Sherkin gears up to host Open Ear Festival

Vicky Langan is responsible for Programming, Artistic Development and Special Projects for the Open Ear Festival
Sherkin gears up to host Open Ear Festival
Vicky Langan, responsible for Programming, Artist Development and Special Projects for Sherkin’s annual Open Ear Festival.

TELL us about yourself

I’m a Cork-based multidisciplinary artist, primarily working with sound. I make films with Maximilian Le Cain and Experimental Film Society. I’m part of the team behind a unique festival of Irish experimental and electronic music on Sherkin Island called Open Ear.

I occasionally DJ weird music at O’Sho on Barrack Street (and further afield). You might also see me helping out at music events like Live at St Luke’s, It Takes A Village and Quarter Block Party.

Where were you born?

I was born in Galway and grew up in Tuam and Galway city. I left the west when I was 17 and made a life for myself here in Cork.

Where do you live?

Ballinlough, Cork. It’s a lovely, peaceful area. Town, the marina, the old train line, Beaumount Quarry and the Douglas farmers’ market are all a quick cycle away.


I have a husband who lectures in CIT and a daughter, aged 12, who plays camogie for Brian Dillons.

Best friend?

My husband, Dave. Aside from him, I have a small handful of very close friends in different counties/countries that I speak to every day. My two main group chats are constantly pinging with a slew of dumb internet stuff, mutual encouragement, counsel, and internet dogs.

My Finland-based friend and I mostly communicate solely by sending each other pictures of our cats or books we’ve recently read, found or bought.

Earliest childhood memory?

I remember the foamy, lumpy texture of the wallpaper beside my cot. My mother tells me that one morning she discovered that that same (rented accommodation) wallpaper had been picked at and peeled off in huge strips, measuring about the same height as a standing toddler and constrained to the area directly beside my cot. I denied having anything to do with it.

Person you most admire?

Virginia O’Gara from My Goodness. We are so lucky to have this woman in our community.

She is constantly inspiring — the most generous, intelligent, resourceful, kind and hilarious anarchist. Whenever I feel emotionally rudderless or like negative thought is getting the better of me, the knowledge that truly good people like her exist inspires me to rearrange my thoughts and grow a little.

Who would you like to see as

Minister for Finance and why?

I’m not an economist, I’m not in a position to nominate anyone and the current housing crisis is far too serious for me or anyone else to come up with a jokey answer here. The situation in this country is appalling and with a fifth (or is it a quarter?) of TDs in Dáil Éireann acting as landlords, I believe that the current government is ideologically opposed to doing what needs to be done to protect even more people from becoming homeless. I have personally stood in the office of Threshold with a lump in my throat, asking for contact details of the homeless hostel for women and children. Those with power are blind to the despair and destitution that they should be doing everything they can to prevent.

The Open Ear Festival runs May 30 to June 2
The Open Ear Festival runs May 30 to June 2

Where was your most

memorable holiday?

When I was nine, I spent a few weeks exploring the length of the Californian coast with my mother and our brilliant American cousin who lived in Santa Cruz.

I remember waking up to sunshine, the smell of eucalyptus mingling with hidden skunks in the bushes, seeing a hummingbird in the garden, my first farmers’ market, learning how to recycle, watching worms pump and writhe in a wormery, climbing over and around the roots of giant sequoia trees, swimming in the pacific, seeing musclemen work out on Venice beach, watching an old woman rollerblade in a bikini, and asking my cousin to explain what the black-on-yellow silhouetted ‘running family’ signs meant as we got close to the Mexican border.

It was all so unlike anything I could have encountered back home in ’90s Ireland and opened me up to the possibility of a looser, simpler, more thoughtful way of living.

Favourite TV programme?

My all time favourites would be Twin Peaks, The Sopranos, Deadwood and Horace and Pete. More recently, I’ve been recommending Succession and Enlightened to friends.

Favourite radio show?

My favourite shows and podcasts are Backlisted, In Our Time, The FFFoxy Podcast, Fae Ma Bit Tae Ur Bit and lot of programmes on WFMU and Dublin Digital Radio.

Open Ear and Dublin Digital Radio have partnered up for a series of festival-related broadcasts called Open Air. The first three (including one from myself) are archived on Mixcloud.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Keralan fish curry with lemon and mint rice. The combination of red chilies, tamarind tang and turmeric-laden neon yellow broth is pure heaven to me. It gets good feedback.

Favourite restaurant?

My Goodness and Miyazaki.

Last book you read?

Resurrection Man by Sligo-based Northern Irish writer Eoin McNamee. He is just amazing. I would love to meet him some day.

Best book you read?

Very difficult to pin one down. Here are some recent books that I loved! Die, My Love — Ariana Harwicz, Ghost Wall — Sarah Moss, Territory of Light — Yuko Tsushima, The White Book — Han Kang.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Myself and my husband regularly order music from several European labels and distributors so we’re never short of new music.

Two standouts from this year so far would be the box set reissue of Swedish text-sound composer Åke Hodell, and the Reynols box set Minecxio Emanations 1993-2018.

Favourite song?

Dorothy Carter’s 1976 song Shirt of Lace. I walked into the registry office on my wedding day to it.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I regret not making it to a Leonard Cohen concert while he was still alive.

Do you have a pet?

A black cat with vampire fangs called Binsky Bungo. A close friend in the weird music underground came up with this funny expression/lyric ‘Ka Bella Binsky Bungo!’ back in the ’70s. It means everything and nothing.

Our other cat, a tortoiseshell boss called Peggy, went missing around October and we’re hoping she’ll make a dramatic return any day now. She’s microchipped so fingers crossed.

Your proudest moment?

I am dead proud of my kid. Whether it’s overhearing her try to figure out how to play KISS’s I Was Made For Loving You on her tin whistle, seeing what a good friend she is to her pals, watching the bond between her and our cat or helping her navigate this weird world on her own terms, I find endless reasons to be proud of her every day.

Spendthrift or saver?

Neither, I’m sad to admit. I’ve never been in a position to save any money. As a family, we are quite content with living very simply and we just about manage to make ends meet.

My husband and I are both passionate about experimental music so buying records is our only diversion in a world of scrimping and borrowing. We haven’t had a holiday in over a decade and right now, more than anything else, we would love to go on a brain-dead sun holiday with no phones.

Name one thing you would

improve in your area in which you live?

Better cycling infrastructure throughout Cork city. We love cycling together as a family but it’s so dangerous in the city. You can’t trust the cycle lanes because they disappear, or drivers are parking in them, pushing us out into traffic.

Segregated cycle lanes and greenway expansions would be life-changing.

What makes you happy?

I love hanging out with my husband and kid, cooking with good music on, being in the company of people who make me laugh.

How would you like to be remembered?

People often pass comment on how constantly busy I am, whereas my own impression of myself is that of a lazy, procrastinating, self-sabotaging lump. My woeful memory and intense instincts means I live fully and completely for the present, which can be frustrating for my long-suffering husband when it comes to domestic paperwork, school responsibilities and appointments that need keeping.

I don’t mind how I’m remembered. I’ve had a lot of fun, I’ve loved fiercely and I deeply miss friends who’ve passed. I’ve found that I draw something meaningful from the memory of their potential and energy, and that this helps me keep going. When I die, I hope that some essence of mine helps propel someone when they need it.

What else are you up to at the


I am collaborating with an American-based friend called Aaron Dilloway for Open Ear Festival on Sherkin Island. Aaron is an incredible improviser/performer who primarily works with tape loops and I’m very excited to be back working together, especially as this will be his first Irish performance. He is one of my favourite artists.

Film-wise, myself and my collaborative partner Max have another big project in development. Also, this June and July I’ll be co-managing the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, opening and closing the building, invigilating the artwork, speaking with visitors, etc. I’ll be recording and conducting my own research during my time off and am very much looking forward to wandering the streets of Venice alone at night.


Now in its fourth year, Open Ear Festival will run from May 30 to June 2, on Sherkin Island, giving a platform to Irish artists involved in the experimental and electronic music scene. It will feature more than 50 performances from the likes of Donal Dineen, J Colleran, Gadget and the Cloud, Dublin Digital Radio and more. Full details available at

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