When Chordblossom came into existence, it was always our aim to shine a spotlight on the artists and bands that make up the music scene in Northern Ireland. We’ve been doing it for over ten years now and one of our favourite methods is our Introducing feature.
Put the kettle on, curl up on your sofa and and join us for a quickfire Q&A with some of our favourite new musicians. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover your new favourite artists.
This iteration of Introducing features the musical talents of The Model Home who just released their debut single ‘Thinking Much’ earlier this month.
What was the inspiration behind your artist name?
The inspiration for the name came from a few different places; partly from a lyric in a Death Cab For Cutie song – ‘Northern Lights’; partly from a Pedro The Lion track called ‘Model Homes’ but coincidentally, it’s also the name of an episode of an early 00’s teen drama that may or may not be set in Orange County. We can neither confirm nor deny whether one of us is a big fan…
What we really liked about it though, was that it was quite all-encompassing – it didn’t necessarily feel like a name that pigeon-holed us into a specific genre. We’ve always been quite curious and exploratory in how we write and so we felt like this name was fitting to a project like that.
You’ve just released a new single. How did it come about and what does it mean to you?
Caolán: This song was written in 2020; pretty soon after we’d started working together. At this point, I think we were all in quite a stringent lockdown and we were trying to do whatever we could to stay afloat. Fionn, in particular, was writing more ideas than we knew what to do with but when he sent me this demo it completely stood out – I instantly loved it. It was really apparent that this was exactly what we should be working on at that point in time.
Fionn: I can’t really remember the specific moment when I wrote this song, though I remember it came about quickly. At the time I was writing my dissertation, and in between, I was playing guitar constantly. I think over that lockdown I’d written enough music for a few albums, but ‘Thinking Much’ was a song that came out quickly and immediately felt strong and so was the first that we set about properly recording.
Have you any more releases or studio time lined up for later in the year?
We have no more releases planned this year but we do have more music in the works. We’re constantly recording while we’re writing so there’s always an idea being turned over. We’re hoping for another new release in Spring 2023.
Tell us about your song writing process.
As we’re both based in different countries, all of our writing is done remotely. Usually one of us will start out with an idea and then send it to the other to see what their opinion is and if they can add to it. That idea could be anything at all; a drum pattern, a piano or guitar part, a poem, some chopped up samples or loops, a drone – there’s never one formula for starting off a song for us.
Usually there’s something that we’re trying to communicate – whether it’s something that’s happened in our lives; a conversation one of us has had, an observation we’ve made… whatever it is, the shape that that idea takes might change over time, especially once the other person gets their hands on it. It’s always pretty collaborative and we’ll usually finish each other’s sentences, musically-speaking.
Who were your favourite artists/bands growing up? Have your influences changed over time?
Caolán: I could wax lyrical about this for days, if not weeks, so I’ll try to keep it succinct. Growing up and learning to play drums & guitar, I was really into the likes of At The Drive In, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Biffy Clyro, Weezer; a lot of angular/alternative rock music. I was fortunate enough to find incredible examples of that type of music around me in NI too (i.e. Fighting With Wire, Jetplane Landing, Element, SixStarHotel). In tandem with that was a big interest in Hip-Hop – De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, DJ Shadow etc. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by siblings that all had an incredible but individual taste in music and a wealth of CDs that I could steal – that was my education as a 10 year old. I still love all those bands/artists now.
I suppose in relation to this band, the same things still inspire me; I’m still drawn to slightly angular melodies and usually something slightly melancholy in music but I seem to find that in so many places; whether it’s Bill Evans playing ‘Darn That Dream’, the guitar part in Fionn Regan’s ‘The Underwood Typewriter’ or the first Pinback album, the ideas are just presented in a different way with a different palette of sounds but they still have an attitude and a feel that I’m drawn to.
Fionn: For me, The Model Home is a great opportunity to indulge in the influences that I had growing up. With Kilgour (my other project), I take a lot of inspiration from acts that I discovered in my 20’s like Horse Jumper of Love, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. but with this project I found myself listening to what was played in the house as a kid. Artists like John Martyn, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake plus newer folk stuff like Laura Marling or Ben Howard.
With the NI Music Prize round the corner, what’s been your favourite album and single released this year?
Caolán: My favourite album from the shortlist this year is probably Robocobra Quartet – Living Isn’t Easy. I absolutely love them. I’m very glad a band like that exists here. My favourite single is a close call between Robocobra Quartet – ‘Wellness’ and Cherym – ‘Gone Girl’. I love those songs for two very different reasons.
Fionn: I’m going to go with Leo Miyagee – Act III for the album. I went to school with Leo and he’s an amazingly genuine guy and such a hard worker so to see that be recognised is brilliant. For the single of the year I hope Joshua Burnside & Laura Quirke win with ‘Rana the Fortunate’ because when I listen to it I imagine myself being old and sitting by the fire in a pub with a pint of Guinness, and if that’s not the dream then what is?
A special mention (outside of the NI Music Prize) is due to Hour of Green Evening by GOON. A friend in Glasgow turned me on to this earlier in the year and it’s been on repeat ever since.
If you weren’t a musician, what line of work would we find you in?
Caolán: We both have jobs that support us being in a band; I’ve been working as a Producer & Mixer for almost the last decade and also work as a Content Producer in radio too. If I hadn’t been doing that, I think I would have likely followed my inclination to be an Acoustican or a Software Engineer.
Fionn: I work in Social Media Marketing for a motorcycle accessory brand right now, so I’d like to think I’d have done something similar but within the music industry were I not making music myself.
If you could collaborate with one artist or band from NI, who would it be and why?
Caolán: I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years, in that, I’ve been able to collaborate with some of my favourite musicians (most of them from NI) and they’ve been generous enough to let me work on their music. The wealth of talent here is genuinely astounding – I don’t know anywhere else in the world where the vast majority of someone’s favourite bands and artists are all within an hour and a half of each other.
I’d love to work with Hannah Peel at some stage; she’s phenomenal. Her approach to creating music is amazing; how she can take an abstract concept that initially seems quite far-removed from music and represent that in a song in a way that feels like it lives and breathes is pretty incredible. I think about her album ‘Fir Wave’ quite a lot – particularly ‘Emergence In Nature’.
Fionn: Easy question for me; Joshua Burnside. He’s just an incredible songwriter who is not afraid to experiment. Cathal Francis is also a beautiful songwriter and excellent guitar player; like Elliot Smith with a Belfast accent.
It is intensely difficult to be successful in the music industry. What does NI need to do to invest in/develop to boost your chances?
Fionn: Government funding in education, artist and venue support could always be better; it’s as simple as that.
Caolán: I don’t actually feel equipped enough to answer this question as it’s so difficult to know where to start. It’s apparent now that the old idea of ‘musicians will make their money in the live arena’ is now gone; with venues and promoters taking a cut of a band’s merch/support fees not substantially changing in 20 years/support for grassroots organisations and community hubs not being nearly what it should be – these things just about scratch the surface.
There’s substantial change that needs to happen within that whole sector of music. I think specifically in NI, I’d love to see something implemented along the lines of the BIA scheme that’s currently being piloted in the south. I think that would be a very small step in creating a better ecosystem for artists and musicians to work in; having a small level of support to equip them with the time & resources it takes to create something meaningful.
I think we’re also lacking in community hubs/arts centres which nourish a music community from early on. A great model of this is something like Brighton Electric. The Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast is a good example of that too and the team that work there are incredible, but I’d love to see that in other parts of NI. When I was growing up, there were all-ages gigs every week in The Nerve Centre in Derry – a mixture of local bands and touring bands.
From a very young age, I was lucky enough to see examples of working musicians who were on a professional level. It’s a shame that this is less common in the north now, as I felt it was vital to me as a young musician – it all felt very possible when it was on your doorstep. I’d like to see a bigger investment in that in years to come.
What does success look like for you?
Caolán: The band ‘A’ recently followed us on Instagram – just as we were gearing up to release our first single. I loved that track ‘Nothing’ when I was a kid; thought it was the coolest shit at the time and it really made me want to be in a band. I think my 8 year old self would probably deem that as success; he would be shitting himself with excitement. Nowadays, I think success for us is exploring an idea to its fullest extent; feeling really content with what we’ve made when we’ve listened back to the mixes. Seeing that connect with people is pretty incredible too – we’re very grateful.
Fionn: Having people interested in the music and finally getting this tune out is a big enough success for me, and being able to work with Caolán in the way we have been is incredibly rewarding. Other than that – maybe just a tour with ‘A’
You’re going out on tour and can have anything you want on your rider, what would we find on yours?
Caolán: I once went to a talk with Joe Talbot from IDLES and he mentioned that on their rider they ask for a Nutri-Bullet, fruit and kettlebells. I thought that was hardcore as fuck – I love it. Dedication to the cause. So I’d do the same; I’d ask for ‘The Joe Talbot’.
Fionn: Gluten-free beers and some crisps will do me.
Where and when can we next catch you live?
At the moment, we’re solely writing and recording. Never say never though!
If you enjoyed this feature and fancy discovering some more new artists, we suggest you jump on over to our archive of Introducing pieces.
If you are a band or musician based in Northern Ireland interested in taking part in our Introducing feature, we recommend submitting new music to us via our Contact page and if we enjoy it, you’ll no doubt hear from us.