HWCH Q&A: Jealous of the Birds
Naomi Hamilton from Jealous of the Birds talks about being a musician in 2016
Hard Working Class Heroes festival and convention kicks off next Thursday with three days and nights of musicians making music and people talking about music. Ahead of the festival, we’ve spoken to a number of acts about what it’s like to be in a band in 2016 and here’s what Naomi Hamilton from Jealous of the Birds had to say. Catch Jealous of the Birds at Tengu Downstairs on Friday night at 9pm
If you were to point an Irish Times reader to the best example of your work, what would it be and why?
“Back in May this year, I released my debut LP “Parma Violets” and since then it’s been nominated for the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2016. Almost all the songs were written in a creative burst during the summer last year and range from quirky indiepunk anthems to whimsical folk songs steeped in vocal harmonies and lyricism.”
Why did you get involved with making music in the first place? Has it lived up to expectations?
“It happened pretty unintentionally. I’d home-recorded and released an EP on Bandcamp last March which got some recognition across the NI music scene. A couple months later, I played my first show and the rest has been a whirlwind. Without a doubt making music has enriched my life. It’sa fforded me so much spiritual growth, the chance to meet and share with artists, to travel to places like Texas, Los Angeles and London and to discover more about myself and others. The significance of such things is immeasurable.”
What was your experience of music at school and in the education system?
“Pretty limited. Most of the arts and humanities aren’t given the gravity they deserve below university level. In primary school, we were only given the option to learn classical instruments, so I ended up being tutored to play the flute. It wasn’t until age thirteen when I taught myself to play songs I liked on guitar.”
What’s the best piece of advice you got when you were starting out on this path?
“My manager and sensei Declan Legge told me ‘don’t believe the hype’. It’s stuck with me. People’s perception of you will always be fickle and as an artist, it’s easy to get swept up in their praise, criticism and reviews. But ultimately you have to remain grounded in the self knowledge of your artistic vision, talent, limitations and creative potential. Hold fast to that and let the rest just be.”
What advice would you give to other bands or those who want to be in a band or make music?
“Make music for its own sake. Build on that foundation.”
Do you still have to do other stuff to make a living? If so, what stuff? Does this frustrate you?
“I’m a full-time student at Queen’s University, Belfast studying English with Creative Writing. And yes, it does frustrate me.”
Who was the last Irish act you saw and where/when?
“The incredible Pat Dam Smyth at Paper Dress Vintage in London.”
If you’d one piece of advice for Heather Humphries, the minister for arts, about support for Irish music and musicians, what would it be?
“It’s obvious the talent and passion is here; we just need the solid investment in an infrastructure which nurtures artists, venues, promoters and engineers. In Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams said ‘the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.’ Let’s help these things live on.”
Aside from your upcoming show at HWCH, what else are you working on at present?
“I’m working on recording new music at Big Space Studios, playing more shows across the UK and Ireland and prepping to start the last year of my degree. It’s a good time to be alive.”