INTERVIEW: Rising Damp

A creator of brutal yet captivating soundscapes, Dublin based artist Rising Damp describes her recent EP, Petrol Factory, as “the quaking barrier between the end of the end of time and the end of the world.” Her dystopian visions are fleshed out with hypnotic electronics, dense drum beats and deadpan vocal delivery, and her live performances are a blend of improvised sounds and intriguing visuals.

We caught up with Rising Damp (aka Michelle Doyle) to talk about her recent EP, what she’s been creating during lockdown, and her upcoming contribution to A Litany Of Failures: Vol. III, an eclectic compilation album of music from grassroots Irish artists which is set for release on 2nd October…

 

Hello Michelle! Your EP Petrol Factory was recently featured in The Quietus’ 2020 ‘Albums Of The Year So Far‘ chart. What are you most proud of about this record?

I’m most proud about the journey of the album. Most songs were made in response to live gigs, and were never cast in stone, always improvised. Playing to bigger audiences forced me to have to professionalise my practice. It has made me think more visually about the stage show, creating of the band and a how video links this all.

Do you have a favourite track? If so, why?

My favourite song is ‘The Bank’. It was composed as part of an exhibition exploring subculture in Ireland. In Dublin, all the punks, skins and goths used to hangout at Central Bank, in the city centre. I was a late stage central banker and started hanging out as hoardings and gates went up to stop young people sitting on the steps. The Bank is a landmark of Irish modernism, but also where protests would start or finish and where Occupy was. The place is a site of both financial institution and protest. Everything that is done to Central Bank is to further the hostile architecture around it and create a fortress. The song is about building this space and the tension of holding onto it.

 

During lockdown you were recording shows for Dublin Digital Radio, playing tracks by Throbbing Gristle, Gazelle Twin & Nyx Drone Choir (all GIHE faves). Talk us through how you curated these shows and what you enjoyed most about recording them.

Often I curate a show by taking one theme and building a repository around it. For example, I did a vocal special about people using voice as an instrument without singing. Sometimes I approach the show as research for songwriting. Other times I just want to play some high energy music. I’m using Mixxx as I can’t access the DDR studio at the moment. I miss the cdjs and the tactile way they can make you create tunes on the fly.

How have you been coping during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic generally? Any advice for similar bands or artists who may be struggling right now?

My own feeling has been to reassess what your output should be. I was working on a live band towards playing festivals, and arranging with them and practising twice a week. When lockdown came, we had to stop and only got back in in May. Now we are taking a break during phase 3 again. As we can’t play live gigs, we are going to get back in to the studio and re-record songs from Petrol Factory as a live band and put them out. We’re also aiming to create videos to accompany. My most prized possession as a teenager was music video VHS and DVDs. I especially liked Sonic Youth’s for a DIY video art aesthetic. So trying to use the time now as a time for writing, editing and creating visual art.

Something positive during this time is your contribution to A Litany Of Failures: Vol. III. Your single ‘Cannibal’ features on the record. Talk us through what the track’s about and why you chose it for the compilation.

‘Cannibal’ came from playing in clubs between DJs who were DJing “hard drum” music. Originally it began as a jam and the lyrics came from a time I had just been in the dentist for an emergency tooth pull. A wisdom tooth was tearing flesh in my mouth, and gave me a serious infection. I’d written part of the song and finished it during the first lockdown. It seemed to change and become about feeding off past experiences and thoughts while isolated. Vocals recorded at home during lockdown were always pulled back as I live in a large group house.

Besides your own track, do you have a favourite track or a favourite band that also features on the compilation?

I love the Grave Goods and Extravision songs. It’s a great release, I’m super excited to be on vinyl.

What else is on the horizon for Rising Damp during these “unprecedented” times?

I’m putting together applications for exhibition/gigs in galleries where I can design a set, lighting and objects. Working on videos and new songs always.

Finally, are there any bands or artists you’d like to give a shout out too?

One artist who has a huge output and amazing energy is God Knows. I’m so impressed by his ability to keep exploring sound and switch things up. I love that he’s super attentive to his scene, is the opposite to a gatekeeper and is constantly bringing people in from all around Ireland. He’s a total supporter and great musician.

I also urge everyone to checkout Fulacht Fiadh, Salac, Dylan Kerr, Lastminuteman and Maria Somerville. Right now I’m buzzing off listening to the labels Chicago Research and Detriti Records.

Thanks to Michelle for answering our questions.
Follow Rising Damp on bandcampFacebook and Instagram for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Hilary Woods – ‘Birthmarks’

Both an aural purge of insecurities and a powerful exploration of self-autonomy; Hilary Woods‘ second album Birthmarks is darker and sharper in sound compared to her debut album, Colt. Set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the Irish musician has collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, and together they’ve crafted a new set of cohesive, shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by field recordings, the images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography, and the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so transcendent.

Opener ‘Tongues Of Wild Boar’ is a foggy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort. From its scratchy dense opening, to its gentle blend of orchestral and electronic elements; it’s a primal, intuitive track that scars and soothes in equal measure. “My body knows I can’t make it out” Woods sings on ‘Orange Tree’, tentatively trying to make peace with her physicality and her surroundings. This need to face her inner fears underscores the record, making it an unsettling, but genuinely liberating listen.

The tender ‘Through The Dark, Love’ feels like an intuitive guide through an ambiguous, tumultuous relationship, whilst the sparse instrumentation and the rhythmic humming on ‘Lay Bare’ feels intensely comforting. Woods’ songs have a confessional, meditative nature; ranging from gentle to gritty all within a few short seconds. ‘Mud and Stones’ is much like this; with its stretched out saxophone sounds, changing tempo, and whispered lyrics.

‘The Mouth’ is one of the boldest tracks on the album. A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; it’s a somber yet powerful listen, laced with melancholy strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises. Though fueled by uncertainty, it’s a carefully constructed song that provides space for healing and acceptance. The denseness of ‘Cleansing Ritual’ is unexpectedly soothing too. Purely instrumental, its layers of drone noises and distortion could cauterize the deepest of wounds. The eerie, persistent tapping of one key alongside Woods’ hushed voice on ‘There Is No Moon’ could feel desolate, but instead it feels restless; as if she is keeping herself awake with the urgency of that repeated note.

Though quiet in terms of volume, Birthmarks is an abrasive, primal, charged offering that allows Woods the space to navigate emotional territories, and proves her strength and resilience as an artist.

Pre-order Hilary Woods’ new album Birthmarks here (released 13th March via Sacred Bones)
Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Hilary Woods – ‘The Mouth’

A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; Hilary Woods has shared her latest single, ‘The Mouth’. Taken from her second album Birthmarks, which is set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the track is a somber yet powerful listen; laced with strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises.

Speaking about the track, Woods explains: “The impulse to write ‘The Mouth’ came from a longing to articulate feelings aloud that I failed to express til the moment had passed.” Though fueled by uncertainty and doubt, ‘The Mouth’ is one of Woods’ boldest, most confident tracks. It’s a dense, layered, carefully constructed soundscape that provides space for healing and acceptance.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks looks set to be her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so mesmerising and transcendent.

Listen to ‘The Mouth’ below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook & Spotify for more updates. Catch her live at Cafe Oto, London, on 18th May

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Something Leather – ‘Farewell Fareworse’

A dark, swirling mix of psych-tinged guitar and eerie organ noises; Brighton trio Something Leather have shared their latest single, ‘Farewell Fareworse’. Released via We Can Do It Records, it’s the first track to be lifted from their debut EP Midnight Reverie, which is set for release on 17th April.

Formed of Phillie Etta Jane (vocals/organ), Greg Pass (guitar) and Mike Nussbaum (drums), Something Leather have been cutting their teeth on the London & Brighton live circuits for a few years now. Their dark creations are a captivating blend of old and new sounds; the vintage organ that Phillie plays combines perfectly with Greg’s distorted guitar, and Mike’s rhythmic drum beats.

Single ‘Farewell Fareworse’ is a stirring example of this, and was born from the anxious thoughts surrounding co-dependent relationships, and the need for self autonomy. Phillie explains further: “[The track] is about desire and fear of change at the same time. It’s a bitter ode to personal traps and never-ending dilemmas”. The only dilemma we’re facing is whether or not we can wait until April to hear Something Leather’s debut EP.

Listen to ‘Farewell Fareworse’ below, and follow the band on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Something Leather UK Tour Dates 2020
18/4 – Hot Box – Chelmsford
20/4 – Hug and Pint – Glasgow
22/4 – Jacaranda – Liverpool
23/4 – Dead Wax Digbeth – Birmingham
24/4 – Shacklewell Arms – London
25/4 – The Lanes – Bristol
2/5 – Portsmouth Psych Fest
7/5 – 60 Million Postcards – Bournemouth
16/5 – The Peer Hat – Manchester

Photo credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut