NEW TO HOT PRESS: RISING ACTS YOU SHOULD KEEP AN EYE AND AN EAR ON
Playing together for the past four years, Ballina quartet Billow Wood originally formed as Flat Out, with the catalyst being a trip to Klagenfurt, Austria for St. Patrick’s Day in 2013.
“It was just for a one-off gig,” explains Billow Wood accordionist Brid O’Donnell. “But we really liked the sound that we created, so we thought, ‘Will we just give this a go?’ Obviously our sound developed an awful lot over the four years. Originally, we would have sung a modern song and done a trad twist on it. Whereas now, we’re writing our own music and developing our sound an awful lot more.”
Billow Wood mix modern folk influences
(Vance Joy, The Head And The Heart) with pop melodies echoing Florence And The Machine, with each member contributing on vocals. “We’re all rooted in trad,” notes Brid. “We would have all gone to Bofield Comhaltas in the local area, so that’s one thing we had in common.”
With Billow Wood, it’s a family affair: band members Ciara and Mark are first cousins. Brid, coincidentally, shares the cousins’ family name, so Harry is perhaps the odd one out. A notable moment for the band came with Pieta House choosing their track ‘Turn Out The Light’ to soundtrack the On Your Bike To Save A Life campaign. ‘Dreamland’, meanwhile, was featured in an ad for Mayo tourism. The group’s own videos perfectly complement their music, with Ciaran O’Donnell helming two stunning clips for ‘Two Doves’ and the aforementioned ‘Turn Out The Light’.
As well as telling self-contained stories, the videos showcase some incredible scenery from the west – including Downpatrick Head and Achill Island – and nicely capture the traditional feel of Billow Wood’s music. Notably, the ‘Two Doves’ promo features two talented dancers, Ciara Ginty and Dimitri Cusnir.
“It’s about a relationship,” explains Brid. “The person who wrote it felt like she wanted to break up with her partner. However, it’s about feeling anxious over breaking up, ’cos you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.”