INTERVIEW: whenyoung release debut album 'Reasons To Dream'
Irish indie trio whenyoung have been steadily attracting critical acclaim since the release of their first single in 2017 and today release their magnificient debut album Reasons To Dream
Band members Aoife Power (vocals, bass), Niall Burns (guitar) and Andrew Flood (drums) were originally friends as teenagers in Limerick, Ireland, playing in separate local bands before finding themselves in London together where whenyoung was formed. Since then they have garnered support from BBC Radio 1 and have performed at festivals including The Great Escape in Brighton and the uber-cool SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Reasons To Dream is an collection of indie-pop-rock at its very best, with memorable melodies interwined with intelligent, powerful and at times politicial lyrics. The first single ‘Never Let Go’ is as addictive as ever, with its moody verses contrasting with a candy sweet singalong chorus, while ‘Future’, which deals with the suicide of one of their friends, is beautifully meloncholic with sonic throwbacks to the indie sound of the 1980s. New single ‘The Others’ is the most politically explicit song on the album, a blistering commentary on the gulf in society between the haves and have nots, inspired by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. “Ignorance is peaceful…That’s how the others die / That’s how they’ll die again” Power sings passionately. Elsewhere on the album, ‘Labour of Love’ is a touching track and the evocative ‘Blow Up the World’ was based on a line by the French anti-war philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir. And showcasing their ability to bring attention to the silent suffering so many endure, ‘You’re Grand’ is a driving piece of jangle-pop yet tells a dark story of staying awake all night as an escape from anxiety and insomnia.
Reasons To Dream is a triumphant debut album and whenyoung have a remarkable talent for creating music that is instantly recognisable and warm, but unlike anything else on the indie-pop music scene at the moment. It embraces the classic indie sound but embues it with hints of folk, dance beats and traditional Irish music vibes, and is highly recommended. To celebrate the release of the album, we recently caught up with whenyoung’s lead singer Aoife Power to find out more about the band, their music and the new album.
Hi Aoife! Good to chat with you. First things first, how is everything in the world of whenyoung right now?
Great thank you! We’re currently on our own U.K. and Ireland headline tour, and of course our debut album Reasons To Dream will be released on May 24th.
Can you give us a brief overview of how whenyoung formed?
The three of us are childhood friends from Limerick and Clare in Ireland. We’ve always bonded over rock and roll and indie music. We formed whenyoung two and a half years ago in London.
Your recent single ‘Future’ is such a fantastic track, can you tell us a bit more about the story behind the song?
’Future’ was written after we lost our friend to suicide. The lyrics were written for us to try to understand and cope with the situation. We didn’t want to shy away from the subject in the song. It’s something that is so common but not spoken about enough. We wanted to offer some hope to those in places of darkness; to remember that there is always someone who cares for you, there’s always a light on somewhere.
The music video for the song is great as well, particularly the young male actor in it – where did you find him?
We had seen him in a film by Tom Beard called Two For Joy and thought he was perfect for the character we wanted to portray in the video for ‘Future’.
You have received a lot of accolades lately, including being named one of the top 100 essential artists in 2019 by NME, and support from BBC Radio 1, Wonderland and Clash amongst others. How does it feel to receive such acclaim?
We really appreciate all of the support we have been getting from these amazing websites and stations. We realise how important it is to have their support. But at the same time we realise the pace of consumption in this industry so we try to stick to our own goals and measure our happiness on that.
You recently played at SXSW, what was that experience like?
It was incredible to play at SXSW. We played a lot of shows there and we had great audience turn outs which was so nice in a place that you’ve never played before. The audiences were really responsive and suppprtive. We also got to see lots of great bands like Pottery, Fontaine's D.C., Lucia, Black Midi and Ninth Wave.
Your debut album Reasons to Dream is released on May 24th, what can we expect to hear?
Reasons To Dream is a collection of the songs we’ve written over the last two and a half years. Thematically the lyrics of the songs are about self affirmation, connection, human similarity and finding your place in the world. I would describe them as happy/sad songs.
Can you tell us a little about the recording process for the album?
We recorded the album in London at Eastcote Studios in Kensal Rise and Gallery 46 in Whitechapel with producer Al O’Connell. We really wanted to work with Al as we loved his production and think he really understands our sound.
What are your thoughts on the current gender equality debate? Do you think we have a problem with sexism in the music industry, both from within the industry and how the general public perceive female performers?
Every now and then you meet someone who makes you feel like time has fallen back 50 years, they think you should be dressing a certain way, acting a certain way. I feel quite lost at those times. Most musicians I meet aren't like this, they see women as their equals. Slowly but surely this archaic way of thinking is being destroyed.
What artists are you listening to at the moment?
Nilüfer Yanya, Babeheaven, Fontaine’s DC, Vashti Bunyan, Okay Kaya, Pj Harvey
What’s up next for whenyoung?
Our UK and Ireland headline tour is finishing soon. After we release our album on May 24th we’ll be playing lots of festivals in the UK and Europe. And then another headline tour in the autumn. We plan to record some new songs we’ve been writing in between the shows.