From Snow Patrol, to Sinead O’Connor, Fontaines DC, to Van Morrison. Ireland is home to a vast number of now world-wide loved artists, of all different decades and genres.
Despite it’s history of trad music, artists in Ireland have and continue to diversify their sound, making it one of the most exciting places for emerging new music.
We shifted through the backlogs of Youtube and Spotify, and shortlisted our 10 favorite local/up and coming artists from across Ireland.
1. Bairie – Belfast, singer/songwriter,
Delicious, smooth, jazzy vocals, delivered effortlessly over an electric guitar, in perfect simplicity. It’s safe to say Bairie has got something special going on here. Belfast based, Derry born, Bairie says she doesn’t recall ever not playing or making music.
She released her most recent single ‘Not Love’ at the start of lockdown, and even performed (virtually) at the City of Derry Jazz Festival.
2. Alicia Raye, Drogheda, trap/soul artist,
Looking for something more upbeat? Drogheda based Irish/Cameroonian artist Alicia Raye has you sorted. Mixing smooth RnB, often jazzy vocals, with deep trap beats, Raye is unapologetic with bringing up difficult topics.
Her most recent single Love Wins was released in celebration of Pride month, with fellow Irish rapper CELAVIEDMAI.
3. CMAT, Dublin, pop artist,
Another artist that’s been busy in lockdown is Dublin’s pop-queen/top comedy act, CMAT. Releasing her second single Rodney, along with an *incredible* home-made music video. Infectious, fun, hilarious. If this is the production CMAT is capable of during a pandemic, from home, I cannot begin to imagine the show she would put on for a live performance.
4. Powpig, Limerick, soft slow rock band,
For those who are a sucker for a perfect harmony, look no further than Powpig. One of the more established acts on this lists, they’ve toured with the likes of whenyoung and Mongoose. They’ve even played Ireland’s biggest festival Electric Picnic!
Taking rock down a notch, the Limerick group appeals to both rock fans, and those more into a chill, alternative sound.
5. Sinhead White, Kildare, dark electro singer songwriter,
Another older face in the Irish music scene, Sinhead White, however, is emerging with a new sound (and Instagram!) Still keeping her traditional singer-songwriter style, she’s incorporated dark electronic sounds and a pedal, creating a totally unique, spooky vibe.
Her latest single The World Stops Spinning was released during lockdown, and she has another on the way later this month. So definitely one to keep an eye out for.
6. Reevah, Derry, alt-folk group,
Already featured on RTE and BBC, Reevah, real name Aoife Boyle, had started how she intends to go on. Combining beautiful vocals, with alt-folk melodies, to create a dreamy, entrancing sound, that is getting picked up by big names.
Long-listed by Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition 2020, Reevah’s appeal stretches from folk fans to synth enthusiasts.
If that isn’t enough, the music video for her latest single might just be the most wholesome thing to happen in all of lockdown.
7. ELKIN, Meath/Kildare, alt-pop duo,
For those after a totally new sound, look no further than ELKIN. This duo, who insist they are not sisters, have made music together since they were 15. Their combination of perfect harmonies and soft, gentle voices, with hard, punchy production, is tantalizing. It shouldn’t work, but it really, really does.
They released their latest single ‘Win Win’ at the start of this year, and are working on more material that I can’t wait to hear, as we speak.
8. Modernlove, Drogheda, pop/rock band,
Drogheda boys Modernlove. are shaking up the indie-pop boyband vibe. Five singles deep, they’ve already featured in RTE as well as Made in Chelsea. Their most recent record, If You Wanna See Me., was written and recorded entirely remotely during lockdown.
Hailed as ‘one of the most captivatingly inventive Irish indie-pop acts of recent memory’, they’re certainly ones to keep your eye out for.
9. New Dad, Galway, alt-rock band,
Keeping in the genre of rock, but going down the hazier side, we discover New Dad (who reassure us, they are not actually dads). Guitar riffs and Julie Dawson’s almost grunge-y voice combine to produce a mystifying sound that runs across their three singles – all released this year!
10. Carrie Baxter, Munster, jazzy/soul musician,
A self described ‘wandering Irish’, Carrie Baxter upped sticks to London to study at the London School of Music Theater in 2009. It wasn’t until last year that she started releasing her own music, but her vocal and musical training is evident.
Bringing jazz, soul, bits of funk, and a wholly unique voice, Baxter was featured on BBC Introducing’s The Hot List. A mere month after the release of her very first single ‘Lady’.
There is no doubt that Ireland has a vast, varied, and forever changing music scene, whether jazz is your jam, or pop your bop. Lockdown has been a challenge particularly for small artists, with festivals cancelled and gigs rescheduled, many income streams have dried up.
It is clear, however, that Irish artists are still ploughing on. Writing songs, and getting their music out there, with or without a studio. You can support them by following their socials, and listening to new tunes. Once this is all over, the venues re-open, and the music can start playing again, we can show our support in the best possible way – by dancing the night away at their live gigs.
If you’d also like to know about Ireland’s music history, we’ve got you covered.