Last week saw the announcement of the Irish acts that will be heading to SXSW in Austen, Texas in the Spring of this year. A highlight on the festival circuit, South By South West is the single largest and most highly regarded showcase of the new talent in the music industry. Notable bands to emerge from last year were HAIM, Solange and Disclosure, so needless to say it’s an event loaded with potential in any musician’s career. Going for the full musical immersion in Austen this year will be Hozier, after his hit track “Take Me To Church” became a national obsession, as well as bands such as Heathers who have been gigging hard and writing new material with prolific regularity. Best known perhaps for writing ‘that song in the ad’ Remember When, the twin sisters have come far since then, landing a record deal with Sony Red in the US and securing an American launch in the Spring for their new album Kingdom. Here we caught up with Ellie MacNamara for a brief chat before her First Fortnight gig last weekend…
How do you feel about heading to SXSW? Really excited. Texas is a part of the States we’ve never been to, one of five states we haven’t visited I think. And we’ve never been to SXSW and it’s got such an amazing reputation. I actually don’t know who else will be there other than the Irish bands, who are amazing. So I’m looking forward to hanging out with the Irish contingent. I’m looking forward to seeing Hozier in particular. I adore his music – I tried to see him over Christmas but it was completely sold out. The Stripes too I’ve never seen them before, they’re so young it’s mental!
2013 was a big year for you guys – you got signed to Sony Red in the States, got an extended tour with Warner Music in Germany and now SXSW – what have been the highlights for you personally? Yeh it’s been an incredible year – we signed with Sony for Canada, Warner for Central Europe and Sony Red and Big Tree which means our album will be coming out in America around April time. One of the highlights would have to be from when we were in LA at the beginning of the year and played at a pre-Oscars party and got to meet J.J Abrams and Stephen Spielberg which was probably the highlight of my life! It’s the Oscar Wilde party that honours the Irish in film and they always have an Irish act and we were invited to play – it was surreal.We’ve been doing so much travelling between Canada and Germany and this year we’ll be in America a lot. So pretty good so far.
Best gig of 2013? Our headline gig at The Academy at the end of November. It was so much fun, specially to end the year back in Dublin.
How have you been finding all the different audiences? It’s funny figuring out what people are like in different countries. There have been a lot of Irish people even at our gigs abroad. But definitely Irish crowds are always the best – really into music but also just such great audiences. The more I travel the more I realize that.
The sister thing is really happening at the moment – are there any bands you admire or that you take inspiration from? Yeh there’s a lot of sister acts coming out playing music at the moment, like The Staves. We grew up listening to Simon & Garfunkel and Bruce Springsteen, but we’ve been listening to a lot of HAIM of late too they’re amazing.
What’s the most exciting thing coming up in 2014? Our American album launch is probably the most exciting thing. But we’ve also started working and writing our 3rd album and I’m really curious to see what we come up with. We’re also heading over to Malaysia later in the year, which is the first time we play over on that side of the world!
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna