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 TRAMP who just released their latest single ‘Snakes & Rabbits’.
What was the inspiration behind your artist name?
Aside from wanting a name that is memorable and a bit of fun, we went with ‘TRAMP’ because we wanted a statement name – it is a word that was used to describe a wanderer. But like many words, we have changed the meaning to become a derogatory, slut-shaming label (among many, MANY more) that most girls/women get called all through their life. Not just as a casual insult, but by the conditioning in schools, workplaces, churches, and even our country’s healthcare all teach us deeply rooted misogyny that repress & shame a woman’s sexuality; while also teaching young girls their experience in the world depends on how people can view/use them in an objectifying way.
It sounds grim, but it is so normal to us that the automatic response to insult a woman is to slut shame her. Calling ourselves TRAMP is our way of reclaiming the word to our own empowerment, even though there are plenty of people who would disagree. We do love a bit of controversy over it though- that’s the point!
You’ve just released a new single. How did it come about and what does it mean to you?
Our single ‘Snakes & Rabbits’ has been written, torn apart, re-written and tweaked many times over the last year and has become our favourite song to perform live – all of the fuzz pedals on full whack. This studio version has something a bit different though; its pop-leaning bubbly intro and harmony-stacked chorus give this song & its lyrics the face-slap impact it deserves.
The story behind the lyrics is really about overcoming imposter syndrome and healing on a deep level; ultimately stepping into a place of power and self-belief after living my life in survival mode. It means a lot to all of us and we are very grateful for Liam Craig’s production on the track to make it big & bold. Plus, our drummer, Steamy, got his wish to record some synthesizer on this single so that was the cherry on top for us!
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.
So far, we’ve approached nearly every song with a different way of writing. ‘Frankenstein’ began as a guitar riff Fionnbarr showed me [Sianna: lead singer] and I would write lyrics there and then while he played it on repeat. Starting off the lyrics, I’m not always certain of the initial meaning, but whatever feeling the riff had or whatever mood I would be in that day, I’d come up with a metaphor to describe it and that is how I start painting a picture with more words. With Rhymezone.com as my go-to when I hit a rhyme-wall.
But more recently, we’ve been trying to write when we are all together in one room (when we are miraculously in the one county at the same time). This was such a challenge at the start – jamming and improvising in front of each other and getting over the fear of looking stupid in front of each other but we are getting there! There is a fair bit of voice-note recordings being shared in our group chat any time one of us gets a new idea too which makes songwriting a bit of fun homework.
Who were your favourite artists/bands growing up? Have your influences changed over time?
It’s fair to say we’ve gone through more phases of genres and bands than we could possibly list, which are most visibly seen in the amount of hairstyle changes we’ve home through over the years (lest we forget Fionnbarr’s ‘The Strokes’ phase haircut). But currently the influences that have stuck with us would be the likes of Tool, The Beatles, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sinead O’Connor and so on.
Recently, the current Irish artists like Buí, Sprints, and even CMAT have a good bit of influence over how we write songs. The Irish musical talent is a constant inspiration – in all of its styles and genres.
The 2022 NI Music Prize has just concluded, what’s been your favourite album and single released this year?
That is a very difficult question for the four of us indecisive individuals. Mob Wife’s album ‘Eat with Your Eyes’ that was shortlisted for best album really stood out to us as we’re big fans of PUP. After having the absolute pleasure of opening for Wynona Bleach this year, their album stayed on our minds and they deserved all the love at the awards this year too. Aside from that,
Very grateful for Roe’s new album ‘That’s when the Panic Sets In’ and seeing her music just hit a new level of rawness and catharsis – I admit, tears were definitely shed at her home album launch which blew us away.
Looking at our on-repeat list though, singles like ‘Old Man’s Land’ by TOUTS, ‘Afraid of Flying’ by Emily McCormick and ‘Happy Money’ by YINYANG have been up there on some of this year’s favourites.
If you weren’t a musician, what line of work would we find you in?
If we decided to pack in the music for good, you’d probably find an architect, a lawyer, a crystal merchant, and a sound technician. But fingers-crossed we will not be faced with that quite yet – we currently still have our drive of making our careers in music. Of course we have followed some of the advice from our families looking at us with concern and telling us to always have a ‘plan B’. Whether or not plan B, C, D would work out, we’re going to maintain working hard for plan A!
If you could collaborate with one artist or band from NI, who would it be and why?
Tough one. If we had to choose one band from the North we’d love to collaborate with for a song or even a jam session with over a couple of pints, it would probably be Dander. They are a brilliant folk band, led by Kevin Brown who just writes songs that make you smell a peat fire stick the kettle on. His lyrics inspire me to capture a feeling you get from an old photograph. Who knows what genre it would be but we’d be so excited to see what Dander’s guitar style and our love of weird rhythms could create. Who knows who would even want to listen to it but we would love it
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?
Expanding the opportunities to more rural places outside of the capital would help give the unbelievably talented people in the rest of the north have a better chance at making a music career.Things like workshops, geographically-inclusive funding criteria, specific funding/workshops to help us make it easier for marginalised/disabled musicians to succeed and have space in the industry, and general education about how to succeed in the industry as an artist/producer/tech/photographer etc because there is a serious lack of that available to the public. The further west of or further away you go from Belfast, there are little-to-none in regards to educational workshops that help inform people how to get listens, recognition, royalties, radio air-time and even recording on a budget.
We are very grateful we were supported by the arts council after the pandemic to help us record – but it was one of the most stressful things we have tried to do for the band because we were so overwhelmed trying to figure it out for the first time! It’s very daunting for people starting off to get anywhere without the help from someone who has already been through it and willing to advise. We could do with more support for the likes of Help Musicians NI so they can continue all their hard work doing these things for musicians to succeed at something they work so hard for.
What does success look like for you?
Success looks like a couple of different things for us; the feeling of people singing a song that you’ve written right back to you at a show in a new city is pretty rad. Beyond that, we ultimately want to be able to make it the main source of work/income by travelling around to new places and sharing our art that we put our heart into. We had been asked this question before in another interview and I think we agreed that success for us is being asked to do what we love in different countries and being able to pay the bills & eat at the same time. While not at the expense of our mental health though of course, that is a constant beast to keep on top of when pursuing anything creative as a successful career. But we just want to make what we want to make and try not to compare ourselves to other people, just support others in the same boat as best as we can.
You’re going out on tour and can have anything you want on your rider, what would we find on yours?
Ground Coffee. A Cafetiere. Vegan Beer. Vegan sweets. Fruit basket. More coffee. Espresso Marinis. Guinness. Probably some jammy dodgers and lots of ginger tea bags to warm up the throat. All they can say is no! But honestly we are always just surprised & grateful to get free water & a couple of cans.
Where and when can we next catch you live?
After recovering from a tonsillectomy and a nice rest, we are back gigging from 23rd December in one of our hometowns, Strabane (It has not been announced yet so that is all we can say). After that, we are supporting Derry’s The Switch in Granny Annies in Derry, which will make up for the gig that we missed out on playing together due to the fun & relentless tonsillitis. Singers know the craic.
There are more gigs in the works from the end of December, a big one yet to be announced in January and another in Feb that we are excited to announce in the next month! Wherever we are, we love chatting to folks and will have a TRAMP stamp T-shirt & sticker for ye if you want!
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.