A User’s Guide To The Derry Music Scene

Posted on: October 15th, 2013

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With people already counting down the days until Christmas, the end of 2013 will be here before we know it. With that, tragically, the highly successful City of Culture year for Derry-Londonderry will come to an end. To make the most of what’s left of the Maiden City love-in, I’ve compiled a list of the key bands that have made the biggest splash in the NI musical ocean, and showcased the talent oozing from the glorious city better than any others.

Little Bear

Since founding in 2012, the only way has been up for the folk four-piece. When Alex Trimble’s laryngitis meant Two Door Cinema Club had to pull out of the final night of Other Voices back in February, creator and producer Philip King snapped up the Derry lads to replace them after seeing them draw masses to St Augustine’s Church the previous day.  They didn’t disappoint, and more than held their own in The Glassworks with James Yorkston, Daughter and Beth Orton. They were invited back to play the subsequent Other Voices festival in Wilton’s Music Hall, London, and have since wowed crowds from both sides of the border at Glasgowbury, Castlepalooza, Indiependence, Stendhal and Electric Picnic. As part of their Autumn Irish tour, they played two NI dates- Limelight 2 in Belfast and The Nerve Centre in Derry on the 4th and 5th October respectively. Intriguingly, they had no shortage of new material on display, which showcased the typical Little Bear sound: heartfelt lyrics and beautiful melodies blurring the divide between the intimate and the anthemic. Is it too early to be excited for their inevitable album release?

Listen to: Night Dries Like Ink, The Few and Far Between

For fans of: Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Villagers


The City of Culture year has been a productive one for singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, but it all kicked off in February 2012 when the teenager sat on The Jammhouse sofa, a bi-monthly music event held by The Playhouse in Derry. Her delicate sound and powerful lyrics caused such a stir that she was asked to do another gig, and then another. With lyrics like Sea Creatures’ “They don’t know what love is, throw it around like it’s worthless”, Snow’s “Sometimes you’ve got to be sad to realise what you had”, and Numb’s “I know you wonder, why does everyone you know have to die”, this is a girl producing deep, dark lyrics well beyond her years. Whilst one might argue that all of this wasn’t the best preparation for your GCSEs, SOAK was soon noticed by BBC’s Across The Line, and received an increasing amount of plays on local radio. By the end of 2012 Bridie had released two EPs (Trains and Sea Creatures) and gigged relentlessly; being called on by Snow Patrol to support their sell-out Acoustic Christmas gig in the Waterfront Hall. This year SOAK has built on that by playing the Sons and Daughters concert to kick of the City of Culture year alongside the Derry musical royalty of Phil Coulter, Neil Hannon, Dana and The Undertones. With Philip King seeing her as a symbol of peace in Northern Ireland no less, she’s played both the Dingle and Derry Other Voices concerts, and in a hectic summer, played Sea Sessions, Glasgowbury, Longitude, Castlepalooza, Indiependence, Belsonic and Electric Picnic. SOAK will be supporting Bombay Bicycle Club on their Autumn Tour, including dates in Limelight 2 and The Nerve Centre on the 26th and 27th November respectively.

Listen to: Sea Creatures, Numb

For fans of: Lisa Hannigan, Feist

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Born in Belfast, bred in Derry, I’m a beard-bearing, six foot three, accountant-turned-Zoology-student at QUB. I once asked to have my picture taken with Duke Special but the flash didn’t work. I’m still bitter.

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