Live instrumental music – particularly that of the acoustic variety – is always kind of fascinating. People can’t exactly sing along, and so the audience is left to immerse themselves in the sounds. You engage with the music in a way that is perhaps less immediately comprehensible. This is especially interesting when the venue is the Twisted Pepper, and the instrumental musicians in question are the captivating duo of saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld.
Big things are on the horizon for Karen Cowley, Saoirse Duane and Caoimhe Barry, the three members who comprise Wicklow group Wyvern Lingo. Their speciality lays in stunning vocal harmonies and propulsive, sweet melodies that seem to infuse healthy doses of pop, rock and R&B in equal measure. The girls might be familiar to you via their associations with Hozier (they recently toured with him and used to provide his backing vocals), but having just completed their first Ireland-wide tour, the trio are very much worth paying attention to in their own right. I had a chat with lovely vocalist and percussionist Barry ahead of their Trinity Ball set:
Can you tell us a bit about how Wyvern Lingo first formed?
We got to be friends in secondary school, we all bonded over music […] I guess initially it was stuff like Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell, Thin Lizzy, Queen – you know, like 60s, 70s rock and folk. And then also R&B stuff – so stuff like Lauryn Hill, Destiny’s Child. And then I guess we’ve always been playing music together.
How did coming to college affect the group?
We got the band name while we were in secondary school but we’ve really only been the band that we are now for, say, the past two years. We all kind of did the college thing, and then Karen and I did the backing vocals with Hozier. I should be in the fourth year of college right now, but we went on a touring stint with Hozier and I just didn’t go back to college. I decided to give being in a band full-time a go – we’re all doing it full time now, and we’re all giving it our best effort!
How was the Irish tour?
It was amazing! They were intimate gigs, and everybody that was there was really involved, we got to talk to people afterwards. It was a lovely experience, a really nice first touring experience – we had a lovely crew and we just had the best time! I think it’s just our favourite thing to be doing right now – to be on the road, playing gigs, having the craic!
What can we look forward to in terms of upcoming releases?
We’re gonna do another EP. We started recording that at the end of last year, but these things always kind of get knocked on or they don’t always go to plan. The plan was to release the new EP in spring time, but now it looks like it’ll be summer time – hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
How will the new EP differ from the last one?
I think our sound has matured a bit, or certainly changed from the last EP. Just before we started to record that EP I had literally just started to play drums properly, about two weeks before. I always had a drum kit – I spent my confirmation money on one – but I live in a terraced house so it was just kind of sitting there. We did a gig in October and it was the first time Saoirse played electric guitar at a gig, Karen just got her synth bass. We were getting session musicians in on the last EP, but we’re making the sounds happen ourselves on this one – we’re getting really excited!
Would you have been to Trinity Ball before? Do you know what you’re in for?
I’ve never been, but Karen did the orchestra thing a few times. I have heard that it’s an interesting affair! To be honest I have no idea – I imagine it’ll just be like a festival, except everyone’s wearing suits.
What can we expect from your set?
We’ll try to keep it energetic – a lot of the stuff that we’ve been writing is possibly a lot more energetic than the last EP, so this is definitely going to be upbeat. We’ll do one or two new songs, but some of the old ones too, which we’ve kind of revamped. It’s definitely gonna be a fun gig.
Who else will you go and watch?
I’d really like to see Basement Jaxx, that’d be deadly. I know Little Hours are playing too, and they’re always class. I’m looking forward to it!
Photo by Ellius Grace. Interview originally for the Trinity Ball Guide.