Dublin has long enjoyed a global reputation for many a year, with it’s earnest cobblestoned streets, emerald decadence and Celtic lilt captivating the minds and hearts of countless of visitors. However, beneath such cobble the city is host to a flourishing and robust contemporary music scene, one that nurtures emerging talent and collectively fights back the all sterilising nature of gentrification. One such band to emerge from the fray is the ethereally devastating three-piece Bitch Falcon.
Bitch Falcon are an act that’s essentially impossible to ignore nor forget – and not just down to their striking namesake. Forming in 2014 and currently composed of Lizzie Fitzpatrick (Vocals, Guitar), Barry O’Sullivan (Bass) and Nigel Kenny (Drums), the trio have spent the last several years cutting about globe with acts such as Black Peaks, Torche, Fontaines DC, Pussy Riot and selling out their own shows left, right and centre. They’ve even gone and got the attention of such major publications such as The Guardian, Paste Magazine and The Dublin Inquire - all before even releasing a full length.
Colossal achievements when considering the circumstances, but given their craft it’s no surprise the band have swiftly become a renewed attraction in such little time. Despite there being familiar shades to Bitch Falcon’s dynamic craft, their music is one of contrast and defiance against convention. Simultaneously ethereally dreamy and crushingly dense, elements of DIY noise rock, grunge and dream-pop swirl within their kaleidoscopic sound all whilst luscious melodies intertwine with walls of feedback. It’s hard to compare them, but those with a fondness for bands such as Brutus, Soeur and Phoxjaw will find much to love here.s
Even with their name being praised from lofty heights and with their moniker pretty much already cemented into Dublin scene legend, Bitch Falcon have their eyes on much more illustrious prizes. Just recently, the band signed to the beloved Small Pond Records and released their most biggest single yet in the form of the enigmatic ‘Gaslight’, a track that showcases the group's raw brilliance and their angelic density as a unit. With the track now making waves and with a debut faintly upon the horizon, we got in touch with Lizzie and Nigel for a chat on this year’s events, ‘Gaslight’, their sound, the Dublin scene and more.
It’s been a weird one, but how has 2020 treated you guys so far?
Lizzie: "It's been a crazy year! I'm a nurse so I was fairly busy working during the acute stage of the pandemic. Delighted to see some sort of ease on that front and get back to the music."
Nigel: "Very disappointing and frustrating as it has been for so many people. We had some killer things lined up this year that we had never done before and they were all cancelled. Our studio was locked up for 3 months and when it opened, we had to let it go as we couldn't afford to pay for it anymore. I haven't played a drum since February, I'm kind of afraid to go near them again at this stage."
You just signed to Brighton’s Small Pond and released your latest single Gaslight. What was it about the label that attracted you?
Nigel: "Small Pond had put out work from a deadly Irish band called Alarmist so straight away, anyone that puts them out must be pretty cool to work with. We had toured, drank and laughed a lot with some of those lovely Brighton boys from Small Pond on a couple of tours as some of them are in a great band called InTechnicolur that we played with. So we had a bit of a relationship beforehand but it wasn't until we went to The Great Escape last year, visited the HQ and recorded a couple of songs for their Small Pond sessions that we really understood what they were doing there. We were extremely impressed and enamoured with what they had built and we had some very loose discussions over an awful lot of pints that weekend about maybe putting something out together and then some time later, we finalised it. That weekend really solidified the desire to work with them. They have a genuine team of legends that so far, have been a dream to work with and Brighton is very lucky to have them!"
What's the reception been like so far?
Lizzie: "Really happy with all the reception. We've been hiding in a cave per-se for a while and it feels so good to hear people like the track."
Nigel : "Very happy with the reception to this. It's on hundreds of playlists including a lot of tasty, official Spotify ones so the plays and online conversation about the track has been very positive. It was also very pleasing to have another single and getting the hat trick with Dan Carter over at BBC which is a show I love listening to."
Could you go into detail on the meaning behind the track?
Lizzie: "The track is about how online personalities and life doesn't reflect what reality is. Pressure to be perfect can place a huge weight on so many impressionable people. When you're in the public eye, sometimes the need for approval can possess you, you'll always be chasing the new standard."
This is something we’ve seen some people discussing online a bit lately, what exactly is the cover art for the single?
Lizzie: "Haha it's a jelly made with purple ink with surgical blades inside. Naturally. I was trying to come up with artwork for a long time and nothing was really hitting the spot. My girlfriend suggested jelly as we were looking at those old 50's jelly salads that had a brief popularity. Something about those photos were so strange, the intense mundanity of them inspired me to try and replicate that."
What can we expect from forthcoming coming material?
Lizzie: "Lots of heavy but poppy sad music."
Nigel: "Brooding intensity with lush melodies."
Your music is simultaneously ethereally dreamy and grungy to a crushing degree. How do you unionise these two qualities, is it a natural process?
Lizzie: "I guess it's just something we really enjoy. I prefer writing that gets mutated into a multi faceted piece, rather than straight up rock or so. It could be a sweet vocal melody that would sound better juxtaposed with a dirty bass or a lilting riff with a dirty beat."
Nigel: "Myself and Barry come from more of a heft background than Lizzie does and although we share a lot of influences between the three of us, we're all coming from different directions. Lizzie is a big fan of Cocteau Twins, Bjork, St Vincent and her direction is making what could be very run of the mill rock music (potentially, who knows) sound like something very different entirely. I think you can hear that on 'Gaslight' and our last single, 'Damp Breath' as well as the songs that are to come. On these songs, the rhythm section set the weight and Lizzie envelopes it up with the "ethereally dreamy" (a lovely description) guitar/synth additions and her lush vocals. This meeting in the middle of everything we're all trying to achieve creates what you're talking about.I think? Sometimes it's super, super natural and immediate like it was when writing Gaslight and other times, it takes a little bit of work. We all think about these songs differently as they're being written but when we're in a room together it takes shape and that's why, I think, sometimes it all sounds a little weird, in a good way but uniquely us."
Apart from blogs and the standard music press, you’ve also received praise from massive publications such as The Guardian and The Irish Times – all before releasing a full length. What was it like getting such attention at this stage of your career?
Lizzie: "I think the Irish media are generally on the look out for what bands are doing something different. We we're lucky that we just made a buzz so early on but have never been able to follow it up properly. I think now we should give people what they have been waiting for to merit the lovely writing we received."
Nigel: "Things are a lot easier when you're getting write ups like that and I can't recall a single bad review or analysis about what we're doing so far which makes handling our own fragile egos a lot more manageable. Hopefully they all hang in there with us with the releases to come!"
Dublin has always enjoyed quite a reputation for hosting and nurturing emerging heavy talent. What’s the general scene like, especially when compared to the UK scene?
Lizzie: "Dublin is great for it's different scenes and buzzes. It's quite small so but still so varied that you can have friends and bands in loads of different communities. I think in that way everyone feels like they're transferable, no scene is too exclusive. That leads to better writing in my opinion. Bandmates who might make up one rock band could be all in their own separate acts, and so the development of music isn't so plain. There's rock bands influenced by Lankum and folk bands influenced by Girl Band. I think it's a generally welcoming melting pot creatively and it's obvious it shows."
"Like most cities, independent venues were in a scarce and dark place, before the pandemic. I'm terrified of how many places I have loved that will be closed. But in these times of crushing capitalism, the punks shine through and a new scene is born. Hotels may be built in the places of old lovers but the cracks will be present in the concrete whitewash. The creatives and romantics will just have to find the new spot for a while before the suits come and sterilize it again."
Nigel: "As Ireland is a small island, the Dublin scene is really a focus point for everything that's happening around the country. A lot of people are moving from other parts of the country to focus on music in Dublin. Sometimes, people from outside the capital get excluded from the conversation but when you look at all the bands getting heat right now, very few of them, if any, are exclusively from Dublin but operating from there has become essential for their development. Other people are ex-pats of the scene and working from abroad (e.g. Jape) but although they don't make music here, they are still very much an important part of our national scene. I don't know if that's a cultural thing or a sociological hangover from our connection with the diaspora that begins during The Great Famine but our creators outside of Ireland are still very much connected with what we're all doing here."
"What Lizzie has said about the talent and idea transfer is so true. The scenes are not exclusive or isolated, they are very connected. We are all musicians, we're all chasing the same dream and I think amongst those that are working hard at this, we're all extremely proud of everything (whether we like it or not) that is coming out of the country and support and defend it like we would a family member."
"I honestly can't say if this is any different or the same as UK Vs London but I suppose one thing that differentiates us from other places is that music is a significantly important part of our culture and has been for a long time. While the country was occupied for hundreds of years, every unique aspect of our culture was outlawed and punished if it was practised outside the home. From speaking as Gaeilge, to having our own schools, having Irish placenames etc. Often the only way to express yourself was in secret and many stories and traditions were passed from generation to generation through music, song and poetry. When I was growing up and still to this day, learning a musical instrument is compulsory in schools from a very young age until you're 12 or 13 when it becomes elective. Because of the cultural importance of music and the facilitation of music for everyone in the education curriculum, I think this creates an environment where music is as important as English or Maths. Sadly, this is just not reflected in funding from the Government when you compare it per capita to the UK so I think we've a lot to learn from each other in that respect and I'm hopeful that will change going forward."
Finally, what are some bands from Dublin that should be everyone’s radar?
Lizzie: "Grave Goods (although split between Dublin, Belfast and Manchester) Pretty Happy (Cork) Percolator, Thumper, Pillow Queens, Shifting, The Altered Hours (Cork) and Squarehead."
Nigel: "From around Ireland - The Scratch, AeMak, Rusangano Family, Fontaines DC, Saint Sister, The Murder Capital, Loah, Silverbacks, Just Mustard,Uly, Girl Band, Jafaris, Ailbhe Reddy, Erica Cody."
'Gaslight' is currently streaming and is available to purchase, along with the rest of the discography so far, on Bandcamp. You can find their page here.