ARCHEOLOGICAL SIBLINGS DIG THE DIRT ON SONGWRITING SECRETS
Ye Vagabonds talk about the key to their recent success on the Irish folk circuit
Ever since they formed Ye Vagabonds, Carlow brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn have taken a unique approach to song writing.
Using a combination of amateur archaeology and intelligent melody writing, the duo have amassed an impressive catalogue of work.
Their repertoire includes a combination of original songs alongside - in some cases – centuries old music, dug up and reworked to their own unique style.
It’s a process that has at times consumed Brian for months at a time.
“It’s like archaeology,” he told The Beat.
“You dig and dig for old songs, looking for ones that people might think are extinct and then you rework them and play them using different instruments.
I go through periods of time where I spend a few months looking for material.
It’s very similar to writing – you get into a flow where you can’t stop for a few months, it can get to a point where you’re just constantly thinking of new words and melodies for things you’ve found.
“For example that version of The Lowlands Of Holland that we sing I found the lyrics for that song in a book that was written in the 1860’s .
“I based the melody around songs that were sung around Donegal and Ulster in the same era, and an older version of the song. “The arrangement is my own”. After moving to Dublin in 2012, Ye Vagabonds quickly became a mainstay on the Irish live music circuit – introducing their blend of original and traditional folk music to venues around the city.
In 2014 the brothers attracted the attention of Arbitus Yarns music filmmaker Myles O’reilly, (right) whose videos garnered international attention for the duo for the first time.
However it was a chance meeting with Glen Hansard at Electric
Picnic that proved the catalyst for their first big opportunity.
“I was just wandering around the Salty Dog stage at Electric Picnic – I think I was picking up my fiddle – and I just bumped into him (Hansard). said Brian.
“He said he had seen videos that Myles O Reilly had made of us, and invited me to play with him on stage an hour later.
“A few days later we got an email through our booking agent asking us would we like to go on tour – which was incredible.
“It was such an amazing experience - that whole trip took us by surprise and was a massive morale booster.
“It was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened”.
The brothers recently launched their debut, self-titled album to great acclaim. “Ye Vagabonds” comprises of harmony rich folk music, influenced by Irish traditional music, Appalachian singing, and the 1960’s folk revival.
It includes 10 mellow tracks weaved with thoughtful lyrics, thickly layered with strings and droning harmonium.
They are currently working on their second release which will likely see daylight in early 2018.
“The stuff that we’re working on is a collection of traditional songs recorded in both Irish and English,” says Brían.
“It’s a collection of songs that we’ve found and re-worked from around Ulster and Donegal.
“There are a few from Aran Mor where our mother is from aswell.
“The first album would be more for people who are into original songs whereas the album we’re working on now focuses on more traditional work.”
Following sold out album launch shows in Dublin and
Carlow, they’re set to continue their album launch tour to: Live at