And Pillow Queens are at the forefront of the wave.
The four piece band – made up of vocalist, guitarist and bassist Sarah Corcoran, from Dublin, fellow vocalist , guitarist and bassist Pamela Connolly, also from Dublin, guitarist Cathy McGuinness from Wicklow, and drummer Rachel Lyons from Kildare – have been together for two years, but in that short time, have rocketed to become one of the most exciting bands not only on the Irish scene, but the indie scene at large.
Taking inspo from US DIY indie and punk, Pillow Queens have a lot of ways of describing themselves.
Sarah told Metro: ‘We’re a four-piece from Ireland, half of us from Dublin, half from the outside of Dublin. We make music that’s been described, rather delicately by Blindboy, as a mix between Sonic Youth and Dolores O’Riordan’, with Pamela adding in: ‘We’re serious musicians.’
‘I was trying to fill out a grant proposal earlier on and I was trying to describe our music, and I wrote, people describe us as lo-fi.’
Serious lo-fi in the style of The Cranberries or not, there’s no doubt that Pillow Queens’ music is distinctly them. Songs like Favourite, Gay Girls, Ragin’ and Rats mix grungy, gritty guitars with insanely catchy hooks, all sung in thick Irish accents and peppered with Dublin slang.
‘I’ve certainly made music where I didn’t sing in my accent, and that didn’t necessarily get me anywhere,’ Pamela said. ‘It’s something people remember you for. Eventually, I hope it goes over their heads and they think “well that’s just what Pillow Queens sound like”. And that’s just what Irish bands sound like, we’re not the only ones who sing in our accents. I certainly remembered a lot of bands when I was younger because of their accents – like Catatonia, that was gorgeous hearing that thick Welsh accent.
‘It might grate on some people, which is inevitable, but feck them. It is what it is. Even if we didn’t use our accents, we’d still annoy someone.’
In fact, it’s that uniquely Irish perspective that has given rise to some of Pillow Queens’ best songs – and there’s no better example than Gay Girls. Their breakthrough hit, an infectious indie track with a killer chorus, was accompanied by a video showing Irish schoolgirls running riot in their Communion dresses which brought the song to a whole new audience and gained critical acclaim.
Pamela said of the reaction: ‘I think we had hoped and daresay expected it a little bit, because we were so confident in the song, genuinely. We were able to dedicate a lot of time to it, it was our first time working with Tommy McLoughlin, who is an incredible producer, and we just put a lot of energy and time and love into it. We were like, this means something to us, we hope it means something to other people , and then when it did land with people, we were so happy, because this could have gone over people’s heads.’
‘That would have really hurt,’ Sarah added. ‘I was maybe a little bit surprised. Because I was like, “there’s gonna be a goo for us to put out music, and there’s people who are going to want to hear new music”, so I expected there’d be a bit of excitement, but it did go further than I expected. While we love the song, I think the video kind of put it into the stratosphere for us. Kate Dolan [the director] should really get some rights.’
The success of Gay Girls, plus the band’s electric performances and supporting stints for bands like Delorentos and SOAK, who they are currently touring the UK with, has led to Pillow Queens being championed in the Irish music scene – including by some of the girls’ contemporaries and idols.
Pamela said: ‘Being supported by people we really admire is really strange. People being like “I love Pillow Queens” – eh, I love you. So thats’s strange, but Jesus, it’s so lovely. But we want to put that back out into the scene as well.’
’It’s very motivating,’ agreed Rachel. ‘James Vincent McMorrow is one of my favourite artists ever, and when he tweeted [about us], I nearly died. I can’t believe my favourite artist has given us that recognition. It’a f***ing class.’
‘Bands are coming to us in their early stages and saying “we really admire what you’re doing” and we’re like, “but you’re amazing”,’ Sarah said. ‘There’s a band in Limerick called Pow Pig – they’re younger than us, I won’t say by how much, but they’re school age, and they’re just amazing. They’re supportive of us, we’re supportive of them, it’s amazing.’
And all of this recognition led to a nomination for Pillow Queens at Ireland’s Choice Music Prize.
Pamela said: ‘There’s always been a momentum that kept getting faster, and it hasn’t started to slow down just yet. The past year’s been great, because it’s given us a push, because “hey, all that work you’ve put in… good job, it’s been noted”’, with Sarah adding: ‘The recognition has really been motivating, because we’ve been behind the scenes all the time just doing it and chopping away, and to get something like a Choice Music nomination, it’s like, oh cool, this is being valued and recognised.’
Although Pamela joked: ‘It’s terrifying as well, because people are noticing us, and with that comes a bit of… I don’t know, responsibility?’
Responsibility or not, Pillow Queens are repping the all-female band vibe, and while they thankfully haven’t experienced a lot of horror when it comes to sexism in the music industry, that doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced a bit.
‘We’ve been very lucky in terms of how things have gone for us. In terms of being women, we’re lucky that nothing has really happened,’ Sarah explained. ‘Actually, someone did have a little quip for me and Rachel a few weeks ago, and we just looked at each other and said “well, now we can say something”. It was offensive.
‘He said “I saw four women getting on stage saying they were going to play rock music and thought ‘this is going to be s***e’.” He was already judging us before we started. He was like “I’ve been in the music industry a while, I know what it’s like, but you were really good”. It was such a backhanded compliment. That was one we very much noticed because nothing that had happened to us just yet – and hopefully there won’t be anything worse, for anyone at all.’
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Following their first two EPs Calm Girls and State Of The State, Pillow Queens have just dropped their new single HowDoILook and are working towards their debut album.
‘We’re working away song by song when we get time off work,’ Sarah said. ‘It’s a slow process, but it’s a good process. We just want to have something we’re all really proud of and that we can stand behind, because we don’t want our first album to be rushed or anything like that.
‘We can’t stop playing gigs, that’s our problem. We take some time to write, then we get and offer and we’re like “oh, we can’t miss this”.’
Pillow Queens’ tour dates info is available here, and their new single HowDoILook is out now.
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by – metro.co.uk