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For Kodaline, music isn’t just music. “It’s therapy,” says singer Steve Garrigan.
“Break-ups make it really easy to write”, laughs blonde-haired Steve. “When we write music, the first thing we think of is, it’s therapy for us. Then we think of how we can use that feeling to touch as many people as possible.”
Teaching each other the principles of songcraft, the music they came up with – some of which can be found on their self titled EP (released in Ireland on Friday 7th September) – isn’t wan or introspective or self-serving. Instead, it’s bold, epic and stirring.
Currently maintaining an air of understated mystery (their Facebook bio used to state, merely, “we’re four lads in a band”, Kodaline are soon set to unveil themselves to the world with these first four tracks recorded with Steve Harris (producer for Dave Matthews band, mixer for U2).
Steve, Mark and drummer Vinny May – all aged 22 and 23 – have been working towards this moment for much of their young lives. Growing up in houses just two minutes away from each other in Swords, Steve and Mark met aged eight, when they were the only boys in the school choir. “We were there to pick up girls, of course”, jokes Mark.
Six years later, at a youth retreat, both were placed in the same house and both took guitars. A musical bond was formed over late night singalongs. Returning to Swords, they recruited Vinny, who also lived two minutes away (“Swords is a small place, for a big town” says Steve), and set about forming the first of myriad bands. The line-up was recently completed by bassist Jason Boland.
San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. His self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by his unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly.
After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on life's top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.
The first track released from the album, “Sonsick,” tackles many of these larger themes head-on. ”It’s like a panic attack disguised as a birthday party,” Ludwig-Leone says. ”I realized that the most intense moments are the ones in which conflicting emotional worlds exist inside you, equally, at once.”
San Fermin is not an album of singles but rather a sweeping, full-bodied listen with multiple distinct peaks and ambitious thematic connections. Ludwig-Leone composed all of the album’s arrangements and lyrics in full prior to collaborating and recording, noting that “writing for a large group of unknown musicians infused the writing process with a kind of operatic scope.
Since then, the band has coalesced into a core of eight members in addition to Ludwig-Leone: Allen Tate and Rae Cassidy, lead vocals; Rebekah Durham, vocals/violin; John Brandon, trumpet; Stephen Chen, saxophone; Tyler McDiarmid, guitar; and Mike Hanf, drums.