It’s been a long road to the release of Oíche, the debut album from Fears, otherwise known as Constance Kane. Her ethereal releases had found connections around her bases in Dubiln, Belfast and London, but it was the album build-up and indeed lockdown where things ramped up. Oíche is the first full length release on Tulle, an independent record label for underrepresented voices in music co-founded by Keane last year.
For Fears, it’s been a work that’s been in the making for five years. It’s a deeply personal and often introspective record, born from trauma, loss, recovery and family. On Oíche, Fears is open and vulnerable, sharing personal moments and memories on Instagram from those five years before the album’s release last week. Fears’ voice sings out from the dark of considered electronics and pools of reverb.
With the subject matter of Fears’ songs so deeply entwined in the album and the music, we asked Fears to break down each track on Oíche below.
This song was written and recorded in the music room of St Patrick’s Mental Health facility in Dublin in 2017. I wrote it at a time when my feelings about a traumatic situation were quite confused, and it’s interesting for me to look back on it now and see how much has changed; both literally and emotionally. It was recorded using my MacBook built-in microphone and written in around 30 minutes.
‘Bones’ is the first track I wrote following this trauma that describes the feeling of reclaiming my space. I had moved to London a few months before writing it, and was feeling stable in my mind and body. The idea of being able to trust my bones to hold myself up and carry me through the things that make life interesting – both good and bad – is what inspired this song.
‘daze’ was written in 2016, and it discusses the internal challenge of loving someone while knowing they’re not telling you the truth. There’s a lot of internal conflict in the song, as it describes a want to rest and settle, at a time when revelations keep appearing.
This track is about trying to escape someone/something that will not give you room to breathe. I tried to capture the feeling of desperately trying to rebuild yourself and your life, while something will not let you go. It’s a song about feeling exhausted and trapped but still determined to succeed.
This is another track that was written pre-breakdown. It chronicles the stage of abuse where one blames themselves, and sees that it is only them that is the problem in a situation. Listening back, I hear myself drowning in confusion as to why I can’t control my feelings.
‘dents’ is a lullaby to myself. I wrote it in 2020, during lockdown, when back in my childhood bedroom, remembering how unwell I was in that physical space a few years beforehand. When I got back to Ireland from London, I had to quarantine for 14 days in the small room, looking at the walls that have seen a lot of stages of unravelling and recovery. Spending concentrated time with my family, who cared for me so much during that time, brought up feelings of guilt I still have about putting them through everything. But this time was very healing for me. The track is about me forgiving myself for that, and trying to come to an understanding that people go through periods of darkness in life, and there will be a time when I can care for others in those situations.
This is a recording I made of my late Nana, Brighid, and my sister Kate, taken in her back garden after my Granda had passed away. We were very close up until her death in 2018. She had dementia which impacted her short term memory, so talking about her early life became incredibly important for her sense of identity. I love this recording because you can hear her sense of humour and personality, as well as details about her family history. I see this recording as an intro to ‘tonnta’.
‘Tonnta’ is the Irish word for waves. This track is about loving someone with dementia, and the experience of being hit by each stage of the disease progressing, like being hit by waves. As you get used to one level of decline, another change happens, and it can be quite difficult to stay above water. My Nana retained her personality until the end of her life, which is something I feel incredibly lucky for. The second half of the song – “Bím buartha faoina dtonnta” means “I worry about their waves”, as in the waves of dementia people experience. She is the person who taught me to sew when I was a child, and was incredibly fashionable, so that is why I made all the dresses for the music video. The artwork is a photo of her in 1974, which inspired the video.
‘Blood’ was written in 2016, and discusses the idea of what it means to be related to people. I was exploring the idea of family, and at what point you draw the line of maintaining relationships based solely on the idea of family.
This track is my follow up song to ‘h_always’, written two years after its release. It looks back on my internal growth over that time, acknowledging that recovery from trauma is not a straight road. ‘two_’ is also a thank you to my family, who have been incredibly supportive. This song is giving myself a hug. A lot of the time people talk about “self-love” and how important that is, but ‘two_’ is more of a journey to self-acceptance, and acceptance of life and what it brings.