Wyvern Lingo Interview with Miriam Doona

What is the significance of the name, no doubt Wyvern is in reference to the area in Bray where you are from, what is the significance of Lingo?

Caoimhe – It actually happens to be that but we found it in a dictionary, it has zero meaning. We just needed to find a name quickly and we landed on a word and we thought that Wyvern is too powerful a word to skip by and so we just went with it. The Lingo part came from a website that makes up band names.

I always imagine that choosing a band name is as difficult as choosing a child’s name, it’s pretty definitive and permanent.

Caoimhe – That’s the thing! I wish we had chosen something that is easy to say, something like brick..something that is easy to say. When we do our live gigs we have Wyvern Lingo on the kick drum, Wyvern Lingo on a big banner behind us, like here is our name!

You all know each other from school and are friends a long time. Did you always want to be musicians from a very young age?

Caoimhe – Yeah, that’s basically when we all got to be friends and bonded over a love of music and it’s been that way ever since. Well, I was in art college and left it to be a musician and follow this, as I was obviously very undecided, and Saoirse was working full time. Karen has a degree in English and music. None of us ever thought about it seriously and obviously we love being in a band and a lovely hobby to do with friends. And then seeing the success of our friend Hozier there was no denying it, that this is what we wanted to do. That made us face up to it and not pretending that this is not what we wanted to do.

Saoirse – Yeah I wanted to set up my own business. There is a certain about of fear with being in a band..it is such a huge dream and you don’t know when your next paycheck is coming. It is so worth it, because you can stand by what you are doing.

Karen – I wanted to change the world, I did have notions when I was a teenager of doing law and politics and changing the world, but I think I would be very unhappy if I did, so I am very glad the way things are working out.

You all sing and all input would you be open to learning new instruments going forward?

Caoimhe – Absolutely, however there is so much multitasking as it is, we all write, play our instruments and we are all lead vocals and backing vocals that if we took on any more we would implode!

Karen – When I was a teenager I used to play bass. And i was rapping out on Alex’s base, Hozier’s bassist and I was like “damn, I miss this!”. My ambition is just to be able to go up on stage and just rock out.

For somebody who has never heard your music and there was no other way only words to describe it, what is the best description?

Caoimhe – I suppose a little bit r&b, a little bit rock, I would say it’s pop directed alt rock with undercurrents of r&b.

I cannot really talk to you and not mention the Hozier connection. You are not long back from supporting him on his UK tour, do you know him from Bray and how was the experience?

Saoirse – Yes it was really really amazing and we got to play to huge crowds. It’s just such a huge experience to be able to do that and because we have known him for a while and he’s a friend and his team are all so hardworking.

Caoimhe – Karen used to be in bands with him so we knew him through that and for us as our first big touring experience, it was lovely..and having already done backing vocals with him and we knew all his crew. It was really kinda safe in a way. and I am sure any other crew we support world be just as lovely, but it was just like being part of a big family. It will be like that again in January when we head off. We are supporting him again in January.

I didn’t know that, that’s amazing,Is it a European tour?

Saoirse – No it’s just UK.

Your new single is called Subside and you are now on an Irish tour and which brings you to Whelan’s on the 28th November, and you are no strangers to the venue. The single is available now but the official release is the 27th..is that right?

Caoimhe – The official celebration time is is the 27th and the 28th. It’s a party weekend! Yeah, we played Whelan’s at the start of June and it was deadly.

You have been and currently are so busy, will you get some time off for Christmas?

Saoirse – I think we might get a couple of days to be with our families but that’s all.

Caoimhe – I think we work ourselves very hard because we are on the cusp of it right now, because we are very much at the beginning. We still feel like we have a lot of work to do and a lot of writing to do and still improving as musicians and I think when you are involved in anything great there is always that bubbling stress that you are never working hard enough.

I can absolutely relate to that, working freelance, the guilty feeling of taking time off and not wanting to turn down work.

Caoimhe – Absolutely..it is hard to take time off. I always feel guilty and wonder should I be writing something and you always feel like you are neglecting your craft.

Now, the new single Subside, it’s full of energy both musically and visually. The video is animated, can you talk me through it and the concept of the song and the video and it being recorded in Germany?

Karen – The concept of the song is, I guess, is about gossip and gossip mongering and a crowd dictating how a romance should be or how it should end.. it’s about expected romance when the feelings just aren’t there and how people can manipulate.

Caoimhe – Well, we recorded it with a producer called Patrice Bart- Williams and he is deadly. He is German- Sierra Leonean and he does his own music which is kind of reggae hip hop-y rock-y stuff so he was able to bring that r&b element that we like. He really appreciated all our references and so it was great working with him. “ Subside” is a nice gritty rock-y sound but also with that r&b element to it.

Saoirse – That was really what we were going for too and we are really happy with the result.

What are your biggest inspirations to write?

Caoimhe – It’s hard to just sit down, sometimes it comes to you when you are doing something completely unrelated. We have all invested in phones where we can record and when an idea comes to you and we share our ideas. So, it can happen in all sorts of ways and I think we all write in a kind of way to try and go with what feels right. It is kind of organic but it can also make it quite hard to actually get something finished when you are doing it that way. We don’t have a set way of doing things, it could be anything..it could be a conversation you have with somebody, it could be a song you heard that just sets your mind going.

Karen – I think it’s hard to restrict it. I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary the other day and she said that everything she writes is something that happened to her, that she can’t be that disingenuous and she has to write about something that has happened to her. That’s amazing that it worked for her, but I couldn’t be that intense all the time, sometimes I just want to tell a story. It might be about something that happened but it’s also about where your brain takes it too.

Caoimhe – I find that usually whatever I am writing about has happened a few years ago. If it is happening at the time it is hard as you are too attached. It’s too real, it’s too almost autobiographical. I find that a bit hard, I mean, I still do it but for the most part, but it’s when it’s far away enough for you to make it a story.

Hozier – is such a great act to support and a dream for many bands. He really did the almost impossible by breaking the US first and then the success filtered back through Europe. The Beatles spring to mind when they broke the big time, he followed the same path. Is there any other act in particular you would love to tour with?

Saoirse – There are so many; alt -J, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac.

Caoimhe – I think a lot of the people we would like to support are not alive anymore. I would love to support Jeff Buckley. Joni Mitchell too, who is very much alive, I would just like to meet her really. I think collectively, soundwise it would be alt- J, Lauryn Hill, Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin are a huge band for us. Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Simon and Garfunkel. Then we have Rihanna and Beyonce and Destiny’s Child.

Did you get to see Paul Simon or Fleetwood Mac when they performed recently enough in Dublin?

Karen – I think we had a gig the night Fleetwood Mac played Dublin recently and someone I knew had a ticket. I saw them before recently and it was amazing and I don’t want to give it the opportunity to not be amazing, if you know what I mean.

Caoimhe – We all had tickets to go see a band called Hiatus Kaiyote in June recently and we ended up playing a gig that night and we were really disappointed to miss it and then we got the great news that we were going to be supporting Hozier.

I can’t believe you mentioned Hiatus Kaiyote, I love that band! They played The Sugar Club two years ago and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the keyboardist, Simon.. They are up there for me..absolute geniuses musically, so cooly obscure and an unbelievably talented bunch of people.

Karen – I was just in Australia and no one knows them over there either. They have such a cross in genres, we love that. They really make it work and we really appreciate what they do.

You all sing and all input would you be open to learning new instruments going forward?

Caoimhe – Absolutely, however there is so much multitasking as it is , we all write, play our instruments and we are all lead vocals and backing vocals that if we took on any more we would implode!

Karen – When I was a teenager I used to play bass. And i was rapping out on Alex’s base, Hozier’s bassist and I was like “damn, I miss this!”. My ambition is just to be able to go up on stage and just rock out.

The current tour is bringing you to Whelan’s on Saturday 28th and you are basically touring up and down the country

Caoimhe – We are in Belfast this weekend then we are doing Limerick. We are very excited about Dublin and we have a brilliant band playing with us, they are from Belfast and so good. They are really laid back electronic-y, nice vocals and I can’t wait we are a really big fan of theirs. We are excited to see their gig. I can’t wait because we will have had the experience of trying out our show across the country, Whelan’s is going to be a nice homecoming and the Dublin crowd is always so receptive.

What are your plans for 2016 and how are things feeling for you all, with things going so well, has it sunk in?

Saoirse – So we are going on tour with Hozier, kicking off the 6th of January until the 5th of February. Then we are going to do our EP release in London on the 3rd of February and hopefully it will all take off. We don’t really know what is going to happen past next February, which is really exciting and where we will be, recording wise. All we can really do is live in the present and keep working as hard as we can.

Caoimhe – There is too much to do. we don’t get to sit back and at no point do we sit back and say “ good work guys”!

Karen – We are constantly pushing ourselves and The only time we really think about things is in interviews like this. The stakes have to be up constantly and you have to push yourself all the time. We just feel like let’s just go with this and give it our all.

How are you received in Bray now, do you get a hero’s welcome?

Karen – Bray is amazing and it is so supportive, it’s a great community. We played a pop up gig on the harbour in January before we went to England. It was a Wednesday and it was packed, jam packed full of people, some we know and some we don’t. The harbour bar tweeted us yesterday saying they would love to see us doing well. It’s amazing to get such support and we find it really encouraging.


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