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.
‘Ceasefire Babies’ is a lighthearted weekly podcast discussing the highs and lows of coming of age in Northern Ireland. Brought to you by two queer, liberal best friends, housemates, and colleges Rebecca McCloskey and Matt Fox. The podcast reminisces on all things late 90s and Noughties, as millennial’s or ‘Ceasefire Babies’- part of the first generation to be exposed to the internet and become more Americanised in a cultural point of view, juxtaposed against growing up in the shadows of the troubles- this podcast is perfect for anyone who was a 80’s or 90’s baby in NI and wants a trip down memory lane. Rebecca and Matt spoke to The Jumble all about the podcast:
So you’re reminiscing on the late 90s- mid 00’s period, a time a lot of Jumble readers remember, what’s something you think makes that period in this place so unique?
Probably the whole notion of being promised a new era – every generation seems to think they’re on the cusp of massive change or revolution, but we actually witnessed the tailend of The Troubles, Omagh, and Bill Clinton visiting. The peace process was very much a part of our upbringing, we experienced integrated education and got to witness real change within Northern Ireland. On a global level, we became the first generation to benefit from the Internet and really immerse ourselves in pop culture with music and film – the start of reality tv and being famous for no real reason.
What’s your favourite topic you have discussed together so far?
Episode 3, Music! Anyone that’s partied with us will know that we still love that late 90s/Noughties sound – anything Darkchild produced is usually a winner.
What’s the funniest element of 90s-00s NI culture/pop culture you can remember?
It’s a tie between Nadine Coyle completely bullshitting about her passport on RTE’s version of Popstars, and that ‘documentary’ that an American tourist filmed in a Belfast graveyard that gave us the famous line “yiz love your McDonald’s don’t yiz”
What topics are you excited to discuss?
We’re excited to talk about film, hopefully with a watch-along episode, school, we’ll definitely be returning to fashion and music. We’re hoping to arrange a few interviews and get more people involved with the podcast, and we’re definitely trying to tackle some of the bigger political topics but keeping it funny and relatable.
Accomplished singer songwriter Lauren Bird has just released her new single ‘Keep Trying’- a relatable track all about reflecting on insecurities we all face and how society pushes them on us. Lauren spoke to The Jumble magazine about the track,the writing process gigging all over the world, and her plans for the future.
So, Lauren, tell The Jumble about yourself.
So I started gigging around Belfast in 2014 (yep, literally getting old) and won the Chordblossom Kickstart competition which afforded me to record and release a single. I released a single and an EP back in 2015, the EP got to the top of the bestselling acoustic chart on Bandcamp which sadly I still brag about! I have played gigs all about the place: Dublin, Belfast, London, Manchester, Singapore… but mainly I stick around NI. I started an indiegogo to fund my debut album which got 105% funding and I released my debut album ‘The Inbetween’ in 2017. I released another single back at the start of 2018 for International Women’s Day and then took a break from releasing. I wanted to give myself time to write music that I could be proud of and so I released my latest single at the start of December 2020 called ‘Millennials’ and then ‘Keep Trying’ was released on 22nd January. So it kind of took a pandemic.
What inspired you to start the writing process? Was there a specific event or feeling that pushed you to write this song?
My writing process usually entails me messing around on the guitar to see if something pops out. I had been thinking a lot about societal pressures and norms and how frustrating I found them. I also thought a lot about how much worse it is now for kids growing up in the age of social media. ‘Keep Trying’ is about being insecure and how society makes it impossible not to be. It’s hard for everyone but I really thought about being a teenager again and how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. So it’s basically about that.
How was the recording process? Is it hindered by the stay at home guidelines at the minute?
This time round I recorded with one of my best friends Darren Doherty in his apartment. We had rented a decent mic and recorded all the guitars and vocals at the end of 2019 so thankfully all the hard work was done before the pandemic. Obviously after the pandemic began we had to take a break and then when things calmed down a little over the summer I was able to go back to his and record the bass. My other friend Michael Kielty recorded the drums remotely from his house and then we did all our mixing sessions on Zoom. I think the only real issue caused by the pandemic was that we would have liked to have had more freedom to record more bits and I would have liked to have redone some of the vocals (because I will never let something go) but in a way it was nice to have a limit on it. Also, I would have liked to have hugged Darren when we finally finished but maybe I’ll be able to in 2022? The track was mastered by another friend, Peter Doherty. It was truly a Strabane effort all around!
How do you feel about the track now that it’s done?
I’m really proud of it. Considering all the hurdles we had to jump over to finish it I think we did the best job we could. It’s also lyrically very close to my heart and I hope people can relate.
What do you have coming up in the future?
There will be more releases but apart from that, just holding out until we can go back to gigging. I would love to do a proper release show or two when it’s safe to do so.
‘Keep Trying’ holds nothing back, it’s honesty and it’s message is truly (as Lauren says) “For anyone who still struggles to look in the mirror’’. Lauren Bird’s gentle vocals shine through and give the song a comforting feel, this is a song that knows how you’re feeling- a welcome reminder that you’re not the only one who feels this way, and a true encouragement to Keep Trying. Lauren Bird is perfect for fans of Laura Marling, Dodie, and Lucy Rose.