Lifestyle Editor Aileen O’Leary got the chance to ask up-and-coming group Æ MAK a few questions ahead of their gig tonight supporting Django Django.
1. How did you form Æ MAK?
We all met in Music College in Dublin in 2012 and
Æ MAK was formed by myself and Ellie McMahon in our final year of college, over three years ago now. Up until last year we were performing as a seven piece.
Last year Ellie left the band and we have settled in our final form as a four piece. Myself on vocals, Daniel McIntyre on production and all things synth and Peter Kelly and Dylan Povey on drums and percussion. Our tribesmen.
2. What’s the story behind the name Æ MAK?
It originally stemmed from my name, Aoife McCann. However, what Æ MAK is has developed and solidified this past year through our new writing process and affinity with one another. So it now has a separate meaning for us and is the name over this new entity built between us.
3. How would you describe your sound?
Rhythmic emotive vocal harmonies over fierce, earthy synth pop. Dance music you can bite into!
4. How did you create your own unique sound?
I think our sound stems from the organic, tribal-like energy of the songwriting process and Dan’s inimitable producer’s ear. We make the majority of our own synth sounds and samples with my voice and a lot of the sound is walls of vocal harmony or just general noises I’m making. Each individual’s voice is the most unique sound there is I think.
5. What artists/genres influenced you?
Sonically we’ve all been in love with a lot of Swedish bands over the last few years. The likes of Little Dragon and The Knife have had a big influence on the production sound of our newest songs. We’re a little bit obsessed with Little Dragon at the moment, Season High has been on repeat. So electronic – pop / dance bands like these have had an influence on the new direction our sound has taken.
Song-writing wise I’m not sure if any specific genre or artist has had a major influence on me personally. I would’ve grown up listening to a hell of a lot of folk. Simon & Garfunkel’s melodies and harmonies would be ingrained in me. I also listen to Fleet Foxes every single day to feel good.
I am 100% captivated and inspired by the creative and empowering energies of the rising female artists of today. Artists and writers I love like Merrill Garbus of Tune – Yards, Aldous Harding, Karin Dreijer (The knife, Fever Ray). I really identify with these writers because of how they express themselves through song and performance. So powerful. They also happen to be women. So of course they resonate massively with me in amongst the male dominated industry.
This new age of female artists and bands is so inspiring in itself. In the last few decades a lot has changed socially and culturally and the mindset that this is a male dominated industry and mayybe always will be is rapidly dying. That also impassions and drives me. I am a songwriter and I am a performer, oh and by the way I am a woman too, who cares.
6.What’s the process when it comes to songwriting?
So either lyrics or melody come first. Usually lyrics will be written first if I’m feeling out something that has upset me or something I’m angry about. If I’m in a great mood and I’m happy out, excited, inspired, then melody and sound will come first. Any song I’ve created comes from a burst of energy, a need to construct a disparate world for myself where I can explore what I think and feel through lyrics, melody, and rhythm. I find it hard to articulate myself when speaking, so I get a massive high out of being able to express myself, live in my alter ego and connect with others through song and performance.
Last summer we discovered a golden writing process. I started working with Dan who had joined us the previous year playing synth in the band. I brought my songs up to him in Dublin on crappy garage band phone recordings and together we lay down the songs and he brings them to life, produces them into all of their glory. We share the same musical vision and love of synth, pop and dance music. “Glow” is the first song that was created through this process. We’re really proud of it.
8.In your own words what is the recipe to creating a song that resonates with people? The lyrics, the sound?
I don’t think there is one recipe for creating a song that lives in that magical realm where it instantly captures peoples’ hearts. I think if it resonates with you as the writer and performer and you fully believe in it and it give you new insights into yourself and others, then most likely others will connect with it too. If you can give someone the feeling that they’ve just escaped somewhere new for those few minutes then you’ve got a good one.
10. As an Irish artist how do you think we should support home grown talent?
Go to shows, get involved, request Irish music on our national and regional radio stations. Just make yourself aware of the talent we have here because it’s pretty incredible and you’d be surprised the amount of up and coming Irish artists and bands you’ll fall in love with. The amount of absolute rubbish that’s out there and doing well internationally at a high industry level. Come on Ireland! We may be small but the standard of music coming out today is worth getting giddy over and I’m excited to see where my peers and friends in bands around me go because it will be far! Check out the likes of Saint Sister, Third Smoke, Laoise, David Keenan if you haven’t already. Le Boom… so good.
11. Is it harder to reach a wider audience seeing as the Irish music scene is smaller than say London or Los Angles?
Most definitely. Unfortunately the music business is most definitely a business. Like any business it’s who you know and what connections and contacts you make along the way to enable a further reach for your music. Ireland’s music scene is very small in comparison yes but being small it’s also got its advantages as once you’ve been working in it for a few years you just end up meeting and getting to know almost everyone else in it, from other bands and artists, writers, bookers, bloggers, promoters etc. So it’s a very supportive and friendly community which is brilliant for building your band creatively and professionally within Ireland and preparing yourselves for the international market. The Irish are deadly.
12. Are they any festivals you’d love to play at? What venues are you playing at this year?
ALL of them. We love Boomtown, Sziget, Lovebox in London, Primavera, The Governor’s Ball in NYC would be amazing. The real dream is to be playing the late night slot in the biggest of the tents at festivals, like the Electric Arena at Electric Picnic. We wouldn’t say no to main stage either of course. Soon.
This year we’re playing Forbidden Fruit and Latitude. More to be announced. We cannot wait.
13. What is your festival style?
For stage, god knows what yet. Maybe a cowboy jumpsuit and pink platforms. I’ll have fun deciding and even more fun rolling around in it on stage. Off stage definitely black high-waisted jeans, some ‘cool band’ tee, puff jacket, big dirty hiking boots, 40 cans and a bottle of gin. All worn by Aoife Mak.
14. Has social media made a great impact on your following?
It has definitely enabled the music, personality and style of the band to be portrayed with all the gimmicks in toe. Unfortunately today social media rules but it is a great way to connect with people and share your music – connecting with people all over the world. www.. ..Personally, if I didn’t have music to promote I wouldn’t be on it. It makes my head sore and my heart spasm.
15. What is the most active social media account for those out there who want to follow you?
16. Are there any other Irish artist that you guys are into? Like Hozier, Picture This, Imelda May, Hare Squead?
None of the above. I’m big into Saint Sister, gorgeous songs. Mongoose are amazing live – 4 piece indie / folk band. Very like Joni Mitchell but happy and after a few drinks <3. We’re all big fans of Meltybrains and Wastefellow.
17. Looking forward to the year ahead, what have you got planned that you can tell us?
We’ll be releasing a steady stream of rainbow-boppers throughout the year.
28. Where do you see yourselves in five years time?
Having a fanbase that allows us to tour internationally so we can travel and play some of the worlds most exciting stages. 2 – 3 albums in with our dream label. Dancing. Happy.
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