The difference between art, and the ever so elusive “ART”, is the ability to orchestrate one’s composure as they traverse that fine line between creating something for the self, as well as the masses. It should, or perhaps need to, strike that balance between crafting a personal narrative that can also be directly reflected into society. Purposely impactful, while still retaining a level of intimacy that speaks informally to the listener. Wyvern Lingo have not quite mastered this exceedingly grandiose version of “ART”, then again few have. However, there are glimpses of it scattered throughout their body of work, that elevates their songs from the usual indie fodder to the level of …something grander, I suppose.
We’re seated in a dimly lit coffee shop, the light from outside semi-illuminating the faces of Karen Cowley, Saoirse Duane and Caoimhe Barry. Folk music plays loudly in the background as we’re encased in an orchestra of clattering utensils and the kind of relaxed meandering conversation you could only find in a coffee shop on an early Wednesday afternoon. Their manager orders me a cappuccino, we exchange pleasantries and then the REAL interview begins.
I put an emphasis on the word ‘real’ here because it is the best way to describe the progression of the group as a whole, and consequently this interview. After being signed to Irish label Rubyworks and touring with Hozier, one of the biggest Irish acts in recent memory, one might assume this enviable position could have potentially watered down any guttural human experiences and challenges that Wyvern Lingo have faced. But it hasn’t seemed to have had much of an effect on the Wicklow trio. Not so much in the *I’m really kickass* sort of way but more along the lines of the *listen, great things have happened to me and I’m extremely grateful for them but I’m still just a human being who gets nervous* kind of way. They talk quite openly about their experiences playing festivals and other larger gigs where people may not have been too familiar with who they were; their recent Longitude performance a case in point.
“It was so good,” says Caoimhe. “Probably the best gig this year I suppose. We were blown away like, it was our first ever headline slot of a festival and it’s so hard to know with Longitude. There were some big acts on the main stage and we weren’t really expecting a crowd, but they were all so into it! Just loving the new stuff and it was amazing,” Karen adds.
What’s truly amazing, though, is the idea of Irish indie talent being at the forefront of the biggest stage of Longitude. Has it marked the beginning of more engagement with the circuit? “We actually don’t have more lined up. We’ve played a few but the next big gig we having coming up is our own headliner in the Grand Social. Our single launch party, so that should be really good,” Caoimhe tells us.
“Usually you’re taking a bit of a risk, especially Longitude – it’s a very mainstream festival and I think we’re a little bit alternative so we weren’t really sure what reception we’d get. Sometimes with festivals it’s pissing in the wind a little bit,” she adds.
The excitement for the upcoming gig is, however, much more palpable. Each member seems to have a slightly different outlook when considering the significance of their own personal show. They view it as an artistically freeing experience, albeit one that still poses a fair deal of pressured expectation. They promise a dynamic change of course, with elements of more intimate performances and grand set designs thrown in for good measure (be wary of dragons).
There can be a certain expectation with bands, especially those who double as such close friends in real life, to be relatively similar to one another as a result of spending so much time together. In actual fact, Wyvern Lingo are almost directly polar opposites. They all feel distinctly different, in the way they sit in their chairs, conduct the interview and interact with one another. They persist as a concoction of separate individuals with ostensibly different approaches and outlooks on life, which makes the seemingly effortless yet expertly crafted cohesion heard in their music all the more impressive. Latest single ‘I Love You Sadie’, to be launched at the Dublin show, is an upbeat medley of distinguished, vibrant vocals, drenched in airy intoxicating melodies, supported by a sticky RnB infused rhythm. It’s inventive, intuitive and a masterclass in how to compose a unique yet oddly familiar sound.
However, what elevates ‘I Love You Sadie’ from the level of a great song to an important song is the tongue-in-cheek commentary that lies just underneath its surface. “It takes quite a playful approach to the topic of gender stereotypes so it’s trying to sneakily put those opinions into the mainstream media,” says Caoimhe. “A new song off our album is playing off that entirely and is written through the eyes of someone who doesn’t want to talk about these issues or who just doesn’t think that it’s worth talking about,” Karen continues.
“Then there’s nothing they can do”, Caoimhe adds. “It’s called ‘Out Of My Hands’ and it’s this notion that you can’t do anything about it, what’s the use in talking about it or whatever and people being sick of seeing stuff on Facebook. I mean we’re not trying to be preachy, we definitely don’t have the answers”, says Karen. “It’s more just like an experience that we wrote down”, Saoirse confirms.
To create music that forces you to really contemplate the true meaning of existing, or lack thereof in the world that we live in, is an impressive feat in itself. However, the ability to design a sound that can penetrate that very same train of thought in such a subtle manner that the listener isn’t even quite aware of what’s happening is an accomplishment few musicians these days even come close to.
Wyvern Lingo entice your senses with more than just pretty melodies but instead endeavour to provide something greater. Although, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what the aforementioned ‘something’ consists of. All I know is that it is the first step in the grand, albeit ever so elusive, pursuit of something bigger than any one person; the pursuit of ‘ART’.
Wyvern Lingo play the Grand Social in Dublin on August 25th, to be followed by a secret after party.