Ahead of their November 28th appearance at Whelan’s Live, Dublin, Joe McNulty caught up with the terrific trio that is Wyvern Lingo, to chat about how they met; and how touring with Hozier inspired them to kick college to the kerb and concentrate on bringing the band to the next level.
Bray trio Wyvern Lingo – Karen Cowley, Saoirse Duane, and Caoimhe Barry – are one Irish band who deserve attention. Upon hearing their track Used, there can be no doubt that what you’re listening to is authentically Irish. What The Lingos have achieved is a sound that cannot be replicated by anyone other than those who possess the sweet , mellow undertones of the Irish lilt. Their harmonies draw you in, in transcendental fashion, towards a form of Celtic mystic, that is uniquely theirs.
Joe Mc: “I read somewhere that Caoimhe and Karen met while climbing trees in a field in bray, and the thing that brought you closer together was a Led Zeppelin song. Do you want to elaborate on this?”
Karen: “Yeah that’s true. We literally live in the estates that back onto each other. I don’t know how we hadn’t met already, but we were only kids and I already knew Saoirse from Primary School.”
Caoimhe: “Essentially, we were 11 or 12 and realising that there were other people out there into the same music. That’s kind of how we gravitated towards each other. Since then, the band has existed as long as we’ve been friends and were always jamming with each other at lunch time in school.”
Saoirse: “We basically spend nearly every day together, so we’ve become really good friends.”
Karen: “It’s gone beyond that, I don’t think it’s friendship anymore.”
— Other Voices (@OtherVoicesLive) November 23, 2015
Joe Mc: “Do you all share similar music interests, and is that one of the key factors when you initially form a band, or is it important to have a more mixed variety of influences?”
Saoirse: “We all grew up with our parents listening to classic rock, our brothers and sisters listening to more recent music like The Villagers, for example; but yeah, we do all have very similar tastes. We have our differences as well.”
Caoimhe: “Different enough that we’re constantly showing each other new music. I think our bread and butter is 60/70’s rock and folk music, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Thin Lizzy. Then as well though, we’re 90’s babies and are mad about really cleanly produced RnB and pop music. So it’s a weird mix of influences.”
Joe Mc: “The song used is one track that I think anyone who listens to you will resonate with; everyone’s been in a bad relationship and everyone has been hurt at some stage in their life. Is it difficult to sing a song like that or is it more of a therapeutic process?”
Karen: “I find writing a song very therapeutic but once you start working on it together, you don’t lose the meaning of it, by any means, but I definitely don’t break inside every time I play it. I think it’s a positive thing, and it also becomes our song so it’s not just mine. I wouldn’t say that you lose the connection, it just changes over time.”
Caoimhe: “I always find that when I’m writing a song like that, I’m upset, but that upset doesn’t exist again. Initially, when you’re writing it though, you really connect with it.”
Joe Mc: “One thing that’s really unique and refreshing about you guys is that you all share the responsibility of being the lead singer on certain tracks; was that something that you always envisioned for the band, or did it happen in a more casual way?”
Caoimhe: “I know it’s unusual, but for us it’s just the most normal thing, because we all write. There have been situations, and we’re going to try and do it more, where another person will write a song for someone else, but for the most part, I’ll write a song and I’ll play it, or Saoirse will write a song and she’ll take the lead. We’re definitely going to try to experiment more with writing songs for each other. We grew up listening to the likes of Simon and Garfunkel whereby it was just the norm. We’re just a collective group that makes music.”
Joe Mc: “So you’re all equal? That’s the way it seems to be. There’s no divas in the group?”
Saoirse: “Caoimhe” – Followed by lots of laughter!
Joe Mc: “You actually spent a lot of time on the road supporting fellow Bray native Hozier on his European Tour. How was that experience for you, and has witnessing his meteoric rise inspired you to drive on with your own careers with the band?”
Karen: “It started off as a quite normal thing as we were all friends already. It turned out that he needed a band; I started doing backing singing and then Caoimhe came and joined up.. It kind of chopped and changed and when things got bigger for him we went back and did a few more gigs, but then we realised that we really wanted to do our own thing. It was definitely inspiring.”
Caoimhe: “I dropped out of college. I went away with him for 2-3 weeks and I was in college at the time, and I just didn’t go back. He was doing so well and I knew what I wanted to do – It was music, and there was me doing Arts in college, I was like: “What am I doing here?” So, it really inspired me to make that big change, just quit college and focus on music. I think it’s paid off and there’s no regrets.”
— Ticketmaster Ireland (@TicketmasterIre) November 19, 2015
Joe Mc: “Do you think it is necessary for Irish Artists to pursue a career outside of the country or is the music scene here vibrant enough to give artists the platform for progression to the next level?”
Karen: “I don’t think there’s any secret to being successful. If we moved to London it would be really expensive and we’d just be another band in London. I think it’s better to be a [big] fish in a small pond rather than going to the states or something. The scene there is great though. It is important to go abroad. Ireland is so small it’s difficult to sustain yourself if you’re going to gig here for the rest for your life. We’re not exactly in any rush.”
Joe Mc: “You’ve been exploring different sound and have implemented a more electronic feel into your sound. Is this something that we can expect to hear in your future exploits?”
Karen: “Definitely!!! We’re still trying to stay close to our routes. Our routes are in R n’ B, well, they are and they aren’t. Our roots are a bit of everything really, we’ve just got more toys. The thing is, the folk sound in our last E.P, which we’re really happy with and put a lot of work into, we did it over a long period of time when we were still in college, so, the folk sound was quite incidental. It was really only because we couldn’t afford to be anything else. I think only now, we’re really becoming , the band we want to be.”
Caoimhe: “I think writing together the sound is becoming a more unified sound. We’ve all worked really hard and we’ve produced this sound that we’re all really happy with. We’re still trying to hone it in but we’re happy with it.”
After the trio’s highly anticipated Subside single launch in Whelan’s on November 28th, the girls will support Hozier on UK and Ireland tour. Starting off in the INEC in Killarney, this is followed by gigs in the iconic Brixton Academy, London, and The O2 Apollo, Manchester to name but a few. 2016 promises to be a big year for the band, with their very own headline London gig in early February followed by the release of their new E.P. This is most certainly a group that are not to be overlooked.