Influences Mixtape: Owen Denvir

by / February 8, 2017

It is becoming increasingly harder to avoid Owen Denvir these days. On the back of his inventive cover videos, he has received plenty of coverage from the likes of ITV, the Belfast Telegraph plus a TV appearance on Ireland’s Six O’Clock Show. All outlets that would normally shy away from local, unsigned music. With all the talk of his mash-ups and covers it would be easy to miss the songwriting talent underneath. The multi-instrumentalist has impressed with every release, from the folk of his ‘Daydreamer’ EP to last year’s catchy single ‘Green Light’ (its Youtube views dwarfing that of Denvir’s Coldplay endorsed mash-up).

Not one to rest on his laurels, Denvir returned in January with a new live video EP. ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ and its five tracks were released one by one over the course of the past month, all in live video format. Owen Denvir talks us through the track by track inspirations for the EP, plus a few other influences below.

‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ is out now, with an EP launch set for 12th February in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.


Alison Krauss – Down To The River To Pray

The initial idea for Siren Song was planted after I saw a video of Foy Vance singing in a pub, standing on top of a table (reckless disregard for health and safety) & surrounded by people humming. When I’d found something to write about, it fitted a folk style, similar to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. I listened to it pretty religiously (no pun intended) after the movie came out.

Damien Rice – Cannonball

Damien Rice was a staple to my early guitar playing – mainly because his songs are so focused on guitar riffs that are fun to play on acoustic. Conquering those overdriven Guns N’ Roses riffs didn’t have the same impact on my cheap Yamaha. This and his pairing with Lisa Hannigan were a big influence on the direction I took with Staring At The Sun; I chose to duet with Hannah McPhillimy because she had a similar name.

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

Being a viola player, I believe the more viola you add to a recording, the better it will sound. 3 seemed like suitable restraint for You Don’t Want To Love Me. I don’t really need to describe Eleanor Rigby because it’s Eleanor Rigby. If you’ve not heard it, it sounds a bit like You Don’t Want To Love Me.

Fionn Regan – Hey Rabbit

I’ve always thought Fionn Regan should be as famous as Justin Bieber. His romantic songs on 100 Acres Of Sycamore are especially wonderful. I picked Hey Rabbit for rhythm reasons here. Every bar sounds like a combination of 6/8 + 2/4 from the way the guitar is strummed, which was how Lonely was first formed. I think it happens in a lot in folk music, but Fionn Regan was the first person I heard do it, so I’ll go out on a limb and say he invented it.

Radiohead – Life In A Glass House

Everyone knows the secret behind Radiohead’s music is that Johnny Greenwood plays the viola. That’s not relevant to this particular song – but I just thought it’d be nice to mention. The jazz band in Life In A Glass House creates an awesome “final track” vibe that always stuck with me, and this was the vibe I had in mind when it came to building up I Miss You, Friend.

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

I don’t know Lou Reed particularly well but, while we were recording, Mike Mormecha told me I Miss You Friend sounded like Lou Reed. I’ve shamelessly decided to throw his name into the mix here because he’s a trendy name to mention. Also because I’ve probably subconsciously lifted lots of his ideas into my music over the years. I will pay my respects by listening to his entire back catalogue soon.

Bon Iver – Heavenly Father

I’m always excited to see what’s coming next from Bon Iver. For me it’s as close as folk music will ever come towards full scale rapping. It’s songs like this that push me into my more experimental moments (usually ending with failed attempts at rapping).

Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

For me, one of the signs of a great song is when it can be adapted into lots of different genres and still sound incredible every time. I would listen to the Churches and Hozier versions just as much as the original. It’s got a fantastic flow of melody & lyrics. I don’t have anything witty to say about it.

Coldplay – Magic

This was a big part of where my last single, Green Light, came from. For the most part, big anthems are Coldplay’s speciality, but Magic makes a big statement from breaking down production to just the raw elements. I suspect it was loosely inspired by Madness by Muse, after I read about Chris Martin going mad for the tune.

Radiohead – Motion Picture Soundtrack

This is where the EP title came from (along with it conveniently matching the “Video EP” element). Radiohead have been a huge inspiration to me, so this is a small tribute. I’m hoping it’s cool with them, since they named their band after a Talking Heads song. And so the cycle of plagiarism continues…

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