Cork Rising: Showcasing our super talent in true Cork style

Ronan Leonard looks forward to a pair of concerts at Cork’s Cyprus Avenue featuring eight up-and-coming acts which all seem to have a sense of connection with each other
Cork Rising: Showcasing our super talent in true Cork style

The Neon Cars are looking forward to Cork Rising: ‘Cyprus Avenue was our first gig as a band.’

Cork Rising is a pair of concerts put together by Cyprus Avenue to showcase eight up-and-coming acts from Cork.

While the musicians may differ in style, they all share a desire to progress with their music during 2023. Having these showcase concerts so early in the year is helping them all create momentum, as Arthur Valentine puts it... “Being able to step into the new year with an exciting show like this is a great way to start 2023. Even having a reason to get the band in the same room so early in the year to rehearse gets everyone talking and planning for the next few months.”

Letterbox Kid is excited in two different ways when talking about the line-up. “I can say I’ve been at least an admirer of each of the acts over the years, and I’m really looking forward to the event not just as a performer but a fan of the Cork music scene as well. This Cork Rising event really feels like something special on the turn of 2023. To be recognised as a notable figure in music here is just wonderful. Being asked to take part in this event really fills me with confidence, it makes it feel as though I’m on the right track in my career.

Ebben Phlö: Cork-based psyche pop/rock duo Kevin Ring and James Moone.
Ebben Phlö: Cork-based psyche pop/rock duo Kevin Ring and James Moone.

“I’ve worked really hard these past several years and I feel like this could be the year where all the hard work pays off. But as a music attendee, it also feels like Cork supporting Cork. After some really difficult years in the music scene during Covid. I can guarantee that these will be great nights for everyone involved. It will be a beautiful weekend, I can’t wait.”

Kevin O’Brien, the lead singer of The Neon Cars, reflects that the venue is close to their heart. “Cyprus Avenue was actually our first gig as a band. Supporting local music and giving us a big stage to play means so much, big thanks to Sean and the Cyprus Avenue crew for having us. 2023 already looks like it’s going to be a good one, unlike the start of 2022 and Covid.”

Speaking of first gigs, Cork Rising will also feature Rex Arcum debuting a new collaborative line up. “The opportunity to kickstart our year with Cork Rising is incredibly exciting. It will be the first gig where Syano and I perform simultaneously as a duo where we both do lead vocals and guitar. Along with our band behind us (filled out by Christian Hurley on bass and Ciaran Nevin on drums), we are stoked to deliver a massive, gritty, alternative hip-hop sound that hasn’t been heard in Ireland before. This gig marks the beginning of a new era for us and we cannot wait.”

Hant, a new solo project by Dylan Howe, is also being seen for the first time live. “I’m incredibly excited about this show as it’s a totally new set for me, so I’ve hit the ground running working on it for January, gearing up for it, and it’s great to be able to perform it in such a great venue like Cyprus Avenue,” he said.

Arthur Valentine: Knows some of the other acts and has great respect for the ‘incredible’ artists.
Arthur Valentine: Knows some of the other acts and has great respect for the ‘incredible’ artists.

As opposed to eight bands just playing their set, there seems to be a sense of connection growing between them all, as Rex continued. “I’ve gotten to know everyone a little online since the gig got announced and I can’t wait to meet everyone in person! Each artist is incredibly kind and talented and I can’t wait to watch their careers advance throughout 2023. It’s a very exciting time to be a music fan in Ireland and I hope the general public can start to pay more attention to what Ireland and its emerging music scene has to offer.”

Continuing on the theme, Arthur Valentine has already played with some of the other acts. “Strangely I know a few of them from different walks of life. I met Letterbox Kid through friends, he’s a legend and I love his music. I played a show earlier in the year with Sam Healy, he’s a beast. I’ve known Kev and James from Ebben Phlö for years. I know Dylan (Hánt) very well, we both played with 1,000 Beasts all last year. The dude’s insanely talented, one of the best musicians I’ve met. They’re all incredible artists.”

Syano & Rex Arcum play Cyprus Avenue on Friday, January 20.
Syano & Rex Arcum play Cyprus Avenue on Friday, January 20.

Dylan’s new project is something that has a clear direction, in both the short and long term: “Hánt is very personal to me, these songs are about my life stories and the notches along the way that have brought me to this point. In terms of the sound and vision, I like to flip the aims of them a little bit, so with the sound I want it to be like an impressionist painting — I’m a massive fan of the romantic eras in visual art and music, Monet, Debussy etc. Everything comes from the music then, so the visuals, logo, feel etc will all stem from the music itself. For the gig I’ll be playing piano, guitar, trumpet, singing, and playing samples I recorded myself to accompany the songs. At the moment I’m building the set as a soloist but will definitely work with other musicians in the future!”

It’s a common thread among the acts on the bill to be describing their music with broad terms. “Right now I’d have to say I’m a hip-hop guy, I think it’s a really happening genre all over the world and we’re really starting to find our stride with it in Ireland. And it makes perfect sense to me, Ireland has always been a country of poets and storytellers and I feel like that’s at the root of every good hip-hop song.

“Having said that, ‘avant garde’ is a term I like to use to describe my music; veering towards the cutting edge of things, pushing boundaries, blending genres, using instruments and textures which sound new. I like to think I have quite a unique sound and you’ll always hear something you’re not expecting. I can’t wait to show people everything I’ve been working on over this past year, from choppy beats to grand ballads, and I promise to put all of my passion for what I do into my performance.”

Talking about his own music, Arthur also doesn’t get too rigid about genres. “You could probably describe the music I make as ‘alternative R’n’B’, but to be honest, I think if you looked at the songs I’ve released to date, a lot would fall outside of that definition. We have the full band for this show, a five-piece, so I’m looking forward to just trying to bring as much energy and dynamism to the stage as possible.”

The energy levels will be matched by The Neon Cars as Kevin explained the ambition of the band. “We are an indie rock band with synth added in as well to help differentiate our sound, and we see room for a band out there with our sound. There’s not enough guitars on the radio nowadays. I think Covid and the lockdowns allowed bands to rework their sound and get stronger with their writing, which is what we feel happened to us.”

Rex Arcum has also noticed a change in his writing style. “I’m a rap/rock artist who’s largely inspired by 2000s era acts like Linkin Park but I bring a more modern and personal twist to the fusion of genres with inspirations such as Biffy Clyro and Bring Me The Horizon on the rock/metal side of things, merged with the likes of Tyler the Creator and Joey Valence & Brae on the hip-hop side of my sound.

“Up until now, I’ve always preferred riding solo. Music is a very personal thing for me, I love getting lost and immersed in the creation process by myself though being able to fully collaborate with Syano on this gig and upcoming projects is incredibly fun and refreshing, it has put us both out of our comfort zone and as a result, we have prepared some of our best work to date which we can’t wait to share with everyone.”

Cork Rising Day One features Arthur Valentine, The Neon Cars, Letterbox Kid and Syano & Rex Arcum on Friday, January 20, with Day Two featuring Sam Healy, Straif, Ebben Phlö and Hánt appearing on Saturday, January 21. Tickets and further information can be found at www.cyprusavenue.ie

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