Incoming: A Quick Chat With A.S. Fanning

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Berlin-based, Dublin-raised, singer/songwriter A.S. Fanning will be bringing his Irish tour to BRÚ House, Newbridge on Saturday, October 14 – and the tour coincides with the release of Fanning’s debut solo album Second Life.

This is the first in a series of collaborative shows between Broken Home & I, bringing some of our favourite musicians and artist to Newbridge – of which Fanning fits the bill for us both.

Previously the frontman and chief songwriter of Dublin bands The Last Tycoons and Porn Trauma, Fanning’s songs are often lyrically driven, taking inspiration from Irish literary tradition and folk music as well as from ‘60s psychedelia and gothic rock n roll. Fanning’s finest attribute is his profoundly brilliant songwriting and storytelling abilities, and observational eye, which enable him to depict vivid tales such as his meaty debut single ‘Carmelita’.

As a multi-instrumentalist he has played with acts such as Dublin troubadour The Mighty Stef, Berlin Industrial Electro outfit Suzies Ashes, and Irish songstress Candice Gordon, most recently producing and playing on Gordon’s debut LP, Garden of Beasts.

Support on the night comes from the equally wonderful Appo & the Disappointments & Rory Hughes – Doors @ 8.30pm | Tickets €5/€7.

Ahead of the weekend’s show I caught up with A.S. Fanning, to chat about the project, touring and all things music.

Tell us a little bit about A.S. Fanning. How did it come about? And what is the essence/inspiration behind the new project?

When I moved to Berlin I was working on my my own a lot. The Last Tycoons were still going at that point but we weren’t playing very often except for the occasional tour in Germany so I just started working on stuff on a laptop. That combined with being surrounded by electronic music in Berlin led to the songs taking on a kind of electro incarnation for a while.

I eventually stripped that back quite a bit, but I never really wanted to be a solo guy with an acoustic guitar. I always heard the songs having quite a full sound and having a kind of intensity in them, so I started building the songs around an acoustic guitar and vocal and adding in bits of synthesizers and organ and other atmospheric stuff to fill out the sound.

You’ve just returned from some shows in Ireland – how does it feel to go back after relocating to Berlin and starting a life there?

It feels kind of strange to be honest. Just because I haven’t played here very much in the last 5 years or so, and it’s a strange feeling to come on tour to somewhere I’m so familiar with, but which has obviously changed a lot in the last 5 years as well. But I feel like this album is largely about moving away from here so it’s nice to be able to come back to launch it, it feels like a sort of closing of the circle.

And on that, what are the biggest differences in being a musician in Berlin compared to Dublin? (i.e. audiences, opportunities etc.)

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Introducing: Simen Mitlid

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Simen Mitlid is a precociously talented singer-songwriter hailing from the woodlands of Os, Norway, crafting lush, Nordic indie-folk a la contemporaries like Sufjan Stevens, Broken Social Scene and Patrick Watson.

Recorded in vivid locales including his hometown cabin, Oslo and Vancouver, his debut LP, Everything is the Same is a charming record, imbued with a warm inviting glow, optimism and playful wonder. Most recently lifted from the record is ‘This Time’; a magical, soothing, and endearingly optimistic gem. Opening slowly with a delicate acoustic guitar and rich emotive vocal, before being ushered gently forward with a swell of twinkling keys, chimes, percussion and gentle hand claps as pure and really beautiful female vocals come to the fore. Title track, ‘Everything is the Same’ sounds much more world-weary and melancholic, yet marked by an understated optimism. Again a gentle strum leads the way, giving space for tender, touching emotion to surge and swell. There is a real strength in the songwriting and in the vocals too, which offer a real delicacy in their delivery. These are charming, beautiful and warm folk songs with intricate and sharp arrangements – and the album is a delight.

Simen Mitlid’s debut album Everything is the Same is out now, and you can listen to it here.

As a taster, ‘This Time’ & ‘Everything is the Same’ are below for your aural pleasure.

Introducing: Les Pantalons

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Belfast outfit Les Pantalons formed in mid-2016 in response to an online ad which may have had some bearing on why the band’s sound is fused from such a wide and diverse mix of styles.

Taking in parts indie, punk, alt-rock, folk, some Balkan sensibilities and a touch of the macabre – and you’ve got what Les Pantalons are all about. To date, the Belfast outfit have released two very good EPs (their 2016 self-titled EP and The Double and Coke EP, earlier in 2017) and two of the finer moments being ‘Cold Ground’ and ‘Do You Believe’. The former, ‘Cold Ground’, is a racey guitar-pop stomp fuelled by twangy guitar, stomping beat and rich and distinctive vocals in a wonderful fusion of what sounds like Balkan-folk meets The Coral. ‘Do You Believe’ is no less memorable and showcases a more patient and dark side to their musical endeavours. Raw vocals, slow building instrumentation and sinister atmosphere combine to create a creepy, unsettling and altogether darker side to Les Pantalons. Two quite different but equally entralling sides of the Les Pantalons coin – an act to keep tabs on for sure.

You can check out ‘Cold Ground’ & ‘Do You Believe’ below, the rest of their catalogue is available here.

Justina Shandler – ‘Creature’

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‘Creature’ is the brand new single from Miami-based singer-songwriter Justina Shandler.

Between studies and work, Shandler spends whatever spare time she can find, penning music for her forthcoming album. Such is the stunning nature of ‘Creature’, one can only hope that it is a taste of things to come. Joined by Gene Knific, and Jackson Firlik, it is a potent song of enigmatic beauty. The striking vocal delivery sounds both wise and beautiful, imbued with a striking level of touching emotion. ‘Creature’ intricately weaves between the bright and dark, exquisite arrangements including cello, banjo, acoustic piano, and electronics, which swells to climax with an all consuming finale. Undoubtedly the power and purity of Shandler’s vocal is the undeniable focal point but the music too, is beautiful. She’s got such a knack for drawing out emotion without overcooking the song with flickering moments of warmth amid the haunting shadows.

Listen to the enchanting and entrancing ‘Creature’ below. Purchase it here.

Alanna Eileen – ‘Knowledge’

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Every now and then we encounter a song so tantalisingly brilliant, that it stops us in dead in our tracks, instantly demanding your full and undivided attention.

Once such track is the divine new single from New Zealand-via-Australia singer-songwriter, Alanna Eileen. Entitled ‘Knowledge’, it is incredibly evocative, pure and beautifully haunting folk music. The first thing that hits you is Eileen’s pure-toned and ethereal voice. Delicate but with an understated strength too, it is paired beautifully with finger picking and acoustic guitar, gentle harmonies, fleeting keys and a country-tinged ambience. These elegant, beautiful arrangements are not over complicated, and provide a stunning canvas for Eileen’s stunning vocals to bewitch and beguile. Enchanting and ethereal, this one showcases incredible songwriting prowess and captivating voice.

Take a listen to ‘Knowledge’ below: