‘I remember at 11 or 12 having to beg people to come into the church’

Molly King is head of development for the Other Voices festival in Dingle and has been involved with it since her childhood

There aren't many people these days who can say they grew up on the set of a music TV show. Molly King has grown up in and around Other Voices. Her parents Philip King and Nuala O'Connor run the production company South Wind Blows which makes the show. Every year, for the last 16, the production descends on the Kerry town of Dingle, which is close to the home of the King/O'Connor family.

Molly is now 25 and since she was 10, her personal growth was captured in the annual crew photo taken at the end of each year’s production.

“I’m in every single one of them except for the first one,” she says. “It’s like a flipbook of my late childhood and adolescence, which is obviously extremely painful, but funny as well.”

King always hung around on set and was given jobs from an early age. First she was a cable basher for Joe Byrne, one of the show's long-running cameramen. Her diminutive stature meant she was perfect for fitting in behind St James' Church's granite font, as space is at a premium.

“I used to always tell people I had the best seat in the house because I was always in the front row.”

In those early years, King skipped school for three or four days during the show and describes the experience on set as transformative. “I came back to school and I felt like nothing had changed but in the meantime, I had been transported to another planet.”

Grown in size

Other Voices in Dingle has grown in size since those early days. Now, it's a festival with a TV show at its core but back in the early years, the show had trouble filling its pews. "I remember being 11 or 12 and having to beg people to come into the church cause we had we had empty seats, which is funny to think back on it now."

There are no such problems now. Recent performers have included Amy Winehouse, The National, The xx, Steve Earle, Richard Hawley and Elbow, and tickets for Other Voices can't be bought: instead, the tickets are given away in competitions.

King says that 10,000 people have RSVP’d for this year’s music trail and while they don’t expect anything close to that (Dingle has only so many beds), it does demonstrate how huge Other Voices in Dingle has become. To help relieve that pressure on the town, the organisers have added After Dark, a late-night club event in the town’s Hillgrove nightclub, which can accommodate 2,000 people.

"That's bonkers for a town like Dingle," King says. "The main club has the biggest dancefloor in Munster. I'm taking some intense pleasure out of it because it was like the nightclub of my youth."

Over the years, King soaked up valuable knowledge and experience through the crew’s generosity in all facets of TV and music, from production to artist liaison to understanding where managers, tour managers and agents fitted into the equation. She then moved on to producing Banter, Jim Carroll’s series of talks, when it comes to Dingle.

“I think a lot of it was just being socialised really young and just being able to speak to people,” she says. “It never occurred to me that this was work. It took up until I was about 17 to realise that this was could be a job.

“I think about this a lot because obviously creative industries – in journalism, film and especially music, it’s so hard to as a young person to break into those industries and I know I’m so lucky because I kind of skipped a good five years of graft. But it was more that it was my family, it was my life, so I just loved it and I wanted to be around it all the time.”

Expansion

King studied law in Trinity College Dublin before returning to music work including stints with Body&Soul Festival before a move to London to work for the online ticketing company Dice.FM.

Now she is back with Other Voices as head of development, which sees her working on the expansion of the production at festivals and different cities such as Berlin and Belfast, as well its conference Ireland’s Edge, the festival’s Music Trail and Eir’s title sponsorship.

“From a development point of view, we’re just trying to keep those things that are important to us – intimate venues, small audiences, promoting Irish music, giving people genuine experiences and to try to keep things as much as possible, free and accessible to everyone. We’re producers, not promoters. We don’t promote commercial events – it’s not our business model.”

Editorially, as a TV show, there are considerations that new technology brings to the table, whether it is content produced for YouTube, the live streams around the town to pubs in Dingle during the weekend, along with Spotify compilations and podcasts.

“It’s just being completely aware of a changing audience and what they want to see. We’ve an amazing archive of live performances that we have built up over the last 16 years so that can help us reach a bigger audience online. I think it’s just about growth and it’s recognising that we have kind of a varied audience and trying to read that whatever way we can is important.”

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