Introducing Interview: Lõwli

Having received acclaim from the likes of The Irish Times and performed at showcases for organisations such as Sofar Sounds, Irish artist Roisin Lowry – aka Lõwli – has just released her captivating new EP, Otherworld. An ethereal collection showcasing her ability to create cinematic soundscapes oozing a spellbinding majesty – it beautifully interweaves a traditional classical musicality with more contemporary, heartfelt shades of alt-folk as Lowry’s rich, soulful vocals soar.

We caught up with Lõwli to find out more about the EP, what inspires her and her thoughts on the industry today. Have a read!

Hi Lõwli welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me! I’m a composer and songwriter from Galway, Ireland but I’ve been based in Dublin for the past number of years. I write and perform piano-driven, cinematic music which often combines strings, vocals and piano. Although it’s difficult to find a genre for my music, I’d describe it as neo-classical dark-pop.

How did you initially start creating music?
began writing my own songs and pieces when I was about fifteen, mostly on piano or violin, but also experimenting with other instruments too. I then studied music in university where I developed a bit more confidence in composing as I had the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians and composers. I also wrote music in a few bands and original music projects around that time too. I then began my own solo project in 2016 and since then, I have been writing, releasing and performing music as Lōwli.

Your new EP Otherworld is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout it?
Otherworld is a 3-track EP which was recorded back in May 2021 in Camden Studios, Dublin. The EP features two instrumental tracks and one track with vocals. As this EP was written and recorded during a time of strict covid restrictions, I wanted to emulate a ‘live’ feel in the songs, due to the lack of live music happening at the time. The tracks are written and produced quite minimally to achieve this authentic, vulnerable sound. Themes of transition, perspective and acceptance are portrayed in this work.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Agnes Obel and Olafur Arnalds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Agnes Obel and Olafur Arnalds are big influences. I also love the music of contemporary classical composers such as Hania Rani, Poppy Ackroyd, Max Richter and Nils Frahm as well as piano composers such as Debussy and Chopin. I’m also very inspired by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and many others.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
I live in Dublin and the music scene here is great. There’s lots of amazing, diverse music to experience and I go to see live gigs as often as I can. It’s great to see so much live music happening at the moment after a very difficult couple of years for the industry. 

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
My shows are very focused on the piano and vocals. I often have a string section playing with me as well as percussion and backing vocals. I’m currently experimenting with some new ideas for my live shows which will incorporate more modern sounds and techniques. My music is quite delicate and cinematic so my live shows are best suited to an intimate atmosphere. I particularly love to play in churches and halls, where both the audience and performers can be fully immersed in the experience.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I’ve seen some fantastic live shows in Dublin and Galway recently from Anna Mullarkey, Vale, Moon Looks On and Sive. I’ve also been listening to music from Una Keane, Rachel Lavelle, Bridin, Brian Crosby, BK Pepper, Aoife Nessa Frances, Pine the Pilcrow and lots more. Most of these artists have recently released new music so I would definitely recommend checking them out!

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I think the music industry can be a challenging one to navigate as a new artist. It can also be quite difficult to get noticed as there is so much new music being released all the time and the standard is so high. But I’ve also found the music scene in Ireland to be very supportive generally, and people are often happy to help if they can. I think it also helps to put yourself out there and play live as much as possible.

Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Lõwli?
My upcoming EP Otherworld has recently been released, which is super exciting! I’m also working on new music for my debut album, as well as planning some Irish shows which I will be announcing soon!

Massive thanks to Lõwli for answering our questions! Otherworld, her captivating new EP, is out now on Veta Records.

Track Of The Day: Carmel Smickergill – ‘Questioning’

Having performed with the likes of New Order, and with acclaim from BBC 6Music’s Maryanne Hobbs, Manchester based musician Carmel Smickersgill has been mentored by the acclaimed Anna Meredith and prides herself on creating unique ‘outsider pop’.

Taken from her upcoming debut EP, Smickersgill today has shared an utterly spellbinding new track. A quirky reflection on identity, ‘Questioning‘ immerses the listener with its captivating whirring grace and celestial energy, creating an exquisitely ethereal soundscape reminiscent of GIHE fave Jenny Hval. A perfect introduction to the intriguing, multi-faceted offerings that are yet to come from this innovative new artist. Of the track, Smickersgill explains:

I think how you react to something, how you pronounce your vowels etc when you’re caught off-guard, really says a lot about who you are and where you’ve come from… ‘Questioning’ is a celebration of identity, but one to be taken lightly. Revel in the bold changes and big shapes.

We Get What We And We Don’t Get Upset, the debut EP from Carmel Smickersgill, is set for release on 15th April via Prah Recordings. And I cannot wait to hear more of her intriguing soundscapes!

Mari Lane

Photo Credit: Elspeth Moore

WATCH: Ali Comerford – ‘Knots’

Kilkenny-based Ali Comerford has recently shared ‘Knots’, a beautifully understated meditation on anxiety. It’s the title track of her upcoming folk-based and classically inspired debut album.

‘Knots’ is poignant in its simplicity, with stunning raw vocals accompanied by tender piano arpeggios. Such barebones instrumentation creates space and allows us really to focus on the vocals and what Ali has to say; there are no distractions. The music is intimate, as though Ali were sat in the room playing just for you, providing comfort and reassurance that you are not alone. Of the track, Ali explains:

“‘Knots’ is a song I wrote about anxiety, something we all struggle with at one time or another. At the time, I was going through a stage of intense anxiety. I worried about the fact that I hadn’t released any music, about whether people would enjoy my songs or not and also over-analyzed every little thing I had ever done wrong. I wasn’t sleeping properly and found I was lying awake at night replaying old conversations and feeling ashamed and embarrassed.”

In the chorus, she sings: “Because I worry like no other / It’s always one thing or another”. It paints a bold picture of how we can all feel when our minds are full of anxious thoughts, whirring like an overworked machine. “It keeps me awake and it makes me wonder / If I am alone in this” – these final lines show how lonely it can feel in times of anxiety, but with Ali’s generous self-expression and relatable content, we can feel it together.

Ali Comerford has impressive musical credits, having toured the world, performing classical viola on stages such as the New York Carnegie Hall, the London Royal Albert Hall and Dublin’s National Concert Hall. Her years of experience in the classical music world have evidently been extremely valuable, teaching her to make every note count, as is showcased in this poignant latest solo offering.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Knots’ here:

Knots, the debut album from Ali Comerford, is set for release on 29th July.

Jazmine Kelly

Photo Credit: Shane Hatton Photography

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sophie Hutchings

A talented composer who produces mindful piano-led music, Australian artist Sophie Hutchings uses sound to ease the anxieties of everyday life. She recorded her recent EP, Love & Keep, between the hours of 12-4am, embracing her insomnia and offering her listeners a moment of stillness and serenity amidst her restlessness.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sophie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for recent single ‘Light Over The Moor’ at the end of this post.

Sophie: “I find it almost impossible to choose 5 favourite pieces, so I’ve chosen 5 of my favourites that had a significant impact on my formative years. Even though they are all quite different from each other, there’s a common ground of repetition in these pieces which I’ve always found quite hypnotising in music.”

1. Brain Eno – ‘Discreet Music’
I love Erik Satie’s invention and coining of the term “Furniture music” – sounds that were designed to be heard, but not listened to. Brian Eno fans will know this is the whole aim with ‘Discreet music’. It’s intended to blend into the ambient atmosphere of the room rather than be directly focused upon. This, to me, has got to be one of the most soothing ambient pieces I’ve ever heard and has always been one of my favourite go to late night listens. I grew up listening to a lot of Brian Eno but this one really stirred me. It always felt like a musical bedtime story. There’s a dreamy placid beauty about it that allows you to float and drift outside yourself without you even realising.

With a very simple organic layering of melody the piece never really changes which is what I love about it, yet it constantly and subtly evolves with the accession of various decay as the piece gradually and quietly repeats its motifs with all the sounds remaining continually tranquil and peaceful. It’s one of those pieces that feels like it could go on for infinity. It’s music that doesn’t demand your attention though still evokes a delicate sense of emotion.

2. Arvo Part – ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’
The first time I heard ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ it put a massive lump in my throat. I’ve listened to it countless times and there’s not a moment when it still doesn’t raise the same stirring response. Again, this is one of those hypnotising pieces due to the unchanging nature of recurring motifs in the piece and beautifully long sustained notes. I love how the minimalism relies on atmosphere and not on building towards a climax like a lot of classical music does.

Arvo Part is a true example of introspective music. It’s not how many notes are played but how they are played. It’s also about the space in between. Silence in music speaks and I find there’s almost as much strength in the pauses and space in music as there are notes. ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ hangs on the edges, yet there’s a restlessness over the quietness that balances the fragility in this piece of music and I guess being a sentimental person you don’t tire of this kind of beauty in music.

3. Susumu Yokota – ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’
Discovering Susumu Yokota was like discovering Alice In Wonderland as a child all over again (which I’m slightly obsessed with). I find him the true master of ambient electronica. Sadly, I only discovered him just before he died and I would love to collect all his albums on vinyl, which are few and far between. There’s a lush fanciful playfulness to this piece. It’s almost like nature talking to each other.

Yokota taps into the senses through melodic remnants taken from historical old classical pieces on his album Symbol, and in this instance on ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’ there’s some beautiful Camille Saint-Saens and a little Luigi Boccherini which gives it this mystic whimsical edge – still he reveals it in this almost anonymous way – placing a sense of nostalgia of some long lost place weaved throughout his dreamy melodic textural synths, wordless dreamy vocals and drum loops with romantic musical pathways of middle eastern tonality resonating around the circumference. To me, it’s like being under the trance of a magical child-like spell which takes me back to my Walt Disney imaginative heydays.

4. DJ Shadow – ‘Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt’
DJ Shadow was a revelation in my early adult years. He enthusiastically rocked my world. There’s this clever combination of moody and intense rhythmic melodious energy that just brings everything so alive in this piece. The haunting atmosphere that’s accentuated by the repetitive hypnotic group vocals, rich off beat bass and the urgency and drive of the eerie piano riff. I’ve always affiliated with a certain amount of intensity in music and hearing this song for the first time was like hearing an unexplored wilderness of dynamic addictive melody. I love how he brings to life all these old vinyl treasures and re-creates layers and collages of sound. It’s enticing, energetic, ethereal and ambient all in one – where happy and melancholy are competently one – it’s an intoxicating and timeless listen.

5. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Soon’
I grew up being surrounded by a lot of noisy indie rock and shoegaze music and as much as I don’t listen to this kind of music as much as used to, this piece stuck with me and was one of my favourites that bounced off the family household walls at high decibels thanks to my older brothers. I would always have a good dance to it!

If there’s ever a blurred latitude of noisy dreamy sound with a rhythmic propulsion, I say this is an iconic one. It’s one of those songs that feels like you’re lost in a sonic labyrinth which one will either grapple with or be enlightened by. I just listened to it again for the first time in years and it took me back to days of going for walks and blaring it in my headphones. When embraced, it’s like entering a woozy euphoric daze that you can get totally lost in and it taught me that you don’t necessarily have to always interpret music as long as you feel it – then to me, you understand it. Not everything in music needs an explanation to be felt.

Thanks so much to Sophie for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch her video for ‘Light Over The Moor’ below.

Photo Credit: Luke Dubbelde