Howl

A Short Story by Peter Hollywood.

Peter Hollywood is the author of Jane Alley, Pretani Press (1987); Lead City and Other Stories, Lagan Press (2002); Luggage – a novel, Lagan Press (2008); Hawks and Other Short Stories (2013) and Drowning the Gowns – a Novel (2016) both published by New Island Books.  His stories have appeared in numerous journals and he has had stories represented in three anthologies:  State of the Art: Short Stories by New Irish Writers edited by David Marcus, published by Hodder and Stoughton and ‘Krino – An Anthology of Modern Irish Writing’ edited by Gerald Dawe and Jonathan Williams, published by Gill and MacMillan. The Welcome Centre opens the recently published anthology: Belfast Stories, Doire Press. He has also had ‘flash fiction’ anthologised in The Bramley Volumes 1 & 2.  The story The Cataracts Bus will appear in the forthcoming anthology The New Frontier: Contemporary Writing From & About the Irish Border. Peter is currently a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in Seamus Heaney Centre, QUB.  


“… saeva indignatio/Ulterius/Cor lacerate nequit.”- Jonathan Swift.

The end

decided to ride on.

The Meeting

An urgent a.m. meeting.

Venue: the outer ring Ramada.  A rear conference room/function suite, overlooking the river.

Tables arranged in a hollow square formation; known also as a closed U.

No break-out rooms required.

Water cooler. Air conditioning. 

Housekeeping: “loos” just outside through the double doors.  “Gents to the left because ladies are always right!”

 No scheduled fire drill.  So, real thing.  Assembly point the carpark.

Next.

Device etiquette.

He watched people slide mobiles and smart phones from off the shiny, conference table surfaces; like gamblers palming the hands they’ve been dealt.  Others reached inside jackets or howked around in handbags. Turning to silent.

Homo Cellurlaris.’

He patted down his own pockets.

No phone.

It was mostly the men who barged in with that brash briskness, all business-like in high-shine shoes and manly handshakes. 

The hollow square arrangements allowed him to see the legs opposite him.  Some sat cross-legged.  Others had their legs tucked in under their seats.  One man had his stretched out and crossed at the ankles.  Expensive leather soles for all to see. One woman sat with her hands folded in her lap.

Serious, professional faces and their reflections in the polished surface of the tables.  Insects sat like reading glasses on the glacial surface.

People were clicking pens now and opening notebooks and file pads.  His briefcase he had set beside him on the carpet. He did not lean down to it. Discreetly he slid a sheet of hotel-headed paper towards him.  He patted pockets a second time, then lifted one of the hotel pencils with their logo printed down its length. 

The meeting began.

Management side: “…arms-length approach… not tenable going forward…”

Employee side: “… the situation we all find ourselves in here… other pressures have come to bear…”

One side: “ … sustainability policy… based on recommended headroom…’

The other side: “…not political conflict… not ‘conflict’… disagreement… ‘political disagreement’…”

Their side: “… it’s a paradox rather than a contradiction… go to that report… source appropriate language around this issue…’

Our side: “… not adhering to agreed guidelines… has an implementation date been set yet for starting?”

This side: “… I think we all know that.  THANK YOU.

That side: “… I do know that you know that… may I finish?”

Right-hand side: “ legal advice… not carrying out statutory duty..”

Left-hand side: “… privileged information… not anticipating sharing this more widely…”

All sides: “… want to get this as right as we can…”

Then. A moment of silence.  Respite.

  • You’ve got something to say, he was suddenly being told.
  • Yes, he stammered.  Yes.  That analogy.
  • What analogy?
  • Moving the goal-posts.
  • Well?

All eyes on him now.

  • I was just going to say that we might have moved the goal-posts but it’s still football.
  • I don’t follow.  Does anyone follow?

Some eyes averted now.  Others stare.

  • Well, he explained.  It’s not as if one minute we’re playing football then the next we’re playing golf. Or tennis.

Silence.

  • It’s still the same game!
  • I see.  Thanks for that.

Not perspicuous enough.

The meeting resumed.

As the day wore on, speakers seemed to adopt the same, droning conference-voice.  His attention wearied.

Us: “Be a realist…. Demand the impossible…”

Him: “ …broken window theory…. fingerprint learning…’

Whisper: “Let’s open the gates of nurseries, universities, and other prisons…”

Sotto voce: “… colleges must seek out… old wives… sorcerers, wandering tribes… old robbers… take lessons from them….”

Afterwards, outside the conference room, people were still conducting those civil service, corridor conversations; snippets and fragments of which he caught as he made his way through. 

 He sat in the cubicle, the briefcase on his knees, until they had all driven their cars from the car-park across which he then traversed on foot, bringing the brief-case with him.

The Encounter

He walked down a short service road, past a hockey pitch, through a green iron gate, across a small hump-backed stone bridge and onto the tow-path walk-way. 

And the river.

Tow-path etiquette.  Keep to the left.  Dogs on leads.

He was among mid-morning mothers now pushing buggies and prams; towing toddlers behind them. Retirees, coupled or alone, that tall grey-haired woman, for example, walking with her hands behind her back. Walking groups; power-walkers and joggers, laying down invisible contrails of scent and soap and antiperspirants as they passed, ear-budded or head-phones fitted. Cyclists.  Solitary strollers, phones Velcroed to the sides of faces or held out before them to frown down upon and consult.  Thumbs going ninety-to-the-dozen. 

Twitto ergo sum.’ 

Everyone adhering to tow-path etiquette.

He passed a couple of young teen-age girls and overheard:

  • …and there’s this three-hour kayak tour where you paddle out into the dark and there’s no light and stuff and you can see the stars!

Her sense of wonderment got to him and he felt a yearning drop like an anchor through his chest and throat and stomach.

Then, well along the walk-way, he met two women.  One had a dog on a lead.  Her companion’s dog dawdled well behind them.

  • Dingbat! Called its owner.  C’mon.

The little terrier’s head did jerk up at this and, as he drew near, the dog did begin to pad off in the owner’s direction.  Only then its nostrils wolfed down some odour or scent which stopped it in its tracks and lured it to turn round again. 

Momentarily it trotted at his heels, then overtook him, aimed at a clump of dandelions and weeds on the river-bank.

  • Dingbat! Come. On.

Someone had gone to the trouble of knitting a woollen coat for the dog in emerald green, with a thin red design worked into the pattern.

Putting down the briefcase, he bent and picked the dog up.  This action caused the owner to call again, her summons this time tinged with the interrogative or puzzled:

  • Dingbat? Don’t be bothering that man.
  • Hello Dingbat, he said.

Then he tossed the little terrier into the swiftly swirling river.

  • DINGBAT. Jesus Christ! MISTER.  What the fuck!

The distraught dog-owner was waving her ball-launcher madly about her head.

Retrieving his briefcase, he walked on. Unhurried and, with each step taken, patently un-harrassed. 

No matter now it was meant to be the briefcase. 

 Rounding a bend, he was out of eye-sight and almost out of voice-range but for pieces of hysterical and high-pitched pleas and pleadings, fragments of invective; and also, not quite out of earshot, scraps of yelps and yaps and barking. 

‘Disjecta membra.’ 

Like Orpheus.

It was a matter of minutes before he heard a high-speed whirr of wheels and a racing-bike sliced past him.  The rider braked some way ahead.  The cyclist put one support foot down on the tarmac of the tow-path but did not otherwise dismount.  He looked around at him.

Without breaking step.

Without missing a beat.

Without changing pace.

He kept on.

The Beginning of the End

So that, sizing him up, the cyclist

May Rosa Addresses the NI Suicide Epidemic with Poignant Release ‘Ceasefire Baby’

Photograph by Tolu Ogunware. Hair/Makeup by Rebecca Duff.

Content Warning: The following article and featured May Rosa track ‘Ceasefire Baby’ deals with themes of suicide, depression, and PTSD. 

Alt Pop Artist, Actress, Song- writer, and Screenwriter, May Rosa has been making her mark on the Irish music scene since her debut single ‘Dancing in the Debris’ was released in 2017. More recently, Maya has been moved by the ongoing suicide epidemic in Northern Ireland, drawn by harrowing statistics to write a track partially inspired by the article ‘Suicide of The Ceasefire Babies’ by the late Lyra McKee. The The synth-tinged track explores the reasons why such a catastrophic amount of lives have been lost to suicide since the 1998 Ceasefire, addressing the nations trauma, lack of mental health services and funding, unemployment and substance misuse. The song is written from the perspective of a woman who, having lost her husband in the violence of the troubles, goes on to lose her son to suicide, demonstrating a paradox between war and peace in Northern Ireland. All proceeds from the single go towards PIPS, and Aware NI- Defeat Depression.

May Rosa spoke to The Jumble Magazine about ‘Ceasefire Baby’  and some of the data that moved her to write about the topic. 

Ceasefire Baby started as a poem that I wrote in a coffee shop in South West London a couple of years ago. The words came from a place of sadness and anger about the lack of awareness, support and funding for the mental health crisis and suicide epidemic in Northern Ireland. This has affected me, and so many people I know, directly or indirectly, and it was something I always wanted to write about.

I came up with the idea of writing it from the perspective of a woman who lost her husband in The Troubles and her son to suicide, to highlight the paradox between war and peace here. When I put it to music, I didn’t really think about it being a single, as it’s very different to my other songs. It’s also really heavy, dealing with two taboo subjects, and I suppose that made me a bit uncomfortable or nervous. When I started playing it live with my band in London however, I knew I had to release it. It has always elicited such a strong response. People came up to me after my set and asked questions about the situation – they were confused as to why it was so under-publicised. It still blows my mind that even some people in NI don’t even know the extent of the problem. 

We recorded the track remotely over lockdown, with Ryan McGroarty producing, mixing, and mastering and Cheylene Murphy on Keys (Beauty Sleep). It was a seamless process. Those two are just amazing.

My brother and I then produced and directed the video in December. We had been planning it for a long time and it was exactly as envisioned – the DOP George Barnes captured the atmosphere completely. The people involved were far-reaching – from the crew, to the cast, to the owners of the locations. It was humbling that so many believed in this project and gave their time and energy. The most common thing we heard throughout the whole process was ‘Everyone knows someone’, so the support makes sense. 

The reaction to the song and video has been sobering, with many sharing stories and experiences in response. It’s just all so, so sad. Some messages have made me cry, but more than anything I feel angry. Many of us do. 

Northern Ireland deserves so much better than this. 

Northern Ireland has the highest levels of PTSD in the world according to a major International Report by Ulster University, and higher suicide rates than the rest of the UK, yet recent data (2015-2016) shows only 5.5% of the healthcare budget is allocated to mental health services, where as the data for the same yearly period shows that in England the funding allocated to mental health services equates to around 13% of their own healthcare budget. As a result, waiting lists for mental health treatment are currently approximated to be around 24 times the length of England and Wales COMBINED. This lack of funding and support means that more people experiencing mental ill health will have to resort to emergency or crisis services. 

This is an insult to those suffering, and those who have lost friends and family. Whole communities are grieving. I really do hope, that in some small way, Ceasefire Baby, contributes to a change in Northern Ireland’s approach to mental health.


Listen to ‘Ceasefire Baby’ and consider make a contribution to PIPS and AWARENI by buying the track for £1 on Bandcamp.

You can also donate via May Rosa’s Artist Fundraising Pick on Spotify. 

Read more about the data mentioned above and the mental health Crisis in Northern Ireland: 

Suicide of The Ceasefire Babies by Lyra McKee.

Ulster University Research on the Extremely high levels of PTSD in Northern Ireland. 

UK Parliment Publication Adressing Northern Ireland’s funding for Mental Health Services (With Comparisons to England) and how Northern Ireland has the Highest Suicide Rate in the UK. 

‘Making Parity A Reality’ A Review of Mental Health Policies in Northern Ireland

By Professor Siobhan O’ Neill, Professor Deirdre Heenan and Dr Jennifer Betts Supported by Action Mental Health. 

Related Organisations and Charities in Northern Ireland:

PIPS: Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm

Aware NI.

Chatting New Music, Drag, and the Production Process with Belfast Pop Artist Gary Duffy.

Photo by Stephen Edgar.

Belfast based pop artist Gary Duffy has had a very busy year; since releasing his debut single ‘Did You Ever Really Love Me?’ back in early 2020 he has accomplished an album, two music videos, and a management deal with football legend Gerry Armstrong’s X Pro Management. Duffy’s new single ‘Afraid’ has just been released, he sat down to chat with Sam from The Jumble about his production process, late game changes, and potentially incorporating his drag persona Sasha Fierce into music in the future.

So Gary, since we last spoke you have released your new single ‘Afraid’, can you tell us a bit about the track?

So ‘Afraid’ is a dance tune all about the anticipation of meeting someone new after heartbreak, a sort of situation when you’ve moved on from the heartbreak but are a bit apprehensive to potentially get hurt again. The track was originally a ballad, but with only a few days left of production we made the late decision to change it to a dance track, but the lyrics are still illustrating that nervous, more emotional tone, even if it is perfect for being played when you’re in a beer garden with the girls, gin in hand!

You mentioned that you changed the vibe of the song later in the creative process, taking it from a ballad to something more upbeat, how did you feel about making such a drastic shift to the sonics of the song? How important is it to you to examine the song so late in the game?

It was a decision that I did not make lightly, but I knew that by release we would be easing into summer and hopefully out of lock down, so I thought to myself that maybe people need something a bit more up beat to suit that, The guys at Black Studios ; Jessica Hammond and Matty Graham text me telling me they had a broad instrumental, and we took it from there to fine tune the differences and put together the sound that it has now. I was surprised how easy it was to change from a ballad to something more upbeat, but that’s down to great production.  

You’ve also recently been signed by X Pro Management and have picked up a lot more radio coverage, well done! Does this growth in your audience and career impact your song writing process?

My songwriting process is pretty casual still! I could be anywhere, doing anything, and something will come to me so I’ll take it down on the notes app on my phone. Then I work on it more when I get home, I like to take my time and refine things to make them the best they can be, and that stays the same both before and after more radio coverage. It’s all from my heart, and everything I’m writing about is based on things I have actually been through.

All of your songs are open about telling stories about love, loss, and life from a gay perspective. What does that openness mean to you, and is it ever difficult to repurpose your own experience into music? 

Yeah totally, when I first started writing I was so afraid of being too vulnerable or giving too much away, worried that people may speculate which songs are about which person, for example. That swiftly changed when I realised that song writing was my therapy, and I can’t explain how much it’s helped me develop a better sense of self and self confidence. I really believe that I’ve changed since I started, the support I’ve received from people in my life and the media has been fantastic and has helped me realise that that openness is nothing to be nervous about. 

Your discorgapy so far is a blend of soulful ballads and energetic dance pop, what’s one other musical genre you’d love to try out some day?

This may come as a surprise… but I’d love to try rap! I have a drag persona; Sasha Fierce, and I’ve performed in drag for years now, that was actually one of the things that first got me into music, I started off lip syncing and eventually worked up the courage to try singing live. The initial audience reaction was so positive that it set me off with knowing I wanted to sing for real, and soon enough I had my own slot singing as Gary Duffy. Anyway, I would love to involve Sasha in my music, she’s not dead! Somewhere between drag, music, and working full time she’s had to take a bit of time off… but she may appear sometime soon on one of my tracks with a rap feature!

Lastly, what’s next in your music career?

There’s a few collaborations coming up soon that I’m super excited about! We’re going to be shooting the video for ‘Afraid’ in the next couple of weeks and I also have an upcoming gig in the Crumlin Road Gaol in the Summer (Depending on restrictions, but for the time being it is going ahead).

Listen to ‘Afraid’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist, and be sure to follow Gary Duffy on InstagramFacebook, and Spotify.

Interview by Sam Dineen

Illustrating Mental Health through Music: A Catch Up with Lauren Bird.

Photo by Conor Kerr

Singer songwriter Lauren Bird is back to chat to Sam from The Jumble Magazine all about her new EP ‘The Farewell EP’, discussing how the EP works as a timeline through her recent journey struggling with her mental health- right trough to the light at the end of the tunnel. We chatted about production, reliving your teenage pop punk phase as an adult, and looking forward to a post-pandemic world.

Hi Lauren! Since we last spoke you have released The Farewell EP, featuring singles like ‘Millennials’ and ‘Keep Trying’, how would you describe the new EP to someone who isn’t familiar with your work? 

It’s an EP that tracks a certain period of my life. Before this, in 2017 I released an album called ‘The Inbetween’ which was framing a time period when I had just left University and was starting to figure out my path in life. This EP is sort of similar, but it’s about the time after that when I realised I was actually really mentally unwell, and I had to do something about it. The opening track ‘Here Again’ is about the day that I was prescribed antidepressants for the second time in my life- the rest of the EP acts as a little arc to the ‘Farewell’ – when I actually started to feel better after having done all the work and felt the medication doing its job. I didn’t realise I would be making an EP about how much better I felt and this journey to mental wellness right before a global pandemic started, but we can’t predict the future. I think a lot of people who may have never struggled with mental health issues before have been faced with them over the past year, so I think that’s why more people have (unfortunately) been able to relate to the songs. 

On that first track ‘Here Again’ you have a really distinctive sound, almost an acapella feel that starts to build up into an epic mix of vocals and reverb in its final minute. Did the subject matter of being prescribed antidepressants again influence you to go for such an unusual sound for this track? 

Normally when I write I don’t think too much about production, I find myself noodling on the ukulele or guitar and seeing what happens- but having made an album already and having enjoyed all the elements of arrangement, I had a feeling from the beginning that production was going to be very vital for this EP and especially this track. I knew right away it had to feature a cappella- I recorded myself on a voice memo doing the hums that make up the background at the beginning and built it up from there. It’s partially inspired by a track I really love called ‘Once Upon Another Time’ by Sara Barellies. In the beginning I thought it was just going to be an acapella song, I wasn’t totally sure how to end it. My friend Darren Doherty from the band ‘Northern Lights’ recorded it with me before the first lock down, which meant that once rules were enforced he was just sort of left with it, without me there in the room to work on it with him. He sat down one day and recorded heavier drums, bass, and guitars, and blended them into the track, which was really inspired by his own musical sound. He sent it to me and although I appreciated it, something was off. Suddenly he knew what to do to fix it- he sent back to me with the reverb done, siting ‘Garden Song’ by Phoebe Bridgers as one of his inspirations- the reverbed band sound blended really well into the a cappella and the heartbeat drum loop- and all of it came together to sort of amplify the intensity of the track, it suited the lyrics more to have it sound this way. It was definitely the track that spent the longest in production. 

Photo by Conor Kerr

It’s interesting how a song can come to be as a result of two very different musical tastes and backgrounds coming together. Do you find that someone coming in from a totally different angle to add their own flair to a track is something that happens often in your music making process?

On the first album I crowdfunded, so I was able to afford really good session musicians,I had been playing for a while but the recording process was new to me. Cormac O’Kane (who did the first album in Red Box in Belfast) gathered these amazing musicians together to do it. I’m a big Paul Simon fan, and I had it in my head that I wanted to make my own ‘Gracelands’ and he really helped me follow that vision exactly as I had imagined. Working with Darren is different, considering that we’re also friends, it’s definitely more casual and DIY, which means there’s a little more room for experimenting, we have a lot in common in what we listen to, but there’s also a lot of stuff he’s into that I don’t really listen to at all. He brought a more electric sound to it. I love the music I made before but it’s not always necessarily identical to my own music taste- I love ukulele musicians but as I’ve got older my tastes have changed, this EP feels really cool because it’s more sonically linked to my current musical taste. I think Darren adding his own influences is definitely partially responsible for that, and I hope to keep working with him in the future (when we can!) 

Let’s delve more into your musical taste, is there anything you would point to as something you have fallen in love with over the past year, particularly while we’ve all been in and out of lock down? 

I feel like I always talk about it, but I spent so much of the year listening to Phoebe Bridgers, but I’ve also been trying to get some more upbeat stuff into my ears. I’ve really enjoyed falling back into my love for pop punk- that’s something that seems to happen every year around the time of my birthday- as if I’m trying to time travel back to my 14 year old music taste, so I’ve been loving 

Simple Plan, Blink 182, Greenday, and No Doubt. I’d love to make an album (or a covers album) in that style one day. I don’t think emo has died, by the way, I think it’s just become folk. 

Lastly, as a performer, musician, artist, and just as a person- is there anything in particular that you’re most excited to get back into when the world safely opens up again? 

I can’t wait to hug Darren, I can’t wait to hug all of my friends! Today I got up early to get Julian Baker tickets, and that feeling of sitting waiting for the website to load, and the excitement of hoping I’ll get one before they sell out was something I really missed. I’d love to go to gigs, and I’d love to go to a restaurant and have a meal that I didn’t cook!

Listen to Lauren Bird’s music on Spotify, follow her on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

You can Check out ‘Here Again’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist by clicking here.

Interview by Sam Dineen

Exploring Maximalist Art with Ruth Crothers.

Ruth Crothers is the artist behind @ruth_prints on Instagram. Ruth’s art style is bold, colourful, and maximalist. Recently she was involved in an artist takeover of The Vault Artist Studio Instagram account, she also teaches  Textile Print part time at Ulster University and creates licensed artworks remotely for a textiles studio based in New York.  Ruth spoke to The Jumble Magazine about her art style, breathing colour, and her constant need to create. 

I would describe my art as centering around colour that B R E A T H E S… 

Living a colourful life is one that has a full spectrum of colours, ups and  downs, bad and good, dark and light, for me colour is a living thing- hence -it  breathes. 

Contemporary illustration of historical Belfast created as part of the Entries Project, orchestrated by Daisy Chain Inc. for Belfast  City Council. It depicts the history of the Entries between Ann Street and High Street and was a textile street art paste up. The print on linen is wrapped  and pasted round a junction box on High Street just outside Snappy Snaps. This 
design has also been turned into a ltd. Edition of Teatowels which are currently  sold through the Vault shop. (Created by Polish)

I have found myself in a position where  I can’t not create. Creating is honestly vital. I have to do it  and I don’t think I could survive without it. Painting has become my personal form of meditation, when I can’t paint I feel really frustrated. This urge to feel happy and peaceful drives me to create. Luckily I  don’t seem to have a shortage of inspiration, it comes from anything and everything. I keep notes on my phone and use the camera to take quick snaps of things when I see them. I love reading about art and design and I’m desperate to get back to seeing exhibitions soon. Music is also super important, not a day goes by without me listening to something and I always listen whilst painting….  Oh to see a live performance again! 

I like trying things  out and experimenting with new techniques, it means I don’t ever get bored creating and I think this has helped my style evolve and become quite versatile. I believe my art could work in many different applications.  The thing that tends to unite it is always maximalist colour and pattern with a sense of humour. 

Comic strip of my daily routine for #thevaultialtimes.
Cancer Daily Horoscope: Mercury is retrograde… again. Technology breaks down,  expect delays in communication and an onslaught of chaos. You will not meet the  love of your life in the near or distant future. Not today, not tomorrow and  definitely not in this lifetime. Sorry little crab.’

My work feels very representative of who I am. I’m  generally very happy and open. I feel comfortable in myself so I don’t mind sharing. I’m not perfect but that’s ok! I guess to me it just feels honest, it reflects all of those characteristics. There’s pressure to post on social media for many artists but I feel confident that even if we didn’t have that, I’d still be creating. Truthfully, creativity is just a way of life for me. 

The past year of Lock downs has actually been ok for me. My work had a strong textile screen-print focus prior to the pandemic but back then I didn’t have access to my equipment, so I just began painting from my kitchen table instead. I  completely rediscovered this during the first lockdown and now I’m hooked. Generally I’ve been ok-  but I just miss going out and seeing people. 

The best thing about the local art scene is the accessibility of it, I think it  would be much harder in a larger city to even get your foot in the door but  here it’s definitely much easier to make connections. People are especially 

friendly, welcoming and supportive which is a blessing. Big shout out to  my art fam @vaultartistsni  

Ltd. Edition Tee release for @vaultartistsni . I share a studio in Vault and I’m full of so much love, respect and admiration for the artists that  occupy the building. There’s a diverse range of artforms found under one roof and the number of artists I think is now over 130. Don’t know where I’d be  without this place or these people. Eternally grateful! (Created by Polish)

Ruth is Currently working on a piece around the theme of loneliness for an online exhibition for the NI Mental Health Arts Festival which runs from the 11th to the 16th May coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week which will be available on nimhaf.org.

You can check out more of her work over on Instagram, and learn more about Vault Artist Studio on their own Instagram Account

Something Different, Hand Painted Phone Grips by Rae McCay Designs.

Rachel McCay is a Technology and Design graduate, a Scout Leader and, recently, a small business owner. Rachel uses her artistic background and creativity to hand paint and design wholesale bought phone grips in an array of unique and individual patterns. Rachel spoke to The Jumble Magazine about her business – Rae McCay Designs.

I’ve been really into art from a young age. I remember sitting at my nanny’s kitchen table colouring in for hours after our Sunday dinner. My claim to fame is when I won the West Belfast art competition in P1 and got a photoshoot for the Andytown news. I always loved art and went on to do Art at GCSE and A-level where my love grew even stronger. It was in my final year of A-level Art that I fell in love with using acrylic paint on canvas to recreate landscapes with my own flare. For my placement year in university I went back to school and worked as an art assistant. I absolutely loved this and really enjoyed seeing all the students’ creativity and giving them a hand where I could. Going back gave me the opportunity to get back into my love for art and I’ve been painting as much as I can ever since.

I’ve been using ‘pop grips’ on my phone for around 8 years now. All of the You Tubers I loved had them so of course I had to get one. I fell in love with them and managed to get quite a few people I know obsessed with them too. I find that they almost give an extra layer of protection. Phones are getting bigger and bigger and the grip allows you to comfortably hold your phone and takes away the stress of possibly dropping it. Unfortunately, over the years I feel like these kinds of phone grips have gotten more expensive and sometimes the quality isn’t as consistent. I found myself constantly scrolling through websites trying to find something I liked or something to match a phone case but usually failed to do so. This was my inspiration to mix my love for phone grips and art together. 

The creative process can be quite a stressful process because it is a small item that you’re working with. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I want each item to be the best it can be and will happily remake it a hundred times to make sure it’s perfect. Even with the stress I absolutely love making them and my favourite part is definitely the excitement of painting on the different designs and hoping that they’re as good as they are in my head.

My main goal at the minute is to do a few grips in the same style as my paintings, although I may need to invest in some more tiny brushes. I have really enjoyed doing the different animal print designs so far and can’t wait to do more of them. I have also done a few personalised grips to match phone cases which I’ve really enjoyed as it’s so aesthetically pleasing to see them together. I would also love to hear any suggestions from customers as I always love a new challenge.

You can check out more of Rachel’s products over on Instagram.

Rodeo Queen: Talkin’ Queer Country Music with Cyran.

Artwork by Isabella Anna K

Ciara Fitzsimmons (Problem Patterns) and Ryan King (Radio show host of ‘Fist City’ from The 343) have combined their shared love for sad country doo-wop with their love of queer storytelling to create Cryan. The duo have recently released their first single ‘Rodeo Queen’ along with a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ on bandcamp to a very positive reception. Ciara and Ryan had a (virtual) chat with Sam from The Jumble Magazine all about the new single, Roy Orbison, and the Queer representation within country music.

Hi guys! lets start it off at the beginning, can you two tell me about yourselves and how CRYAN came to be? 

R: Well our name is what you get when you smash our two names together (Ciara and Ryan) and we’ve been friends for about 3 years , until recently we were neighbors too. We had played together once just before lock down, for a benefit with some friends, and we were asked to do a track for the charity She Sells Sanctuary. We had a lot of fun doing a cover of a country song for that and we’ve been bonding over country since. I have a country radio show too, that’s how it started with CRYAN.

C: Yeah! Before this we played together in a tribute band for The Velvet Underground, that was just before we realised we had a love of country music in common. We delved into country after covering a Roy Orbison track, and realised it was actually really fun! We both love the lofi, stripped back simplicity of our style.

That bleeds in quite nicely into my next question, I was going to ask about your love for Roy Orbison! What is it about his music you love so much? 

C: Well Roy is pretty much the reason I exist…. My granny supposedly got with my granda because she thought he looked a bit like Roy, so I suppose I have to thank Roy’s strapping good looks for my birth! I have my granny to thank for getting me into his music. I remember watching him on TV with her at a really early age. I love the uniqueness and the power of his stuff, and it’s amazing that he can sing in three octaves. 

R: I wonder how many people can thank Roy Orbison for their actual existence… 

So ‘Rodeo Queen’ is a narrative song, telling a queer love story between two women. The under-representation of LGBTQ+ stories is a problem across all music, but some may feel that it is particularly under-represented in country, due to some of the impressions and more conservative associations that country music can have. How important is it to you two to tell queer stories through your country music?

R: Well I have a queer country radio show on The 343, and one of the reasons that I wanted to do that  was to show people that country music isn’t what they may think it is. It doesn’t have to be hetero-normative, there’s a long history of queer artists in country music- Wilma Burgess in the 60’s and Patrick Haggerty from Lavender Country in the 70’s. Whilst they were very much in the minority at the time there’s been a much stronger representation of queer artists in Country music since the 1990’s, telling queer stories in this way is one of the main priorities in our band.

And let’s face it, country music may be one of the queerest forms of music out there! The idea of a couple of lonesome cowboys out under the stars, the rhinestones and the exaggerated outfits and costumes, these people and stories have always been there…”

C: I think with ‘Rodeo Queen’ the idea was that classic idea of a woman walking into a bar and being totally blown away by another woman’s beauty, there’s plenty of songs that tell that kind of story from a man’s perspective, but we wanted to tell it from a queer point of view without making a big deal about it. It’s so simple and sweet. I wanted to let the women in this story just fall in love in a simple way, the way heterosexual people often get to do without even thinking about it. 

R: Country music can be very intimidating for queer people, especially if you grew up associating it with the Confederate flag imagery and super right wing conservative American guys, you may feel that its not for you…I think opening up to country and seeing how diverse it really is, both sonically and in terms of the diversity of the artists, can really show people that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Are there any other artists you’ve been loving at the minute? 

R: Something that impressed me about Orville Peck was how well considered the music was, how it was clearly all thought out before the music even came to be. 

C: I think we’re both really inspired by Mashed Potato Records as well, a whole pile of our inspiration comes from their two compilation albums. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where our inspiration comes from. We both love classic country and the more modern stuff. We sort of pull from everywhere. 

R: I think with the radio show I find myself coming across such a wide variety of brand new country music too, if you’re into more bittersweet romantic stuff there’s some great music on Bobby Dove’s new album ‘Hopeless Romantic‘, which came out in February this year.

How have you found making music in the odd circumstances of the past year? Has the pandemic changed how you make music? 

C: To be honest I don’t really think we would exist without it. We didn’t have the time before this to take on another project, we’re both very busy people- so I’m grateful for it in that respect.  I love all of my projects equally and I put my heart and soul into them all, so being able to actually focus on this one has been beautiful. We have a mutual friend: Daniel O’ Raw AKA F.R.U.I.T.Y and he’s been our producer, he’s got an amazing mind for a delicate and stripped back method of production. We love working with him.

R: The way we have been operating has been very much one thing at a time. We have some ideas that we want to do in the future, and having that extra time means we can do it that way. Hopefully we can do live shows one day but even without them the connection we have formed with our audience has been amazing! The support people have for us online is awesome and we’re so thankful for it. 

You can listen to Cryan’s new music on bandcamp, and keep up to date with what they’re up to on Instragram and Twitter.

You can also check out past ‘Fist City’ Radio show recordings, as well as other radio shows hosted by The 343, by clicking here.

Interview by Sam Dineen

Pink Moon

By Dominique Argüelles 

I think we should head towards the dunes– 
Watch the super moon for a bit.
Bury our clothes somewhere
And wait.

Can you feel the lunar pull?
The tide sweeping me to you,
Crushing and easing our bodies against
Each other.

There’s an ebb and flow between our
mouths, A slow and desperate exchange.
Seaweed and black sand
Is spouted and swallowed.

You take too much sometimes;
All of my currents, my wildlife.
My body is left barren,
A dry heart cracking with each beat.

Sometimes I think
I want it to end.
I regret giving so much,
But I forget this when your skin loops into mine.

Can we stay a little longer?
You hold me like it’s inevitable.

I know I should turn on you
When you admit
That you don’t believe in the sea,
And that I should content myself with rivers and puddles.

I could take your face in my hands
And muster some words with my salt-stung
tongue. Ask you to see:
We’re already waist deep.

Or maybe I can unpick the gravel
I collect from kneeling in dirty puddles,
Pretending that waves don’t crash behind my
eyes– I’ll lie and say I have a headache.

I’ll happily let you go
If you tell the moon to just stop.
Ask it to crack open and dissolve for me,
So I can be untied from this spot.
I think you owe me that much.

Fresh Music: A Chat with Cat.

Photograph by Emilia Rigaud

Dublin based contemporary alt-pop artist Cat has been emerging onto the Irish music scene this year with her atmospheric and emotional debut single ‘Slipping’. Cat spoke to The Jumble Magazine about the new track, using music as an emotional release and being authentic as a queer female artist in Ireland.

Starting off, can you introduce yourself? What got you into making music? 

Hey! I’m Cat. I’m a new Irish pop artist, what’s up? 

I got into making music because singing and creating melodies has always been my outlet  and the way I have stayed authentic to myself. I wanted to create music that is inviting for  everyone and anyone to escape into and feel at home. 

Your debut single ‘Slipping’ has just been released, what springs to mind when you think back to creating this track? 

This track represents a very traumatic frame of mind that I remained in for a long time following a turbulent experience I went through. When I wrote “Slipping”, I was mid-way through saving myself from that situation, so the song saved my mental health in a big way and remains a statement of me standing up for myself. 

It’s a huge release of emotions for me to get this song out. 

Have you found that the weirdness of the past year has affected your ability to make music? How does it feel emerging as a musical artist into such a strange time?

The pandemic has had its ups and downs for me, personally. It prevented me from ending  up in a bad (musical) relationship while also knocking me off kilter slightly from where I  thought I was headed in my career. I found myself writing and creating the best music I ever  have whilst keeping me on my toes. It feels like a once in a lifetime experience to be  emerging as a new artist in these circumstances, there’s more space for me right now in the  industry than I have felt there ever was before. 

It’s clear that you care a lot about creating more authenticity in pop music, what’s the most important part of this for you? 

I love pop music so much. It has been a massive part of my life for so long. I want to remain  authentic in my pop music by never apologising for any of my lyrics, my image, how bold I  am or anything else for that matter. Womxn in this industry deserve to be heard for who  they really are in all shapes, colours and sizes. People need something real to hold on to in  music and it’s so important to me that people can relate to the ‘realness’ of my music. 

Who are your biggest influences musically? 

Lady GaGa is a massive influence for me. She represents everything I stand for. I’m also  hugely influenced by LP, Sam Smith, Grimes and Leonard Cohen. All for various reasons. 

What’s one thing you can’t wait to do once the world is a bit more normal?

I’m sure every Artist will say the same thing here but playing live is something I miss hugely.  I miss the personal connection I get with people by performing live on stage. It’s irreplaceable in the career of a performer like me.  

Lastly, what’s coming up for you this year? 

This year will be full of new music from me. I have so much up my sleeve for this year and I  can’t wait to show all of you.

Keep up to date with Cat on Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud.

Interview Questions by Sam Dineen

Fresh Music: Bikes & Bridges Lead to Broken Bones

Previously featured genre hopping guitarist and creator of the DIY project Centre/Left/Right Ciara Rooney has returned with her second album ‘Bikes & Bridges Lead to Broken Bones‘. Taking influence from the hard rock and metal she listened to as a teen, this album goes in a totally different direction to her last album “Sketch”. Ciara spoke to The Jumble Magazine about this musical shift, the song she loves most, and how a literal broken bone inspired the album’s title.

Since I last spoke to Jumble I released a synthwave single called “Thursday”, which is a remix/re-imagining of a track I did for a university project. I’ve also been working on a heavy metal EP. So far, every album I’ve released has had its own follow up bonus track(s), either an EP or a single, so I’m hoping to continue that.

Bikes & Bridges Lead to Broken Bones contains songs I wrote and recorded during my first couple of years of creating this project. During my teens I was influenced by hard rock/heavy metal bands such as My Chemical Romance, Iron Maiden, and Metallica, so a lot of my guitar playing mirrored that. By the time I entered my twenties and began creating this project, a lot of those influences carried over, so it’s very much a hard rock album. 

I came up with the name and album art around February/March 2020, after literally crashing my bike into a bridge which resulted in a broken finger and fractured toe. The two months of recovery was incredibly frustrating because I couldn’t play any instruments, however it deepened the sentimental meaning of the hand logo I used on my first album “Sketch”. Initially, I had used it to express how important I feel my hands are to my ability to create music, but now that I know what it’s like to have very limited use of them I’m glad I had the foresight to choose the image of a hand as somewhat of a symbol for my music. 

My favourite track is either Wrath, Velocity or Rush. Wrath is the 2nd ever song I composed for Centre/Left/Right, it’s quite thrashy. Velocity and Rush both have this heavy metal/punk thing going on but then some contrasting ‘clean’ parts which I really like, it reminds me of the music from “Sketch”.

Most listeners probably wonder “What’s with all the genre hopping?” This album is quite different to the last, just as the last is quite different to the one before that. It’s my goal for Centre/Left/Right to cover as many musical genres within my range as possible, so there’s something for everyone. If this album wasn’t to your taste, check out some of my previous releases or stick around to see what I come up with in the future!

I’d also like to give a huge thanks to Patrick Moore who helped write most of the drum parts for Among Aliens, Velocity and There’s Something in the Sky back in 2018.

Listen to ‘Bikes and Bridges Lead to Broken Bones’  SoundCloud and keep up to date with CENTRE/LEFT/RIGHT’s future music by following the project on Instagram.