Ahead of last Saturday’s Her World event in the Oh Yeah centre, Laura Heather caught up with Melyssa Shannon of R51 to chat about her thoughts on the industry and the event itself, a celebration of the music Björk, featuring the likes of Sister Ghost, Goldie Fawn, Katharine Philippa, Jai McConnell and DJ Sage alongside R51 themselves.
► What or who got you into the industry?
Meeting Jonny, our guitarist, was pretty much how I found myself in the industry. We’ve been together musically for nearly 7 years now, and our working relationship has become stronger and stronger over the years.
► Can you outline briefly your career within the industry to date?
R51 have released 2 singles, (‘Boxkite’ in 2013 and ‘Slowhound’ in 2014) and our new EP ‘Pillow Talk’ is out on the 25th of this month!
► Why did you choose a band as opposed to going solo?
Being a solo artist is something I’ve never wanted. Partly because I can’t play any “real” instruments… no one wants to see a one woman Kaoss Pad Theremin act or do they? But mostly because being a small part of something bigger is so important to me. It’s all about sharing experiences and moments with great people!
► Do you feel there are any prejudices for women within the music industry in general? And more specifically to N. Ireland?
Not really. I never think about it. Which either means it doesn’t happen, or I don’t get offended easily. I mean, there are so many talented women and men in the music industry here, but gender really shouldn’t have anything to do with how that talent gets seen and heard.
► Who’s your female role model within the music industry, dead or alive?
It may be a bit of an obvious one, but I’d have to say Kate Bush. She has an amazing energy that you can’t help but be inspired by.
► Future career, is it music or art or a mixture?
Outside of the band, I’m studying a Contemporary Applied Arts degree in Belfast School of Art. It’s very much a hands on, studio based course, so when I’m not making a racket with R51, I’m playing with lumps of clay!
But my future will definitely be a mixture! The two areas of my life very much bleed into one another. “Making” is the most important thing in my future, and whether that’s making sounds, or making objects, as long as I’m making something, I’ll be happy.
► You are playing with the band at this year’s International Women’s day event at the Oh Yeah, can you tell us how you got involved with that and what your song selection process was?
The Oh Yeah Centre approached us and asked if we would like to take part in their IWD event ‘Her World’, alongside the likes of Sister Ghost and Goldie Fawn, and we jumped at the chance to be involved!
The song choosing process was very much about seeking an opportunity to venture out of our comfort zones, and we found that in ‘All Is Full Of Love’. We’ve experimented with samples of the zithers and strings Björk used originally, but there was loads of room to expand and really make it our own. ‘Play Dead’ has an implied heaviness that we knew we could match with guitars and a groove that sits really well with our rhythm section. We’re really excited to unleash our Björk interpretations on Saturday, and see how the other acts have been inspired!