very much suited to the dance floor of the George or Street 66. For Girls Like You Like Me, there was a definite effort to create a “throwback EP” where “in each song, there’s a touch of influence from like the ’70s or the ’80s – whether that’s funk or disco. 

Things get nostalgic again when we talk about the inspiration for the title track “Girls Like You Like Me.” The song features a rich chorus of voices from the Irish music scene, including Lydia Ford, Chloe Agnew, ZaPho, Toshín, Karla Chubb (Sprints), Sinead McConville and Taylor Mas. When asked if all of the featured artists are also queer, she says “some but not all” and that she doesn’t intentionally choose queer people to collaborate with, but that it just happens.

“Nearly everyone I’ve worked with is gay, or female,” Keane says. “It’s not planned but nearly everyone that’s done my photoshoots or artwork, or directed my music videos is gay.“

This sense of community is central to her upcoming EP. While these tracks are dancefloor-ready bops, the last 18 months of forced separation from our favourite queer venues and people gives the title track a heavier emotional weight than Keane initially intended.

“I hadn’t thought about it in an emotional way until I heard it happen,” she reflects. “But I thought that was just for me because I missed my mates.”

It’s hard not to feel a wave of nostalgia when listening to a song that celebrates the essence of the Irish queer experience – bumping into your ex, or ex’s ex in the toilets of Street 66 while you’re on a date with another one of their exes. Too specific? I think not. 

AE Mak Talks Self-Production, Her Debut Album, and Letting Loose

Photo by Collective Dublin

By Clare Martin

Aoife McCann, better known as AE Mak, has always stood out as one of the more idiosyncratic acts on the Irish music scene. She’s always defied the labels of genre, though art-pop falls closest to her stirring, avant-garde songs. Her voice swings dramatically between euphoria and heady moodiness, no doubt informed by her time as a theatre kid before attending BIMM Dublin.

“I was always a performer and I always sang and now I write,” she says of her songwriting. “I don’t know, it’s just who I am, I think. There was no big backdrop to why it happened. It’s just what I do.”

McCann’s latest EP, Class Exercises, is a decided departure from her previous releases, throbbing with party-ready beats. She imagined the EP as the types of tracks you might show your friends at a house party, leaving pandemic-weary listeners with the “hope of craic.”

“The future is parties. It’s gonna be like the Roaring ‘20s now in the next year. I think everyone’s going to be letting loose,” she explains. “It’s a dreamer EP, I think that’s the main theme in everything that I write and make… As anyone who makes music, you just want people to feel good and to feel inspired and feel hopeful, don’t you? Just general hope.”

Class Exercises also represents a new sonic chapter thanks to the fact that it was McCann’s first time producing her own music. For years, lullahush, aka Daniel McIntyre, has taken care of the production side of AE Mak’s output. When the pandemic hit, though, that all changed. McCann took an Ableton course last summer and started self-producing “out of necessity at the beginning,” she recalls. “And then it became this whole different thing where I felt, Fuck, I can do this on my own. I don’t need anyone to make my records for me.

Photo by Collective Dublin

“Jamie” was specifically made for the Ableton course (putting the EP’s title Class Exercises in context), with artists like Jamie XX, Purity Ring, and M.I.A. used as specific references for the sound. This was a whole new experience for McCann, because “usually other music doesn’t influence my music. I just make stuff off-the-bat in a moment of energy.”

She gets a sense of empowerment out of production now, too, citing the dearth of female producers in the Irish music scene. 

This desire to strike out on her own is nothing new for McCann. When the AE Mak project began, they were a seven-piece band made up of people she met through her vocal degree at BIMM Dublin.

“I think when you’re that young, and you’re just starting out, you don’t really know what your focus is or what you want. I just had lots of brilliant people around me in BIMM, so I was like, Let’s start a band! And it was great,” she remembers. 

She looks back on the time fondly, but appreciates the freedom of being a solo artist. “There are so many problems when you have a band, especially when you’re the one writing the songs, because it becomes everyone’s project,” McCann says. “And you’re kind of like, Well, I feel like this is mine. I don’t want to compromise. As you get older, you just learn to own it. And you’re like, I want to do it on my own now.

This desire to manage her own image and music isn’t just about being a self-professed “control freak,” but also her keen understanding of how the creative industry treats artists and their work as commodities.

“It’s important that you have your hand in everything you do, because it’s you that’s being sold,” she remarks. “So why would you let people sell you to the world with their ideas or with their input? I know loads of artists do, but I personally wouldn’t.”

This last year, though, McCann relinquished some of that control so that she could focus on the music production side of the EP. Her music has always had strong visual elements, from her unusual, evocative dancing to the elaborate music videos. I reminded her of the “Dancing Bug” video with Le Boom, filmed in Stoneybatter and rife with colorful outfits, which she jokingly describes as “West Side Story meets Coronation Street or something.”

For the Class Exercises EP videos, McCann worked with visual artists like Mark Logan and Collective Dublin for “New Friend” and Julie Weber for “Jamie.” “New Friend” takes McCann and her co-stars—including a clown—on a fever dream journey through city centre. The filming was just as wild as the video itself, with McCann and the others piled into a red Mitsubishi.

“We were firing around the motorways, with the Jeep in front of us and a camera out the window. Me, clown, and Jeanne behind me,” she recalls.

As they barrelled through Dublin’s Port Tunnel, security people took notice and rang the guards.

“We were hanging out the door like standing up and our arms back and then they rang the guards. They rang the police!” she laughs. “So there were like four police vans coming after us down the motorway and they pulled us over. Eventually they were like, There’s been a complaint for reckless driving. But we weren’t reckless driving, we just looked fucked and mad out of our heads.”

Thankfully, no one was arrested. “I think the police actually got a good laugh out of it,” McCann observes. “You could see it. They were like, What the fuck is this?

The video for “Jamie” may not have incurred any run-ins with the law, but is just as strange in its own way. Weber and McCann are both fans of Suspiria, Aldous Harding, and David Lynch, which informed the surreal black-and-white video. Weber’s fascination with Balinese dancing also inspired the captivating, finger-focused choreography. 

“Jamie” was shot at the An Táin Arts Centre in Dundalk, Co. Louth—a town that’s boasted an impressive number of enthralling musical acts in recent years, AE Mak included. Just Mustard, who played SXSW this year, and the rap group TPM number among other exciting Dundalk exports. When I ask why she thinks Dundalk has become such a creative hub in recent years, McCann’s not quite sure.

“I think it’s ‘cause we’re a border town. We’re not really loved by the South and we’re like, hated by the North,” she says with a laugh before continuing, “Dundalk gets a bad rep in terms of how safe it is socially, but musically, everyone’s like, What’s happening in Dundalk? It’s fucking amazing. I don’t know. We all grew up in The Spirit Store.”

McCann may be based in Dundalk at the moment, but she’s relocating to Berlin for the summer to make music there for a bit. She’s working on her long-awaited debut album.

“It’s really good. It doesn’t sound like Class Exercises at all. It’s more back in the indie pop world,” she notes. While she’s certainly producing the album herself, she’s hoping to work with a co-producer in L.A. to finesse the record’s sound. 

Besides her album, McCann is excited to return to in-person performances. She describes her ideal first gig back as being at the Grand Social in Dublin.

“It’s only 300 people, but I always played my best shows in the Grand Social and there’s something about the number 300,” she explains. “I just think it’s the best group of people to perform to. It’s just real close and intimate and sweaty and just good craic.”

Before we end the Zoom call, I ask McCann if she has any advice for fledgling musicians. She answers with self-deprecation and sincerity.

“Just take your time. There’s no rush, like,” she says. Then, laughing at herself, she adds, “Believe in yourself. Take your time, don’t rush and find—Oh my god, I’m gonna sound like such a loser—find your voice. Find what you want to make and what you naturally make and what you’re good at. It took me six years to get here and I’m finally happy with what I’m making. So yeah, just take your time. That’s my advice. Take your time and enjoy it.”

KK Lewis Opens Up About Busking, Berlin, and Her New EP

Photo by Nicholas O’Donnell

By Clare Martin

Indie-soul artist KK Lewis began writing and performing music during that unmoored, liminal period between secondary school and university when “you have no idea what you want to do,” as she puts it. 

“It was a really lonely time in my life and I just delved into writing poetry. And then I taught myself how to play the guitar and I was like, let’s make them songs,” she recalls with a laugh. Picking up the instrument via YouTube videos came pretty easily to her since Lewis had played the fiddle growing up—a pastime she’d set aside in secondary school “because I thought it wasn’t cool anymore and I wanted to go out drinking with my friends.” 

Soon after, a friend introduced her to the busking scene and it felt like a natural fit for Lewis. “I went to open mics and played my songs, and then I just didn’t do anything else,” the Dublin native says. 

Photo by Nicholas O’Donnell

She found open mics more intimidating than busking for the simple reason that all eyes are on you in that setting. When you’re busking, though, “people might walk past, they might hate what you’re doing, but they’ll think about it for a second, and then they’ll just walk on.”

Thanks to the strong sense of community among the buskers, it felt safe and fun to perform. “It was like a social outing, as well as making money,” she explains. “So it was always a great experience, for me anyways.”

Eventually, Lewis found herself in a bit of a rut creativity-wise, playing covers on the street and not writing as much original material as before. While she was making money as a busker, a trip to Berlin transformed her perspective and made her want to change gears. 

“I went to Berlin for two months last year,” Lewis says. “Berlin is crazy and I was busking over there and it was an intense experience. I came home and I just said, like, I’m gonna write now and I want to release my music and do it properly.

Photo by Nicholas O’Donnell

She’d written an EP before her sojourn in Berlin, which Lewis now writes off as “messy,” and upon her return she decided she wanted to redo it completely. Luckily, Lewis had a collaborator she’d already been working with: Papa Rua. 

Lewis met Papa Rua when she first started writing music. He was in college and working with a “singing group thing” that her mother was in. 

“My mum was like, Oh, there’s this guy Darragh [Papa Rua], I think you should get in contact with him, and he might be able to help you out. This would have been 2018 maybe? I just messaged him on Facebook and I was like, Hey, can you help me with my songs? And he used to come over and just go through my very early songs, like literally just lyrics and a melody,” Lewis remembers. “He’d go through my songs and play guitar and just give me advice. And then it wasn’t until an actual year later then after I started busking and doing open mics that I seriously started working with him and he started producing my songs.”

After Berlin and Lewis’ musical reset, she and Papa Rua went on a lot of long walks and surrounded themselves with new artistic influences. Lewis’ style was previously very singer/songwriter-based, but now she and her producer were on a steady diet of Prince, Biig Piig, Kanye West (specifically 808s & Heartbreak, a suggestion from Papa Rua), Joy Crookes, and Frankie Knuckles, along with Amy Winehouse, who Lewis has loved for ages. 

Lockdown had begun, but since Papa Rua lived just up the road from her, Lewis spent her days there working on her craft until he’d drive her home in the evening. She filled the rest of her time with painting and listening to the Blindboy Podcast to keep the creativity going, but without so much pressure. “It was a whole summer of just going in between the five songs. So it was actually really fun,” she says of the Dreaming EP, due on 18th June via Anon Records. 

One of the more challenging songs on the EP was “Good Enough,” a thoughtful rumination on the unrealistic body standards thrust on women and girls. While Lewis is insistent that she doesn’t want the song to be a “social issue anthem,” the R&B-inflected track speaks to a harsh reality that many girls and women face. 

“I just want people to listen to it and be like, Oh, wow, like, I felt like that too. I’m not a weirdo, or I’m not like, stupid for feeling these things… I hope it gives people the urge to step back from social media, because like, I’ve definitely taken a step back,” Lewis says. She’s still trying to strike the right balance with social media, since she needs to use it to promote her music but also shies away from having images of herself as a central part of that promotion.

“There’s nothing wrong with putting pictures of yourself up online,” she continues. “I just want to think of more creative things to put up, positive things people can watch and not look at it and be like, Oh, I don’t look like that, or I don’t have this or that. Just things that people will look at and be like, Oh, that’s cool.”

Her latest single “First Bus Home” is about a guy she was sort-of seeing in her late teens and “innocence and confusion and how love can literally just change your whole mood and you don’t know what to do.” 

The soft, shimmering song follows the pair as they wait for the first bus home—a pretty relatable struggle for Dubliners back when we could stay out at pubs til the wee hours—with the sounds of birdsong and a bus’ ignition giving the track a rich sense of place. The accompanying music video shows a girl and a guy in some of Lewis’ favourite spots to wander around in Dublin: Grafton Street, Stephen’s Green, DiFontaine’s (she’s a big fan of their vegan pizza), Temple Bar, and Love Lane.

Even though it’ll be a while until in-person performances are a thing again in Ireland, Lewis is eager to get back to performing. A recent livestream had her saying to herself, “Oh my god, this is why I do it.” 

When I ask about a specific setting she’d like for her first performance back, Lewis floats the ideas of a drunken night at Whelans or a vibey space filled with plants and rugs, but she’s not picky.

“I don’t know what it would be. Just on a stage, really, to be honest.”

Chatting to Cherym about Breaking Up the Sausage Fest, Doing Big Gay Stuff, and Making Music for the Pure Fun of It

By Ellen Pentony

There’s a whole host of young talent emerging across Ireland right now that is making me, at the grand old age of 24, feel absolutely ancient. It’s a weird feeling, fangirling over bands who are younger than you. You’re like, This is embarrassing, right? But honestly, it’s not, because these new artists are just so damn impressive. 

Cherym, the self described “unce unce” punk trio from Derry, are the latest band whose success is making me question what the hell I’ve done with my life. Originally formed by Hannah Richardson (vocals, guitar) and Nyree Porter (bass) who knew each other in school, Alannagh Doherty (drums) was the final piece of the puzzle, joining just before they exploded onto the scene in 2019.

Doherty singles out the Ones To Watch slot in Whelans as their big break. She says that “we got [the Cork festival] Indiependence from doing that show. We did an Irish tour, we started doing bigger festivals like Electric Picnic.” 

Asked about the music scene in Derry, Richardson laughs and says “Bennigans—that’s where everything is going down.” The wee pub on John Street is seemingly the place to be because “you just know that if you put on a show in Bennigans it’ll sell out.” 

To her, this is what makes the scene quite a welcoming and encouraging place because “it doesn’t really matter what’s on. There’s always gonna be people out in the yard, just rocking out to whatever kind of music, which I quite like, I think that’s nice.” 

When asked about the motives behind starting a band, it was refreshing to hear that they didn’t overthink it. There’s no manifesto or agenda. Instead, Cherym simply wanted to be “girls in a band.” That and the fact that Richardson says, “At the time Derry was a pure sausage fest, like an absolute disgrace of a scene.” They’re not afraid to speak their mind and don’t seem to care too much about what others think of that—not in an annoyingly apathetic way, but in a genuinely down-to-earth, I’m-comfortable-in-my-skin way. 

Speaking about their musical style, Doherty explains that their differing influences “kind of blended into one specific type of music.”  Pop-punk is the genre the band are most associated with, but Doherty is quick to point out that wasn’t a conscious choice and that they “never really settled on anything. It was ’Right, what are we feeling like doing today?’ ” 

This carefree spirit translates into their lyrics and subject matter. Richardson says that one song they’re currently working on was particularly influenced by the show Dirty John—a documentary about a woman that kills her ex-husband and his partner. “He was an arsehole,” she says, “so like, I sort of sympathise with her.” She laughs, clarifying that what she really finds interesting is the way the storytelling influences the audience to feel for a kind of messed up person. 

Doherty jumps in here to say that they do write about deeper stuff that is more personal to them. She explains, “We’re all part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Since we all share that experience, we want to have our music and our band to be a safe space.” 

The band members are open about their identity, but don’t make a big deal about being queer.  Richardson brings up a particular interview where they were asked, “Why do you sing about girls?’’ The interviewer “didn’t say that’s not normal or anything, but he was sort of implying it. For us that is the norm, though.” 

Doherty adds that it would be weird for them to write anything else: “Like, if I was to write a song like ’Driver’s License” or whatever it’s called, like, that’s foreign to me. It wouldn’t make sense. Singing about boys? I can’t do that.” 

Cherym want to be make it clear that they’re here and definitely queer, but it’s not a big deal because it’s “pure natural” to them. “It’s all about normalising it,” says Doherty, who points to the first time she heard Haley Kiyoko singing about girls the same way straight men sing about girls—except less weird and creepy. She hopes that their music resonates with “a younger generation or those who haven’t come out yet,” so that they have something to relate to. 

It’s a bit mental that they’re talking about being role models for a younger generation given their own youth, but it shows a maturity and awareness that underpins their carefree, fun-loving style and personality. 

They have some new releases coming up, with Richardson admitting that the pandemic has given them “a wee lifeline to just be really productive and write loads of songs.” Although normally flat out with gigs, she says that this is the first time they’ve put out songs and thought “aw, I can’t wait to put out the next one.” Their latest release “Kisses On My Cards,” is an Avril Lavigne-esque angsty love song. It’s very Pink Slip—that’s Lindsay Lohan’s punk band in the movie Freaky Friday for anyone who isn’t as obsessed with it as I am. 

While their sound is definitely reminiscent of the early 2000s, Doherty says, “When we develop as people, our music is also developing along with us.  That way you can expand your fan base, you can expand your audience.” Richardson adds that making music right now is exciting because there is so much genre-bending stuff happening. 

We finish up our chat by talking about their dream act to go on tour with. Richardson hopes that whoever it is, they would be big. She immediately says Charly Bliss, but then admits that might be a bit out of their reach. She continues, “Realistically speaking, if One Direction were doing a reunion tour tomorrow and were like ‘We want Cherym to come and support,’ I’d be like, ‘What’s happening boys? Straight white men, I love you!’” 

For Doherty, the first band that comes to mind is PUP—the Canadian rock band who were responsible for one of the happiest days of Richardson’s’s life so far. 

Richardson tells the story of when they went to a PUP gig “wearing Cherym t-shirts and at one point [PUP lead singer] Stefan came out and I told Nyree to take her top off and throw it at him. Like she had a top on underneath, by the way. So she threw her Cherym tee on stage and he wore it for the remainder of the gig and it was just insane.”

Other standouts are Paramore and Pvris, whose frontwoman Lynn Gunn is also queer. Doherty says that it would be great to be “with other big gays doing big gay stuff.” Richardson identifies Haim as a dream group to open for, but then goes on to say it might be the end of the band because they’d “absolutely eat us alive on stage cause they’re that good. Like we’d have to quit. Our biggest gig to date and we just quit after it.” 

Very punk rock of them.

There’s a really endearing, humble energy about Cherym. They certainly care about their music but, refreshingly, don’t seem to care too much about what others think of them.  They’re just out here, living their best lives, making music for the pure fun of it. They’ve already achieved their goal of being girls in a band. The sausage fest is well and truly over; make way for Cherym’s reign.

State of the Scene: Irish Music in 2021

There’s some real cosmic fuckery going on in the Irish music industry right now.

The scene is more exhilarating and bursting with talent than ever, but we’re unable to pack into sweaty, beer-stained venues to see these homegrown acts play live. Nonetheless, the past 12 months have provided us with a bevy of phenomenal musicians and bands to guide us through an objectively shitty year, whether it was Pillow Queens’ stirring rock or Denise Chaila’s captivating, hook-laden rap.  

Despite the abundance of new and ground-breaking music, we’ve been disheartened by the relative lack of coverage of artists who didn’t fit the generic mould of being straight cis white men. We wanted to start this magazine (Blog? Website? Online publication? Take your pick.) to combat the status quo. Last year, the Why Not Her campaign exposed the staggering disparity in how often Irish women and artists of colour are played on the radio. Women only made up 11% of Ireland’s Top 100 Airplay Chart in the latter half of 2020, while men and gender collaborative efforts made up 85% and 4% of the chart, respectively. 

To kick ourselves off, we asked people active in the Irish scene the same three questions to see how they feel about the state of our island’s music. For obvious reasons, all of these interviews happened digitally, whether over Zoom or email, but their energy and excitement was still palpable even through pixelated screens.


Bitch Falcon lead singer Lizzie Fitzpatrick’s voice is a formidable force, burning bright throughout their debut album, Staring at Clocks. The Dublin band’s sound oscillates between grunge and punk, with songs often culminating in a cathartic maelstrom of furious guitar and pounding drums. With sonic power like theirs, it’s no wonder their record received an RTÉ Choice Award nomination. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Lizzie Fitzpatrick: In terms of marginalised communities, people in Direct Provision don’t really have that much of an outlet. It’s only really up to individual bands that are trying to offer a bit of a leg up. People living in Direct Provision are really restricted from integrating into the community, which is really shit. There are different things that can help, like I’ve seen gigs where it’s free for people from Direct Provision because otherwise they can’t really integrate at all. You’re not allowed to earn any money in Direct Provision and you can only get 20 euro a week to keep you going, and that includes your food. So in terms of marginalised communities, I think that it’s really down to the artists themselves to reach out, which can be admirable that some artists take it upon themselves to do that, but I don’t think people know enough about it. I would love to see a bit more of putting the hand out there. People from Direct Provision are really left on their own to put themselves out there.

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

LF: I think we need more opportunities to develop music, like government-funded rehearsal studios or production studios. That way there’s more access for all types of people to kind of come in and really use music as a community project, rather than it being something that’s kept exclusive where, you know, you can’t record anything unless you have a friend who can just do it DIY. Otherwise, it’s quite expensive and it’s quite daunting to get into, so I would love to see a programme where they make it far more open and accessible for people to even see the inside of the studio or produce ideas. It’s really scary when you first go in. You don’t know what to ask for and it’s all like, You only have eight hours left, so you better have it perfect, and you don’t know what to do. It’d be cool to have more learning opportunities in the music scene.

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

LF: I love Pretty Happy from Cork. They’re this mad indie rock band, but they have little experimental parts to them. They’re like the Pixies when the Pixies were mental. Not straight up stuff, more just fucking mad, I love them. I like Silverbacks and I like NewDad from Galway, they’re pretty cool. They’re chill indie. And then I like Shifting. They’re heavy, stoner-y doom rock from Dublin and Cork. The music is pretty intense and screamy, so you wouldn’t really think it’s the type of music their name suggests.


Galway rapper Maimouna Salif, better known as Celaviedmai, has opened for the likes of Lil Wayne and Mac Miller, but she’s a star all her own. She mixes the incredible confidence on her give-no-fucks anthem “Reckless,” with a keen sense of vulnerability on her collaboration with Nealo and Alan McKee “Questions” when she confesses, “I almost lost my life / Wish I would die / So many tears I cry.” Her candor and brilliant bars are exactly what Ireland needs right now. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Maimouna Salif: I think it’s flourishing. When I started originally, there weren’t that many artists, but now I feel like people are coming out of nowhere, which is great. I love the fact that we’re now building a small community and I think, especially for women, our voices are being heard a little more than they used to be. I also see a lot of queer artists getting a lot of shine. An artist I actually love right now is Bobbi Arlo. She’s a queer artist, as well. I love that there is more diversity and that there’s also more shine on LGBTQ artists. 

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

MS: I’d like for urban music to get more shine. When you go to other places, like in the UK, urban music is very mainstream. Here, DJs or radio stations will be like, Oh, we can’t play this because it’s too something. They don’t really say it, but they do say it like, It’s too urban, it’s too hip hop, it’s too rap, or whatever. I can’t wait until urban music is popular music and it can be played continuously on the radio, especially local Irish urban music. I hope that changes very soon. But so far, we have a great community. I think people uniting and even doing collaborations is pushing it towards a change.

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

MS: Bobbi Arlo. I love Nealo. Can I say four? Tomi Keni and Tomike. I came across Bobbi Arlo last year, but I know she’s releasing a single soon. I’ve been stalking her a little bit on Instagram. Her music is really, really good. She has a song called “Berries,” I think that song is just the vibe. She is part of the LGBTQ community, and then Tomi is part of the LGBTQ community as well. We did two songs together: “Cake” and “Lose Control.” He’s just amazing. I can’t wait until he actually gets the shine he deserves. I think being a male gay artist in the urban community—even just rap—is still not somewhat accepted. There is still a big gap there, so I hope he gets the shine he deserves because he’s really, really good. He’s a great songwriter and just an overall amazing artist. 

And then Nealo, I did a song with him called “Questions,” and he has an amazing album. He’s from Dublin himself and he’s just so good. You need to actually go listen to the album. It actually hits you right in your soul and you’re like, Oh my gosh, I know it was emotional before but now I’m actually crying. It’s just so heartfelt and emotional and I feel like everyone can relate to this album even if you haven’t gone through the same experiences. 

And then Tomike—I’m telling you she is next to blow up. If I were to say Queen of R&B, I would say Tomike. I think she just needs that bit more of a focus from the Irish industry and then Ireland will be on the map when it comes to R&B. She released a song called “Hit Me Up” recently, but one of my favourite songs from her is “You Don’t Really Rate Me.” I think the reason why I relate to that song so much is because sometimes I just feel like the underdog, like no one really cares—not like music-wise, but just in life. Sometimes you feel like, Oh my gosh, does anyone even notice me like, do I even exist? But then the song gives you a feeling of, You know what, even though you don’t notice me, that’s fine. I’m still the baddest bitch. It’s gangster but R&B at the same time. I love that song so much. And then her song “Hit Me Up” is like you’re talking to a guy or girl or whatever, saying, Just call me, okay, this is a vibe. She’s a very versatile artist and I can’t wait to see what she releases throughout the year. Sorry, I go so in depth when I talk about people, but when I love an artist, I’m just so obsessed. I feel like I know them like at their core, but I don’t, but I do.


With their gorgeous, lemony vocals and penchant for intimate storytelling, DYVR (aka Adam Cleaver) follows in the footsteps of artists like Blood Orange. The Belfast-based musician uses dark, pop-inflected electronica to explore their multifaceted queer identity. DYVR’s music is sonically seductive, but also challenges our preconceived notions of gender and sexuality. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Adam Cleaver: As a relative newcomer to the Irish scene, I suppose my perspective is kind of interesting on this. I’d say one of the biggest feelings I have is that representation is something that seems to be a big conversation in Ireland right now. Like with so many countries, there are questions to be asked about why there have previously been so few artists in the public eye who are from backgrounds other than the cis-white-heteronormative one. It’s important that we have fair representation, because we all deserve to see people like ourselves achieving in the world. With all that said, the scene is so exciting in Ireland right now—I’m seeing so much incredible work being made by people who are celebrating their unique identities and that is just so inspiring. 

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

AC: I think I would just love to see even more of the work that has been started. What we’re seeing in Ireland is just the beginning of a story that hopefully leads to a more inclusive environment for all types of people.  As a queer artist, I would love to see more artists who own that part of their identity—and there is always room for stronger ties at local level between charities, activist groups and artists which I would also love to see more of.

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

AC: This is always such a tricky question because there are so many exciting artists in Ireland! I would say I, like so many, have had a spell cast on me by Denise Chaila—her music is so inventive and unique and I am a total super fan! I’m going to include Cherym in this list—they just capture so much joy and energy in their songs and I’m totally in love with them. Lastly but in no way leastly, I want to mention my label buddy St. Bishop—we’re both a part of a community called Veta Music and honestly every time he puts something out I’m like, How the hell am I working alongside such a freaking talented person?!


Constance Keane’s project Fears connects to Ireland in a way that feels ancient but also sounds incredibly modern, her haunting vocals floating over pangs of otherworldly synth. Fears’ debut album, Oíche, will be released in May, but Keane has plenty of other projects keeping her busy. Besides playing in the post-punk outfit M(h)aol, she also co-founded Tulle Collective in 2020, a record label run by women and aiming to uplift underrepresented artists. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Constance Keane: I think the Irish music scene at the moment is incredibly exciting. I feel like there’s been a huge shift in the past maybe two years. I left Dublin five years ago when I was 22 and moved to Belfast, but I feel like the Irish music scene and even just the Dublin music scene is very different to the one that I left. When I was playing shows at that age, it was very rare that I would be playing a show with another woman on the bill, even just a woman in a band on the bill. It felt very different. It was predominantly white cis straight men with guitars. And yes, there’s still a lot of that, but I think now with the explosion of an Irish hip hop scene, it’s amazing to see Black creativity being celebrated in Ireland. I think that’s hugely important. It’s amazing to see women being celebrated on their artistic merit. I feel like there’s a lot of women who are very much like claiming a space and doing it in a way that they want to. They’re putting themselves out there and are taking control of their own narrative and their own identity as an artist. The whole visual aspect of it is all being considered as well and I feel like it’s being controlled less by the status quo at the moment. 

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

CK: No men. [laughs] No, I would like to see women being put on more of an international stage. I’m so excited watching what’s happening with Pillow Queens at the moment. To me, that’s so encouraging. They are getting the credit that they deserve outside of Ireland now. A lot of the time the music scene can be quite inward looking and it feels like a huge jump to get any kind of international praise or international coverage, and the majority of the people that do are men. I think that there’s been such an image of what the UK wants from an Irish band over the last few years, and that does not necessarily involve women or Black people or people of colour. I would love to see the other people from Ireland who are doing amazing things get the credit internationally that they deserve. I found it really discouraging when I came over to London two years ago and listened to the types of Irish acts over here that everybody wants to talk about, but I think that it’s starting to change now. I think that thankfully people are opening their minds to the fact that there are acts from Ireland that aren’t just white men in bands and ill-fitting trousers.

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

CK: That’s so hard. First of all, I’m gonna say Maija Sofia. I’m obsessed with her. I’ve never met her in real life but I have had a vision of us being friends for like, a year and a half now. Who knows, maybe she won’t want to be my friend in real life [laughs], but I think her songwriting is absolutely incredible. I think the way that her songwriting is informed by historical events and literature and stuff is really insightful. It feels like there’s so much context behind her music and to me, that gives it so much depth. She has an incredibly honest voice and I find myself going back to her album Bathtime once a week. I just think it’s absolutely incredible. Almost every playlist I make, I have to put a Maija Sofia song on, so I’m super excited to hear stuff that she’s been working on over the past year. 

I’m really excited about a band called Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra, led by Sarah Deegan, who’s just an incredible musician and lyricist. She has a way of saying things that’s so direct, but so relatable in how direct it is. She just put out a song last week, “I Didn’t Love You when I Said I Did and I Don’t Now,” and I think it’s her best one yet. The second that I heard it, I was just like, This needs to be heard everywhere, by everyone. I’m very excited to see her and the band live as well, because I’ve never seen them live before, so hopefully towards the end of 2021 I’ll be able to do that. 

And then the third act I’m super excited about is CMAT, just ‘cause she’s amazing. She’s the kind of person who is taking control of her own artistic narrative. She is so true to herself and the stuff that she’s passionate about and she does things in a way that convinces you stuff is cool that you’d like never even thought about beforehand. She taps into the part of me that was obsessed with Fearless by Taylor Swift when I was 16 and listening to a lot of very bad pop punk music, but randomly feeling so drawn to that slight country twang and being confused by it. CMAT is just an absolute boss. She works her ass off. She knows what she wants. She goes for it. She writes about things that could be quite upsetting, but keeps her sense of humour throughout, which is something that you can bring into your actual everyday life. I try a lot to laugh through bad things that are happening, and to me like listening to her music is very empowering in that way.


Cork producer Kelly Doherty performs as Gadget and the Cloud, crafting dreamy, experimental electronica that ignites the imagination. If you haven’t listened to Doherty’s music, you’ve probably read some of her work in District Magazine, Bandcamp, or Nialler9, to name a few publications she’s written for. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Kelly Doherty: I think the Irish scene is really interesting at the moment. I think it’s very exciting. We’re seeing the start of a lot of new scenes that might not have existed in such a structure before. Obviously there’s always been artists doing cool, interesting things, but I think in terms of community building and very tight knit scenes, we’re at an exciting point, whether that’s like the Irish hip hop scene—that’s blowing up at the moment—or the experimental music scene and everyone who’s attached to the general circle around like Dublin Digital Radio, etc. There’s just this really interesting sense of community and support and it’s getting so much attention, even from outside of Ireland. I think there’s a lot more opportunities than there were before to get a gig. Doesn’t matter what type of artist you are, as well. Féile na Gréine and Open Ear both very much actively encourage experimental artists and give them a platform that I think would be quite hard to get before this point, so I’m finding that quite exciting. 

I think that if you’re looking at marginalised groups, it’s interesting. In the experimental music scene with groups like Gash Collective and Gxrl Code, there are spaces where you can exist as an artist and not feel like you’re an outsider, because there are other female DJs or queer DJs that you’re working alongside. I think, particularly for myself, my entire Irish music experience has been in a very safe bubble. I learned how to DJ through like a Gash Collective workshop. I played a Women’s Day Party for my first ever DJ set. I’ve worked very much within that structure and that scene, where everyone’s supporting each other, which I think is really nice. 

Once you step outside of very specific spaces, there is quite a lot of work that does need to be done. I think potentially we excuse ourselves on the grounds of we’re Irish and our scenes are small and they’re new, and people aren’t being as critical as they could be of where they operate in terms of marginalised groups and inclusivity with collaboration. The Irish hip hop scene is a big one for me in terms of, obviously we have people, like Denise Chaila, who are doing amazing work. But I watched a documentary about the Irish hip hop scene quite recently, and one of the things that was being repeated in it was that unlike the US hip hop scene, sexism isn’t as much of an issue in Irish hip hop. I think there’s a problem when you have that mindset because if scenes are starting up, that’s the perfect time to step in and make sure you’re creating inclusive spaces. When you’re way down the road and the established leads of the scene are established leads, it’s a lot harder to make those changes. I think there should be stuff that people are a bit more conscious of at this moment. Denise is such a big figure in like Irish music at the moment, so it’s quite easy to be like, Okay, there’s gender representation, and there’s representation because she’s a person of colour. But then elsewhere, you’re still seeing things where you’ve got all-male lineups for gigs or collectives. I think there’s quite a lot of collectives operating in Ireland at the moment where everyone is a lad and they have maybe one female social media person or something. And I don’t think people do that on purpose. I think a lot of the time it is, Me and my five friends all really like DJing and therefore, we started doing this thing together, and it’s kind of blown up a little bit. And that’s fair enough. A lot of the time, it does come from your personal circle. But I think once you start getting a bit bigger and start getting a bit of a reach, it’s important to like, look and say, Am I just surrounded by people who look the exact same as me? Or could I be giving opportunities to people who aren’t the same as me, but don’t have that foot up because they’re not in an inner circle or an inner clique? Sometimes there’s unintentional exclusivity and that needs to be worked on.

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

KD: I think more collaboration with people outside of your friend group is really important. There are so many different people around the place with really interesting skills and talents, but if you’re standing out on your own, and you didn’t happen to go to a school where there were four lads who’re all into the same thing, it’s a lot harder to break through or get that first initial gig. So I think people should be conscious of that and go out of their way to not just work with people they know, and that also applies in terms of location. If you’re based in Dublin, it’s a lot easier to go to a gig where there happens to be a music journalist there or it’s a lot easier to go to a gig where there’s someone who’s connected to a small label or something, and therefore you can get that “in” because you’re someone who’s quite charismatic, but someone who’s making just as good, if not better music elsewhere doesn’t have that inlet. So I think we need to be conscious of the responsibility to reach out to different groups of people and not just pick who’s standing right next to you at any time to collaborate or work with. 

One thing that always needs to be paid attention to—and that I don’t think gets enough attention anywhere realistically—is sexual harassment at gigs and in live music settings, or creepy guys and bands who get a pass because everyone thinks they’re sound. I don’t think we’re very good at holding people accountable. I’m very used to like a set bubble of stuff like Gash Collective gigs where it’s quite an open space, and it would be easy to speak up if something did happen to you at one of those—not easy to speak up necessarily, but there’s the support structure there if you did need to speak up because someone said something bad to you or something bad happened to you. I think that that needs to be replicated amongst other music spaces, that holding accountability for people who do bad things, even if they are your nice friend, because it’s just all about keeping those spaces open. I don’t know if you heard about the “Ask for Angela” thing, but it was a small campaign running in Cork for a little while to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault at gigs and on nights out. I think replicating that type of thing across the music scene or something could benefit everyone. We might have a small scene here, but as we can see from American scenes or with the UK, there are always so much stories around sexual harassment and sexual assault and just because our scene’s smaller, it doesn’t mean that that doesn’t happen. I think because the scene is small, it’d be hard to speak up about stuff like that happening because everyone knows everyone. I just think that trying to have a safety net for that type of stuff should be number one, especially now as well, because we have this time to reflect on what live music and what our scenes look like. I’d hate to think that we take this break away, and we’d go back to the same type of flawed issues that we would have had before. This is the time to reflect and ask, How do we restructure club nights to be inclusive and protect people from from things like sexual violence? 

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

KD: Okay, so the first one—and I can’t stop raving about them, I actually interviewed them a couple of weeks ago—is NewDad from Galway. If anyone will listen to me talk for more than two seconds, I’ve been talking about how much of a stan I am. I think they’re absolutely brilliant. Their music is so good, they are so young, and I could see them headlining Reading and Leeds within a few years. I’m pitching all my bets on this. Who else? My brain is occupied with NewDad. Lighght is a producer from Cork, Eamon Ivri, and I think he’s just about to put out another release. He makes quite experimental, boundary-pushing electronic music that has club elements, but also these very beautiful, orchestral-y, ambient-y type pieces in there. He’s a workhorse as well, like the amount of music that man puts out, and every release is great, so heavy recommend for him. And Cork love, as usual. Sohotsospicy and Dark Mavis are working on collaborative music at the moment. Both of them are DJs, and I really appreciate the DJing work and their sets and stuff. So the two of them coming together is a collaboration that I think is a huge one to watch out for. 


Beloved Kildare hip hop duo Tebi Rex draw you in with their catchy tunes, but underneath the earworms is a whole lot of heart. Their latest single “Oh It Hurts,” released in late February, is the perfect sing along for anyone feeling heartbreak of whatever variety. They’ve rightly received international attention since their track “I Never Got Off the Bus” was featured in the BBC/Hulu adaptation of Normal People in spring of 2020. We spoke to one half of Tebi Rex, Max Zanga, about his experiences in the Irish music industry. 

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Max Zanga: Good question. I guess it’s a mixed bag, because obviously I’ve had some good experiences and some level of success, minorly in comparison to a big artist, but within the scene. So it’s always a mixed bag, because I often get told—and I think that it’s definitely true—I’m in a band with a straight white dude, so I get away with stuff to a certain degree that maybe I wouldn’t if I was just me by myself. That’s the beauty of Matt. I always joke about that, Oh, we formed the band so I could get rich off his white privilege, because he’s the definition of a “good boy” and so accessible and marketable that even in terms of interviews, I don’t really do them. I let him do that kind of stuff and run the socials because he’s very accessible. I feel being a marginalised artist to a certain extent, you almost feel you need to be more accessible to be successful, especially with rap. I think there are certain beliefs or assumptions made if you’re a rapper. I always use the example of Jafaris as probably one of the biggest rappers in the country, but Jafaris for the most part has to be perfect and has shaped himself as perfect. There are expectations put on you when you’re Black and doing rap at that level where I feel it’s definitely easier and there’s less pressure if you are seen as the norm. Once you’re outside the norm, you’re trying to constantly prove that you deserve to be in the space you’re in, or that if you’re in a space you won’t make anyone too uncomfortable or stir things up, make it weird for fucking white people.

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

MZ: I would like to hear more diversity in terms of stuff that’s being talked about. I think that’s so much to do with the music news in this country as well. Ireland has this really weird thing where if people don’t understand the genre of music and they don’t like it, they just don’t write about it, which I think is super, super odd because these genres that people don’t understand or aren’t familiar with are usually ones that have marginalised people. I think it’s so funny that up until recently, about a year or two ago, you had these guys making drill in Drogheda getting a million streams on YouTube, but the people in some of these Irish blogs and magazines, they don’t understand or listen to drill—which is fair, you don’t have to listen to drill or even understand it. But then you have this music and these artists who are making massive waves, getting all this love in the UK and getting written about in the UK, and no one’s talking about them over here, which is so bizarre. 

I feel like that’s across the board, even on a Dublin-Kildare level. I’ve been written about in Dublin magazines and London magazines and blogs, but not a single Kildare outlet or newspaper. I feel like if someone did some shitty indie band here they’d be like, Fine yeah, we’re putting on the paper. Oh, man, these Kildare guys, they’re such big things, and shit like that. I’m like, bro, we went to Eurosonic, like, fuck. So yeah, I definitely think there should be more diversity in what music is reported on, but I’m also saying, be critical. I don’t think that by virtue of me making a certain type of music or being from a certain area I’m above critique. You don’t have to love my shit. You can hate it. But I never understood people ignoring stuff they don’t understand, which is so indicative of the Irish music scene. What’s the last bad review you heard about Irish artists written in a magazine? Like, it’s weird, man. It’s always really bugged me that I people are just ignored if they’re not what people are familiar with. It’s very odd. You know, maybe because Ireland’s small and you really don’t want to be like, Hey, this guy’s like, this album sucked, and you see that motherfucker the next week out and then it’s like Oh, shit. Y’all are writers, you get that, it’s like, you know, it’s an art form in of itself, it’s integrity in of itself. And no one’s being mean, you know. If some shit doesn’t slap to you, it doesn’t slap to you.

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

MZ: Okay, so Rebecca Locke. She a furry, she wildin’, but she’s great. Really great, just brings this automatic energy and it’s dope. Txmmy Rose, in my opinion, is probably the best rapper in this country. He’s so, so, so talented. Coolest guy ever. And then you have Daire Patel, who’s another Kildare native. He’s half Indian, half Irish and definitely can attest to that experience. He makes really good sad boy music, but not like sad boy in the kind of whiny way, but sad boy but like, Oh, this guy is actually a sad boy.


Perhaps one of the most sorely missed aspects of Irish music are the festivals, buzzing with new acts to discover and random acquaintances waiting around every corner. Shauna Watson founded the woman-centred festival We’ve Only Just Begun, as well as an accompanying directory of women and non-binary people in the Irish music industry.  

NF: How do you feel about the current Irish music scene, especially as it relates to marginalised communities?

Shauna Watson: I could deep dive on this all day! In terms of talent and originality, the Irish music scene is the strongest it’s ever been. There are so many artists pushing boundaries and redefining the landscape of Irish music. However, I think the Irish music scene can be quite exclusive and gatekept at times and which makes it less accessible or penetrable specifically for marginalised communities. Some artists have to work much harder to be heard which is really sad because we are all losing out on some incredible music as a result. 

Having said that, there is hope in some of the movements for both gender and racial equality that we’ve seen over the last couple of years. The Black Lives Matter movement saw a lot of challenges to racism in the industry which was long overdue. And the gender disparity radio reports started a conversation in the mainstream about radioplay for women and gender minorities in Ireland. There are organisations and communities that have formed to connect, support and give a platform to under-represented groups but there is still a long way to go. 

NF: What would you like to change about Ireland’s music landscape?

SW: I would like there to be greater representation of women, people from diverse backgrounds and gender minorities across all facets of the industry – in board rooms, onstage, backstage, front of house, etc. There are so many things that need to be done to achieve this but there are two prominent factors for me. 

The first is for everyone working in the industry, regardless of gender, race or class, to realise that it’s our collective responsibility to make our industry more accessible to under-represented groups and not to be left to those groups to do the work themselves. Whether you’re the CEO of a music company, a runner at a show or the drummer in a band it’s up to the entire industry to level the playing field for everyone. 

The second thing I think needs to change specifically for the Irish music industry is for professionals to look outside their own networks and circles when hiring and booking talent. There is such a culture of hiring who you know to work on projects and when your inner circles lack diversity then your team is going to reflect that. We need to stop safeguarding opportunities and give people outside of our own networks a chance to at least be considered. Imagine how much more vibrant and inclusive our industry would be if we removed those barriers!

NF: Who are three Irish artists you’re excited about right now and why?

SW: Aby Coulibaly I am so excited about. The two singles she put out last year just stood out so much for me and her latest single “Long Nights” is on repeat. She’s cool and effortless and supremely talented. 

Kynsy is another artist who released some of my favourite tracks of 2020. If you haven’t heard of her I would definitely recommend checking out her EP released in January this year Things That Don’t Exist.

And of course Pillow Queens. Like a true indie band they’ve been grafting hard for many years and they’re finally getting the international recognition they deserve.