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Q&A: Niamh Farrell

On ham sandwiches, the Coronas and gymnastics

Just so we're clear -- you're not the Niamh Farrell from Ham Sandwich and this isn't a side project.

No. That's why I'm not using Niamh Farrell as a musical name. I don't think it will confuse people. I'm doing what I do without changing my name to something sparkly. Maybe it will get to the point where I have to. For now, it's not an issue. People cop on we're different.

You've essentially gone about things in reverse, putting out a debut EP before you've done much touring.

I was nervous about bringing a band together and expressing what I wanted when I wasn't even sure what kind of sound I was after. I didn't know how I was going to get that across fully. I thought it was easier to record first rather than going to a group of friends and telling them I wanted them to make something that sounded like the wind or the sea.

Steady on! You're starting to sound like Lisa Hannigan. Anyway, you studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. How did you end up making music for a living?

I definitely wanted to be a visual artist. In some ways I still do. I did fine arts and painting in NCAD. I loved it. But I've always wanted to do music first. When I got into NCAD after school I was thrilled to do that and thought I could do the music as well. As it happened, I dived in and fully went for art and loved it. But I've always sung. I've been in choirs and played guitar since I was a child.

Before Christmas you went quite literally from the sublime to the ridiculous, supporting Warpaint and The Coronas in the space of a few weeks.

They were very different experiences. It's unusual to have an act who is welcome at both those shows. In some ways it's a good thing not to have myself too... I don't want to be stereotyped from the very start. Everyone is open to liking new music. Sorry, what's the question again?

We were talking about opening for The Coronas.

At the Olympia there was a power cut after my set. The whole of Dame Street went down. The show had to be rescheduled. I got to play again, which was great. People came back to see me, even though they knew exactly what time the main act was on. They came in early, which was a good sign. I'm happy to play support for people who just want to play music. Why would I say no to those gigs?

An internet search tells us that, after college, you worked as a gymnastics coach. Really?

I knew by then I didn't want to just rent an art studio, I wasn't going to do that. I was coaching fulltime. I eventually realised I needed to go into music. I got to work with some really great gymnasts, I was coaching some of the girls last year who are in the Irish squad.

You made your way to Dingle for Other Voices before Christmas. What was the experience like?

There was a really great atmosphere. I was delighted to go down. There was a frosty west-of-Ireland atmosphere, lots of hot whiskeys. They had screens in the pubs where they were streaming the gigs. Everyone was in on the party. It was great.

Did you knock back pints with Jarvis Cocker, Marina and the Diamonds, etc?

I got to say hello to people and have some interesting conversations.


The Danger Is... play Crawdaddy, Dublin, on Saturday, March 5. The band's eponymous EP is out now

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