Kickstart 2014 – The Shortlist Interviews

by / February 20, 2014

Our thirst for new music never lets up here at CB and it seems that it’s no different for you readers. The response to the Kickstart’s shortlist has been incredible! You’ve voted in your hundreds but there’s still all to play for as the Sunday deadline looms.

We’re very confident that you’ll be hearing a lot from the twenty shortlisted acts over the next few years. But why wait? Lets find out more about NI’s finest and freshest new musical talent through the medimum of a Q&A!

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– The voting process is open until 11pm on Sunday 23rd February 2014.

– You can vote once per day

Claire Hill

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 What made you decide to enter?

I remember seeing the competition running last year and realising what a big opportunity it would be. Seeing where the bands who made Top 20 last year are now also highlights the exposure they gained from the experience. When I realised it was running again this year I was quick to get involved with some new music I had released. I was delighted to make the Top 20 Shortlist and be in with a chance of winning those fantastic prizes. I’m often at Radar in the Speakeasy soaking up the local music; to be in with a chance of taking part in a showcase there is great!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

‘Settle The Score’ is one of my recent releases and it is a song that I really enjoy playing, so hopefully it is also one that people enjoy listening to!

► Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ll start with the obvious…my name is Claire Hill. My hometown is Portstewart on the North Coast, but I am currently a Biochemistry student at Queens University Belfast. It is only within the last year or so that I have recorded and released my own music but I have enjoyed singing, playing and writing music for quite a while! There are unfortunately too many photos in existance of me singing at family parties, thinking I was the 6th member of the Spice Girls.

I enjoy listening to a range of music genres; rock, pop, indie and folk and I think elements of each make their way into my own music. My favourite part of songwriting is often developing the lyrics; writing songs people can relate to and just enjoy.

 

Ryan McMullan

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 What made you decide to enter?

I chose to enter Kickstart because it is a fantastic opportunity provided by Chordblossom for up and coming artists to get great publicity.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

I picked ‘Holding Me Down’ basically because it’s the one and only song that has been demoed and will be on my EP which is about to delve into the mystical relm of the recording studio – hence why the demo I sent is a live track. It will be a 5 song EP and I really can’t wait for you guys to hear it.

► Tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up listening to bands like Thin Lizzy, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Free, Otis Reading and Van Morrison. It was only this past 2 years that acoustic music became gospel to my life. Acts like the incredible Foy Vance shed light on the beauty of the simplistic nature of one man and his guitar on stage. Hopefully one day I will be able to make my own mark in something as huge as the utopia that is the music industry.

Go Swim

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 What made you decide to enter?

We decided to enter due to the impressive range of prizes for winning. We thought it would be great to have the opportunity to record another song and video etc as well as get promotion through the various media channels.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

We choose our first main release ‘Halo’ due to its radio-friendly sound, and on the strength of the reviews and attention it had already been given, so we hoped this would be a strong enough song to get us through the first stage.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We formed late last year from the ashes of Parachutes over Paris and Nakatomi Towers. We quickly got an indie-pop set of music together combining our previous sounds. We were getting a great buzz from the energy of this new combination of musicians, and couldn’t wait to get out there, gig live and bring it to an audience. We’ve only performed a handful of gigs, but are already excited to be recording our music to bring it to a wider online audience.

Owen Denvir

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 What made you decide to enter?

I’ve always followed the music scene in NI. I’ve played with Rams’ Pocket Radio, various string quartets, and would typically jam with friends when we get together. I’ve been writing my own material since I first picked up the guitar at 13, but I’ve only recently established playing for audiences of my own as a solo artist. Now, having gone from the studio to the stage, I’ve acquired a real taste for it! When a friend of mine told me about the Kickstarter competition, I knew there would be a lot of fantastic acts in the mix, and I hoped it might lead to exposure for my music on a bigger scale. It’s certainly done that so far!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

I didn’t have a recording of my most popular song until a few days before the competition’s deadline. ‘Jackhammer’ has always gone down really well at gigs, and I feel it sums up the spirit of my music very well, so I got to work in my bedroom studio piecing together the track.

While I am a solo act, I am by no means a “one-man-band”. My friends and family have a lot of input in my work, whether in feedback on a new song, photography and artwork, or promotion. Those guys are my lifeline! I like to vary in style from song to song, but ‘Jackhammer’ seems to strike the biggest chord with them, so it’s a song that I really value.

► Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a mishmash of many musical flavours from the folk-pop kitchen. I write to explore folk-storytelling, with a mix of catchy pop riffs, tricks and melodies. But I am primarily led by the message of the music: I think it should be uplifting and positive as well as genuine. I like to feel as close as possible to the audience – my music is varied and honest, and is a real reflection my personality.

Castlestreet

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 What made you decide to enter?

We saw an ad/flyer for the Kickstart competition in our Facebook feed, and we liked the opportunity’s that were offered by it, plus we just send our music to anywhere we can as the more people that hear it, the better!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

“Stepping Stones” is the only song as yet that we have had professionally recorded and we wanted to send a track which sounded as good as possible at the production end of things.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We are a folk/rock five piece from Armagh, Northern Ireland made up of Weston Clendinning (Vocals), Johno Whittington (Guitar), Maxl Walmsley Pledl (Banjo + Kick Drum), Nathan Cassidy (Bass) and Leah-Ann Walmsley Pledl (Keyboard).

Although only formed in late 2012, we’ve played an impressive number of gigs playing in pubs/venues, hotels, festivals and civic/private events all over the province. The band have recently been invited to perform in Rotherham, England in March, as part of the “Real Ale and Music Festival” held there.

We try to write contemporary songs showing folk and Irish traditional influences. Sound wise the band have been compared to Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, but with more “Irish traditional” elements to the sound.

In An Instant

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 What made you decide to enter?

We originally saw the post regarding the competition on Facebook and upon further investigation noticed that SOAK, an artist who we all like very much, was one of the past winners of this competition. Obviously SOAK is doing fantastically well and we just thought we would love to be involved in a competition which can provide that potential platform.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

We chose to send in “All Binds Fall Undone” as our “best” song. Really it was only a choice between 2 tracks because at the time of entry we only had 2 demos online. We opted to send in All Binds because it is probably the more familiar of the two with our fans and it’s the song we finish with at our gigs!

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re a 4-piece band from Bangor, Northern Ireland. Formed last year towards the end of our final year of school, we decided to put off University in order to pursue a future in music. Our music blends live guitars, synths and drums with multiple elements of electronic tracking which consists of drum samples and pads to create a unique sound which unites the border between high energy electronic dance music and a large, live pop-rock band sound. We aim for a large live sound which you can get up and dance to, but with something substantial there when you sit down to listen.

 

A Step Too Far

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 What made you decide to enter?

We saw it as an opportunity for our music to reach more people, and that’s the whole point. That’s why we write music, as a form of self expression and in the hope that somebody else will take something from it.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

We honestly thought that it was the best expression of the sound that we’re going for. That and out of our two singles, that one probably had the most time, money and effort put into it. It represents us best as a band.

 Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We started out playing music together in practice rooms in our late teens. We all met at parties etc, and became friends through a mutual love of playing music, and well.. here we are trying to make a go of it. We just want to keep making music that people love listening to.

Aspen Pales

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► What made you decide to enter?

Its a great feeling and honour to be select in the top 20 in the kickstart competition. We stand alongside some excellent bands and its feels like a privilege to be up there with them. As a new band who are just about to release there debut 8 track E.P we knew we needed some exposure and if we where lucky enough to get into the top 20. We could gain that much needed publicity that a new band needs.

 How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

‘Blue’ is a song that we feel is our most radio friendly song and never fails to make people move and sing along. Its also our first single of the up coming E.P and it seem like the obvious introduction into what Aspen Pales is all about.

 Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Hailing from the small but mighty village of Rostrevor, Co. Down Aspen Pales are a soulful alternative rock band with an intent for honest feeling, swelling guitars and unavoidable grooves. Beginning life as an acoustic act in Manchester 2011 where singer Connor began writing songs after a move home to Northern Ireland, where the development of the songs with close friends Colly, Bud and Daniel into a full band format. And after much practice, a few nights on the sauce and a recording session here and there the Aspen Pales sound really started to take shape.

 

A big thanks to our partners and supporters for Kickstart 2014. If you are a band or a buisness, we highly recommend you work with them!

Music Studio – Millbank Studios
►  Music Video – Dog Kennel Productions
 Festival – Stendhal Festival of Art
► Radio Play – Electric Mainline
 Professional Career Advice – Third Bar Artist Development
 PR – In Your Steps
 Graphic Design & Printing – Love Print & Design
 CD Duplication – Botanic Media
 Single Artwork – DSNT
 Photography – Barry Wright
 Professional Biography – Write It For Me
 Promotions – Shizznigh Promotions

 

Plague Artists

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 What made you decide to enter?

We entered last year with a live demo recording…. unfortunately we were unsuccessful ..we have since been in the studio and thought we’d try our luck with a professional recording!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

Our song ‘Go’, is our second studio recording. We were very happy with how it turned out and we feel that it is one of our more accessible songs that may satisfy a wide range of music fans.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re a four-piece based in Belfast. Completed our line-up January 2012.Writing our own material since, played our first gig together June 2012.

We have been playing gigs in the Belfast area since, but are eager for a chance to gig elsewhere! Musically, we are heavily influenced by the Grunge movement of the 90’s and home grown talent such as Therapy?! The best way to sample our music is to hear it performed live for yourself!!!

We are continuing to record in the studio throughout this year and onward with a view to put out an EP later this year. The three studio recordings which we have completed so far are available to stream on our soundcloud, the first of which, the track ‘Offbeat’, is available here as a free download. We only ask one thing, that you PLAY ‘EM LOUD!!!!

 

Runabay

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 What made you decide to enter?

The opportunity to kick-start our musical journey and help us to get our music out there and connect with people in the local music industry. Furthermore, the great prizes made it a no brainer in terms of our involvement with such a reputable award.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

As stated previously, we’re a very newly formed band. We don’t have much recorded material (though that will change within the next month or two). We felt that ‘Love Affair’ had an instant effect on listeners through its simplicity and hook. Also, the style of love affair really is indicitve of the style we want to establish within our songs…melody, rhythm and simplicity are key features we hope to be delivering a lot more of in the coming months.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re quite an eclectic mix of people. We only really achieved a settled line up in the last month so we’re trying to get to know one another as well as the songs each of us has brought to the band. We hail from Cushendall, Cushendun, Belfast and Peterborough…our influences range from the Shins to the Beatles to Ben Howard to Elbow to Luke Kelly. As I said we value melody immensely and the vocals are a huge part of that in terms of how we execute harmonies and backing vocals.

Hopefully we’ll be gigging regularly within the next month or so, from that people can make their own minds up.

The Black Dukes

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 What made you decide to enter?

We decided to enter the competition because we felt we were at the right time to start showcasing our material to the general public and showing what we have produced through the many hours of practicing together. Our guitarist Ryan sent me the link and from there we talked about which song to enter that would best show off what we had to offer.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

This was a hard decision because we wanted one that the judges would like and consider us for entry. After coming together we decided to use 1953 because we felt it offered a good mix of our style. We can play fast and we can play slow and this seemed a good middle ground. It seems to have been the right decision!

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We are a four piece rock band from Ballymena and we consider Alkaline Trio, The Replacements, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Hause and other bands to be our inspiration for what we do. We have played in various other bands before and are ready to unleash what we have created to the people of Northern Ireland and further afield. Keep an eye out for us as we’ll be playing whenever and wherever we can!

Callum Stewart

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 What made you decide to enter?

I’ve followed the competition for a couple of years and thought, since I had built up a collection of original material, I would enter and see what happened. I’ve seen the likes of Soak go on to huge things after winning the competition so I guess I had nothing to lose.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

I chose “Free” as it is one of the first songs I wrote as a solo act and is also one of my favourites to play live. It has emerged as my headline track and I always finish a show with it.

► Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 17 year old musician from Magherafelt. I’ve been playing and writing songs for around 3 years now and am loving every minute of it. I would describe my sound as a cross between Rams Pocket Radio, Twin Atlantic and Tom Odell but you can decide for yourself. You can catch me playing in Belfast with recent gigs supporting bands such as More Than Conquerors. Otherwise I’m in the studio, or more likely in school trying to pass my A Levels.

EQ1NIX

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 What made you decide to enter?

As being a recently formed band EQ1NIX decided to enter the Kickstart competition to try spread our music to new audiences and to see if the ideas we had before forming the band would go down well with people listening. Although we hadn’t finished our song, we decided to enter our demo into the competition regardless on the basis of ‘the worst that could happen is we don’t make it through’, evidently this was a good idea. We were also aware of what the competition and Chordblossom can do for musicians starting out, Previous winner SOAK has gone on to have great success.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

‘Can’t Control Myself’ was chosen as we thought it gave the best insight into the sound we want to produce. It demonstrates our thick bass, punchy lyrics and portrays elements of dubstep. A sound we felt would fit into a club as equally as it would fit into a bar..

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

EQ1NIX is a duo consisting of Colin Mallon and Gavin Kennedy. We are friends from secondary school and now both study chemical engineering at queens. We both knew we had similar tastes in music and regularly discussed it with each other. From playing together when over at each others houses recently we decided to form the band and only have 1 gig behind our belts. We are heavily influenced by 80s pop, electronic music and current chart music from bands such as Chvrches and The 1975.

AudioCavalry

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 What made you decide to enter?

You’re through to the Final Twenty in our Kickstart Competition. What made you decide to enter? Well we have been following Chordblossom for a while now and as soon as we saw the amazing prizes up for grabs we thought we should just go for it, it would be too great of a possibility to have passed up, we are a hard working band and we are dedicated to our music and this seemed like a great way to if any thing gain some new fans and let some more people know who we are.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

We released an EP last year and decided to send in the title track ‘Rainbow Boy’, in our opinion it has a good mix of what we try to achieve with our music, it has a real nice melodic sound but at the same time it has that grungy edge to it that a lot of our music thrives on, especially our new material, but for anyone really interested at seeing and hearing us at our best, live is the place to do it.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Well we are a four piece band from County Down and we just love making music, we have been together since 2010 and over the years our sound has changed a lot so we always find it difficult to give ourselves a genre, we are an energetic band and the live stage is where we are at our best, some of our influences include ASIWYFA and Arctic Monkeys, there are many more (too many to name), to anyone who hasn’t heard of us before can check us out on face book and band camp.

Car Chase City

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 What made you decide to enter?

We decided to enter the competition because we see it as a massive opportunity for us to progress as a band. Since forming in 2013 we’ve tried our best to constantly improve and promote our music. This is a great campaign that we can use to push ourselves to increase our fan base, get our music out to the public and get more opportunities to play shows!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

It was actually not that difficult for us to choose which song to send, since forming we were a 3 piece band until a few months ago when we found an additional member to add to vocals and guitar. Since then we have been working on an album and this was the first song we had finished with all 4 members. It happens to also be one of the first songs we ever wrote, so we re-recorded it and are very pleased with how it turned out.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Well the band consists of Gerard, Conor, Phil and Luke. We formed as a 3 piece in January 2013 and in December we found Conor and we joined forces. The best way to describe our sound would be Pop Punk with a bit of Alt Rock thrown in as well. Since the start we have been fairly active, going on an Irish Tour last March with our friends The Big Grizzly, then we have also released 2 EP’s in the last year. We’re currently in the process of recording an album and are likely to release a single in the coming months.

 

HOW

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 What made you decide to enter?

It wasn’t a difficult decision to enter the competition. You guys are the best at promoting local music, so any chance to get our band involved with you, we were always going to take.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

When selecting what song to submit, we basically went for the song we liked most. I’ve no idea whether it’s our best song or not, but I think it’s maybe our strangest. I was genuinely worried when we went in to record it, that ‘Woo Hoo,’ would turn out a mess of un-fused parts that would be unrecognisable as a song. Luckily, it didn’t turn out like that, and we ended up with a song that worked, and we think has something pretty unique. What that something is however, I have no idea.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Originally, the band consisted of my self and my brother Johno. But in that last month we have gained a drummer called Davino. He makes monster beats and is somewhat of a professional ladies man.

God knows how you’d describe our sound, but we’re aiming for something no one’s ever heard before, but they get it on the first listen.

 

Freak’s

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 What made you decide to enter?

As fans of the NI Music seen we’ve always known Chordblossom to be a very credible outlet for all types of local music and we jumped at the chance of entering this year’s Kickstart. The opportunities presented not only for the winners but all of the short-listed bands is not something to be passed by when you look at SOAK and Those Ghosts. It takes no Derek Acorah to know how well Those Ghosts have done in the last year!

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

‘Old Piano’ has been our set-closer since our first gig and people were always asking about it before we even got down to recording it. More important to this however is the fact that its all of our mothers’ collective favourite song, and we value their opinion over anything!

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We formed roughly around May last year. Spent too much having fun and probably not enough time in the practise room but have miraculously come out with a video release, an EP, a stand-alone single, a christmas song, a few favourable live shows and a fundraiser for Marie Curie. We’ve all been great friends for years and don’t really let any “business-y type-y stress-y stuff” get in the way of us hanging out and playing together. We’re from Strabane and have been told that “we’re great for the town!”.

 

Part Time Pilots

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 What made you decide to enter?

chordblossom is a great platform for discovering new bands in Northern Ireland so we keep up to date with what’s going on. We entered the competition last year as a very new band and didn’t make it through but we thought we’d give it another shot after spending the past year playing as many gigs as we could and writing more material, trying to become a better band.
The Kickstarter Competition will point us in the right direction and help us to get where we want to be. Even getting as far as being in the shortlisted 20 acts will let people know we’re out here and hopefully they’ll check us out.

► How did you pick which Song to enter Kickstart with?

We picked ‘Tally Ho Amigo’ because we’re in the middle of making our second CD in Outland Studios and we felt that this was a strong representation of the new material we’ve been working on. It’s lively and punchy and one that we really enjoy playing live.

► Tell us a bit about yourselves?

We play energetic live shows (possibly getting too into it at times), cheeky lyrics, catchy hooks and plenty of volume! We are from Omagh and have been together since late 2012 although we have all played in previous bands together.

The band consists of Enda Mc Crory on vocals, Aarron Mc Callan on drums, Michael Hodkinson on bass, Tom Hodkinson on lead guitar and Eamonn Doherty on rhythm guitar.

We released our first E.P in February 2012 called ‘Lovely Girls’ and since then we have played as much gigs as we could get. We even travelled to England for a few dates. We have released a few music videos on YouTube with a total number of views almost reaching 10,000. We really enjoy what we do and I think that shows when we play live.

 

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– The voting process is open until 11pm on Sunday 23rd February 2014.

– You can vote once per day

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