Looking ahead - Cork musicians talk about their hopes for 2021

With a year of challenges, opportunities, and rebuilding ahead for music in Cork city, Cork's musicians, promoters, venue heads and journalists talk with Mike McGrath-Bryan about their hopes for the near future.
Looking ahead - Cork musicians talk about their hopes for 2021

Elaine Malone: I can't wait to be in a room again hearing my friends play. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan.

STEVIE G (DJ, radio host, promoter, columnist, producer) 

I hope we get physical gigs back, and I can't wait to DJ to actual people again. I hope more of our artists manage to get recorded too, as i think Cork is a little behind the rest of the country, especially in zones that I specialise in, such as hip-hop and soul. Limitations and restrictions and struggles are always bad, but good music often manifests itself from bad times, and I'm always optimistic for tomorrow.

KESTINE UGBODU (Outsiders Ent) 

I hope that every artist, band, DJ, and instrumentalist represents Cork to the best of our abilities within our art, I hope that we put out music that represents the immense, diverse talent in our county, and I hope we make music that inspires and is able to compete with what the UK, US and the rest of the world puts out in 2021.

ELAINE MALONE (singer-songwriter, Soft Focus, Mantua, HEX) 

I hope we'll be able create sustainable ways of generating income for artists like universal basic income and fair streaming rates. I can't wait to be in a room again hearing my friends play.

JOE O’LEARY (Fred, Levis’ of Ballydehob) 

I think the most amazing thing that came out of 2020, and lockdown upon lockdown, was that it gave us all the thing that's most precious... time. We suddenly had time. Some people were very uncomfortable with time, as they were so used to rushing, but what it allowed most of us to do, was to come together. There were new friendships made, and old ones reinvigorated, and new collectives set up such as the Live Venue Collective that has already left a positive mark on the gigging landscape. The idea to do things together that we had all talked about, and half started down through the years, but then ran out of time to follow through on… we all just got a little closer, and we all understand each other’s roles a lot better now and that can only lead to positive change in the arts. That’s my hope for 2021, that the camaraderie and co-operation within the artistic community of Ireland continues and grows.

RAY BLACKWELL (DeBarra’s of Clonakilty) 

The Cork scene will continue to thrive: friendships, creativity, innovation and support are the cornerstones of this scene, and when you have those elements nothing can stop you. My own personal hopes are that we can all weather another lockdown professionally and personally. Also, it might be time for me to start tuning into Joe Wickes.

JONATHAN PEARSON (director, Quiet Lights festival, Islander Presents) 

I think what is most important here is that our cultural institutions are supported until they can open their doors again to full houses. To lose anymore venues would be a tragedy. I am confident that this will happen. In terms of hopes, I'm tentatively hoping that we will brave this Winter, and when the weather improves we can enjoy outdoor events - Cork Midsummer are literally a world leader in this - and when the Autumn rolls in we will be able to congregate in our brilliant venues again. I can't wait for that day.

LAS SALAMANDAS (West Cork duo) 

We think 2021 will probably look kind of similar to 2020 when it comes to the arts, while we hope it’ll all miraculously go back to normal, we have to be realistic and just cope with how it has been. I think when summer comes, and it’ll be warm enough for outdoor events there will be more things on but people will still be pretty cautious about the virus. Whatever happens I think the people of Ireland and Cork will continue to support each other and in a couple of years we will go back to normal, and we will really appreciate our arts. The Cork art scene is amazing and we are so lucky to be a part of it. Live music is a big part of the Irish culture and we need to keep it alive.

MICHAEL CARR (director, Blue Monkey PR) 

I think if you ask any performer, or venue owner, they would much rather see an audience present in the room, bringing that atmosphere you can only get through live interaction. It's one of the reasons international artists have loved playing in this country over the years and that should never be forgotten or replaced. What we have is a means to an end at the moment, but I think 'end' is the key word here.

JULIA PAWLAK (Red Sun Alert) 

New ideas are coming from every corner right now! Better days are on the way. We are adapting and will continue to do so for 2021. Technology is a fantastic tool.

ENDA BOYLE (Red Sun Alert) 

As far as the Cork scene goes, we can only hope gigs come back at some point this year. Some of us in Red Sun Alert have been working away in the background on a new collective, so it'd be great to put on some gigs, and go touring again with that.

DYLAN WALSH (Red Sun Alert) 

Hopefully we'll just be able to gig and see people again!

TOMÁS DALY (Laserface, Ctrl-Alt-Delete) 

The Cork scene in 2021 is a scary thought at the moment, but exciting too... to stare into the unknowable is always exciting to me.

Cathal Donovan O'Neill: I hope our artists don’t end up heading to greener pastures.
Cathal Donovan O'Neill: I hope our artists don’t end up heading to greener pastures.

CATHAL DONOVAN-O’NEILL (music editor, UCC Express) 

I hope that there’s still a scene here – that our myriad of venues don’t wind up as student accommodation and the artists don’t end up heading to greener pastures.

Mags Blackburn: My hope is that the talented people that live in Cork or move there have enough faith to revitalise it.
Mags Blackburn: My hope is that the talented people that live in Cork or move there have enough faith to revitalise it.

MAGS BLACKBURN (musician.ie, Blue Monkey PR) 

Cork has experienced a lot of hardship in the past decade and more. Recession and immigration have left a visible mark on the city and its cultural scene. My hope is that the talented people that live in Cork or move there have enough faith to revitalise it. There is plenty of inspiration and initiative out there. Live events will live side by side with virtual ones. Experiences will challenge traditional retail on the city streets and it will be interesting to see how this will be implemented.

Julie Landers: I have faith in and love for the music being made here.
Julie Landers: I have faith in and love for the music being made here.

JULIE LANDERS (staff writer, UCC Express) 

I’m worried that my hopes for the Cork scene would be rooted in irrational nostalgia. I’m always wary of talking about how much better things were before and transplanting that idea onto a future I don’t know. But I have faith in and love for the music being made here and what it communicates about the folks who make it.

Cian Mullane: The Cork scene will always be there no matter what epidemic tries to stop it.
Cian Mullane: The Cork scene will always be there no matter what epidemic tries to stop it.

CIAN MULLANE (God Alone/Red Sun Alert) 

Online gigs are class and I love watching them, the Cork scene will always be there no matter what epidemic tries to stop it. As long as there are class musicians and promoters in the city, which there will always be, then the Cork scene will never cease to be unreal.

NIALL DENNEHY (Art Crimes Band) 

From what I learned, the most important thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and each day will seem less daunting than the last. Losing momentum is where the self-doubt kicks in. If you have free time that was not of your choosing you now have the time and the excuse to do things you might have been putting off for a long time. Learning an instrument, learning to cook, finishing that screenplay or book idea, borrowing an old camera and learning photography if that's what you always fancied. You could be the next awesome person at any of those things. You can still be really successful without being really famous and it's not always just down to luck. You will miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take. And no, you're not too old to make a start.

JIM SPILLANE (Dirty Casuals) 

I hope that when all this is said and done people don't take a gig for granted ever again. No matter how big or small. We all do this for a reason, and it's made all the more poignant by the outcry for live music to return to our lives.

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