imageMaybe it’s the slightly Spanish twang of her guitar track on the intro to ‘Won’t Go’. Maybe it’s that harrowing video drama (below). Most likely it’s just the voice… Whatever hooked me, it took about one track.

There’s something fantastically refreshing about west Cork native Áine Duffy and her brand of…erm… flamenco dance-pop? Whatever this is, it’s sassy, dramatic and poignant, and you should listen to it. I caught up with Áine to ask about her album ‘With Bells On’ and find out what she’s all about… 

Hi Áine. Let’s start with the obvious. You have a seriously unique voice. What’s your background, vocally?

I have always just sang with my own voice. Maybe not knowing who Eddie Vedder was when I was younger helped! I feel it gives you more scope to be honest and hit more notes. Putting on any accent restricts you. Singing is an art form, a form of expression, so I love to hear the original accent of a person, it should be the only way.

I sang anywhere I could, especially in the car! I went to a convent too for 14 years, but they were not encouraging to me at all. They had lots of musicals and I wanted to be on stage. Still, I loved AC/DC and played gigs of all kinds of cover songs when I was 15, all the way throughout college. I made my own versions of things, and had to learn whatever songs were shouted at me from the audience. I was like a little juke box.

Do you find its more of a challenge breaking into the Irish music industry when you come from a relatively rural corner of the country? Are we too ‘Dublin-centric’?

Well sure, we are a little Dublin centric, I’d be lying if I said other, seeing as of all the controversy there is. I understand though, it’s the capital!

I love Dublin and driving up and down and staying sometimes, but the reality is, I write my own stuff and can make a lot of noise as a neighbour.

If someone said I had to stop playing the guitar at ten o’clock at night, I would be a little disappointed to say the least.
So the countryside is better for me. I’m sure there is plenty bands in Dublin who would love to have a beach and peace and quiet, but need to be in the big smoke because of the opportunities, and sometimes one would not even be considered for a project because they do not live in the city, but hey, its only a trip in the van and a small country after all!

CE-BeWDWoAAhlZZFor the past two months, I’ve been freelancing in sports journalism at the Gazette Group, which publishes seven papers  a week (a separate paper for each of Dublin City, Swords, Lucan, Clondalkin, Blanchardstown, Dundrum and Dun Laoghaire). I even ran the sports section for a week while the normal editor was away, which was an intense and memorable experience – far more full-on than the likes of GoldenPlec Magazine purely because of the time constraints, but extremely rewarding and something I really hope to be able to do again (you definitely need another holiday, right, Stephen?!).

The Gazette offers a uniquely complex sports role, in some senses. There are no specialists – a small team of sports journalists have to be able to deal with every sport that could possibly come up, and to cover it well. It’s also highly local: the Gazette only cover sports that are typically at a level below what the national papers are interested in: Leinster Senior League soccer, age group soccer, senior and intermediate championship GAA, age-group sports across all disciplines, and local athletes going for big things. The remit involves knowing – or finding out – what’s going on across small areas of Dublin, and what’s of interest to the people living there. That might be straightforward, except there are seven different local areas to deal with, so it’s not knowing about one place and its stories, it’s knowing about seven. It goes without saying, the editor has perhaps the most impressive local sports knowledge of anyone I’ve ever come across.

I’ve flicked back through all my pre-edit drafts, and in the past eight weeks I’ve had over 80 stories run in the paper (they don’t all come with a byline, presumably because it would just look ridiculous on some of the smaller ones).

So this is a bumper post, but nothing like as bumper as it could have been, because.. well, I have to make some effort to preserve the sanity of those who happen to visit this site. I thought I’d narrow things down to my five of my favourite pieces….

Feature: an inspirational interview with Dundrum lady Carol Brill, on dealing with the sight and hearing debilitation that comes with Usher’s disease, and how she’s found solace in the unlikely world of blind golf…

Here’s June’s splurge of free-to-download bounty, another heap of international releases certain to give you a new gem or two from some unheralded corner of the globe. Of course, I’m only responsible for my own little niche: Ireland. If you want to know about this month’s choice, Niwel Tsumbu and his new act RiZA, you […]

It’s a sign of Niwel Tsumbu‘s talent that as an absolute outsider to the Irish music scene a few years ago, he’s found himself on stage with an absolute who’s who of our city’s music right now. The Congolese born guitarist has fingers in a lot of pies. His latest project RiZA is his third […]

I’m a straight, married man, but the same sex marriage referendum in Ireland moved me to tears. Now I’m thinking about applying for Irish citizenship… It’s ten days since Ireland voted to legalize marriage between two men or two women, updating the constitution to read “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two […]

Few Irish scenes excite us more than the under touted world of feisty instrumental post-rock. And So I Watch You From Afar, God Is An Astronaut, Enemies, the fantastic (and sadly now defunct) Adebisi Shank… the list of outstanding acts Ireland has in this particular area is something too infrequently acknowledged. Newcomers Leo Drezden aren’t […]

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