Everyone’s favourite queer sweethearts Pillow Queens will be joined by even more queer greatness in the form of Smoothboi Ezra and Banríon on their upcoming Irish tour. Starting in Belfast on December 2nd, singer-songwriter Ezra will join the Queens in Dundalk, Derry and Galway, before closing the tour at the second of two sold out gigs in the Button Factory. Indie-alternative quartet Banríon will support the other half of the tour, playing in Cork, Listowel, Kilkenny, Limerick and night one at the Button Factory on December 17th. While the majority of the tour is sold out, you can still grab tickets for the Cork gig at Cyprus Avenue here.
Photo by Leon McCullough
To celebrate Pride, we’ll be highlighting a different Irish artist from the LGBTQIA+ community each day in June as part of our Pride Profiles series.
By Hannah Quearney
Listen If You Like:
Sidney Gish, Clairo, Declan McKenna
Who They Are:
Meticulously balancing hope and melancholy, Smoothboi Ezra has established themselves as a songwriter wise beyond their years outside of the Dublin or greater Irish alternative scene. After harnessing their own brand of stripped-back-to-the-bones indie rock, standing in the shadows of the likes of Snail Mail or Soccer Mommy, the producer has masterfully springboarded themselves from ‘fledgling’ to ‘fledged’.
Bringing together the best elements of alternative subgenres: the steady beats and thriftiness of modern lo-fi, the sparse instrumentals of indie folk, to the confessional lyricism of recent indie rock release — Ezra has managed to transcend genre and remain entirely true to themselves in the process, the way they’ve always have done.
Their most recent EP Stuck waxes lyrical on the intensity experienced in adolescent relationships — although, they insist that you make of it as you will. While boasting a fuller sound in comparison to their earlier releases, both eras of the songwriter’s discography are united by the thread of sonic vulnerability.
Listen to the EP’s title track ‘Stuck’ below.
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.
By Clare Martin
“I count the steps from my house to yours / To see if my legs are longer than before,” Smoothboi Ezra sings softly on the opening of “Stuck”. Their lyrics are simple, yet poetic and affecting in a way that stays with you. “The worst year of your life started when you met me / You say I shouldn’t take it personally,” they tell us, with a sadness that seeps into your bones.
The Greystones songwriter and producer shared the title track from their Stuck EP today, which is a tender look at a relationship that’s slowly falling apart. As someone who’s non-binary and on the autism spectrum, Smoothboi Ezra offers a perspective on relationships that’s underrepresented in media.
“‘Stuck’ is a song about being in a relationship with someone you care a lot about but you know it’s not going to work out,” the 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist explains. “It’s an unsaid mutual agreement that you can feel the relationship ending but you’re both waiting on the other person to end it.”
The song has tinges of Phoebe Bridgers to it, filled with a similar emotional intimacy and guitar-grounded sound. The production is delicate and stunning, with layered vocals and a slow-burn of percussion.
The accompanying music video (dir. Arthur Studholme) stars non-binary couple El and Lauren, along with an unsettling Flower Man (Cosmo Wellings) who looks like Florence Pugh’s character in Midsommar was consumed by her flower dress. From the scrappy animation style to the sweet moments between El and Lauren, the lo-fi feel of the video wonderfully complements the song.
Watch the video for “Stuck” and check out the track list of the EP, out on 11th June, below. Get ready to cry at a gig, too, because they’re playing Whelan’s on 22nd September. Buy your tickets here.
Stuck EP Track List
- Without Me
- Palm Of Your Hand