Taxidermy jay birds longing to dance upon glossy ground,
the rain to be their disciple and passionately kiss their feet,
seeping into their mosaic azure wings.
Baby grizzly bears growling for their mother
and the sharp taste of berries to baptise their tongues in a violet elixir.
Longing for the forest’s vegetation crunching beneath their paws.
Behind glass, frozen in time as if encrusted by ice.
Like swords stabbing their thoraxes, butterflies are held up by a metallic
pin, their wings: splattered Jackson Pollock paintings of kintisu.
Belfast singer-songwriter Conor Scott is making his return to the music scene after a three year break, having recently returned to Belfast after a while spent living in London. Conor chatted to The Jumble Magazine about his starting point as a Busker, being a contestant on TV’s ‘The Voice’ a few years back, getting through lock down, and his great new track ‘Life Now’.
So Conor, can you introduce yourself?
How’s it going. I’m Conor, 26 and from North Belfast.
You started busking around Belfast about ten years ago, a bustling city with buskers and entertainment round every corner is something a lot of us are really missing over the past year. What was your favourite thing about that period of your musical life?
I loved that it was my job! Being 16/17 and not having to work a part-time job in a shop or picking up glasses in a bar, and only having to go in maybe twice a week to make decent money made it an easy choice. Plus Belfast is such a spot. You would see something different every day.
After appearing on The Voice in 2013, you became a pretty recognisable face! How did this experience shape your career?
I wouldn’t say that it has shaped my career, but there’s definitely a lot of life lessons and experiences that I took away from the show. More than anything it made me realise that the only person that can really help pursue a career in music is myself.
You’ve recently moved back to Belfast after living in London for a few years. What’s your favourite thing about the local creative/musical scene here?
There’s a real sense of comradery and community in Belfast. Everybody shows support for each other. You don’t see that in many places, I don’t think. The level of talent here is crazy too. The scene here reflects the people too, it’s deadly.
Can you tell us about the new track? What was the creative process like?
Sure. ‘Life Now‘ was written back in May, during the first lock down. There was a lot happening in the world, mainly being painted with a pessimistic brush. I was trying to be as creative or proactive as possible with my music, but nothing was really hitting home. It wasn’t until I recorded the main guitar riff for the song, which I put up on Instagram at the time along with the mindlessly written caption “new song, idk, is this life now?”. When I read back the caption that triggered me into the creative flow I was looking for. I guess the track looks out at the world for what it is, its a reflection of how I was feeling and an attempt to take away some positive affirmations in the end. It took a while getting it recorded in the studio but I have a great producer, Daniel Morgan Ball, who was on point and we pretty much did all of it together in his space. We were in a bubble too which made it handy enough!
Have you got any online events coming up?
Nothing that I can confirm or announce just yet! But keep your eyes and ears to the ground.
What’s one thing you are really looking forward to?
Two things. Gigs and Pints!
You can listen to ‘Life Now’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist by clicking here.
Follow Conor Scott on Instagram and Spotify to keep up to date with his music and what he’s up to.
A love letter to a very human body, and a reminder that the outside gaze is no measure of yourself.
My unpolished summer feet slide by the oiled thickness
of the canvas. This Botticelli is no match for my flaxen haired friend,
who mumbles of hunger and blisters.
Have you ever seen a young family in a gallery,
the flustered, blushed parent
leading the child right up to the works,
to no avail?
What does their baby need with genius,
you wonder at them - well, this is now.
Trying to coax this friend around.
It seems a betrayal.
A waste of a once in a life day,
a day I have been uttering hope of now for weeks,
into her blonde and smiling face.
She knows, knows I need to be here,
is trying to cut short the time.
We trail the gift shop together,
her hand on my back
while I put suncream on my face, readying for outside.
We step back into the golden light and shrieks of central Florence.
I, still in the shock of high art,
her, on the hunt for lunch already, unfussed.
In a pool together later,
our arms wave together under the surface.
I can’t remember what the arms on the canvas were like.
I think I see a cold look in my friend’s
eye, as if she too is measuring my limbs
against the diagram of right
we saw earlier in the day.
I step out of the water,
wrap myself in a cotton sheet
in case anything doesn’t add up.
I know if I stepped naked out of the sea -
in front of watching eyes -
I would want someone to offer me a pink rug too.
Gracious in a white and heavenly dress.
Did Venus have to douse her words in silence?
Sidestep when someone else whispered taboo: It happened to me too.
Caitie Smyth is an illustrator from Bangor who is now based in London. Caitie recently graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Architecture and I has spent the last year in lock down developing illustrations, and opening her own Etsy shop. Caitie spoke to The Jumble about her artwork and what keeps her inspired.
My art has developed over the years from what began as watercolour and hand drawings into digital illustrations. Architecture school has had a huge impact on the way I design and now working digitally is second nature to me. My style is bright and vibrant, with a focus on femininity and nature, and how the two interact with each other. My colour palettes are inspired by both botanicals and places that I have visited around the world. Travelling is massively important to my process, and even if my art is not directly related to my trips, it serves as a creative stepping stone.
My art is directly related back to my experiences and curiosities at the time of making it, so it always stays personal to me. As I change, so does my art, and it has gone through many cycles. I think developing a style is one of the most difficult parts of working as a creative, but allowing yourself the freedom to grow and evolve is something we should take pride in.
Lock down has really allowed me to pursue my passions, after three years in architecture school and realising I wanted to focus on illustration, it really gave me the time to get back to my roots and start making again.
“I think it’s so important to have a support system, and the local creative industry really does that. It’s incredibly inspiring to see so many people pushing the boundaries at such a difficult time.”
Despite everything that has happened over the last year, it is very comforting to know that art keeps going and we keep making.
You can find Caitie’s work on Instagram, and buy her prints on Etsy.
Dublin based duo SKANGER have recently released ‘A Chance To Count The Cost’ a track designed to be homage to the slow sets of 80’s club culture. SKANGER are made up of Mark Healy and Colin Morris, with this track featuring vocals by Jenna Harris. Mark Healy had a few words to say to The Jumble Magazine about their latest release.
Hi Mark, let’s start with an introduction- tell me about yourself.
I’m Mark Healy and I’m one half of a music Duo Skanger. Colin Morris is my partner in it.
What’s the story of SKANGER?
Skanger started after myself and Colin decided after studying Music in College to get together and see what we could come up with. It is also my first time to sing my own songs and not write for another singer which I have done in the past.
Since releasing your first single in June, how have you found working as a duo throughout the pandemic?
It has been a new experience as we can’t really get together in a room and throw ideas around. But I think that has added to the vibe of the music and I must admit I like it but I would rather be in a room and actually playing.
‘A Chance to Count the Cost’ is an ambient, slow dance, sleepy ballad, what or who was the main inspiration for this track?
I suppose that’s a question that should be left a little vague as I’d like to think that the listener can gather their own interpretation of it. Although doing a slow ballad type song was a challenge to try keep the cheese element down to a minimum.
Musically your sound channels elements of New Order, or Gorrilaz- who would you list as your musical influences?
Myself and Colin would be indie kids I suppose, and would have a lot of those bands in common- we love stuff like New Order, Prefab Sprout, the wholeScottish Scene in the 80’s etc.
Let’s chat a little about the video, how was it creating that kind of DIY thing in the current climate?
We made the video on a phone and Colin took the lead on it as I’m not great at Video editing software. He did a great job considering we didn’t have a lot to go with. I think that the constraints of being a DIY artist actually give a certain vibe to things that people can identify with and maybe realise that anybody can do it if they choose.
Are there any local artists you can’t get enough of recently?
Odd Morris are good and the 2019 Album by A Lazrus Soul is incredible. There is loads of great music out there at the moment especially Irish artists.
Lastly, what’s SKANGER’S plans for 2021?
Our plans are simple, we will keep putting out songs until we eventually get a way to perform them live when the pandemic has been eradicated etc.
Faces in the street
Of people you never meet,
All below the darkened sky
Of early grey november.
A flash of flaxen hair,
A whip of rainbow scarf,
A glint of golden necklace,
As the horde passes by,
Busy going somewhere;
School, shopping, work, home.
Power walking their way through life,
A thousand silent destinations
Held firmly in their minds.
The human eye looks for familiarity,
Scans the crowd for a kind smile,
A pretty mane,
A furrowed brow,
In each visage that trespasses its field of vision.
What is it looking for,
A new friend, lover or foe?
Or is it just looking,
Like it always does
At the faces in the street
Of people you never meet.
The days full of stillness, are almost too
It can be hard to see hope for better days, when still so consumed by grief,
Perhaps it’s okay if we don’t see it,
But can allow ourselves to feel.
It is a little sunny today,
And the little birds will come out.
Not unaware of our battles, simply facing different ones.
And really wanting to build a home for themselves,
Is what we need to do too,
Physically, but also in our heads.
For that is where we spend a lot of our time now,
It deserves a space free for blooming,
Space for all, even the weeds,
Everything has a place, a chance, to grow.
Bangor based artist Spireview, A.K.A Ross Machala is leaving a genre merging mark on the NI scene. Taking inspiration from hip-hop, alt pop, and emo, his upcoming EP ‘Night Cycles’ Drops on the 26th of February. Having just released the first single ‘Out of Mind’ (featuring Belfast based rapper Leo Miyagee) Ross spoke to The Jumble Magazine about his introduction to music and his creative process.
When I think back to my initial introduction to music, I remember being a kid with an active imagination, but I was never great at writing or drawing, and had no real outlet for my creativity. I have a vague memory of watching the video for ‘The Pretender’ by the Foo Fighters for the first time and knowing at that point I wanted to play the guitar.
In my teens I was playing in a couple of metal bands and I wanted to learn music production so I could record demos. Eventually I grasped that when it came to playing guitar my technical abilities weren’t up to scratch to fully articulate the ideas in my head. Through bands like ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ and ‘Periphery’ as well as passionate music technology tutors at tech – my ears were introduced to electronic leaning productions and glitched out warm IDM sounds. Vocals became a necessity, I was tired of making instrumental music and didn’t feel it was expressive enough – plus I couldn’t find many singers to work with, so that sent me on a path of learning to sing and write songs – still have a lot left to figure out.
Now a lot of the lyrics come subconsciously, if I’m really inspired the music unveils words to me through shapes and sounds in melodies and it’s only later that I fully attach meaning, I never sit down and say I wanna write a song about x or y, just wouldn’t work for me.
Some of those songs deal with mental health related topics, I think our society should be more comfortable with being vulnerable with others – open and honest communication can never really hurt and most of the time we realise we have much more in common than we thought.
Working with Leo Miyagee was great, he has a way with words that I can only respect and admire. Musically we do come from different places but I think we ride on a similar wavelength and so the process of creating is really smooth and enjoyable
Looking ahead, I would like to be faster with my output. I spent the majority of 2019 and 2020 in a state of constant doubt, but feel I’ve a better understanding now. I hope to work with some other artists locally as well as try and push the boundaries a bit further for myself. With the way the world is now it’s better to observe and react to it rather than try to control it, you’ll only drive yourself crazy.
‘Out of Mind’ Track Review:
This track captures the feelings of late night anxieties and preemptive fears. Leo Miyagee’s feature flows wonderfully, complimenting Spireviews dreamy and unsettling sound. Almost artificial sounding vocals crash against the sleepy backbeat with Spireview singing ‘I know my time is almost up’. This track is great for fans of Post Malone, and it’s something unusual to add to your next playlist.
Review by Sam Dineen
Check out more of Spireview’s music on Spotify and keep up to date with further releases on Instagram, follow Leo Miyagee on Instagram to keep up with his solo work.
Listen to ‘Out of Mind’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist, available here.
Emma Lilian Martin is an artist and Illustrator who studied at Limaviady College and Cardiff Met. Emma also works full time caring for dogs at an Animal Charity. Emma spoke to The Jumble Magazine about her artwork, finding inspiration in animals, and getting through a year of Lock Downs.
I’ve always enjoyed making and creating, from a very young age- I was forever being told off for scribbling on the walls as a child.If i had to narrow it down, I would describe my art as a dreamy colour scene with no straight lines.
My inspirations often depend on the mood that I’m in, but I have a big love for nature, animals, and architecture. I think music is also one of the most important things to impact my work.
The vibrant colours and shapes I use make my art unique, sometimes I use colours that may not necessarily be in the image the painting is based off, using more experimental techniques.
Due to being a key worker, the Lock Downs haven’t really affected my day to day life as much as others, but I’ve noticed that I do have a lot more time to paint.
In regards to the local art scene, my favorite thing is how much diversity of art you see in it, it’s so inspiring to see so many talented people.
In February 2006 my mother died. Unexpectedly and tragically, she was struck down by a drunk driver and I became an 8 year old with no mother. February became a dreaded month, and its incoming presence crept closer and closer to me the second Christmas ended. I found myself wishing I could just skip the month completely – forget Valentine’s day, that’s the day of her funeral. I created traditions and coping mechanisms, under the impression that after a certain amount of time my grief had to be bottled up and kept at bay, and it was only allowed to rear its ugly head around her anniversary, or maybe her birthday, mother’s day, Christmas. All the grief I felt every single day of my life was boxed away appropriately – it occasionally tried to escape in teary eyes and bad moods, but it was on curfew and it had to be back in its box if it wasn’t her anniversary in the next week. I grieved simultaneously with my grandmother; she had lost a daughter and I had lost a mum, and we both needed that back and couldn’t have it. The closest we could get was fulfilling that role for each other.
She became my mum. I spent countless hours telling her about friends and fights and break ups and cramps and school and life and grief.
“She helped me with my homework and had an even larger gap in how to do maths than most parents (I hear the method changes every decade or so) and I was terrible at maths.“
Together we could get through February. It didn’t help that her husband, my grandfather, also died on that same day – in the middle of a February before I was born. You then have a mother with no daughter and no husband, and one horrible day on a calendar that took them both away from her. That point in February felt cursed. My family joked about wrapping each other in bubble wrap for the whole period. There was an air of relief every year when we got through it without someone else dying.
My seven day window of grief became an everything goes kind of deal. On my mum’s anniversary my grandmother would bring me to her grave and we would clean it up, maybe have a cry (always me, never her, somehow). We would lay flowers, we would go to a restaurant and eat whatever we wanted, then we would go home and watch whatever we wanted and be shrouded in our overwhelming grief together. I would get through mother’s day because I knew I could buy her flowers, parent’s evenings were okay because she could go along with my dad, and I could go to her to buy new clothes, despite how different our tastes were.
“February was possible because of her, a beacon of strength and admiration, an unbelievably resilient patron saint of surviving things.”
Then the unimaginable happened. Two years ago, the day after Valentine’s, on the tail end of the worst week of the year, she had a heart attack and died.
I cursed the world and its insane cruelty, I screamed and shouted and smoked like a chimney, as if fate had broken its end of the deal. If my mum had to go when I was eight then I should get to keep my grandmother forever. At least well into her 90s. And for her to be taken from me on THIS WEEK of all weeks, it felt like I had drawn out in some kind of horrible luck lottery. I watched my plans for mother’s day, my graduation, my future wedding, my life disintegrate right in front of me. I could only handle the first death because of her, when I felt like I was drowning in it she was there to grab on to, to hold me still in the tides of it, to keep me safe. She was my rock, what are you meant to do when your rock sinks underwater?
You’re meant to keep going. You’re meant to do exactly what you did before and find appropriate windows to allow your grief out once you’re past a few months of the initial shock. You go back to work and travel and see your friends and get on with life, you meet a man and fall in love and occasionally have a pull on your heart that neither your mum or your grandmother will ever meet him, and mutter under your breath at how lucky everyone with a mum and a grandmother or either really is. You keep yourself busy and you get on with it.
And then an international pandemic hits and stops you from getting on with most things.
Tsunamis of grief burst through the floodgates that were routine and stability. You find yourself drowning out in the water with no choice but to swim through it. There’s nothing else to do so you’re going to have to do this now. You cry all the time. You are reminded of them constantly. You no longer bottle it all up for February – it seeps out every month now. You look to your few friends who have lost a mother, a new found respect for them arises along with the awareness that you and they know this horrible secret reality about life that other people are blissfully unaware of. You find yourself apologising that you’re upset about the same thing again and long for the world to reopen so you have something else to do. You have weeks when you’re okay because you’re painting and writing and running a one-woman magazine, but you learn that grief can’t be ignored for 11 out of the 12 months of the year.
And then it’s February again.
The reason for this otherwise very intense outpouring of my own experiences is to start a dialogue. If you know someone who is grieving (and that doesn’t just mean someone who has lost a loved one this month, or in the last year), think about how you talk with them. Encourage them to talk about their loved one they have lost, no matter how long ago they lost them.
“Don’t make the dead person’s name a taboo for the risk of upsetting them,”
be open and understanding that their grief is not a fixable problem, that it’s not the sort of thing a person can get over or move on from. Know that they are grieving every single day, and thinking about it more than you, or anyone else could imagine. The world is in a pretty horrible state at the minute and people are mourning their loss worldwide.
If you have lost someone, ever, I’m sorry. This is not an essay for or about sympathy. This is an essay of acknowledgement, this is me saying out loud and on paper to you that this is horrible. There’s no reason for you to pretend that it isn’t to make other people more comfortable.