“We started in that fun spirit and to change it would be like we’re conforming.”
PowPig are a genre-defying four-piece from Limerick. While Anna Marie Rooney, Andrea Mocanu, Laura Drennan and Leah O’Donnell may still be in school, they already have a Body&Soul and Other Voices performance under their belt. With a Junior Brother collaboration just out and Knockanstockan and Indiependence billings on the cards, 2019 looks set to be a defining year for the new band.
It’s impossible to confine PowPig to one genre because their output is so diverse. Their catalogue ranges from ballads like ‘Rosalee’, to the alt-rock ‘Ode to Wiseau’, to the soulful ‘Pretty Woman’ off of their new release. Their talent as musicians is undeniable and their humour makes them all the more likeable.
Anna, Andrea, Laura and Leah met through Music Generation Limerick – an education programme that offers young people the opportunity to work with professional equipment and receive mentorship from Irish musicians. Denise Chalia, GodKnows, and Hazey Haze are just three musicians who’ve mentored, or come up through the programme, giving a snapshot of just how influential it’s been to the Irish music circuit.
Laura joined first, followed by Anna and Leah. Andrea was the last piece to fall into place, coming to the group after Anna reached out to her on on Instagram. With their four-piece complete the next step was to figure out their creative process. Trying to find common ground in a new group can be difficult, and as the interview went on I quickly learned [each question was answered by four voices in a cacophony of sound], that there was a lot of energy in PowPig.
Leah admitted that the first few songs the group wrote, “were not good” but that they quickly developed their own creative language.
“It was so awkward when we started playing but we became friends pretty quickly.”
Some of that early work materialised into tracks that would later feature on their ‘Denture Adventure’ EP.
Now with the beginnings of releasable music the band needed a name. This came when practice moved from Music Generation HQ to Laura’s house.
“I have a ceramic pig made from cow skin, that my mom bought,” Laura explains, and in response to a dubious look adds: “It’s actually quite nice [laughs!].
We had a few names and the pig was there, and we were like, ‘Oh cow pig – PowPig. There it is!’.”
Ever since that fateful day people have been urging them to change their name, but that’s not happening.
“We started in that fun spirit and to change it would be like we’re conforming,” Anna elaborates
Andrea adds, “I feel like if we take ourselves too seriously, it’s just kind of like, ‘Ew’. I’m not able to express it that well, but when we are all stuck in a room, it’s boring to try and perfect something over and over and over again when you can have fun with it, have a bit of a scream! Anna is notorious for that.”
“Whenever someone has an idea, no matter what kind of idea, if it sounds good we’ll build on that,” explains Laura.
Another outlet for their endless energy is that they create all of their own imagery. Their visual identity is primarily designed by Andrea and Anna and this encompasses album covers, posters, merch, as well as their social media. They’re incredibly blasé about their obvious talent, noting that they didn’t take themselves seriously at first.
Anna confesses, “We honestly didn’t think anyone would see it.”
Anna goes on to explain the group’s innovative social media presence. It’s a perfect realisation of the generation they belong to. Endearing irony permeates their Insta- gram, as well as their music. They express an authentic persona through ‘meme culture’, creating a collective joke and inviting us all in on it. PowPig allow their unbridled expression to seep into their online personas, where they have ultimate freedom as an unsigned band. Self-promotion seems to be a theme running through successful Irish music at the moment; a lack of managerial censorship leading to an increase in the number of collectives popping up nationwide. PowPig are one more band choosing to take on the industry themselves.
“When we first started we didn’t take ourselves seriously at all,” Anna explains.
“So I was kind of taking the piss out of it, but a lot of it came from our humour. At the time when I first started posting we weren’t very, very close… So when we were getting to know each other, I was pulling that humour in which I felt was different to my own humour, so I was trying to integrate that into the Instagram.”
“Social media is core to the Irish music scene at the moment,” Anna says.
“It’s definitely a community. Other bands we follow on Instagram, when we see them at gigs we say hey. It’s just about hyping each other up, you know? It’s nice,” adds Andrea.
PowPig have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience in the Irish music industry so far, but when pushed the group elaborates on some of the downsides. Most notably the ‘Oh my god, a full girl band!’ comments.
Leah explains that “the whole thing that we’re girls, the whole thing that we’re young, that we’re like on some sort of wave because of feminism,” crops up every now and then, but PowPig don’t dwell.
Andrea chimes in, “Cut toxic people out.”
As the interview comes to an end, the band look to the rest of 2019. Laura explains that the group have had to take less gigs than they would have liked to thanks to the Leaving Cert, but June edges ever closer and PowPig are ready to get back on the stage.
“Not even 18 and you’re booked at a festival,” Anna says. “Bucket list complete!”
It is the year of the pig after all.
PowPig play The Grand Social with Junior Brother on April 18.