In Conversation with…WYVERN LINGO

A band from Ireland bringing a sound like you’ve never heard before.

Wyvern Lingo are trio who’ve stuck together since being teenagers growing up in their native Bray – Karen Cowley (Vocals/Piano), Saoirse Duane (Guitar) and Caoimhe Barry (Vocals/Percussion) – all who offer their own sonically-savvy lyrical and musical input.

These are three women working a contemporary sound which smashes together an eclectic array of influences, from Irish Folk traditions to ’90s American pop and a deep R n B beat. And their harmonies are something that will make your ears prick up – that’s for sure.

Now their debut self-titled album is just out (released 23rd February) and also sees them embarking on a tour starting in Ireland before heading to England and Scotland, followed by Germany and the Netherlands.

They’ve had a string of successes so far – inspiring listeners with their prominent, punchy rhythms, distinct vibe and tunes telling of real-life tales, lived experiences. They were nominated for RTE Choice Awards ‘Song of the Year’ for I Love You, Sadie and anticipation is high for the album.

Bitter Sweet Symphonies managed to chat to vocalist and pianist Karen Cowley, as she was making final preparations for a secret intimate gig at the groups’ local pub in Bray. Now that’s dedication.

Hi Karen – brilliant news on the album release. Has it been a long course of work for you and how would you describe the process?

“We are so excited, but also, of course, apprehensive. A lot of preparation has gone into this. We started recording about a year ago. For a little of the story… we’ve been a band since our teens, but started taking it seriously in the last three years or so, when we were signed. Our first EP ‘The Widow Knows’ was out in 2014 and then ‘Letter to Willow’ in 2016. Each has been a stage, a kind of building block, in figuring out our sound.

“The process has been rewarding – as we’ve also gone back to some old songs from these earlier EPs and worked them into the new album. These are often fan-favourites that we felt we weren’t able to do proper justice to with the equipment we had at the time: We were only young then! Now we’ve been able to really work with them, and have loved it. It’s been a massive learning curve – getting to this point – and embracing technology has been part of that. We also want to thank our label for the time and patience in letting us figure out our sound.”

Were you aiming for an overall feel on the album?

“I’d say sonically, yes. We chose the songs that complemented each other best, they sound good together. That is what connects the tracks, rather than themes.

“The subject of the songs is after all really diverse, they are a collection of our experiences, as we all contribute to the process. Each song is a moment, it is life.”

How do you feel about the upcoming tour?

“We are SO excited – we love touring and being on the road. We are a live band by our very nature and enjoy the variety of parts there is to it – from travelling in the van to playing to audiences. This is an exciting year for us as for the first time we will be headlining shows in Germany, as well as returning to the UK for The Great Escape.”

Would you call your music Irish?

“Ah, that’s an interesting one. Ultimately, we are just making the music we enjoy and love to do. The influence of Irish music has been big for me personally, as I come from a family of traditional Irish musicians, it was typically a feature of the events I would go to when I was younger, things like that. Being exposed to that music probably helped me to learn to harmonise too.

“But the influences don’t stop there. We’re ’90s kids, and were really into American culture at the time – particularly R n B. It’s had a big influence on our beat and harmonies.

“Our personalities though – are definitely Irish!”

What do you think of the term ‘girl band’?

“I saw a really good article recently along the lines of ‘why female-fronted is not a genre.’ You certainly wouldn’t see a band composed of men being described as male-fronted. I don’t like the distinction – ultimately this is us just doing what we love.

“Doing things differently and breaking boundaries is important. We love what bands like Dream Wife are doing for example – even the cleverness of the name. And we are quite distinct as a band of women in Ireland, as typically there’s been a tradition of female soloists.”

Why should people give you a listen?

“This is music which sounds distinct and is sincere – true to us. We want a change from the falseness of modern life, fake news, all that.”

The new album from Wyvern Lingo is out now via Rubyworks – and is available on various formats here.

Wyvern Lingo Tour Dates:

1st March – McHugh’s, Belfast
2nd March – Dolan’s, Limerick
3rd March – St Luke’s Church, Cork
4th March – Tuar Ard Theatre, Moate, Co. Westmeath
8th March – Mike The Pies, Listowel
9th March – Roisin Dubh, Galway
10th March – Source Arts Centre, Thurles
11th March – Spirit Store, Dundalk
14th March – Sound, Liverpool
15th March – The Mash House, Edinburgh
16th March – Stereo, Glasgow
17th March – Think Tank Underground, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
18th March – The Castle Hotel, Manchester
20th March – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
21st March – Louisiana, Bristol
24th March – Prinzenbar, Hamburg
26th March – Privatclub, Berlin
27th March – Studio 672, Cologne
28th March – Upstairs at The Paradiso, Amsterdam
28th September – The Academy, Dublin

Photo Credit: Ruth Medjber

Find Wyvern Lingo on Facebook and Twitter.

Emily Oldfield
Lover of music, poetry and Manchester.

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