Let me introduce you to a new, blooming Belfast (I should really say Lisburn) sound, LORIS: Frances Mitchell on vocals and bass guitar, Tommy Keery on electric guitar and Chris Scott on drums and synthesizer are creating a new wave that is storming through Northern Irish venues. Chordblossom had the privilege of releasing their debut EP ‘Yeah’ in Bar With No Name on November 14th 2014, it gathered a great crowd and the performance was just what you would expect from a hard working band that rolled up their sleeves to stamp their music on the local music scene. At the comfort of the Millbank Studios they completed a 6 track EP and are already receiving much positive feedback from the public and critics alike.
The design on the EP sleeve by (James Lyttle) is eye-catching: colourful gemstones on the black background are creating an illusion of sparkling stars in the universe. While listening to it you might feel like you are transported to another universe as the sounds are often unusual and your ears will be a pleasantly surprised with the new noise.
Soft vocals from Miss Mitchell blend perfectly into the notes and on stage she reminded me of Swedish singer Robyn – intoning her voice with eyes closed, moving softly into the rhythm of each beat. LORIS recently supported Ballet School in Dublin and Belfast, here you can find out how it went and what to expect from this memorable bunch:
► LORIS – is there any secret meaning behind these letters?
Frances Mitchell: The letters don’t stand for anything, it’s just a one word name and it doesn’t actually mean anything specific. It just came around because I have a real love for the animal the Slow Loris (laugh). We kind of wanted a one word name, I said to my dad “what’s a cool name for this band could be?” and the first thing he said was “what about just Loris?” because on my laptop desktop I had a picture of it, I’m really obsessed with them!
► You are a very fresh band; your EP has been out for a couple of weeks only, how did you originally come together?
Tommy Keery: Frances and I were in the band for three years called Everyday Superheroes, where I played guitar and she sang. We left because we wanted to write pop music. Chris played as a session musician in another band, we never played together but we were friends and we are all from the same town. We talked to Chris about writing electronic music together and we all just clicked and decided to work on it.
► It’s seems like releasing an EP was on the cards for quite a while then…How long did it take you to complete ‘Yeah’?
Chris Scott: It was quite a long process because initially we were writing the songs in the studio instead of writing them in the rehearsal room and then taking them into the studio. It was backwards, it took us 8 or 9 months…
Tommy: It’s because we didn’t give ourselves a deadline, we didn’t have any pressure, where if we knew we had a deadline it would probably be different.
Frances: We didn’t want to rush anything at all, we just wanted it to be natural and make sure that everything we were working on was how we wanted it to be. If we weren’t keen on something we would re-write it or start something new. We had done so much talking before we actually got together; we just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page, we decided on the genre that we all wanted, also on our separate goals in a year from now and so on.. We would talk so much about the process that we wanted to go through, that by the time we got into the studio it was very natural and easy.
Tommy: We were a band with a name before we even played together (laugh).
► There is a lot happening while you are on stage, you swap instruments and have many different sounds, Frances have you always played the bass guitar?
Frances: It was forced upon me! (laugh) I was playing basic chord on a guitar but I love a challenge so I like the fact that at the start of it I was focused on vocals and then we decided to do the keys (keyboard piano) as well. Then Chris wrote this bass line to ‘Do it right’ and I was like “yeah that sounds really good” but then we talked of how are we going to do that live and Chris said: “well, I’ll be drumming” and Tommy went: “I’ll be playing guitar” so then I had to take up the bass but it was good, I like it. It’s very interesting for us when we play live and get to swap instruments, keeps it unsettling, in a really good way.
Tommy: Whenever Frances started to play it she worked on it really well, she practiced to play it perfectly. We often take new guitar parts in or taking them out at the last minute. With ‘Crazy’ we gigged for nearly a year without the guitar in the chorus but in the EP there’s guitar which was last minute decision to keep it in.
► Your EP launch was only last month, did you get a lot of attention after it from the music scene or is it still too early to ask?
Chris: We have been pretty busy since; we got really good support and got to play with Ballet School just the week after the EP launch so we try to keep the ball rolling.
► How did you find playing two shows with Ballet School?
Tommy: It was an experience, half an hour before we were supposed to be onstage in Dublin Chris and I were miles away from the venue, we got lost while trying to park our cars… I got back with a few minutes to spare and he still wasn’t there, eventually Chris got there and went straight onstage. Belfast was good too; Rosie (Blair-Ballet School) is Northern Irish so it was kind of her homecoming gig. They also gave us some important stage layout tips, so that was really good.
Frances: The crowd was great and there was a really good atmosphere that night.
► Where was the inspiration taken for all the distinct sounds you have brought to the table? Are there any other groups that stimulated your creative heads?
Tommy: It’s really stirring because we couldn’t really pick ourselves, I think it’s what we like about this band – it is quite different, you couldn’t just pick it out and say ‘oh they sound like this band’. We all have different influences but together it makes sense. As a guitar player I’m really influenced by The Strokes and Jimi Hendrix and for Frances as a singer and a songwriter the influence would be from artists like Imogen Heap and Beyonce.
Chris: I just love the synthesizers and bands like Chvrches, all the production in it is just unbelievable and there are things that you want to include but not rip off. You have an idea of the general sound, I worked with a producer Mike Mormecha (Mojo Fury) and with me not knowing a whole lot about synths and having a lot of sounds in my head I could say to him “I need something that sounds like: buaaarrghh” and he would help me out with it.
Frances: I have always loved music, my dad plays electric guitar and we’ve always had UB40, Fleetwood Mac played in my house, that’s what I grew up listening to. I always wanted to be a part of music somehow and the older I’ve got I started writing music.
Tommy: You nearly got into the S Club Juniors, didn’t you?
Frances: Yes, back in the day!! (laughs)
► What would be your favourite food after the gig?
Tommy: Beer and grease!
► Is there any favourite venue you have or would like to play in?
Tommy: We want to play The Odyssey Arena.
Chris: I’d love to play in Ulster Hall.
Tommy: I enjoyed playing in BBC Blackstaff House, the sound was just incredible.
Frances: It was an interesting set up as well because it was all seated; everything was so well lit that we could see everyone’s faces. It was an odd gig to play without anyone standing in front of us.
► Are there any gigs in Belfast coming up anytime soon?
Tommy: We’re playing it by ear at the moment; we’re keeping ourselves free however we have booked a couple of shows in January. The plan is to wait for the music video to be released and decide which track we should put out as a fourth single. We are working on new material and by the summer we want to release a brand new song.