10 must-see international acts @ Body&Soul Festival this year

I’ve called Body&Soul Festival one of the best festivals in Ireland in the past and the allure of the event at Ballinlough Castle is clear. It’s a festival with a considered lineup and offerings in the mediums of food, conversation, installations and site layout. For our festival preview, look out for a ticket competition, our playlist and irish acts to see in the coming days.


1.

Jon Hopkins

Body & Soul stage, Saturday, June 23rd.


British experimental dance music producer and composer Jon Hopkins will be bringing his highly immersive set to Westmeath this year. Following the release of Singularity, his second full studio album, earlier this year, this headline slot on the Saturday night is bound to be full of that Body’n’Soul magic. This is an absolutely essential gig. Fans of all genres will find something they’ll like in Hopkins creative musical process. Expect to feel the bass in your chest, a hypnotising light show and about 10,000 people having the time of their lives.

2.

Fever Ray

Body & Soul stage, Friday, June 22nd


Fever Ray’s latest release, Plunge, found the Swedish producer and songwriter sounding at their absolute best. Formerly one half of The Knife, Karin Dreijer’s solo material is far more experimental and nuanced. Fever Ray’s appeal will spread from fans of art pop music like Bjork’s to synth pop vibes. The artist is well known and admired for a theatrical live show and larger than life stage presence. Expect some surreal aesthetics and well crafted art music during their Friday night main stage appearance.

3.

Fatima Al Qadiri

Body & Soul stage, Friday, June 22nd


Born in Senegal, the now Berlin-based electronic producer Fatima Al Qadiri will be performing this year at Ballinalough Castle. Al Qadiri’s music has always had an anti-authoritative feeling to it, especially on Brute, her 2016 album which took a skeptical look at policing standards in America. Al Qadiri’s music is spacious and hypnotic, pulsing synth tones sleep underneath the cosmic choir voices she uses time and time again throughout her music. There’s little doubt how much her time spent growing up in Kuwait under Iraqi invasion has influenced her music. There’s a distinctly Eastern feeling to the melodies and the thematic content on her albums is always wary of aggressive powers. While her music varies from sparse to hyper aggressive, it always retains a sense of animal intensity. A perfect Friday night to get the blood pumping.

4.

Reykjavíkurdætur

Midnight Circus, Sunday June 24th


The recent success of Cardi B in hip-hop, a female MC succeeding in a crowded male space is a rare occurrence. Outside of the nucleus of North American scene, female hip-hop is still rarely visible.

In Iceland, an all-female collective are redressing the balance by employing a “power in numbers” ethos that means Reykjavíkurdætur numbers a dozen ladies strong.
Their name is Icelandic for Daughters Of Reykjavik and formed in 2013 in Icelandic’s surprisingly active rap scene, as a safe space for female MCs to find their voices. Since then, the sisterhood has developed as a force to be reckoned with – talented rappers who can wipe their floor with their male contemporaries. Though they rap in Icelandic, the language’s expressive rolls and pops are so suited to the genre that not understanding the words feels less of an issue than it should.
The band were the hit of Iceland Airwaves in 2015, and have repeated the trick every year since. On stage, they are a wild collective of performers with fierce attitudes, unapologetic demeanours, distinct personalities, styles and flows.

Their unique energy and spectacle was infectious enough that they have developed a cult following, yet their number is a prohibitive touring logistic that means they don’t get to travel beyond their hometown. With live shows rare, make it your business to see this Icelandic powerhouse at Body&Soul Festival this year.


5.

Susanne Sundfør

Body & Soul stage, Sunday June 24th


Take some time to yourself on the Sunday and go catch Norwegian singer songwriter Susanna Sundfør. Having been releasing music under her own name for more than ten years, Sundfør has become a master at penning expressive lyrical ideas to haunting minimalist melodies. Her latest release Music For People In Trouble is starkly beautiful. Songs like ‘The Sound Of War’ are delivered in a falsetto as clear as Kate Bush’s but with the lyrical temperament of a folk hero like Leonard Cohen. Her breakthrough album The Brothel, released in 2010, is far more electronic in nature. Full of moody synth sounds and layered vocals, it reached the number one spot on the Norwegian charts and became the best selling album of the year, helping her become one of the nation’s most popular artists. As such, the chance to catch her in what is sure to be an intimate performance is one you shouldn’t pass up on. Pensive and sweet, Sundfør’s performance will be hypnotic.

7.

Arca

Body&Soul Main Stage, Saturday, June 23rd


You’re not likely to see a show like this in a hurry. The Venezuelan artist Arca is known for his avant-garde electronic productions and collaborations with Bjork, but a recent live show was more akin to a energetic drag show with fake boobs, DJ sets, costume changes and an uncompromising barrage of future beats. One to witness.

8.

Shame

Midnight Circus, Sunday June 24th


While relevant post-punk bands are few and far between in the current musical climate, British group Shame have proven themselves to be one of the most vital young voices in rock with the release of their debut album Songs Of Praise earlier this year. Their music is dense, with layered guitars providing that wall of sound feeling. Add to that a killer rhythm section and a clever ear for a chord progression and you have the raw ingredients for Shame’s visceral take on the modern punk sound. The group excel lyrically too. Songs Of Praise tackles politics, sexual perversion and the “four chord future” (check out ‘The Lick’) with the sort of unyielding youthful fury sorely missed among much of modern guitar music. With this year’s lineup being filled with mostly electronic and acoustic acts, the blistering set Shame are sure to perform is going to feel wholesome and cathartic.

9.

Iron & Wine

Body & Soul stage, Sunday June 24th


Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, is a Southern folk singer. Having been releasing music since 2002’s The Creek Drank The Cradle, he’s established a reputation as a tour de force songwriter. His music blends elements of folk, country & western and delta blues with a noire feel. Even when at his most optimistic, say on a release like 2013’s Ghost On Ghost, there’s always a sense of the oncoming storm. Perhaps it’s Beam’s anxious lyricism, which is utterly superb, or the dynamic instrumentation used throughout his discography. In any case, Beam’s music rarely feels downbeat, despite his foreboding. Instead, Iron & Wine’s music feels celebratory, finding the beauty in both the good and bad. His Sunday set will provide ample refuge for those craving some soul food.

10.

Tshegue

Midnight Circus, Friday June 22nd


Body&Soul is known for booking European acts that most festivals wouldn’t be even aware of. The French project of French singer Faty Sy Savanet and producer Nicolas Dacunha, Tshegue, is one such example. Tshegue mix beats, African sounds, percussion, tribal singing and hypnotic rhythms into a sound that is on the bleeding edge of what’s happening now.


This post was last modified on June 27, 2018, 12:12 pm

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