Enola Gay’s Guide To Underground Irish Music

From electronic production to noise rock...

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade, Irish music – on both sides of the border – is in rude health. Take Belfast noise rock gurus Enola Gay – neo-industrial levels of heaviness combined with aspects of inspirational light, the band’s righteous live shows are already the stuff of legend.

New EP ‘Casement’ is out in early September via Modern Sky, and it feels like a pivotal moment for Enola Gay. Flying the flag for Ireland’s left-field communities, the band draw on DIY energy while transporting it to another space entirely.

Writing for Clash, Enola Gay try to pin down the creative energies of Ireland, naming a few peers, contemporaries, and points of inspiration along the way.

Belfast-bred Berghain veteran Mount Palomar is hands down the best electronic producer this Island currently has to offer. We’ve never met a more driven visionary artist in our lives, constantly improving his live set and pushing himself as a producer. We took inspiration from his approach to music when carving out our own sound; Neil is always finding obscure pedals and hardware to ensure his work has its own identity separate from the dance landscape.

His broad sonic palate is impressively exhibited with his latest EP ‘Brace For Impact’. Opener ‘Pale Blue Dot’ and closer ‘Simmer’ flex his melodic capabilities, especially the latter which features folk singer Joshua Burnside, underlining how adaptive Neil is. How he pushed us to tap into the untouched potential for us as a band with our collab ‘terra firma’, is a testament to how strong of a producer he is. When he’s not painting modular landscapes he’s throwing in stinking bangers, see tracks ‘Echo Chamber’, ‘Man Up’, and ‘Oh No, Here We Go’.

Another talented self-taught producer based in Belfast, but also London, is the one-woman army punk rapper YINYANG. One of the best MCs on the island, bringing a fierce presence live, fronting her cacophony of distorted 808s, warped samples, synths, seamless flows and witty lyrics. She writes YINYANG lyrics we couldn’t picture from anyone else, “roaming around the seas like an uncaught megalodon”. She’s a fully realised artist who overnight took the Belfast hip-hop scene BY STORM and she’s just getting started. We have a collab in the works and every session working with her has been an exciting lesson getting school’d by someone who has been producing for a very short period of time.

Best we can describe her sound would be, if Billie Eilish fronted Death Grips. Her songs sound like they could murder you while teaching you to be your own best friend. Every track is a potential hit earworm. She’s going from strength to strength and we can’t wait for the reaction to her future releases that we’ve witnessed her confidently decimate live. Start with her track ‘Skitz’ and go from there, we couldn’t believe what the chorus sample was when she told us. Try to figure it out… you won’t.

Dublin’s Gurriers, a great name, are a unit of a band where every member lends their strengths to holistically create something special and their best tunes are ahead of them. There’s something for everyone in this band, even Fontaines D.C. and Paolo Nutini are big fans, not surprised.

‘Sign of the Times’ is such an excellent display of a bop that underlines the brilliant rhythm section. ‘Top of the Bill’ is one of the best guitar songs we’ve heard ever, never mind come out of Ireland. When the intro riff that anchors the song is so emotive and by the end of Hoff’s lyricism, passionately panting, “He had a chance but it gets in the way, and nothing matter when it’s not yesterday” you feel this thing wash over you.

There’s a solid brotherly bond between us which young bands at our level need when navigating through the industry tornado, we cherish them. Nicest blokes you could ever meet at a merch stand, you’ll be sold on them as people too.

Check out Emmet and Ben’s other guitar-techno project YARD who collab’d with the aforementioned boss YINYANG.

If The Strokes and Bjork did a collaborative album with songwriting cues from David Byrne from Talking Heads, songs like ‘New Year’ and ‘Elephant in the Room’ by Kynsy could easily be the centerpieces. Her alt-dance-rock is unmatched in Ireland. And her songwriting is right up there with the greatest this island’s ever produced. She hasn’t even got an album out yet, but her singles and EPs are so well crafted and realised already. Everyone with their ear to the ground in alternative music are buzzing to see Kynsy blow up; and for more people to hear the absolute bangers she’s coming out with.

We had some free time at The Great Escape and we caught her in The Prince Albert and we’ve had her on heavy rotation since. The versatility she has as a songwriter is ridiculous, with jazzy/lo-fi electronic tunes like ‘Thumb Wars’ but also catchy, alt-rock hits like ‘Happiness Isn’t a Fixed State’; very few musicians could pull off such different genres as well as she does. How she’s not a household name yet is beyond us, but it won’t be long before she is.

 Listen to but more importantly go see KNEECAP. They are a group of lads, two of who are unapologetically from West Belfast and the other is a balaclava-clad Derry man, and they wear their identities on their sleeves. ‘Móglaí Bap’ and ‘Mo Chara’ are incredibly ferocious and articulate with their lyrics and deliveries, laced with tongue-in-cheek humour and fervent Irish Republican sentiments.

Rapping in both English and Irish, they’ve given themselves the ability to describe what they’re speaking about in a uniquely Irish way, using words and idioms which are tied to the historical fabric of the island, which English has no translation for. Working with Irish music legends, like Grian Chatten and Tom Coll from Fontaines D.C. and Radie Peat from Lankum on their upcoming album it’s clear the lads have immense respect from their contemporaries.

Imagine being able to bang out a tune that goes as hard ‘H.O.O.D.’ does, with a pounding instrumental mura masa would be proud to put his name behind, and then follow up with a tune as introspective and powerful as ‘MAM’, a letter of appreciation for their mums, which couldn’t be more emotionally charged if it tried. ‘Móglaí Bap’, ‘Mo Chara’, and ‘DJ Próvaí’ are certainly the most punk thing in Ireland… ever?

Follow Clash

Buy Clash Magazine