Words: Dylan Murphy
In the early embers of the new year, music heads religiously pencil in the Dingle edition of Other Voices as a can’t miss event. For one weekend only, the town’s pubs, shops and streets open themselves to insatiable listeners for a genuinely one of a kind, community-driven music showcase. With the festivities taking place in one of the most southernly points on the island, on the other side of mountainous terrain, it’s an experience reserved for only those committed enough to make the pilgrimage. With the global pandemic interrupting the sanctity of the annual show for two years on the trot, we made a point of checking in with some of our favourite acts, before, during and after their performances across the weekend.
For the uninitiated, Smoothboi Ezra‘s music is what we like to call ‘headphone’ music. It’s personal, unfiltered and is the kind that resonates most when enjoyed in quiet settings – A bit like an audible diary entry. Ezra’s therapeutic stream of consciousness has been a steady inclusion in our self-care routines and frequently acts as a forcefield to deflect the Sunday scaries. So when the Wicklow singer was announced for the intimate settings of Other Voices in Dingle, we couldn’t think of a more perfect spot to catch the singer.
Having performed for the first time in Ireland since before the pandemic, Ezra admitted to feeling a little rusty during the show. While Ezra spoke candidly about the performance (Almost to the point of self-deprecation), make no bones about it, they were born to perform these kind of shows and the imperfections just add to their charm. After their show in Dingle, we caught up with Smoothboi Ezra to chat about their love of ceramics, Dingle’s community and their dream performance in the Church.
Was that your first gig in Ireland for a while?
Yeah it was!
I imagine it is just different to other gigs you’ve played. What did you make of Dingle as a town?
It was so nice, Dingle is amazing, it’s lovely. We had so much time to walk around and go to different shops and different cafes. I love ceramics and I want to be a ceramist, I went into the Dingle pottery shop and [The Owner] I think her name is Heidi, she makes pottery and I was obsessed with it. I bought a mug from there. It’s so nice I love it.
Think there’s a special atmosphere in the town? Maybe different to other places you’ve been?
Yeah, I think it’s very community-based, everyone knows each other and looks after each other and it’s a really nice atmosphere.
Definitely! How did your preparation differ for that gig?
The preparation for it was that we didn’t have practice before hand. It was in November right? We were all over the place, I don’t know what it was exactly, but I remember we weren’t free because of college to practice. So the preparation was, there wasn’t a lot of preparation [Laughs].
You and your band all still in college?
Yeah, we all are.
Did you have college on when you went to dingle?
Yeah, I was missing college I just had to tell them what I was doing and they were like ‘oh that’s fine’.
Ah cool, what do you study?
I was in a PLC this year on a general art course, but I’m hoping to do ceramics next year.
Did you have much time to walk about the town?
We were there for the day. It was nice because our gig was late, but not too late. I liked the time our gig was on cause we went early and wandered about the town the whole day, did the gig and still had time to walk about afterwards. We stayed the day after the gig and walked around then too.
Did you get to see anyone else perform?
We got to see Zen Arcade perform, because they were on before us. I think they psyched us out cause they were so good – they were amazing. We were seeing how good the crowd was reacting to them and we were like ‘we’re not that good’ [laughs]. We were too in our heads about it, but they were amazing. They were the only ones we got to see.
Whats your memories of the journey there?
I went over with my dad, my mam and my band and what we did was… so I live in Wicklow, me my mam and dad drove from our house to Jackie’s house in Dublin and collected him and then went to limerick because my bassist lives in Galway and she made her way to Limerick and we collected her. Then we drove to Limerick to Dingle.
That’s a proper road trip right there. If you were to go back, would you have a specific venue you’d like to play?
I’d love to play the church, it looks amazing. I’d definitely love to do it again to prove I’m not that bad.
Absolute dream scenario who would you like too see perform in the church?
I mean, I watched the Other Voices show where Hozier performed and i’d love to see that live.
How would you describe other voices to people that have never been?
It’s really nice? I’m really bad with adjectives, it was lovely, it’s a really nice trip. You have to make a weekend of it. You can’t really just go for one day because of where it is. You kind of have to make it a little holiday.
Does it feel like a right of passage for new artists?
I think so, especially Irish artists. I feel like it’s an honour to be asked to perform at it. I was really excited. I hope that I can do it again.
Why do you think these kind of showcases are important?
I think any showcase or festival of music or any type of art is important. Just because it makes everything more accessible, It allows people of all different levels to showcase their talents. It introduces people to types of music that they wouldn’t otherwise listen to. If it’s a weekend thing, people are more likely to say ‘oh I’ll just pop into this’.