Gnarkats: ‘The Dreamer’

Photograph by Niall Fegan

Previously featured Belfast based Alt-Rock Trio Gnarkats have just released their new EP ‘The Dreamer’ Louis Nelson (Bass/Vocals) spoke to The Jumble Magazine about the EP, the recording process, and the message of the music.

‘The Dreamer’ is a five track EP we recorded with The Answer’s Paul Mahon at Point Studios, Killough. We had an absolute ball recording these songs and we are very happy to finally release it.

Me and Stuart wrote the lyrics, and I think the commonality we had throughout the EP is dealing with the feelings of insecurity and change. That’s why we referenced dreams a lot, dreams can be like an idealised version of what you want your life to be, which can be both a healthy and unhealthy thing. During the writing process there a lot was going on in our lives, a problem I had personally was wanting my life to get better, but not knowing how to actually do that, which led to unhealthy habits and the awful feeling of being stuck.

Lyrically, this EP is our expression of a drastic change within our lives, and how we dealt with those problems. It was a form of catharsis to express ourselves musically, and it really felt weird being so honest, but I’ve come to realise that if I’m constantly hiding the meaning of a song within metaphor then I’m not really getting enough off my chest.

The EP is all about dealing with your emotions truthfully and not being scared to confront someone with a problem, whether this be in a relationship with a partner or even a work friend. I want the songs to give some solidarity to those who are feeling a bit lost, it’s a very normal feeling to have, which I’ve only come to realise. I guess the main message is to hang in there, and don’t waste time doing things you hate.

Photograph by Niall Fegan

Review:

‘The Dreamer’ is a well rounded and interesting EP, with every song sounding different than the last, but still running through consistent with the theme of change and overcoming insecurity. ‘How Does That Make You Feel‘ is a great track for fans of Muse and Biffy Clyro, whilst ‘Volume Up’ has a lighter, more summery indie rock sound. The guys from Gnarkats really shine through with this EP- both musically and lyrically, its something different and definitely worth checking out.

Review by Sam Dineen

Check out Gnarkats music on Spotify, and listen to ‘Volume Up’  and ‘How Does That Make You Feel‘ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist here.

New Music: Velvet Ocean

Belfast based Chillwave Producer Balcony Sunrise A.K.A David Ferris releases his debut single ‘Velvet Ocean’ today- a track inspired by the beauty of the NI coast and the serenity nature offers him during lock downs and restrictions. David Spoke to The Jumble Magazine all about the new track.

I produced the track in my bedroom – i’ve converted it into a real musical hub for myself, so I’ve got a production studio at one end and now I’ve got a performance area at the other end of the room for making live videos of tracks I’m working on. I don’t use much apart from my guitar, a small keyboard and a few pedals. Everything else is just effects and synths from the laptop. I like having a limited amount of gear as it makes me more productive and also helps to get a consistent sound. 
A lot of my inspiration for my music comes from visuals, artwork, movies or thinking about past events.  At the moment, I really like looking at artwork from a Japanese artist Hiroshi Nagai, who makes minimalist paintings of oceans, beaches, pools etc. It goes really well with the chillwave aesthetic. Artwork definitely plays a big part in the genre. 

In creating ‘Velvet Ocean’, I was inspired by taking trips to the coastal areas around Northern Ireland. Every time I visit a beach or look out towards the sea, I feel hopeful. I wanted to make this my first release going into the new year, projecting my hopes that these strange times will soon come to an end. I played the chord progression on my guitar first -which I would do quite often- and then figured out how to play those chords on the keyboard. Then I just improvise some melodies over the track and take it from there.

Review:

For those dreaming of the summer months ‘Velvet Ocean’ is perfect. It’s a lovely, smooth combination of 80’s synth and more modern chill beats. Whether it’s to accompany your chilly lock down walks, working from home, or simply for taking a moment to relax- this track is sure to lift your spirits.

Review by Sam Dineen

You can listen to ‘Velvet Ocean’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist and check out Balcony Sunrise on Spotify, Instagram and Twitter.

The Wirelessin’ Podcast

Father and son Barry and Liam Douglas have recently teamed up their combined musical knowledge to record and release the Wirelessin’ Podcast- a Podcast that chats music, performing, and all the twists and turns that come with it. Barry Douglas is the founder and Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland, and Liam plays in previously featured band Becky and the Keys. The Douglas duo spoke to The Jumble Magazine all about the podcast, which is now available to stream.

Barry Douglas:

My day job is travelling around playing the piano in classical concerts. I feel very fortunate to be able to see many parts of the world and to make music with great musicians.

I founded Camerata Ireland over 20 years ago in response to the Good Friday Agreement -I wanted to try and bring musicians from all parts of Ireland together. The orchestra has toured the world many times and has made many recordings and videos. 

The festival is the annual summer get-together for my musician friends and my orchestra to make music together and to hang out! It takes place at the Clandeboye estate near Bangor, Co. Down, and welcomes young musicians to the estate for masterclasses and concerts with world-famous classical musicians. A real festival spirit !

Liam and I have had such fun making these podcasts- I had thought it was going to be difficult to chat for a long time about music and how Liam’s rock world is linked to my classical world! But it flowed very well and we were able to banter and make fun of each other.

Both the podcast and my orchestra prove that people can get together and create things which make a difference.

I hope people will enjoy seeing our worlds clash and harmonize!

Liam Douglas:

Playing lead guitar in Becky and the Keys is one of the greatest things because I get to write the music however I want. Our bassist, Conor and our drummer, Stephen make our songs sound like they were always meant to be, and Becky’s voice raises it to a whole new level. I should say it more to Becky but she and compliments don’t go together. She says that she doesn’t want to rest on people saying how good she is because she always wants to be better and that’s admirable. We’ve written some of our best songs to date during 2020 and have enough for 2 records. We’ve pushed back our recording session in Windmill Lane 3 times so at the moment we’re preparing in other ways for our single releases by finalizing the cover art – my cousin Owen Mackle is the artist/graphic designer for them. 

Doing the Wirelessin’ podcast with my dad is amazing because we’re very similar and it’s natural; of course we’re both musicians, but he is on the classical side and I’m in the more commercial rock side of things so we discuss our decisions that got us where we are today, and the differences and similarities in our stories.  The fundamental ideas of being a musician are the same for everyone. I hope the podcast can show my dad to everyone in a new light- he’s not just a “classical” musician- he’s passionate about music, that’s why he does what he does. He’s never looked down on more contemporary music, he even took me to see The Rolling Stones in Croke Park. He’s fun to be around; he’s almost as childish as me and is open to everything. 


You can listen to the Wirelessin’ Podcast on Spotify and Apple Music.

‘Barbies With Betty Finn’ Garrett Laurie

Previously featured musician Garrett Laurie has recently released their second EP ‘Barbies With Betty Finn‘. The EP (its title- a nod to the 90’s cult classic ‘Heathers’) deals with themes of nostaliga, spirituality, and gender- with a more DIY, stripped back sound. Garrett spoke to The Jumble Magazine all about the release.

I began writing the songs for this project over a year ago, starting with ‘Dying To Tell You’, which is the opening track of the EP. I was working on mixing and releasing my first EP, ‘Crying on Cue’ at the beginning of the lock downs last year, figuring out how I could release music under the sudden restraints we were all dealing with. Although I believe in that project, I can’t help but hear the restrictions in it, being recorded in a friend’s home studio months before its release and not being able to do any vocal retakes, ad libs, harmony layers etc, which is a huge part of my music. I planned for this new EP, ‘Barbies With Betty Finn‘ from the beginning to be recorded solely on phone voice-notes, with more of a focus on the lyrical content within a live sound. It just made sense for the times we are in right now and I feel that the lo-fi quality of the project speaks for the themes I touch on in the songs…nostalgia for unhealthy habits and grappling with my ideas about religion and spirituality for example. 


I wrote these songs over 10 or 11 months, with most of the actual lyrical content being written just a few months before the release. In the closing track, ‘Three Hail Marys, To Our Fathers’, I’m singing about my views on gender which I feel come largely from the religious influences I grew up around. It’s a love-hate relationship with them…sometimes there’s a guardian figure waiting by to carry you through everyday things, and sometimes there’s a feeling something important is missing when suddenly it seems there maybe isn’t some elusive figure there to lean on like you thought there was. Likening those figures to everyday friendships and relationships is the core of the song, which I look at as more of a reflective, musical poem than the song structure I would normally lean towards.  

Review:

‘Barbies With Betty Finn‘ is raw, honest, and reflective. Laurie’s unique blend of melancholy folk and soft, layered choir like vocals shine through on ‘Three Hail Marys, To Our Fathers’ and their lyrics are just as clever and cutting as the song titles throughout. This EP’s homemade sound adds an air of intimacy and a personal touch. Laurie has done a fantastic job in resourcefully cutting back on the recording process- the EP almost sounds like its playing out in front of you live in real time- a feeling a lot of music fans are sure to want right now.

Review by Sam Dineen

Stream ‘Barbies with Betty Finn’ now on Spotify and Bandcamp and follow Garrett Laurie on Instagram and Facebook for updates ‘Three Hail Marys, To Our Fathers’ is also featured on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist, which you can check out here.

Free Youth

By Corbyn John

An innocent youth fuelled false desires
Think fear lies when the feeling expires
Truth is freedom felt forever and I felt higher
Forgotten times fold the truth I require


Amend who I admired, so I no longer apologise
A dire need to exercise my mind, for you to analyse
Times lived in compromise
That Aged beyond the memory of a summer I memorised


Forgive this kingdom I hypothesise, it's limitless why
Wishful thinking freedoms in a spark of an eye
Find struggle to comply in a normality we standby
Just to see a love I set free, so for now it’s goodbye

Being on the Spectrum During a Global Pandemic

By Matthew Toner

Local musician and essential worker Matthew Toner writes about his experiences navigating the changes the world faced last year while living with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

The world turned upside down last year. 

It feels like most people have now come to terms with the “New Normal” but it has definitely been a challenge. I felt the need to describe my own experience of what it is like living as a person on the spectrum during these uncertain times.

As an adult diagnosed with both Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS), an average day prior to lock downs and isolation could be quite challenging. However, as routine went out the window, and ‘typical’ days got replaced with constantly being at home, I started to find both challenges and advantages to coping with my disorders and navigating in this new way of life.

Back when COVID-19 was nothing but a whisper and the world was not wearing masks, I had both daily and weekly routines that may have seemed small or unimportant to some- but they were vital to help keep my stresses and anxieties at bay. So when the initial lock down hit, my mind struggled to cope or understand how to survive without the routines and habits I had relied upon for so long prior to the pandemic. What was I going to do? How was I going to cope without everything I had once known?

As anyone on the spectrum may tell you, I tend to overthink everything, and I do mean everything! The smaller details of a conversation can be pondered over for hours, so imagine the uncertainty of not knowing when I could see my friends and family again. A lot of the time that I spent dwelling on it was in my bedroom at home, isolating with my parents as we had all tested positive for Covid. This added to my worries. Each day started a little different but eventually the evenings would wind up the same; I would hit an inevitable wall of thinking the worst-case scenarios over and over, which would force me into some form of a panic attack or frantic behaviour. 

There was only one solution to this. I needed to form new routines. Once my isolation period was finished, I was able to return to work as my job role classes me as an essential worker. However, I was returning to unknown territory. I could not function in the same capacity as I once did, I was unable to engage in previous routines I had grown so accustomed to pre COVID. I did find my return to work quite hard at first but as I mentioned prior, I decided to set myself some new routines to keep myself going. 

One of the things I struggled with the most was not being able to play live music. I have played in two local outfits now for a number of years and there would be cycles I could rely heavily upon in terms of seasonal gigs and performances. To combat this, I decided to try to write at least one new piece of music a week- to help keep my mind active. I’m happy to say that I now have a few songs I am proud to have in my back pocket.

Social interactions can be very difficult for people on the spectrum and I am no exception. I have spent many years trying to understand the intricacies of how to have ‘successful’ conversations in social settings. I usually go over the top with jokes or open up far too much about my personal life which then leads to a spiral of overthinking that those I spoke with didn’t like me. The pandemic actually offered me some relief from that, but I still felt that I needed to keep in contact with friends. I decided to take part in regular zoom calls and phone chats which gave me an insight into how to manage my interactions better and keep my discussions engaging enough that I didn’t feel as anxious about it. 

Once the lock down began to ease, I found myself feeling anxious again. I worried about how I would cope re-entering certain social situations, or how I would address people I hadn’t seen for months; would I go overboard and make more plans to meet up than I could handle? Alternatively, would I stay in my little bubble and shut myself off from everyone? I picked the former rather than the latter. I felt this obsessive need to jump right back into a place I was not even entirely comfortable being in prior to COVID. This resulted in a whole lot of self-doubt and panic attacks. People were not as keen to meet up as they once were, and instead of putting their reasoning down to their own anxieties around going out during a pandemic,I blamed myself. My ADHD and ASD kicked into overdrive. I began to feel like I was a problem. I began to overthink every little thing someone would say, even if it were a valid reason for not feeling comfortable with the idea of meeting up during these strange times. 

I relied heavily on alcohol and junk food to make me feel better about my anxieties and I entered into a phase where It was clear that I had hit rock bottom. I was lonely and I was depressed. I realised one day that I had to be the version of myself that my overbearing mind thought I could be, I started to take into account the positives in my life. I have an amazing family and group of friends. I also have a 5 year old daughter who was adapting to the “New Normal” better than I ever could. I found solace in these people; they were there for me despite my disorders and they understood who I was and how my mind worked. These people encouraged me to get fit, cut back on drinking, and spend more time in nature.

Things have gotten better now, I don’t rely so much on routines anymore and I think my mind has actually adapted to this, I’ve learnt to take things as they come and enjoy the little things. If you see yourself in what I’m writing, I hope you can find some comfort in it- and I hope things have got easier for you too.

City Song- Conn Thornton

Previously featured Musician Conn Thornton follows up their Debut EP ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ with a single from the upcoming album  ‘Destroyer’. The single- ‘City Song’. Sees Thornton explore new musical directions, going down an ambient Indie Folk route. Conn Thornton spoke to The Jumble about the new track. 

.I wrote this song one night in July with a lot of things in mind – my time living independently in Belfast, my experiences with other people, and a kind of plea to be left alone during a time when I had nobody around me but myself. The music and lyrics were very heavily inspired by the work of Sufjan Stevens, specifically some of the stuff on his ‘Carrie & Lowell’ album- which I love a lot and have always found to be a standout in my personal music history. I would call ‘City Song’ a sort of fusion between dream pop and folk, and that was the direction I went with on its parent album. The cover art was inspired by a handmade Christmas card I had received – I thought the design was absolutely beautiful and the sketch of the blooming flowers really fit the dreamy vibe of the song, so I decided to put my own spin on it.  ‘Destroyer’ will be released in early to mid February.


Review

‘City Song’  tells a story- the words carry a sting, layered between bursts of beautiful dreamy piano. This song is perfect for carrying you through the post Christmas blues and forcing you to follow Thornton’s lyrics and reflect on your own life- ‘And you know yourself, these times are very strange’. Take a few minutes to savour this track- a great song for that late Winter playlist.

Review by Sam Dineen

You can listen to ‘City Song’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist.

You can follow Conn on Instagram and Facebook, and listen to their music on BandcampSoundcloud and Spotify.

Kerrie Illustrates: Revisited.

Previously featured artist Kerrie McNeill has expanded her work into painting and decorating ceramic and terrocotta plant pots and quaint little house shaped tealight holders. Kerrie spoke to The Jumble Magazine about finding a new creative process with a fresh new medium- talking through the step by step guide of making unique decor, and expanding her business beyond prints.

I’m Kerrie, the creative behind Kerrie Illustrates. In September past I took the plunge and launched my online shop selling my work as I decided to take a year out before finishing my degree in Graphic Design and Illustration at The Belfast School Of Art. I wanted to make the most of my year out and thought what better way than to start selling my own work and growing Kerrie Illustrates. I’ve always known that I wanted to have my own small business selling things that I have created as it’s always been a passion of mine to be a full-time illustrator/designer!

Over the past few months since launching my shop I’ve really begun to experiment in different mediums rather than just my usual- being digital. If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while, you’ll know I have an obsession with anything to do with plants. One day I noticed some random Terracotta plant pots sitting about the garden and I had the idea of painting them. I shortly posted a picture of the pots on my Instagram and it seemed to be a huge success! I never really thought of selling these as it was only a hobby when I first started painting. I really liked the idea of introducing these to my shop but also having the option of creating personalised pots over the Christmas period for gifts. I love finding new ways of expressing my style through different products and the plant pots are definitely one of my favourites! 

As well as plant pots, I found little ceramic house tea-lights in my local craft shop and thought they would be really fun to paint patterns on them! As one of my favourite things to do is travel and explore new cities I always love to illustrate different streets/buildings. These little houses remind me of the style of buildings in Amsterdam which brought back some good memories. I’ve really loved painting all these new ceramic pieces and it’s opened up new opportunities for me to progress this medium further. I’d love to actually have a go at creating the ceramic pieces from start to finish and this will definitely be one of the projects I’ll be working on in the coming months, I have a few ideas!

I always love the starting to end process of any project! With any of my patterns that I have created on pots or houses these usually tend to come from things that inspire my work such as plants and bold colour. I like to create leafy patterns layered on top of bold shapes and colours and for the houses, they are very fiddly, so I tend to use more simple patterns of dots and lines layered onto different bright colours! For me, the longest processing time is layering the paint and waiting for them to dry. I can sometimes be described as being impatient and I really just get too excited about painting and want them finished right away! I usually don’t just paint one item at a time. I have around 4/5 sitting on my table and I paint the first layer on each, then second and so forth. This speeds up the process as while one is drying I can move onto another one! When finished, I like to glaze the pieces to make the bright colours really pop! 

I think it’s really hard to plan anything with everything that’s going on in the world. I’m happy that I started my new venture in September and have constantly been creating new things and hope to keep growing and being creative in 2021. I would love to make my own ceramic pieces and paint these as well as move to larger floor plant pots. I painted one over the Christmas period and it was really fun to create! I have a few ideas for new prints relating to Northern Ireland and places I love to visit so that’s what I’ll be getting up to in the next few months! I’d also love to paint a mural. I’ve never done one before, but I just keep envisioning a big leafy pattern on a wall. So, if anyone wants a wall jazzed up let me know!

Kerrie Illustrates’ plant pots and ceramic houses are hand painted but not hand made, Kerrie hopes to create her products from scratch in the future, but for now she is selling them as hand painted products- as the plant pots and houses are bought as blank/ un-decorated products before she begins her process.

You can find more of Kerrie’s work on her Etsy Store,  Instagram and on www.kerrielouise.co.uk.

The Waiting

(for Erin)

By Zara Meadows

Scene opens - and the catastrophe in me
is waiting for the catastrophe in you. Every yellow moon

whole poems wander in to wait for
their subject, their muse - one time I’ll sit them all down,

introduce their words to you. The space
between our gliding hands colliding into softness

is a crowded waiting room in Paradise; 
the unsaid stars between our open mouths are

eternal clocks ticking, and ticking. Tomorrow
I will wait for nothing more than the knowledge you’re 

alive, will wander in the waiting hours all the while
knowing this to be true: that the past version of me

lived whole calendars waiting for this future you. Take all my white
spaces and give them each an hour - let them be turned over

in the sand - for, my daily bread, time is not 
enamoured with you as I am (nothing can be). But now, now I

am waiting for something that is no longer
waiting - an earthquake in a suburban town, the catastrophic hand

sliding down, the dawning of our rush-hour age, a blot of ink bleeding across this page.

Details

By Huda Al Baqali

have you ever paid attention to the details?
all of them? have you noticed how much details
is given in making the human body, each one 
unique in their own way?


Each curve, freckle, even the tiniest details
that are overlooked most of the time, 
are placed — so perfectly.
Everything on your body is right where its meant to be.


Do you notice the details? 
The wrinkles on my forehead.
The dimples on your cheek.
How your hand always perfectly fits into mine...


I noticed.