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KEHLI: “music is the only thing I ever wanted to do”

Dublin artist KEHLI seems to draw from dancefloor-filling classics in her sound, one that she’s unveiled onto a developing Irish R&B scene in recent months. Fresh, summery beats are overlaid with vibrant, upbeat vocals, producing a dance-pop buzz that’s seen her draw attention for early singles ‘Hypnotized’ and ‘Ur So Cool’. Both are natural party tracks, heady with the style of warm late-evenings.

“It feels amazing being able to finally let people hear what I’ve been working on,” she tells the Gazette of her recent releases, which have been gathering plenty of local radioplay. “The reaction and support from people has been unreal, which has let me continue on making more music so I’m very happy.”

“I’ve always been involved in music since a young age and I’ve just become more obsessed with it as a career over the years. I started with stage school and Irish dancing from the age of four, then as the years went on I became more involved in getting to use music as a

career path, which is insane as it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”

A new EP, a follow up to ‘Ur So Cool’, is in the pipeline and promises to develop on that edgy R&B vibe. KEHLI’s already been through many of the tropes of early pop music – she applied to various TV shows from the age of 14 – but is now planning to spend time in London to ensure the EP is as strong as possible, working with producer MSRD to help hone her sound.

“It’s back to work for me,” she says of the preparation. “It’s been so nice to have some sort of routine, so music-wise I’m hopefully going to London soon but we are holding off until everything is safe. I’m so excited to see everything coming together! The process can be long and I’ve grown so much through the project so it is a special one to me.”

Long shots: top half challengers (week seven)

I was expecting a season of watching clubs lose as part of this project, but in truth it’s been a lot better than that: two of the five clubs I’m following now sit in the top half of really competitive leagues, and the five are collectively averaging over a goal and over a point a game, an impressive stat for the odds on favourites for relegation in the five top leagues in Europe. It’s a shame about Fulham, though…

Here’s how week seven went…

La Liga: Elche CF (8/15 to go down), 2-1 at home to Valencia

Elche now have a spectacular 10 points from their opening five games, after losing their first game in La Liga, and this win was probably the best of the lot. Fernandes’ curling strike from distance put them ahead against Valencia, who are nothing like the side they once were.

The second goal was almost as good as Fidel lashed home from outside the box, and while Elche were hanging on towards the end, including a late clearance off the line to keep hold of the three points, they already look a very good bet to stay up this year.

The win puts them firmly in the top half of the table with games in hand, and above the likes of Barcelona, Sevilla and the Valencia team they saw off here.

Long Shots: Battling points (week six)

I keep stats of the five relegation favourites at the bottom of these posts, and what’s becomng clear as things go on is that all these teams are competitive. I mean they’re losing more than they win, but they’re not conceding too many, and while they’re scoring still less, there are goals in them. Only Fulham, really, are letting the side down so far. Here’s how we’re going six weeks in…

Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 1-1 vs Sheffield United at away

Is it possible to have a relegation six-pointer only five games into the season? On the evidence of these two sides so far this season, I’d say that it is. Both are not only losing, but looking like they’ve not got a lot to offer.

This game was both competitive and highlighted where many of the problems are. Both clubs look incompetent up front, with Fulham struggling to fire at all even with the sometimes brilliant Mitrovic, and Sheffield United looking nothing like a team that threatened European football for most of last season.

Lookman and Loftus-Cheek, though, are quality signings, and an obvious lift to the overall strength of the team that might give them hope. Lookman fired in the Fulham opener here, though Mitrovic’s silly penalty miss cost them the game. In fact, both teams conceded ridiculous penalties. Still, at least it’s a point on the board for Fulham (game link). Arguably a good one, given they were away.

N.O.A.H: “we are obsessed with the idea of making our show as performative as possible”

New on the scene, though a long time together, N.O.A.H. are the product of a lot of formal musical education and years of friendship.

Named in reference to a beacon of hope, there are a couple of albums worth of tracks ready to go for the three-piece, but for now we’ll have to make do with popular debut single, euphoric indie anthem ‘Shine’…

Congratulations on the first single. Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind it?

Like most musicians in 2020, we found ourselves with a lot more free time to create and write new music due to the ongoing pandemic. We wrote ‘Shine’ pretty much in the middle of the lockdown, at this time we were all writing with each other remotely, sending music and lyrics back and forth over the Internet. We would say that ‘Shine’ definitely brought an optimistic light to the band, it kept spirits high and kept us going.

The song itself is about a journey, one which we must all have to make at one point in our lifetime. Sometimes we do not know where we are going, but ultimately, deep down, we know something greater and more powerful is guiding our way. In essence, ‘Shine’ is a story about keeping good faith when in uncertain times.

You’ve already had some RTE radioplay. How did that feel?

It is definitely a great feeling to be recognised by the country’s national broadcaster, we have been frequently played on both RTE Radio 1 and RTE 2FM. The support from RTE, especially in the first week of our campaign was amazing, we were announced as RTE 2FM’s ‘Track of The Week’ and have been played every morning on the breakfast show with Eoghan and Doireann. It is just really cool to be recognised on such a platform.

What are your various musical backgrounds?

Music has always been a huge part of our lives, we’ve all been playing music from really young ages, like 9 & 10. It is only when we started secondary school together that our passion for music aligned. After secondary school we all went to study music. Ronan and Ryan went to BIMM to delve further into their instrumental craft, while Adam went to Maynooth University to study music technology.

Groundhopping: Ireland (vs Wales, Aviva Stadium)

Date: 11 October 2020

Competition: UEFA Nation’s League, League B, Group 4

Result: Ireland 0 – 0 Wales

Tickets: Not available to the public (entry via press pass)

Attendance: circa 50 press.

The game: It’s a really quite surreal experience watching international football from a socially distanced press box, fully masked, far enough from the other journalists in attendance to make a conversation almost impossible. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a game quite so quietly, chomping away on the free crisps and sandwiches and watching the action unfold far below, yet still hearing every word the players shout at each other.

I reviewed the game in full here if you’re tempted to read up; it wasn’t a classic, with Ireland hampered by corona withdrawals ahead of the game, especially up front. In truth, in going to almost every Ireland hme game for the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve only seen a couple that I really thought were great entertainment. They should probably have won, however, with Wales – despite the presence of the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James – offering precious little. I quite like the look of Ireland under Stephen Kenny. It’s a far better style of passing, attacking football that’s actually really quite pleasant to watch, if frustratingly inefficient at the sharp end. Hopefully, the results will come.

Long shots: Metz Hit Form (week five)

Metz are the longest odds to stay up of all my sides, and yet they’re firing on all cylinders going into the international break, with Niane looking like a star forward. Aside from the French overachievers, nothing much stood out in week five, which saw either routine losses, or staunch draws. Here’s how things stand going into a week off…

Serie A: Spezia (1/4 on to go down) 0-3 away to AC Milan

You can probably file this one under ‘routine loss to a big club’ for Spezia. They held on for a decent amount of time, creating only one chance worth mentioning, really, in front of the piled-up electronic billboards that give the San Siro a surreal feel at the moment.

Then they conceded some run-of-the-mill goals, Milan won comfortably, and nobody was particularly surprised by any of it. Not a classic game or a classic result, but three points from their first three games is not at all bad for a side like this. Get a look at the company it puts them in, league wise…

Moncrieff: “lockdown has made the failings of the systems of power we appoint even more painfully obvious”

The current state of the world is a concern for all of us, but – from the outside at least – it could scarcely have come at a worse time for rising Waterford pop performer Moncrieff. The London-based musician was working his way towards the crest of a substantial wave, hotly tipped in many publications (including right here), after his first live performances back in Ireland blew people away.

He should have been moving onto bigger and better stages – and live is where the punchy performer particularly shines – and instead he’s stuck at home, trying to make the best of the time. Not that he sounds all that down about it, with the recent rollout of ‘PLAYLOUD’ punching at authorities and asserting independence.

“The track was written almost a year ago, but since lockdown it’s become even more personal for me because lockdown has made the failings of the systems of power we appoint even more painfully obvious. Regardless of the events of the last 6 months I feel like my generation has inherited a world that is riddled with the mistakes of those that currently sit in charge.”

“In the initial demo version of the song, it was just me trying to do kids’ voices,” Moncrieff says of the new track, which features a choral section reminiscent of a pop-lover’s ‘The Wall’. “Back last December when I was getting ready to support Walking On Cars on tour I realised I have like twelve little cousins back in Ireland who are all between the ages of six and ten so I rounded them all up one day before Christmas and we went to Camden Studios to record them and it turned out so sick. I paid them in pizza and cake.”

Outside of the music, Moncrieff has spent lockdown learning to edit photos and videos, as well as starting a clothing brand, but there’s no question the experience has been a frustrating one all things considered, even allowing for the “live shows” he’s put out on Facebook from his bedroom.

“I genuinely live for performing live, so not having an idea on when that can happen again is tough,” he says. “It’s given me an opportunity to build my relationship with my fans online but nothing can replace a live show for me.”

Long Shots: Win, win, win! (week four)

Welcome to a winning week – we’re starting to upset the odds! As it stands, ust one of my five relegation favourites are in the drop zone, and this week we got first league wins of the seasons for Arminia Bielefled, Spezia Calcio and Elche CF. The long-shots are taking shape…

Bundesliga: Arminia Bielefeld (5/6 on to be relegated) 1-0 at home to FC Koln

What a start to the season for Bielefeld, one that, amazingly considering the holders won 8-0 on the opening day, puts them above Bayern in the latest Bundesliga table, and outside the European places on goals scored.

Of course, Arminia haven’t played anyone that good yet (they’ve even lucky enough to have an indifferent Werder Bremen next), but points mean prizes, and Koln, who haven’t won a league game since March, are likely to be one of the teams Arminia are ultimately fighting to finish above.

This was a game of not many chances, but a glorious cameo in the form of substitute Joan Simun Edmundsson, a lad from the Faroe Islands who became the first-ever player from that corner of the globe to play in the Bundesliga. He promptly marked the occasion with a brilliant takedown and finish from a ludicrously tight angle to win the game.

Koln should have taken at least a point, and looked pretty toothless up top, but who cares. One of my teams is flying unexpectedly high…