Æ MAK – “The love sick writer in me is beating the hard-ass performer in me”

Æ MAK, thank you for taking the time out. There are a lot of people very excited about your upcoming Småll Session’s show here in Berlin, not least us! Is this your Berlin debut? And what kind of set can fans expect?

Hello! Thank you for having me. That’s very cool, I’m excited too. It will be my first show in Berlin, yes. They can expect something unusual, the usual.

Many legendary outlets, such as NPR and KEXP, have marked you as one to watch for 2020 – what are your plans to seize this momentum?

I’ve never been great at seizing outside momentum. I hope to continue doing what I’m doing and keep building my own momentum and not rush anything for the wrong reasons.

You’ve mentioned an album before – how is this developing?

Yeah, the album is growing into something I love a lot, which madly enough – I’ve only learned recently – is the most important thing. I originally wanted my debut album to reflect the world of the Æ MAK on-stage character but the love sick writer in me is beating the hard-ass performer in me. I’m working closely with my producer and collaborator Daniel McIntyre (lullahush) in the studio at the moment. We’re excited.

“I think most folk think it’s just a pretentious hipster band name.”

I’m intrigued by your stage and artist name. How long does it take folk to realise it’s a play on your own name, Aoife McCann? (Or am I myself completely off the mark?)

No, you’re bang on the money. I think most folk think it’s just a pretentious hipster band name. Which is absolutely grand ’cause it kind of is. For me it’s my stage name, the version of myself that I can express and feel through on this level I can’t quite crack in real life – but performing gets me there.

A certain cheekiness and playfulness underlies a lot of your music thus far. How important is it for you that your music is fun, and an enjoyable experience?

I don’t really set out to make music that’s fun and enjoyable to listen to. Have always made music off sparked energy in the moment. Contrary to my on-stage performances I’m a really happy, light-hearted messer in real life and create melody mainly when I’m that. So it is a really good feeling thinking people enjoy it and have fun listening to it because that’s how it was created.

© @ktballox

Tying into this, you’ve previously stated your admiration for the masters of performance on stage – Aldous Harding and David Byrne. And you yourself embody the aforementioned playfulness, energy and passion we know from your music on stage. Why do you think more musicians don’t embrace the theatrical or dance aspect of the stage they inhabit?

Yes, currently obsessed with Aldous’ recent KEXP performance. That woman has been sent from above to show us all how to be authentic. Everyone’s artistic practice is unique to them, it’s specific to how and why they create so I think musicians embrace what’s true to them. I just happen to do what I do. I’m inspired by energy and the intent behind it. I like mystique and the bizarre. It excites me. I want to excite people.

“It feels like the Æ MAK project has a taste of marmite from the outside looking in.”

This all leads to a refreshing and exciting experience, and above all in Ireland and Dublin where there is such a richness in the output of quality music and art but yet, no one quite embodying their art like you do. Has that been challenging for you or indeed, rather freeing?

Whoa that’s some statement. Thank you. I can’t compare myself in that light. All I know is that yes, I create because it’s freeing and it let me be who I am and what I want to be. I wouldn’t say it’s been challenging. Career and success wise it’s been a slow climb. It depends what you value in life I guess. It feels like the Æ MAK project has a taste of marmite from the outside looking in. The Irish fans and the industry here have always been supportive and loving towards it which we all are with each other but it will never enter the mainstream here, it doesn’t fit and I’m fine with that. Rather freeing.

Well we may not agree there, think that your music has a very wide appeal and across many genres. In any case we are very much looking forward to seeing you live this Friday, thank you.

Thank you!

Tickets for Æ MAK at Småll Sessions in Auster Club are available here and cost 15,65€.

Auster Club
Pücklerstraße 34
10997 Berlin, Germany

Perlee at Filmkunstbar Fitzcarraldo

The Meath natives who have made Berlin their home have been productive in recent months gigging hard. This led to recording the EP with acclaimed producer Julie MacLarnon (who has previously worked with fellow Irish acts Lankum and Duke Special, as well as The Vaselines).

Check out their debut single Chain of Coral below and prepare to be moved.

The doors will open from 21:00 and show starts 21:30. Entry €5 at the door.

Filmkunstbar Fitzcarraldo
Reichenberger Str. 133
10999 Berlin


Cover Picture by
© Mattia Stellacci & Lena Hansen

Roseanne Lynch – Forgettings’ Trace

The Embassy of Ireland and Centre Cultural Irlandais Paris present a new body of work from Irish artist Roseanne Lynch. The work stems from her three month residency at The Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau in 2018.

Lynch’s starting point was an exploration of Modernist architecture, which she then moved away from to focus the teachings of the Bauhaus Vorkurs – the primary course undertaken by students at the Bauhaus School of Design, Architecture and Applied Arts. The course’ main aim was to encourage consideration of materiality by experimenting with basic forms, repetition and and rigour to study space and surface. Rather than creating images of architectural structures, Roseanne decided to work with fundamental forms – the square, the circle, the triangle and the straight line.

For more information on Lynch and her work please visit:
http://www.roseannelynch.com

The work on exhibit is supported by Centre Cultural Irlandais.

Embassy of Ireland
Jägerstraße 51
10117 Berlin
+49-(0)30-22 07 20

Junior Brother – “I connected with his place in the arcane, weird and demented world”

Hi Junior Brother, excited to take your show on the road and to a more European audience? 

I’m always very happy to play for audiences in new places, and I’m looking forward to getting to travel and see lots more of Europe than I’ve seen before. It’s also the longest tour I’ve been a part of so far, so that will be a great experience.

How did the tour itself come about with The Murder Capital?

I think the band’s management got onto my management to ask me to join them on the tour. I’m glad they asked and even gladder I said yes!

© Gavin Ovoca

The Murder Capital are an Irish post punk band from Dublin, who also released one of the great albums of 2019 with their debut, When I Have Fears

The mix of tenderness and humour on Pull the Right Rope resonated with a lot of listeners, not just from song to song but often from one line to the next. Is performing for you every night as emotional a rollercoaster as it can be for your listeners?

Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, it’s a really intense experience for me pretty much every time I play a gig. Live, I try to click into a certain energy that is potent and that taps into a certain frequency which will hopefully be picked up on by spectators and listeners. It’s hard to explain this energy I pursue but I can certainly feel it when I get there. 

You’ve spoken before about the influences of the Kerry landscapes on your music…

The weirdness and natural, ancient atmosphere of rural Ireland is something I try to convey through every aspect of my music, particularly the atmosphere of where I grew up in Kerry. I can’t explain with words the feeling these landscapes bring up in me, so that’s why I put them in my music – hopefully some people will pick up on these distinct, abstract elements but if not, it’s not the end of the world – they’re still there for me.

Junior Brother’s debut album, Pull The Right Rope, was released in May 2019 to great acclaim and was recently shortlisted for the RTÉ Choice Music Prize for album of the year 2019 alongside Fontaines D.C., Mick Flannery and Soak, amongst others.

Speaking of Kerry, is Richie Kavanagh’s wit an influence?

Richie Kavanagh conveys through his songs a beautiful sense of rural naivety which lifts my heart and soul every time I hear it. 

You yourself have a rather unique sound, and yet of course we can hear some influences from Planxty to Nick Drake to Joanna Newsom too.

In Planxty I heard the thick atmosphere of rural Ireland conveyed so potently on their album The Woman I Loved So Well. Nick Drake was very important in this very same aspect, through his natural and hypnotic guitar plucking. Joanna Newsom and Derek Bell got me very into harp music, with Newsom’s voice being a huge inspiration to me when finding the courage to sing in my own voice. 

These artists, among others, helped me to shape my style, as I used elements from these and many other sources to create a mixture which sounds different to most things I suppose.

Tell me about your stage name, Junior Brother, is it true that it originates from a play you studied in college and if so, what is the play? And, what was it that drew you to it? 

Yes, it’s a character’s name in The Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton, and I read that when I was doing English in University College Cork. The play dates from a period which I feel a strange aesthetic affinity with, late 16th/ early 17th century England. The play is insane and violent and beautiful, and Junior Brother is a malicious outcast in the very outer margins of the action – I connected with his place in the arcane, weird and demented world of the play.

So, you have a few shows in Germany over the tour. Have you been a fan or been influenced by German culture in the past?

Krautrock has been quite a big influence, acts like Can, Neu and Kraftwerk I discovered really early on when I was just starting to get bored of more conventional music as a child. In terms of cinema, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul by Rainer Werner Fassbinder had a huge impact early on, and of course Werner Herzog is a brilliant force of nature as an artist and is an influence as well.

Show starts at 8pm with Junior Brother, doors from 7pm, Monday the 3rd of February 2020.
Tickets available here.

Musik & Frieden
Falckensteinstraße 48
10997 Berlin


Cover Picture by
© Nicolas O’Donnell

The Murder Capital by
© Gavin Ovoca

TAU & the Drones of Praise – Bushfire Relief Fundraiser

Get down, donate what you can and have a good time with great bands to boot.

TAU are a transcendental psychedelic rock band based in Berlin, headed up by Dubliner Shaun Mulrooney – who many may know well from being the lead of one of the great noughties’ Dublin bands, Humanzi. TAU may have a very different sound, which you can get a feel for below, but Mulrooney’s energy, voice and magnetism remain as strong as ever.

Enjoy the show!

Marie Antoinette
Holzmarktstraße 15-18
10179 Berlin

Susan Connolly – “I aim to offer new ways to consider paintings”

Wandering Things. The exhibition’s title throws up one little question when you’ve learned how the Kildare born artist Susan Connolly has previously created many of her works – often large pieces installed into the walls of the galleries she exhibits in – just how will the paintings in this show transfer to a foreign gallery? Connolly clarifies; “The original idea was to exhibit the collection of ‘Wandering Things’ paint skins alongside a new ‘site-specific’ work but unfortunately, due to the listed nature of Kunsthaus Dahlem, this was not feasible. I have exhibited this work as a growing collection before, but this is the first time that I have all 4 previous installations together”.

When Connolly mentions site specific, she is referring to work she has previously created and exhibited in the Mac, Belfast or the Lab, Dublin amongst others. Pieces she first created, before moving them “on site” to the gallery, and fusing them into the showcasing walls. “My painting practice has increasingly moved towards a site specificity and a temporality. This aspect of the work has grown in its importance with the construction of the work revealing and presenting new ways of looking at our understanding and of one’s expectations of what a painting is, its presentation and how it holds walls within the exhibition/gallery environment. I am interested in every aspect of how the viewer ‘looks’ at painting and in my practice, I aim to offer new ways to consider paintings and how we ‘look’ within an expanded painting era”. For Dahlem, Connolly has also developed and introduced new armature structures, painted in cmyk colours: “I am really excited to see how they ‘hold’ the wall and give a floating like quality to how the 3 smaller (150x120cm) paint skins are viewed.”

The paintings I make come from an inquisitive and conceptual way of thinking about making images using the medium paint as the primary source.”

Susan Connolly

Connolly was invited to exhibit at the Kunsthaus Dahlem by curator Mirjami Schuppert, who was, until recently, based in Belfast where Connolly was finishing up her PhD from Ulster University. Schuppert, in attendance at a talk held by Connolly at the University, was left impressed and intrigued at how the work would impact the pieces outside of Ireland and the UK. “Mirjami thought it an interesting proposition for my practice too” adds Connolly.

Had she been looking herself to take the pieces abroad? Not really, but I am very excited to have this opportunity to bring my work to new audiences beyond Ireland. What really attracted me to this particular opportunity was the venue’s history as a ‘site’ of artistic production, and the work of Italian artist Emilio Vedora really stood out to me with his development of the walkthrough painting installations during the 1960s. His work really spoke to my own studio explorations as my paintings often explore ideas to do with the expanded nature of contemporary painting practices and the traces of the artists activity upon the visual outcomes.”

The two make for great company. Vedora was the first international artist to exhibit at Kunsthaus Dahlem and also explored concepts of how one views a piece. My little question has been, well and truly, put to bed; “Like all artwork there is always an interesting transition between sites of development, sites of production and sites of viewing,” Connolly concludes, “and how the works hold themselves in Kunsthaus Dahlem will add a further dimension to their ‘wandering thingness’, which will make the work unique to this particular exhibition.”

Wandering Things opens this Thursday, January 23rd 2020, and runs through to March 30th at Kunsthaus Dahlem. The opening is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. For anyone curious to find out more about the artist, process or works, Connolly will also hold a talk on the evening of March 11th. For more information please check in at Kunsthaus Dahlem or Susan Connolly‘s websites.

Kunsthaus Dahlem
Käuzchensteig 8
14195 Berlin