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A se­lec­tion of top Ir­ish artists give us the low­down on their lo­cal mu­sic scenes.

Re­bekah Fitch has be­come a North­ern Ir­ish pop phe­nom­e­non. Her ex­cel­lent sin­gle ‘Need To Feel’ earned her a well-de­served spot on the Hot Press Hot For 2019 list, and no less a gure than Gary Light­body has de­scribed her as hav­ing “Great songs and a pow­er­house of a voice.” We caught up with the Belfast na­tive to hear her ex­pe­ri­ences within the thriv­ing North­ern Ir­ish mu­sic scene.

“I wasn’t aware of what was go­ing on here grow­ing up. It was only when I went to univer­sity in England that I got in­ter­ested in mu­sic. That’s when I started look­ing into what was hap­pen­ing in Belfast. When I was young I would’ve known the mas­sive acts like Two Door Cin­ema Club and Snow Patrol, but in terms of lo­cal groups, I didn’t know any­one in bands. It was only when I started do­ing it my­self that I be­gan to see bands from Belfast that I looked up to and wanted to work with.

“I’ve had great chats with Chey­lene from Beauty Sleep – she’s al­ways been re­ally en­cour­ag­ing. Neil from

The Emer­ald Ar­mada has also been a mas­sive sup­port. In terms of gigs, I love to play at The Em­pire (42 Botanic Ave, Belfast). It feels like a spe­cial place be­cause of the decor and his­tory. McHugh’s Base­ment (29-31 Queen’s Square, Belfast) is a real sta­ple of the scene. Every­body has played there, it’s like a rite of pas­sage. The Black Box (1822 Hill St, Belfast) is great and they’ve started putting on re­ally cool gigs at the Duke Of York (7-11 Com­mer­cial Ct, Belfast). It’s one of those pubs where, when you go in­side, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

“The main stu­dio where a lot of peo­ple record is Start To­gether in the Oh Yeah Cen­tre (15-21 Gordon St, Belfast). Rocky runs it and he’s amaz­ing. I’ve done all my record­ings with Owen McGarry at his stu­dio Zomer­hof, just above The Na­tional. There’s enough choice that you can nd some­one that clicks with the genre you want to work in.

“Mu­si­cians tend to con­gre­gate at 39 Gordon St., but ba­si­cally any­where around the Cathe­dral Quar­ter, be­cause that’s where they play: places like the Harp Bar (35 Hill St, Belfast), Duke Of York and the Dirty Onion (3 Hill St, Belfast). For ra­dio, the BBC have been fan­tas­tic, es­pe­cially Across The Line and Gerry Kelly. The Cool FM guys and Mau­rice Jay from U105 are also re­ally helpful. Aine Cronin-McCart­ney – who works with Quiet Arch, which is run by Lyn­don Stephens, who man­ages Joshua Burn­side, Ryan Vail and Malo­jian – does vlogs that high­light up-and-com­ing acts, with a new top ve ev­ery month and gig re­views.”

Re­bekah Fitch launches her new EP Lies We Tell Our­selves on April 12. She will play Belfast and Dublin dates in May.

“I love to play at The Em­pire. It feels like a spe­cial place be­cause of the decor and his­tory.”

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