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

Five Favourites: Maija Sofia

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

Creating poignant, stirring slices of alt-folk, filled with beautiful melodies, rich luscious vocals and a raw emotion, Maija Sofia is fast becoming a firm favourite and we can’t wait for the album release.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Maija, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ at the end of this post.

Katie Kim – ‘Day is Coming’ 
Katie Kim is one of my absolute favourite songwriters and this song is from her incredible album Salt. I love how dark, foreboding and ominous her work is while managing to be tender and emotive at the same time. She marries heavy, droning, gauzy harmonies with strange, unexpected vocal melodies and it creates an atmosphere in her work that’s like a sliver of sunlight trying to push through heavy black storm clouds. I love how the chanted refrain “day is coming” towards the end of this song sounds like a wild, horrific pagan ritual, but also sounds redemptive and oddly reassuring.

Radie Peat – ‘Katie Cruel’
I first heard Radie perform this song with the above mentioned Katie Kim when they did a really special collaborative performance in the Pepper Canister church in Dublin, and she’s since recorded an amazing version with her band Lankum who I would include in this list as they are probably my favourite band at the moment, but they surely need no introduction. I knew this song first from Karen Dalton’s gorgeous version but I love how Radie’s drawling almost terrifying voice merges with the harmonium and fiddle drones and makes it a totally new song.

Rachael Lavelle – ‘Perpetual Party’
Rachael Lavelle is an up and coming artist also based in Dublin that I’m really excited about. She has one of the hugest most eerily expansive voices I have ever heard and her songs are dark, gothic, evocative but also euphoric and have a strange, off-kilter sense of humour. This song is a perfect example of what makes her work so singular; she blends aspects of influence from Laurie Anderson, Jenny Hval and Julia Holter, but just makes it completely her own. Every time I see her live I’m more blown away.

Lisa O’Neill – ‘Along The North Strand’
For one reason or another I have a deep love of murder ballads in which the roles are reversed and it’s the women doing the murdering; same goes with folklore, the bible – Judith and Holofernes, Salome and John the Baptist, you name it, I love them all. This is a song Lisa O’Neill learned from a little-known traveller singer Kitty Cassidy and it appeared on her last album, the brilliant Heard A Long Gone Song. Lisa is also an one of my favourite songwriters, and that last album is a perfect mix of original songs and traditional songs, blending her wild, jagged mountainside stormy sea of a voice, her plaintive, poetic lyrics with accompaniment from some of the best trad musicians in the country like Cormac Begley and Christophe Capewell.

Rising Damp – ‘Rising Damp’
Rising Damp is the solo performance project of Michelle Doyle who also plays in the great punk band Sissy. I’ve been lucky to share the same bill with Michelle a few times now and every time I’m blown away. I can’t really describe it properly, but a Rising Damp show consists of synths, drum machines, vocal effects and fervently anti-fascist spoken word/shouting, all delivered with Michelle’s wild, hypnotic feral energy. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a Rising Damp show – go!

Huge thanks to Maija for sharing her Five Favourites! Listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ below:

Bath Time, the upcoming album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.