One of Ireland’s finest local arts and music festivals returns to the enchanting, rural surroundings of Tubby’s Farm this weekend in the form of SunflowerFest 2017.
There are few concepts in Ireland that can match the Sunflower gang for diversity. The blend of comedy, music, art, poetry and all round family fun results in a strange and wonderful crowd. Hippies unwind with the nine-to-fivers, metal heads dance alongside the ravers, all in a new sci-fi, intergalactic theme. A Parallel Universe, if you will. The lights of the city have been abandoned, leaving the stars open to view in beautiful and immersive setting.
Last year the likes of Space Dimension Controller, The Strypes and Gobstopper Records Bloom delighted and amazed those in attendance. This year Sunflower boasts an incredible 120 acts across six different stages.
From metal to grime and from dark electronica to a ukulele band; SunflowerFest have pulled out all the stops to ensure this year’s edition is the best yet.
Here’s our top picks for the weekend.
The performing and DJ’ing clique of Danielle Moore, Chris Todd and James Baron are credited with spearheading the mission to create a very ‘British’ form of house and disco. Regarded as one of the finest live acts in the world of electronic music, they blend together elements of from the golden eras of disco and soul to construct groovy and current productions through masterful songwriting and artistry.
“This is dance music with a voice, heart and soul.”
Derry born pioneer Ryan Vail has made some serious waves in the last two years. Blending together elements of folk, electronica and classical music, Vail crafted one of the albums of 2016 with For Every Silence, receiving critical acclaim and a nomination for the prestigious NI Music Prize.
A truly unique performer, Vail has linked with local art collective Plume Studios to create an immersive and diverse sounding live show that touches on elements of techno, house and contemporary pop.
Expect melodic and dark tones.
Many in Belfast regard Brien to be one of the most talented producers that the city has produced in recent years. The young artist can try his hand at anything, be it obtuse jazz, funky house or straight up hip hop.
SunflowerFest offers artists the chance to be able to play records they might not be able to play when the shining light of the mainstreams upon them in the city.
Masterful selecting and weirdo funk reign supreme.
Ireland may not be the first nation you think of when it comes to hip hop and grime, but artists such as Damola are hell-bent on altering the views of the world.
Hailing from Dublin, Damola blends together uplifting vibes with soft vocals and intelligent lyricism to create sounds that float in and out of intimidating lairyness and laid back, romantic hip hop.
“Phoning men, smelling glue out of a hat, collecting photographs of dolphins and drawing pictures of each other smoking fags.”
That’s not all these two plastic bag wearing men from Limerick do, of course. Tongue in cheek, musical comedy is what the Rubberbandits do best. They’re hilarious. Lyrics such as “he looks like Billy Piper after half an ounce of coke” and “I wanna fight your father” symbolise the hilarity of their work, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that their tracks are genuinely good.
When they’re not writing songs about sniffing glue or fighting their girlfriend’s father, they take political and social stances on topics such as feminism and political oppression. Don’t let the plastic bags fool you, high levels of intelligence within them.
Or:la was once regarded as the most underrated talent within the underground electronic music circuit, but thanks to a release of Scuba’s Hotflush Recordings and consistent output of original productions and sets she is now basking in a well deserved spotlight.
The UK Lonely EP was one of my favourite releases of last year. Her sets maintain incredible diversity, touching on the sounds of garage, techno, house and footwork. The artist also heads her own label now in the form of Deep Sea Frequency and runs her own Liverpool based club night called Meine Nacht, which has invited the likes of Call Super and DJ Seinfeld to perform.
This will be one of the best sets of the weekend.
Releasing on the likes of 4lux, Snuff Crew and Chiwax, JC Williams has received mass plaudits for his acid soaked productions and ‘no messing about’ attitude towards house and techno.
As Belfast’s electronic scene has evolved, JC has evolved with it. For over a decade the producer has dictated the sound of the city, and now, with a finely tuned live set, he has added yet another string to his creative bow.
Whoever said that acid is dead clearly hasn’t witnessed a JC Williams set.
You could be forgiven for believing that the seven piece King Kong Company hailing from Waterford are in fact a band and not a DJ collective. Their sound maintains a party hard aesthetic, fusing elements of rock and electronica.
The band had originally intended to play just one hometown gig before they burst onto the live scene, but when 700 people turned up they had a change of heart.
Now King Kong Company have wowed audiences with their ferocious energy at the likes of Electric Picnic and Body & Soul. A rare and vibrant live act.
Synths and melodies that tug on your heartstrings. A sense of nostalgia erupting from something from modern composition. Dreamy vocals and inspired auras. Le Galaxie are contemporary pop at its finest.
Their sound fits any occasion. Be it driving along a long slice of motorway or smoking a cigarette whilst pondering over a 5am sunset. Le Galaxie are there for you.
The new wave of pop is here and they’re here to stay.
“By definition Collate means to gather, arrange or accumulate things in order of sequence, along the ethos the concept is that we are gathering energy in forms of people, music and culture to focus on trying to create inspiring, empowering experiences.”
The ethereal, dark and hypnotic tones of the Collate collective look to draw their listener in, inducing a state of complete inspiration where new ideas and concepts are pushed to the forefront.
Collate have invited some of electronic music’s best to make their debut in the Belfast circuit, including Bjarki and Max Cooper. These bookings symbolise the cutting edge ethos that the collective aim to maintain.
Celestian, Fourth Mind and the new addition of Spireview will be radiating their perception of sound through the forest. Expect dark tones, heavy rhythms and infectious breaks.
Find out more about SunflowerFest, as well as get those all important tickets, here.