It’s Ireland Music Week and normally, that would mean spending much of the next seven days, running between venues, attending in on panel conferences, rising early on Saturday morning for two hours of speed sessions, meeting lots of people who work in music here and abroad, and maybe, having one night that goes a little later than it should.
Of course, 2020 is going to be a very different experience, and it’s a testament to the organisers that it’s even happening at all, a bright light in a very dark year for live music and the industry as a whole – even socially-distant gigs now look to be under threat if we go into Level 5 across the country, as suggested yesterday.
With no such thing as a weekend anymore, Ireland Music Week begins on Tuesday with the conference focusing on the establishment of AIM Ireland (Association Of Independent Music) and tickets are actually free for anyone interested in getting involved.
You can see the conference schedule at the IMW site but some panels I’ll be checking into include the livestreaming panel on Wednesday at 11:30, Diversity in the Music Industry with Arveene, Loah, Rob Farhat and Demigosh (Wednesday, 2pm), A Discussion About the Live Sector (Wednesday, 3pm), a panel about the recent Irish hip-hop documentary (Wednesday at 4pm), How / When To Get a Label (Thursday at noon), the Story of the Normal People Soundtrack (Thursday at 2pm), Independent Album PR Campaigns (Friday at 11:30am with our boy Luke Sharkey hosting) and The Story of Irish Women in Harmony (Friday at 2pm).
In amongst those are the starter pack and workshops how-tos about sync, labels, managers, publishing, gigs, PR and i’m on a panel called Approaching Music Media in Ireland on Wednesday at 3pm with Arveene, Louise Bruton, John Barker and Orla Ormond.
You can buy a ticket for €25 for the conference only but I’d recommend investing €50 in yourself and this festival and getting a conference and showcase pass where you’ll be able to watch 50 Irish acts over three nights across three stages, as filmed by Tiny Ark in Lost Lane for the festival. Here’s the overview for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night.
Who should I see?
In the spirit of real-life interaction and the question I’m most often asked at Ireland Music Week, here’s a little overview of most of the acts playing (each act plays 3 songs so there’s plenty of opportunity to get a first impression).
Some must-sees first? Two artists standout in an obvious way for how they have corralled a 2020 without gigs or festivals and bent it to their will, and made a breakthrough.
Denise Chaila and CMAT (both Tuesday) are the buzziest names playing the festival and they are also clashing. Both have done plenty of online shows in the last six months and have built up actual fanbases during a pandemic with wildly different styles.
Denise Chaila dropped her debut mixtape this Friday gone, and if I have to explain to an Irish music fan who she is by now, who even are you? For everyone else, the Limerick MC is one of the most thoughtful, honest and uplifting artists in the country, her show is a must-see.
CMAT is a “self-styled global pop star who lives at home with her grandparents in Dublin” and with just three singles has set out her stall as a gas personality, who writes melancholic bittersweet songs combined with a love of country music, the Nolan sisters and setting herself silly food eating challenges on Instagram.
Folk and singer-songwriter artists we’ve also shown support for their talent in recent times on Nialler9 playing the festival include Aoife Nessa Frances, whose debut album somehow only came out in January, the pastoral folk style of Anna-Mieke, the piano-lead singer I Have A Tribe and the experimental leaning avant-folk artist Rachael Lavelle.
God Knows and MuRli along with Denise have been on the forefront of Irish rap this year and in doing so, have opened the door for PX Music Limerick cohorts Hazey Haze and Strange Boy (Wednesday 8:05pm). Celaviedamai from Galway is an artist who performs with swagger, energy and explicit intensity over trap, R&B-leaning rap beats.
Leinster is represented by Dublin’s Nealo (Thursday, 21:05), a former punk turned rapper who has a debut album of confessional live-assisted hip-hop on the way, the hip-hop pop duo Tebi Rex from Kildare with recent Burner Records collaborators Dublin through and through rapper Fynch and Local Boy (who is more of a kaleidoscopic psychedelic indie-pop singer) rounding things off. I’m personally curious to checkout Runoffbroke.
A trio of young acts trading in bright indie music are among my list to check out – the 14 year-old Wexford singer Patricia Lalor’s forays beyond covers suggest something to keep an eye on, the Dublin-Argentinian artist Luz is following in the melodic folk pop style of Dermot Kennedy (check out ‘We’ll Be Fine – an earworm for sure) and the more DIY style perennial Limerick youngsters Powpig and their charming indie pop showing promise to come.
Also, in the guitar category, the indie-pop of Kynsy, the slouch-rock of Skinner (DOI – I manage him), the tense rock style of Naoise Roo, the avant-indie of Limerick’s Bleeding Heart Pigeons, as heard on recent album Stir and the dreamy pop of Belfast duo Beauty Sleep.
There’s a really good showing from pop acts with standouts including Fia Moon’s sophisticated mainstream R&B, the atmospheric electronica of Christian Cohle, a popper-take on that sound by DYVR and Jackie Beverly, the more histrionic alt-pop of NNIC and I’m intrigued to hear more from London-based electronic pop artist Fears.
Thats a reasonable overview without going into every artist listed. Here’s the Spotify playlist
of every act: