Tuesday 19 February 2019

The next big thing to come out of Bray. . .

SPEAK SOFTLY: Wyvern Lingo in the studio. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
SPEAK SOFTLY: Wyvern Lingo in the studio. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Wyvern Lingo - the Bray trio who are supporting fellow Bray artist Hozier on his European and Irish tour - are unlike any other band you'll ever meet. The tale of how they met, for instance, is straight out of a Tim Burton movie...

Caoimhe Barry (23), responsible for vocals and percussion, recalls how "we were hanging out in a field in Bray. Climbing trees. I was singing a Led Zeppelin song. Then Karen's ears perked up!"

Karen Cowley, vocals and piano and owner of said ears, laughs: "I didn't know what to make of her before that."

What were your ears perked up by, Karen? "I think the song was That's The Way by Zeppelin. I didn't know anyone else that age who was into that kind of music. So I was like, 'Oh, she's cool. Let's see where this goes.' As you do when you're 11!" laughs Karen, who is now 23. "Then she told me that she wants to buy drums. I knew Saoirse [Duane, guitar] already from primary school. So I think I introduced you guys," Karen chortles.

How long after that did they become the hotly tipped band that they are today?

"I think it was at secondary school. We all had the right instruments. We used to go down to my house and jam. It kind of just worked out like that. We were always playing music together. But nothing official for a very long time."

The threesome - who release their new EP Letters next spring - kick off a nine-date Irish Letters Tour at Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on February 6 finishing at Dublin's Sugar Club on February 26.

They did an emotive reworking of Becoming A Jackal by The Villagers for The Windmill Sessions for independent.ie which had the whole studio enraptured. Ask Wyvern Lingo about their creative dynamic and they'll tell you it rotates within the band.

"We all write and sing," says Saoirse, "so the way it works out is that writer of the song takes lead vocal and has the final say on the overall arrangement. However, we all share and are open to each other's opinions. It's very much a collaboration with each song.

"We're lucky that we usually agree with and get excited by each other's viewpoints or changes. Though sometimes we have to pull in the reins on each other before it goes too Frank Zappa or Disney. It really could go either way!"

I ask Karen about the lyrics like "I can't be broken twice" and "I'll never let you weaken me again" to their song Used. What was going through her mind when she wrote those lyrics?

"Well, and I'm sure this happens to everybody, sometimes you get into something with someone and you come out hurt at the end of it. I guess what really drove me to write those lyrics is that I was more angry at myself than with anybody else.

"You know, it really wasn't anybody else's fault. It was more that I lowered my own sense of self-worth. And I was really angry at myself. When I start the song it is quite angry and detached, but then at the end I think I come to the understanding that it was all my fault."

Is it healing to sing those words now - because you are not in that place any more? "Definitely. I have a lovely boyfriend now."

Caoimhe, who wrote Snow, says the song is about a situation about "someone who I'd had a relationship with and they were in a really dark place and I couldn't help them". She says the song was "kind of about how do you reach out to someone without it being inappropriate or without hurting someone else".

And how do you?

"I don't know. You have to keep your distance, I suppose. There is only so much you can do, which is really sad. You have to let it happen."

A bit like the rise of Wyvern Lingo.

To hear the full interview and view two exclusive performances by Wyvern Lingo, see www.independent.ie/windmilllane

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