Introducing Interview: RUNAH

Having received support from the likes of Clash, as well as wowing crowds at Sofar Sounds sessions, Irish artist RUNAH creates truly dreamy, emotion-strewn offerings, with shades of the majestic splendour of Laura Marling.

Ahead of the release of her debut album in May, we caught up with RUNAH to find out more…

Hi RUNAH, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I am a musician originally from Manchester, now spending my life between Manchester and Dublin. I have an alter with herbs and offerings on it and my favourite place is anywhere outside.

How did you initially start creating music?
I was originally a dancer and for various reasons could not continue. It was a strange experience, and a necessary one – I had placed all of my perceived identity onto that being who I was and then I wasn’t. I wrote a lot, and my brother offered me his guitar to borrow, and here we are. I couldn’t stop.

Your new single ‘Ground’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
It is the story of a woman caught between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. She longs to fully experience the liveliness of the living, but sees their recognition that she is not from this realm. But equally she cannot rest with the spirits as she is in body. The song is about power, frustration and all that she wishes to know. It is also a nod to our growing gap between understanding the world we live in and its cycles, and our tech fuelled society, which I don’t think my spirit was made for.

 

You’ve been compared to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Cat Power, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Lisa Hannigan and Laura Marling are two of my favourite artists, I’m not sure how my influences come out in my work, but I know they do. I’m just not overly conscious of those choices. But I love the way they both tell stories in their music.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
I do! I try to see more, but I also teach Yoga so sometimes my evenings are full. But I love live music. Both in Manchester and Dublin there is so much magic to be heard. I am new to the Dublin scene but it’s been fun so far.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
A lot of stories about wild women, interesting creatures and how much I love crystals. But they are mainly stripped back at the moment, it all tends to be quite mystical and dreamy, whilst I take you with me to the realms in my head.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Oh, I LOVE this question. Izzie Walsh, Megan Dixon-Hood, Lindsay Munroe and Chloe Eleanor are just a few of my favourites. But there are so many fantastic musicians, it’s magical.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It is difficult but I just love making music and if a few individuals feel like dancing around or listening to my stories then that’s the magic, isn’t it? It’s wonderful to have people write or come up to you and say “wow, this made me feel this” or “I felt like I’d been to a different place”. I love music for this reason – it’s an offering, so if anything comes that is wonderful.

Finally, what does the rest of 2019 have in store for RUNAH?
Magic, and my debut album Strange, out May 5th – it’s all about the wild woman archetype and my journey with her. In love, loss, sexuality, vulnerability, anger, passion and all the magical changeability, that what is women are. It is a love letter to all who identify as women but also the divine feminine that is in us all. May there always be magic with you.

Huge thanks to Runah for answering our questions! 

Strange, the debut album from RUNAH, is out 5th May via Beardfire.

 

ALBUM: LUMP – ‘LUMP’

The temptation on hearing that the much esteemed pair of Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) have combined forces is to assume their music will be just a nuanced blend of their individual musical styles. But, unlike many super-group ego projects, often weighted down by noodling, what really sets this duo’s self-titled album apart is its commitment to a clearly organic sonic development between the pair. Push them together, and a LUMP is what you get.

Their partnership emerged after a meeting at a Neil Young gig in London, at which Marling was the support. Inviting her to contribute lyrics and vocals to a sound-cycle he had composed, the album was put together at Lindsay’s basement studio.

On top of the collaboration between the pair, videos have also been created for lead single ‘Curse of the Contemporary’ and its nominal B-side (and album opener) ‘Late to the Flight’, featuring a free-spirited ginger eyeless Chewbacca attempting to break free of its domestic setting. Directed by Esteban Diacono, and fully-animated using motion-capture, the videos combine the overall sound of LUMP with some of the concepts in the songs’ lyrics. In another example of the project’s organic nature, the creature has become the mascot of the project, appearing on the album’s cover and alongside Marling and Lindsay in promo photos. As a final tip of the hat to its origins, the album’s closing track serves as its credits, Marling’s voice listing the contributors before stating, over and over again, “Lump is a product”.

A lo-fi tale of a middle-aged “crooner in crisis”, backed by twangy guitar, ‘Late to the Flight’ has Marling’s overlaid vocals commencing solitarily and echoing as the song continues. It’s reflective of the song’s story and its character’s split personalities of a gambler, teen in a smiley t-shirt and a dreamer, picturing its narrator. It’s arguably the most folky song on the album but the Moog underlays pave the way for second track ‘May I Be The Light’. Here, Marling spouts near-nonsense ‘moon/june’ verse lyrics in a robotic fashion over electronic beats that throb, sparse percussion and flute. If the verse’s lyrics might bear out the reference to Edward Lear’s work in the accompanying press, the chorus here is more explicable: “It’s a sign of the times”.

The album’s central track (‘Rolling Thunder’) is its stand-out – an unexpected, spectacular piece of neo-soul, built around Marling’s stunning vocals and the hum from the previous track, which turns into lite-funk spirals around her. “We were born under rolling thunder”, Marling intones before spitting “I’m your mother/ I’m your father/ Be a man…” as the track starts to crescendo. Amongst the many lyrics hinting at a generation bent on its own destruction, the words “New Atlantis” stick out, as does Hannah Peel’s all-too-brief blast of trumpet, scowling all over the middle eight.  

‘Curse of the Contemporary’ is an all together different bit of alt.pop, its picked guitar may be reminiscent of ’60s Cali folk-rock, but its off-key wonkiness is a perfect reflection of the broken-down world in its lyrics. As couplets go – “If you should be bored in California / I’m sure I’m not the last to warn ya” – they don’t get more seductively sinister. Later, Marling makes the message clear – “We can’t believe what we’ve become / Something else to prey upon / Evidently, another vanity / Another something to believe”. The emptiness of the image and the cultural death of those who “salute the sun” are the targets here, as the guitars grow ever more ominous and the elements of the song collide and, finally, cease.

‘Hand Hold Hero’ moves to Moroder-style synths whilst its vocals tilt towards Bobbie Gentry Americana, as Marling dissects our simplistic need for people to celebrate. Finally, ‘Shake Your Shelter’ is a trip-hoppy piece of work that finds Marling going angelic acapella in its chorus before her voices double, triple and expand over Lindsay’s synthwork. Its drums roll back before the album’s music closes with the sound of shaking shells and a reedy drone.

As surprisingly hooky as it is experimental, LUMP is a twisted take on alt.pop that sucks you into its world, dazzles you with its warped instrumentation and leaves you humming fragments days after.  

LUMP is out now via Dead Oceans.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego