As we edge into another year, we can’t help but look ahead to 2018 in Irish music, casting a glance the way of the country’s great hopes. There’s plenty to be excited about, from a rising hip-hop scene to plenty of impressive and lairy rockers, but we’ve narrowed it down to just seven rising stars. Here are our picks for Ireland’s most likely breakthrough artists for the next twelve months…
Ireland’s hip-hop scene seems to get better by the day, and while Rusangano Family are the much-acclaimed kings, Jafaris – who played Ngig in Sing Street – is coming up fast on the outside. With a quick quip constantly to the ready and a live show that seems to wow everyone before him, the Diffusion Labs rapper is working on a 2018 album as a follow up to the sensational Velvet Cake EP. Add the man to your ‘must see’ list before he starts playing anywhere bigger: when a vocalist delivers this kind of cuttingly intense honesty together with the boisterous on-stage persona that Jafaris has made his own, the result is certain to fly. [website]
After a patchy 2017 that saw the three-piece undergo a personnel change, this grungy Dublin outfit are all set to fly once again. They seemed to be everywhere for a little while, with their pounding, intense live show backed up with an early single nodding to obscure parts of the body (TMJ) amongst a sprinkling of lairy, crafted riff-laden tracks. They have a cult-like following on the Irish guitar scene, and November’s new single ‘Of Heart’ created some buzz in the UK music press, too. And who wouldn’t want band merch with that particular band named emblazoned all over it. In a word, ferocious. Brilliantly so. [website]
SIOBHRA QUINLAN’s taken the long road to launching her first single, released earlier this month. She trained as an operatic soprano, studying an MPhil in composition at Trinity College and broadening her musical education in Berlin. That led – eventually – to a conceptual new composition that’s being self-funded by working with and teaching her art.
Along the way, Quinlan was also a part of the highly successful Trinity College Orchestra, where she combined a more classical bent with reproductions of contemporary classics like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ and covers of Daft Punk and Arcade Fire. Stepping into her solo guise for the first time, Quinlan’s new output can be broadly described as chamber pop.
“I started out with pure, straight music and nearly dropped out about three times in first year,” she recalls of her early days studying music at Trinity. “You go from being ‘oh it’s music, it’ll be fine’, to doing this really theoretical stuff. I’d actually made a plan to go to jazz college at the end of the first year, and I’d done the audition and got in. Then I decided I wanted to stay, as it clicked that I could pass the exams and there was something I can really take from it all.”
“I started doing a lot of the opera training, and working with a teacher called Veronica Dunne. She’s a complete opera legend, and I was fascinated by what she could do. She trains the voice as an instrument, and can do amazing things with it. Opera’s very technical, but it teaches you so many ways to use the voice.”
Quinlan later branched into jazz and wrote a dissertation on how opera can be incorporated into different styles, before using a period of more casual training in Berlin to work on her style and explore the city’s expansive performance offerings.