Keen-eared devotees of the broader Cork scene will immediately recognise elements of The Gauze’s music at play in new single ‘Uphold’, a slice of dark electronica that takes the layered, textured production approach of Bantum’s Ruairí Lynch, and meets with Ealadha man Dom Murphy’s characteristic vocals and melodic tendencies.
Getting its start when the pair bonded over mutual musical influences while working, the project’s concept predates the ongoing lockdown, but got its start in earnest when the pair started sending ideas back and forth. Chatting over Zoom, Lynch discusses the process of coming together.
“I moved back to Cork and took a job here. Me and Dom started the same day and immediately hit it off over music. When lockdown hit, we got to talking a bit more and jamming. I always have ideas on the go - beats, riffs, etc. I had this one idea we were both really into, and that’s how the first single came about.”
“That first song (‘Sleeper’),” confesses Murphy to Lynch, “you had the riff, and I thought, ‘Jaysus, I’d love to add some vocal to this and see could I do something with it. I remember sending it back to you I was nervous, I didn’t know how you were going to take it. You said you really liked it, and that gave me the confidence to do something different with this. Even my vocals were a different take on my usual, more otherworldly, heavier with the effects.”
Songwriting on a collaborative basis always presents a relationship of perspectives, but doing so during lockdown also throws up the question of communication. Working remotely and sending each other fragments of music and lyrics, the pair have set about a broader understanding of each other's processes.
“It starts with the music, the instrumentals,” says Lynch “I had the beat for ‘Sleeper’, I sent it on, Dom takes care of the vocals, quite similar to how I collaborate anyway, with singers. Dom had more input with ‘Uphold’, and it looks like that’s the direction we’re going in, going back and forth on instrumentals.”
Adds Murphy: “The beauty is we’re both open-minded, open to trying new things. Ruairí had a lot of ideas, and I got into some structuring, adding some piano, some of the beats. My post-rock background, there’s often big shifts in the music, and with ‘Uphold’, we threw song structures out, and it’s nearly two songs in one: the start and verse is very catchy, then we shift to this big anthem midway. We decided to be a bit more ambitious.”
Operating at opposite ends of the sonic spectrum in some ways - Bantum largely being an electronic project and Ealadha residing firmly in the post-rock genre - has brought The Gauze to a commonality of sound and purpose. Getting into the differences and similarities in creative processes is a discussion in itself.
“For me, I guess it’s allowed me to go in a dark direction, musically,” says Lynch. “I keep going back to this track I did years ago, ‘Slide’, that harks at what the Gauze is now, but also I look forward at new ideas, new directions. There’s a lot more experimentation to this, and it’s fun. There’s avenue for trying out new things.”
“I’m the same,” adds Murphy, “for me, there’s less of a degree of responsibility for song creation, because Ruairí is looking after more of that. I could focus more on my vocal, step up my delivery and think about it all more, the concepts of the songs. The music is so murky and moody that it needs a hard-hitting vocal delivery, so there was pressure. That’s been fun in a way, because it meant I had to challenge myself.”
‘Uphold’ is available now on streaming services and Bandcamp, the follow-up to debut single ‘Sleeper’. Both tracks have been met with positive critical responses, with specialist media lending ample coverage, including evening airtime on RTÉ 2FM’s ‘The Alternative’. In challenging circumstances, the duo talk about how their stuff has been received.
“It’s been great. We immediately got support from Dan Hegarty, and we got made Track of the Week, which blew our mind. We got on some playlists on Spotify in the dark and ambient genres, and that’s a new thing for me to look at as well,” says Lynch. “It’s only out a few days, but it’s gotten coverage in all the right areas.”
“For a project that was very experimental, we had no idea what to expect”, adds Murphy. “It’s in one way quite cinematic, and I don’t think there’s too many people doing this kind of music in Ireland, so we really had no idea. It’s great to get this response and we’ll keep going because of it.”
Launching a musical project and carrying it on remotely is one thing, but getting it out there in the absence of live gigs, as we’ve seen in this parish since the onset of the first lockdown, is quite another. Live-streaming and digital releases have been a way for artists to stay in the public consciousness while other aspects of promotion are still on the other side of a long readjustment period.
“It’s not that different from how I used to do things,” opines Lynch. “I was talking to (Bantum collaborator) Loah about this, even when we lived in the same city we did a lot of work remotely. It’s only until the last year we sat in studio together, and it’s been much the same with Dom. The big thing missing, is the option to play gigs and promote live.”
“That in one way has been easier”, reckons Murphy, “because that’s one aspect of it that we haven’t even had to think about yet. We were thinking, ‘how will we package this live?’, but we haven’t needed to look into it much.”
It’s been an exciting time for music on Leeside despite the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. Developments like the online opening of record shops like Plugd and MusicZone have shown the resilience of community spaces, while the work done by the Live Music Collective points to a collaborative future for the city’s venues in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic environment. The pair discuss their lockdown highlights.
“I’ve been streaming gigs, buying more vinyl,” says Murphy. “In terms of the Cork scene, I feel as though the scene is gathering together to support artists a lot more. There’s a sense of looking out for one another, and you have to keep that alive.”
“I’ve been checking out the Plugd website. I was watching the Tan Jackets playing the Crane Lane, they were the last band I saw live before lockdown. The Other Voices series has been fantastic, and it’s good to see good production going into these things. You notice a lot more support for Irish artists in particular.”
The other side of lockdown holds the promise of ‘getting back to it’ for live music in general, and for projects like the Gauze, moving into a live iteration is the next major milestone. With that being said, things are moving along at a good pace at present for the pair, and with a lack of clarity on what said future presents, they’re content with furthering their sonic journey.“The next thing is working on new songs,” states Murphy. “Tonnes of ideas. We’re both guitarists, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that makes its way in.”“To date, making this kind of music comes quickly to me”, adds Lynch, “so the plan this year definitely is an E.P.”
The Gauze’s new single ‘Uphold’ is available now on streaming services, and for download and adding to your Bandcamp collection at https://thegauze.bandcamp.com/track/sleeper. Single artwork by Robin Foley at Hurrah Hurrah.
Follow The Gauze on Facebook and on Twitter at @thegauzeband.
Follow The Gauze on Facebook and on Twitter at @thegauzeband.