State of the Nation
Hello, and welcome to the first of what I hope will be a year-long blog project, in which I interview various people from all over the Irish music industry and try to establish just how we’re all doing – the ‘State of the Nation’, if you like. First up is Greg Synnott, the talented blogger behind Irish Blog Award winning music site Greg has a full time position at a major Irish national paper, yet continues to plow his musical endeavours into his own site, which is currently awaiting a revamp. You’ll catch him exploring the experimental fringes of the Dublin music scene and occasionally chipping in over at What he’d like from the Irish music scene? Make his jaw drop again, lads…
What’s the role of journalism in the Irish music industry in your view?

The role of journalism in Irish music is to filter the extensive amount of bands that keep  producing new music. The average consumer can’t listen to everything, so the music journalist takes on that task and offers up what they think is the best from the scene. They don’t always get it right and too many journalists just push everything but I believe that each persons role defines itself really. No single music journalist is doing the same thing normally and people will follow a varying amount looking for new filters to tell them what’s good.

Can we trust the media/ bloggers to express a balanced opinion?

Yes and no. Bias seeps through everything. You will notice a pattern of journalists pushing acts they obviously favour over others if for no other reason than they’re a fan and want to see those acts succeed. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but it’s not good either. It’s just something that becomes part of opinion based journalism, balance is a tricky thing to get right.

Tell us about something in Irish music – be it a band, label, promoter, venue, whatever – that you think is a bit special.
Finding one single thing to define as a bit special is a nearly impossible task. Honestly, my favourite part of the entire Irish music scene is everyone’s willingness to promote and help each other. You see it online all the time, bands etc. going out of their way to help everyone else when they can. It’s something of a rarity and really shines through in Irish music. Few people are out to better anyone else, they just want to make friends and have a good time.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Irish music industry at the moment?

Moving beyond the small audience. Getting music outside Ireland is not an easy task even in the age of the internet. Just bcause you have a few listeners outside of the island doesn’t mean you have the ability to build an audience to play outside the country. Getting music beyond the scene that seems to constrain it is no easy task. Some bands are seriously breaking borders though, Girl Band are going above and beyond to make a name for themselves internationally now, so it does happen.

Ticket prices: are they fair?

They’re reasonable. Most prices are just a cover charge. For the more elaborate gigs I don’t think they’re as accessible, and with some smaller festivals I can’t understand charging such high prices for lesser known acts but for the most part a lot of bands seem to charge a reasonable price.

What about the cost of the music itself?

I guess it’s hard to judge the cost of music as a journalist because we so rarely pay for it, it’s given to us so freely to write about. I think since bandcamp has come about a lot of bands are charging minimal fee’s for digital music, and a lot more have taken on the pay what you want model for an album or an EP. Physical releases are always going to be expensive though. It’s the cost of manufacturing. I guess it depends on what people are willing to pay for it.

Who are the most underrated acts in Irish music at the moment (and why)?

I don’t know much about bands being underrated, mostly because a lot of the acts I follow or push are still growing in themselves. And I’m not following what a lot of other blogs or sites are writing about recently. Slow Skies has always stood out as an act that should get so much more promotion. They have the ability to go so far, as does I Have A Tribe. But so many new acts or even acts in the last 5 years are still growing. They’ll find their audiences eventually and should grow from there I’d hope.

Who would you rate as the best current live act?
After seeing them a few times this year, I’m split between Meltybrains? and Girl Band. Both have the ability to go so far and are doing so much experimentation and new things. They are stand out acts who deserve to fill out bigger venues, even if I selfishly want them to stay small so I can enjoy their music in more intimate venues.
Give us your best Irish music story!
I don’t know if I have a single best Irish music story but the moment that defined why I love Irish musicians apart from their music was the night the Irish Blog Awards took place. I was covering Hard Working Class Heroes and I found out 7 Billion People had won when bands started congratulating me in the streets about it. People genuinely congratulate other’s on their work in this scene, like no other.
Which Irish acts do you think are likely to impress in the coming year?

Honestly, I have no idea. I’m looking forward to the Liza Flume EP. But apart from that I always find it too hard to judge who might impress. There are just so many acts throwing new material at the wall, we’ll see who sticks when you see all those best of lists at the end of 2015. Personally I’m excited to see what happens. For a while I thought the Irish music scene might have been getting saturated, but surely too much music is never a bad thing?

Finally, if you could change on thing about the Irish music scene as it is now, what would it be?
More unique sounds. Too many bands are trying to sound like somebody else. Throw out the rule book of music and experiment. I want someone to do something so different that it makes my jaw drop. It’s been a while since I’ve had my jaw drop and I want that to happen again.

State of the Nation is a blog project for 2015 focused on telling the story of the Irish music scene through interviews with some of its major players. Interviews are published weekly, and you can find a full index of all published to date here

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