An inventive and original band playing off influences ranging from jazz to post-rock, as well as the mixed backgrounds of their members, Akrobat are making their way in a genre-realm they know isn’t going to hit the mainstream, but it is distinctive and original and a perfect incapsulation of the act.

Currently in their second incarnation with the addition of Turkish vocalist Selen Korkutan, and ruminating on the human experience, the band took a break from pushing forward twin EPs and gaining international attention to fill me in how it’s all going…

First of all, tell me a little bit about the backdrop to Akrobat – how did the band come to be, and how have things developed?

Akrobat is actually Akrobat 2.0! I first started the project 5 or 6 years ago, and we cut a four track EP with Rian Trench in The Meadow. Back then I was calling the act ‘Crow Airport’, and we released a self-titled EP. We had a song on it called St Denis, which I still consider one of my best and it’s about my time living in Montreal.

It got some nice plays. But I didn’t really understand how to play the game back then (still learning!). We were all set to go back into the studio with Rian to cut our first full record, and then Covid hit! It was a shame as we were playing a fair few gigs, on the jazz circuit of all places. But we got back in, and over a couple of recording sessions split between the summer and winter of 2021, we made Jammed Space Movement.

The record was finally released in late 2022, and we had a few singles. ‘Basquiat’s Widow’ is a real highlight on that album, and probably our most popular song at our shows. It’s got streamed a lot, and a live version of the track is our most viewed video on YouTube. But the studio video is awesome, and as you can guess, it’s about New York and the life of the great artist, and his muse. ‘Sappho’ was another
one, and The Thin Air (a great supporter of the band) had it in their top 50 releases of 2022.

But after that release, I felt the band in that format had reached the end. I needed new energy, a new perspective, youth and vitality. So I brought in a new singer, Selen Korkutan, bass player, Joan Paelez, and drummer, Peter Cahill (a student in BIMM). It was quite the change in tract, and soon after getting the guys on board we cut two EPs back to back, again with Rian, in March 2023. I was keen to get new songs down and move quickly.

We released ‘Zesty Terrestry’ last summer, and again, it was a featured by The Thin Air in their end of year list. And of course, we have just followed that up with ‘Shank’, which shows a very different side to the band. The more virtuosic side I would say.

I think these EPs are a stepping stone for another full record. All of ours are regularly featured by Hot Press, Golden Plec, The Goo and others. But we have another few gears to go.

‘Mosquito’, I understand, is a metaphor for human greed. Is there a story behind the song?

I was working on ‘Mosquito’ for a while, mainly on the musical composition side of things, and was getting inspired by a lot of Prince’s records. Records he was producing towards the end of his life actually, which I think are under-rated. But growing up I remember quite well Prince’s distaste of being ‘owned’ and ‘used’, and I used that as an inspiration for how lots of people are owned and used at all levels, everywhere.

Being taken advantage of basically, with money and power being the bottom line. Which I do find so pointless, considering the short time we have to live our lives. So as strange as it sounds, that was how that song to be!

How did the video come about and what inspired it?

I usually put a lot of effort into video making, and I think we have some really good material online now. For Mosquito I went with a live performance of the band in the rehearsal studio, to accompany the studio release of the song. Our mates in Beardfire Studios tracked the song and our long time collaborator, Ray Beggan, filmed the set and made the video. Peter actually mastered the live version. Not bad for a 19 year old!

Ray also made the ‘Verlaine’ video for us, which captured us in The Meadow studio over a day whilst we were producing the track. On that one I was going for a documentary style of video, trying to capture the band in the moment. Ray added his own creative take to it, and it ended up coming out as quite the
psychedelic style of video, like the song I guess! We actually shot the Air Station 2.0 video, for the ‘Zesty Terrestry’ record, the same day after we put all the gear away. It was an off the cuff effort, late in the evening, but it’s one of our most played songs!

Selen has a background in acting, and you can tell from that video. She owns it. Look them up!

The EP is out in a few days. How do you feel in the build up to it? What are your hopes?

Releasing a new record is always exciting. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work – the song writing, the musical development, the rehearsing, the recording/producing and the rounding up of cats in a room! All artists want to have their music heard and to be enjoyed, and we are no different. But it’s a busy world and there is a lot of music to discover. Our hope is to get it heard, pick up some new fans and let it set us
up for the next one. We want to gain some momentum.

How are you set up with regards to live shows, and what will be different compared to the recordings?

Well, what you hear is what you are going to get! We recorded ‘Zesty Terrestry’ and ‘Shank’ over 4 days, and played all of the tracks live. So give or take a few overdubs, all the music in the songs were played together as a band, with amps and all of those kind of things!

This is a process of recording I have taken for a while now. I basically found that to get the best results, and an energetic feeling, you got to perform the songs live (and find yourself a very good sound engineer). Though when you are working on a tight budget like we are, you don’t actually have much of a
choice! We did it the old fashioned way – practice, practice, practice, hit record. So when it comes to live shows, we find it a seamless transition. And in fact, I would say we are better, as we have gotten very comfortable with each other, and can improvise a more than we could when we first played together as a live band.

As a lover of art and audio visuals, I would love to start incorporating that into our shows. In fact, we did do this, for a Culture Night show in the Black Church Print Studio in 2022, where we had an audio visual artist create real-time art from sound-waves as part of our performance. We got a great write-up in the Irish Times, it went quite well!

So, that I hope to repeat in the future. And we have an art themed gig in the Workman’s Club coming up (more on that below!)

How do your differing cultural backgrounds feed into your sound?

We are not your typical straight white suburban middle class band. Our world views are different, our musical backgrounds are different, and that in itself feeds the culture of the band. Selen has recorded many beautiful songs in Turkish, and her first time singing English on record was with us. It was a big challenge for her, but she had the courage and confidence to do it, and she brought her own style and
swagger (and of course, her beautiful voice!).

I originally started out as a bit of a folky, loving old songs and traditional instruments (I have always had slightly meandering tastes), so I guess different cultures have always attracted me. You can hear it in the lyrics too. ‘Croatian Sun’, the first song on ‘Shank’, is about the Balkan War in the 90’s and the fragmentation of Europe. Ireland is an island, and I never wanted to be limited to it. It doesn’t excite me.

For me, the best thing to happen to Ireland is the influx and integration of world cultures. So I find the rise in anti-immigrant protests utterly depressing (and frankly, pathetic). But back to the music, culture difference is a magic pill for me. Joan is the slickest and grooviest bass player I’ve had the pleasure to play with, and he definitely has a Latin vibe to his sound. He drives us on, and he and Peter clicked immediately. So, a bit of groove for the Irish contingent in the band was essential!

How have you found working within the Dublin music scene so far?

Dublin is tough. Everywhere is tough of course, but there aren’t a whole lot of venues to play in Dublin, and if you are an emerging and quirky act like us, you are kind of limited to 1 or 2 main shows a year. We played two great shows in Upstairs at Whelan’s last year, and the guys there are terrific, and very supportive of original music. And we have a show in Workman’s later in the year. Another great supporter
of the arts. But you know, Dublin is small, it’s clicky, and the audience is limited (the housing crisis doesn’t help, and it’s very obvious it’s driving a new wave of emigration), and there isn’t really a great alternative music circuit, despite the great wave of bands that have come out of Ireland the past few years. And that is despite Phantom/TX Fm shutting down due to poor listenership.

So, the scene has got to be international! And that’s how I view it.

Do you look past what you’re doing at this time? Is there a full-length in the offing, for example?

All the time. I always feel like my best days and work are ahead of me (one day, this will certainly become delusional!). And I love to write, and explore different ideas and themes. It’s my favourite part of the song writing and musical composition process. I think if I had the money and the time, I would write and record an album a year, like The Beatles in their day!

But it’s not really how to do it as a relative unknown, I think you first got to sow some seeds and see which ones grow best for longevity. The ‘Jammed Space Movement’ record experimented with a few different genres, which was criticised a bit, but I tend to try encourage the band to find a musical style that suits the mood and lyrics of a song, rather than engineering a ‘genre’.

I’m not sure what the hang-up is with genres to be honest. Though I would say that as I don’t like being put in a box. That said, our recent EP’s, ‘Zesty Terrestry’ and ‘Shank’, were purposely released separately to showcase our different styles. ‘Terrestry’ is a new wave synth-pop type of a record, whilst Shank is kind of experimental new wave punk. But there is the similarity – new wave and experimentation (we are often called ‘art-rock’, but I don’t like that description, as it gives conations of ‘math’ rock, which I’m not into at all). But you know, I’m ultimately a song lover, and love a good melody and lyric.

That’s how I see us evolving now, and we have studio time booked in December with our producer, Rian Trench. I’ve recorded 4 records now with Rian, and love working with him. He always know what to do and get the best out of musicians. For this record, my mood is to create something a little slower, atmospheric and emotional, compared to our previous output. The current band line- up is only just over 12 months old, and have gelled enormously since our EP recording sessions, coupled with a series of live gigs. So, a fresh and full record now makes sense.

And aside from that, I recorded a solo EP in Palace Garden Studios in London, with producer Joe Lyons, who has worked with some great bands like The Vaccines, The 1975 and the Libertines. This one, under a moniker ‘Data.Soul’ is much more stripped back, something close to garage rock (with synths!). Selen actually did some beautiful backing and lead vocals on this, and I had the drummer from Ulrika Spacek (Callum Browne) play on it, as well as a great young electronic musician from Athens, Thom Pratt. I hope to release that later this year, mid-summer hopefully. Oh, plus an Akrobat live 7-track EP we recorded for a Chris Redjam radio show in the UK earlier this year. The live videos/performances we have on YouTube
are from this session.

What are the broader plans for Akrobat going forward?

Right now I am working on promoting our material, and getting it has far and wide as possible. Our singles have been picked up everywhere, from France to the US, to Brazil! We have quite a rich catalogue of songs now, and I want to direct ears to them! So I will continue pushing and promoting our stuff, and prick new ears. Our streaming numbers (those dreaded numbers) have really picked up the past few
months, which gives you the belief to continue and push forward. John Kennedy from Radio X in the UK has been a great supporter of the band and played the two singles, ‘Verlaine’ and ‘Shank’, we released off Shank, a lot on his radio shows. And John has invited the band to play at his showcase show The Remedy in London.

What we would like to do is to combine that with a show in London, and I am working on sorting out a good venue with Joe Lyons. So playing live is an important one for us. It’s what we all love to do, it’s how we express ourselves, and we guarantee a groovy and exciting live event! On that we are playing the Workman’s Cellar on July 18th , and will be joined by some other great acts (Dose, Crying Loser, Car Park SciFi). The plan is to make this a night of synth-art-new wave pop! Oh, and record new material!


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