Dublin Inquirer’s bold step into the world of print

Previously online-only newspaper Dublin Inquirer announced that it is launching a monthly print edition.

Readers are invited to subscribe for as little as €5 per month, with the first issue expected to roll off the press by April 8.

Print as additional revenue

“It’s hard for online publications that are weekly to make enough money from online ads,” managing editor Lois Kapila says, “we always knew we’d have to look at other ways to make money.”

Print was seen as a viable way to make additional revenue.

“I talked to local publications in different cities and villages around the world,” Kapila says, ”lots think a weekly or monthly [print] edition is a good way to bring in money and give readers something else.”

A paper version also makes sense because many of the online features—some of which are up to 4,000-words long—boast a long shelf life.

Old school distribution

The print edition is “kind of a cross between a magazine and a newspaper”, Kapila says, with a “newsy feel” fitted to a visually-pleasing magazine layout. She describes it as a “modern newspaper”, with lots of images printed on high quality newsprint.

The Inquirer team themselves will be in charge of distribution and—with an echo to the heyday of print—newspapers will be dispersed through five coin-operated news boxes (pictured above).

If you are interested in subscribing to the Dublin Inquirer print edition, click here.

Listen to my interview with Lois on The Stack, Monocle24‘s dedicated print analysis show.

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Mediaflash 24: Storytelling & Unlocking Creativity

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On Episode 24 of Mediaflash, we are joined by Sara Bennett of Fighting Words.

Co-founded by Seán Love and Roddy Doyle, Fighting Words is a creative writing centre for children and young people. It also offers programmes to adults with special needs and people who have experienced homelessness or prison.

The aim of Fighting Words is to make creative writing accessible to as many people as possible.

Sara talks us through what makes a compelling story and tells us how to make time for creative writing in our hectic lives.

She explains how the skills taught by Fighting Words can be applied to brand storytelling.

Also on this week’s programme, the award-winning MediaHQ blogging team sits down to reveal some of their blogging secrets and they share the five key ingredients needed to concoct the perfect post.

Listen below and to hear more of our podcasts, click here.

Is the future of travel in the past?

Jacki Ford Morie speaking at the Web Summit
Jacki Ford Morie speaking at the Web Summit
Image: Sportfile

There is little doubt that virtual reality will become an  increasingly advanced tool for exploring the world, but what purpose will it serve when it comes to physical travel?

Jacki Ford Morie thinks VR is here to enhance travel.

With her project, the Augmented Traveler, she hopes to make history come alive on your smartphone, tablet and, eventually, see-through wearable device:

“When you’re travelling around, you don’t want to be putting something on your face to experience a location,” Morie says. “I mean, after all, you go to the location so that you actually can absorb some of the atmosphere of that place. But what if, when you went to these historic places, you could travel back in time and actually see characters from a distant time appear as if they were in front of you, talking as if they were living their lives and doing the things they did back then?”

That’s where the PastPort app comes in. It’s your — you guessed it — passport to the past.

The characters in the app will appear fully rendered and animated and will perform a three-minute story with some narration to help you understand the history of a specific site.

“So, say it’s Leonardo [da Vinci] and his assistant Salai, and they’ve come to Venice in 1499 to sell the prince a war machine. Now, there’s a lot of historical facts that are correct there, but we take some liberties and we say he’s sitting there in the courtyard with this machine and he sets it off. He goes ‘Let’s test it now, Salai.’ So, they set off the crossbow — which doesn’t shoot arrows, unbelievably, it shoots firey cannonballs — and the firey cannonball goes over you head and out to the bay where the Turks are moored. You’re living the story a little bit.”

Eventually — Morie says five or six years down the line — the characters will be intelligible agents. In other words, you’ll be able to ask Leonardo to take a selfie with you.

These things take time, and the technology is not up to scratch just yet.

“We have a lot of challenges with this particular application because augmented travel is not at that level of sophistication yet,” Morie says. “There are a number of technologies that still have to be created for this.”

But what stage are we at now? How real is this virtual world?

“We’re working on the first story for Leonardo and Venice,” Morie says. “We’ve had him modelled in 3D and his assistant. We’ve had them dressed and we’ve had them rigged, so we’ve got an animator working on the animation… We’re working on the user interface design for the application on your mobile device, and then we’ll put it all together…

“We want to show the viability of the product, we want to take it to Venice and do a focus group there, but we really need some venture money to go into full production. I’m planning eight story vignettes for the launch.”

The Augmented Traveler is intended to be a travel companion, not a replacement for real-life travel.

“It gives you that little bit of information that makes you feel like an insider. And people want to know, they want these cultural experience… I think it’s going to change our expectations for travel. It’s going to make it much more personal and much more real and make it more memorable.”

For the travel industry, the same technology could be used to allow a client to “try” a location or hotel before they buy. It could also create new possibilities for disabled travellers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to take part in certain activities.

“I think we haven’t even started to scratch [the surface],” Morie says. “I mean, it’s me and a team of three people. So that’s it right now. But the dream is pretty cool. I really hope it comes true.”

Jacki Ford Morie in conversation with Mary Aiken
Jacki Ford Morie in conversation with Mary Aiken
Image: Sportfile

Read Travel Extra’s special digital pull-out, the Summit Supplement.

Ideas from the dark side

Julia Libiseller brings light and darkness to the Forum with her latest animation that premiered at the opening ceremony on Wednesday. Conor McMahon finds out more.

Tyroleans ask each other one question: Were you born on the sunny side of the mountains or in the shadows? The answer says something about their perspective on life.

Artist Julia Libiseller was born in the shadows of the Tyrolean mountains and used her upbringing as the inspiration for the short animation, In the Light or in the Shadows, commissioned by the European Forum Alpbach.

Using a playful stop motion technique, Ms Libiseller’s film explores the notion that those living in the light do not always understand what it is like to live in the shadows, an idea that fits well with the inequality theme of this year’s forum.

“What can you see if you stand in the light?” Ms Libiseller said. “You don’t see much in the shadow.

“Art should make people think about life. I don’t have the answers. I just wanted to start the conversation.”

Ms Libiseller was inspired by the topics covered in this year’s seminars and used them to shape the script.

“I tried to pick some of the main subjects and look at little scenes through light and shadow.”

Ms Libiseller believes that we need both light and darkness in life. “I wanted to show that the darkness can also have its good sides.”

How is this communicated in the film?

I hope you will get it from what you see,” she said. “I think you have to watch and everybody will see other things in the little scenes.”

You are invited to decide the meaning of the film yourself — watch below.

“In the Light or in the Shadows” by Julia Libiseller | European Forum Alpbach 2015 from European Forum Alpbach on Vimeo.

The Irish Way of Living and Dying: An interview with Aoife Kelleher

My interview with One Million Dubliners director Aoife Kelleher.

Aoife Kelleher’s debut feature-length documentary, One Million Dubliners, explores life at Glasnevin cemetery – the final resting place of some of Ireland’s greatest modern heroes.

Aoife Kelleher pictured second from left Aoife Kelleher pictured second from left. Picture courtesy of Aoife Kelleher

This wasn’t Aoife’s first time to explore the topic of death. Corrigan’s Funeral Home on Aungier Street was the subject of her first documentary as a film student in DIT.

“I’m sure it sounds incredibly macabre, but I always found that stuff interesting,” she says. “It’s an area that is present for everyone, but not really spoken about.”

Producer Rachel Lysaght – who thought it was interesting that Glasnevin cemetery had its own marketing department – first approached Aoife about the idea of making a film about the site. The two had previously worked on a number of projects together including a short film called Home for the Irish Film Board’s Reality Bites…

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A sort of homecoming: Morrissey plays the 3Arena tonight

Morrissey in concert

Former Smiths frontman Morrissey plays the 3Arena tonight. The City spoke to UL sociology lecturer Eoin Devereux about the significance of the gig for Moz’s Irish fans.

As much as I hate to admit it, I can hardly count myself as a real Mozaphile. Yes, I can recite the words to ‘Alma Matters’, and a host of other gems no bother, but I just don’t have the vast wealth of knowledge a true Mozhead has.

Put it this way: I’m more of a lowly private than a medalled general in the #MozArmy. I’ll work myself up the ranks someday, but for now I’ll just keep studying the back catalogue.

The clue is in the quiff. You can always tell Morrissey’s most devoted fans by their great sweeping fringes, and most are infantile compared to Dr Eoin Devereux’s.

Dr Eoin Devereux
Picture by Liam Burke, courtesy of Eoin Devereux

Dr Devereux (pictured) is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at UL and co-director of the Popular Music and Popular Culture Research Cluster. He is Ireland’s Morrissey expert.

He has a host of Mozzer gigs under his belt after first seeing The Smiths in Galway in 1984 and has “never looked back since”.

Writing in an email, he explains what first attracted him to Morrissey: “[His] status as the Outsider’s Outsider is at the core of his appeal for me.  He sings about the lonely, the sad, the disenfranchised. That has been the constant thread for me. He is a raconteur of the marginalised and is wonderfully anti establishment.”

It’s common for people who get Morrissey to describe how he gets them. His music changed their lives, which is common rhetoric for music fans, but there’s something different about Morrissey fans. He’s more than just a pop hero.

Dr Devereux explains: “While fandom in general is a continuum and levels of fandom vary, Morrissey fans are passionate, sensitive and devoted.  I don’t mean devoted in a slavish way. I mean they display huge dedication to knowing and understanding as much as is possible about the object of their fandom and the things that influence him. It’s striking how many of them talk of how their Morrissey fandom has led them to reading Oscar Wilde.”

Perhaps more obscurely, Mozafiles also celebrate the work of Manchester dramatist Shelagh Delaney because of her influence on Morrissey’s songwriting (The first Shelagh Delaney Day took place last Tuesday).

My inaugural Moz gig was three years ago at Vicar Street. I was amazed by the great urgency for the audience to propel themselves at their hero. Some punters defied security and flung themselves on stage just so they could touch His Mozness. This is a common occurrence at his concerts. (Take a look at the pandemonium at a recent gig in Berlin).

“There is almost a sacred dimension in evidence at Morrissey gigs in terms of the need of fans to touch the hand of their often reluctant icon,” Dr Devereux says. “This is particularly intense where his Chicano/Latino fans are concerned.”

If you don’t already know, Morrissey has a very strong Latino following, which might be a bit surprising. But think about it, Latinos are marginalised in the States. Morrissey is marginalised everywhere (at least in his own eyes), so it makes sense.

He gets most stick in the British red tops, often for saying something unflattering about the Queen or the meat industry. After all, he is a sexually ambiguous, reclusive, celibate, vegetarian pop star who doesn’t take drugs, so the tabs can’t really make any sense of him unless they can squeeze him under a headline like Heaven Knows He’s Miserable Now or Bigmouth Strikes Again.

Much like my other hero, Leonard Cohen, Morrissey is often misunderstood as a depressing whinge (The Pope of Mope, they call him). Yes, he does sing about loneliness, but he does so in a very empowering way. And he’s actually very funny. He writes witty, kitchen sink lyrics Jarvis Cocker can only dream of. Listen to ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ or ‘You’re the one for me, Fatty’ and you’ll see.

Born to Irish-emigrant parents in 1950s Manchester, Morrissey considers himself “ten parts Crumlin, ten parts Old Trafford” and is clearly proud of his Irish blood and English heart.

But is there anything unique about his fans in Ireland? Do we have a stronger connection with him since he is “one of us”?

“Fans around the world have different kinds of connections with Morrissey,” Dr Devereux says. “Where Ireland is concerned I think that apart from his Irish roots (and influences) his anti establishment position on a range of issues makes a firm favourite here.  His Second Generation Irish and Catholic upbringing are still strongly in evidence in his creative output.”

So if we were to draw a tour map of Morrissey’s Dublin, where would we go? First stop Crumlin, where next?

“The National Stadium where The Smiths and Morrissey have played; the site of the old SFX; the Point Depot (3Arena) where he talked in 2004 of being ’10 parts Crumlin, 10 parts Old Trafford’, Swords and anywhere associated with his beloved Oscar Wilde.”

So he has made his mark on this city and its people. And if he hasn’t made his mark on you, where should you start?

Viva Hate would be the one [Morrissey’s debut solo album],” Dr Devereux says. “It’s still a great record and bridges the world of The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo career.  For ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ or ‘Margaret on the Guillotine’ alone it’s a great album.”

I wonder if Dr Devereux has ever met Morrissey, surely the most sacred experience for any Mozaphile:

“I haven’t met Morrissey,” he says. “I don’t think I would like to, really. Never meet your anti-heroes!”

This article first appeared on thecity.ie.

Miriam Fassbender talks about ‘Foreign’

Here is another article from my time at Alpbach Media Academy. This was written with Florian Peschl.

Miriam Fassbender
Photo by Luiza Puiu

German film-maker Miriam Fassbender spent six years making the documentary, Foreign.

It tells the story of a young Malian called Mohammed on his attempted migration from Africa to Spain in the hope of finding a ‘better life’ so he can provide for his family.

In the so-called no-man’s-land between Morocco and Algeria he meets the Cameroonian musician Jerry. Together they want to overcome the last and biggest hurdle — the final leg from the Algerian-Moroccan border to Europe. With the experience of already having tried a few times before, they realise that their attempt will be highly dangerous. The film uncovers the true struggle of seeking a life free from poverty and challenges our perception of immigrants in Europe.

Fassbender decided to make the film after she met some migrants from Maghnia in Algeria when she was working on another project in Casablanca. “I met them on their way back to their home country after they had realised that Europe wasn’t really welcoming of them at all – they were shocked,” she says. After speaking to them, she quickly realised “how absurd it is to block the borders like this – to construct walls and to block all these people who have quite similar expectations of life as we do”.

The concept

She met them again in Algeria and screened a rough cut of footage shot in Mali in 2005. They liked what they saw and they felt Fassbender understood their situation so they agreed to take part in the film.

Fassbender found a producer, Max Milhahn, and spent one year researching the migrant situation after securing some funding for the project. “We started shooting in 2006. When I arrived in Mali, I realised all this research didn’t help at all – only to know where lots of migrants passed,” she says.

Just as the research was abandoned, the original plan changed as well. In the beginning, Fassbender intended to only “shoot in sub-Saharan Africa in one place where lots of…’economical refugees’ come from. But then the concept changed after I met one of my protagonists, Mohamed. He was a much stronger character, story-wise, than the others had been”. In the film, Mohamed – the eldest of seven children – doesn’t want to leave Mali, but his family want him to travel to Europe, ‘a paradise’, so he can provide them with more money. Turning back was never an option because his parents had to sell their cows to finance his journey and he wouldn’t have been able to live with the guilt.

“I was never sure if this film would ever be made”

Film maker Miriam Fassbender
Miriam Fassbender talks to Florian Peschl. Photo by Luiza Puiu

There were many moments when Fassbender thought about turning back on the film. It took over six years to complete, and even in the editing process, she almost gave up twice. “I was never sure if this film would even be made,” she says. But just like in Mohamed’s case, turning back was not on the table: “You’ve got a responsibility towards your purpose and your protagonists,” she says. “These guys are individuals and you have to tell their stories individually so that all this post-colonial ignorance [in Europe] stops. If you see them suffering because of our political influence in Africa, I really feel ashamed. You can see that economical interests in Europe are really destroying sub-Saharan Africa – especially in Mali.”

The struggle to complete the film is almost a paradox to Mohamed and Jerry’s arduous struggle to get from Africa through Algeria and Morocco to Europe: “If someone had told me that it would take six years [to finish the film], I probably would not have done it because I wouldn’t have thought that I would have the energy to stick with the subject and this theme all that time,” she says. “And it’s the same with the migrants. If someone told them it would take 10 years to reach Europe, then maybe they would stay in their own countries and try to establish themselves there.”

Participatory video

In order to capture footage of the migrants on their journey without jeopardising everything, Fassbender provided them with digital cameras. “I asked them to film…and I told them if they ran out of money and couldn’t buy food, they should sell the camera but keep the tapes,” she says. “In the end that happened – all the cameras were sold. But I got some tapes back when I was in Morocco two years later.”

Getting permission to shoot footage was not a huge problem. In fact, it was hardly even considered because Fassbender was filming people who were officially illegal. So to keep the film on track, the team was kept to a minimum. “I can’t take responsibility of decisions of someone else, if someone doesn’t want to do something that is illegal, you cannot blame someone for not wanting to do it,” she says. “So I thought I am going there alone because I know I can trust myself. I know what I can do and what I can’t do, but I can’t take the risk of someone else.”

Erwin Wagenhofer talks about ‘mis-education’

Conor McMahon with filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer
Me and Erwin Wagenhofer. Photo by Luiza Puiu.

In August 2013, I travelled to the Alpine village of Alpbach in Austria. Along with 12 other young European journalists, I took park in the Alpbach Media Academy, which was headed by Michael Fleischhacker, a prolific Austrian journalist and editor, and Georg Renner of Die Presse newspaper.

For three intense weeks, we interviewed politicians, economists, scientists and artists who came to the village to attend the 68th annual European Forum Alpbach (EFA). Thanks to communications officer Veronika Hopfgartner (who earned the nickname ‘Lady of Steel’ thanks to her unbelievable ability to get shit done in a short space of time), we had access to pretty much everyone who attended EFA, whether they were a Nobel prize winner, a respected statesmen or a talented comedian. It was fantastic and a very valuable learning experience.

One of my favourite interviews was with the Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer, which I conducted with Katrin Nussmayr.

I was only vaguely familiar with Wagenhofer’s documentaries, which tend to be carefully paced with long scenes, and apart from a quick Wikipedia read, I knew nothing about the man himself. I presumed that Wagenhofer would be something like his films: quiet and controlled. How wrong I was.

From the moment he stepped into the foyer of the Alpbach convention centre, Wagenhofer was animated, excited and energetic.

Throughout our 20-minute interview, Wagenhofer spoke with great urgency and passion about the damage the education system has caused to creativity (the subject of his latest documentary, Alphabet). It was riveting to meet a person so fanatic about his work.

Since my time in Alpbach, the concept of creative learning and what Wagenhofer calls “mis-education” has come up a lot — in college lectures, casual conversation, newspaper articles. So I thought it would be a good idea to republish this article on my blog.

So here it is, me and Katryn’s interview with Erwin Wagenhofer.

Erwin Wagenhofer at Alpbach
Photo by Luiza Puiu.

Alphabet is the final instalment in Erwin Wagenhofer’s documentary trilogy on the current state of economic affairs. His 2005 film We Feed The World explored the origins of mass produced food; Let’s Make Money (2008) investigated the development and elitism in the global financial system; and 2013’s Alphabet looks at how education (and mis-education) determines our view of the world and how we shape it.

Ahead of its official release this October, Alphabet was screened exclusively at the 2013 European Forum Alpbach. Conor McMahon and Katrin Nussmayr caught up with Wagenhofer before the screening.

Media Academy: In the tagline for Alphabet you say that when children are born, 98 per cent of them are highly gifted. But after they finish school, it’s only 2 per cent. Why is this?

Erwin Wagenhofer: It is very easy to see why this is going on – it’s because of standardised testing. That’s the problem. That’s the killer. You have multiple choice questions. You don’t even have to write one sentence. When people are 25 years or older, it’s over. They don’t have any idea of what they can do. They think there’s just one way to do things. But maybe you have a thousand other ways. This is where creativity comes from. The most important things we create in the world – in science, in the arts, in crafts, in social things – come from playing.

MA: Have we lost this playful element?

EW: Yes, that’s what they are doing with us. You can measure it. When children go to school it stops immediately – their own power, their own talent. The only thing you do when you go to school is get an education and be a member of this economy and bring growth and growth and growth. And no fun. And nothing else. That has happened in the last 30 years.

MA: In the description of the movie you say performance culture kills talent. How could this talent be preserved?

EW: The schools of the future will be places where the children gather together in the morning to create a project. The teachers will not be like trainers, they will be accompanists. It’s a question of relation. We need relationships. Not “This is wrong, that’s wrong”.

MA: Still one could argue that children could be spoiled this way, that they might not learn anything.

EW: No, they should play. They should learn everything by playing. Every artist, every inventor – learns by playing.

MA: What about hard algebra?

EW: Do you need it?

MA: In a way, Konstantin Novoselov, who speaks at the Forum on Thursday, won the Nobel prize through “playing”.

EW: Yes, through trial and error. It is so important. Relationships, as opposed to education. In German we have a word for the best student: “Musterschüler”, which means a person who studies everything according to the “Muster” [Engl: pattern] – nothing new. And normally the pattern is from yesterday.

MA: So we need a more playful approach to education. Is there anything else that we need?

EW: That’s just the first step. The next step is that people do things best when they do the things they love. That is when they are in their element. Maybe your element is to be a singer or a craftsman. Whatever. You have that one talent where you are the best. And when you work in this element, you are at your best. It’s really simple. What we have in the economy is everyone fighting against everyone – because of hard work, competition, performance. Everything is made of fear. If you don’t do this, you won’t get a job. You’re an asshole. That’s what we are telling children. There is something wrong.

MA: What you are saying is that playful education and promoting individual talent would prepare people to tackle the problems we now have today – like climate change or the economic crisis?

EW: That’s a good question. This crisis we are having, let’s take the last one, the so-called financial crisis – which is the wrong word because it is not a financial crisis – it is a crisis made by the financial industry. It was made by people who were studying in Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and the best universities in the world. They are not criminals or “the unintelligent guys from the woods” – all of them are in the city of London, which is the most important financial district in the world. Every person who works there is highly educated, and what are they doing? They are making the problems! They are making climate change!

MA: So are we over-educated?

EW: No, it’s not a question of education; it’s a question of attitude. And my movie is not about education, it is about the attitude that is behind education. And we have to change our attitudes. We have to change our targets. What is our target? Of the European community, what’s the target? More, faster, higher? What kind of target is that?

MA: What should be the target?

EW: I don’t have the answer. I’m not the messiah; I’m just a simple filmmaker. This movie is a very simple contribution to a big discussion. One small wheel. A movie can’t be the answer. It’s not the Bible. It’s a long process, and we are all part of this process – if we take democracy serious.

MA: Let’s talk about your job as a filmmaker. Do you have any underlying wishes? Is there anything you want to change, or do you just do it for the sake of doing it because it’s your job?

EW: I think that most filmmakers are not interested in messages. There was a famous saying from the ’60s, from Roman Polanski, whose films I really like. He said: if I had a message, I would be working at the post office. And my approach is the opposite: if I didn’t have a message, I would be working in the post office.

MA: What’s your favourite scene in Alphabet?

EW: The beginning and the end. It’s very poetic. It starts in Death Valley and ends in Death Valley. And Death Valley is a metaphor. It’s a desert. It is the hottest place in the world, and there is nothing growing, because it doesn’t rain. But in 2005 it rained in the wintertime – seven inches. And in spring, Death Valley was coated with spring flowers. And it’s the same with human beings. If we have the right conditions, we can bloom.

This article first appeared on alpbach.org.

O Emperor talk about their Choice Music nomination for ‘Vitreous’

O Emperor promo shot

For their second album, Vitreous, O Emperor decided to cut their ties with Universal Music Ireland and go it alone.

Since its release last summer, the album has received rave reviews, with critics describing it as a “stark, multi­coloured, pixelated piece of pop art”.

Continuing on from that success, it was announced yesterday that Vitreous has been shortlisted for the Meteor Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year 2013. This will be O Emperor’s second nomination for the prize – they were first shortlisted in 2010 with their debut Hither Thither.

Frontman Paul Savage chats to me about the band’s second Choice nomination and talks about the experience of doing things for themselves.

Conor McMahon: So this is your second time to be nominated for the Choice Music Award.

Paul Savage: It is, yeah – two and two.

CMM: Not bad going. Do nominations like this mean a lot to the band? Especially with this album, seeing as it was self-released.

PS: Yeah, certainly as an independent act it does mean a lot. Even just because of the publicity that it gets. There’s more notice from record shops still out there. I think even just as a little business boost, [the award] shines a focus on the nominated acts. Some of them – including ourselves – may have slipped under the radar for some people, and it brings back home that there are some good Irish albums out there to buy. And I think it does mean a lot to us just for the fact that we spent a couple of months just working on this album ourselves and making it completely DIY. It does mean a lot that we’re in there with very big acts. It’s quite a humbling experience. It’s a great boost to have, especially at this time of year when it might be quiet.

CMM: It’s a good way to kick it off 2014. And you’re right, it is an impressive list of nominees. Is there any act that stands out to you in particular?

PS: I particularly enjoyed Lisa O’Neill’s album [Same Cloth or Not]. I think she’s got such a unique voice and it’s such a great record. I really like it. I thought the new Bell X1 album [Chop Chop] was really good as well. From a sound point of view, it’s incredible, and the production is amazing on it.

CMM: You mentioned the last time you spoke to campus.ie that you were experimenting with a new sound on Vitreous. It’s been out a couple of months at this stage, so what’s it been like to play the new tracks live?

PS: It’s been cool. Some of [the songs] we’ve been playing before we recorded [the album] or before it was out so some [have been around] longer than others. We built [this album] up bit by bit. Sometimes people weren’t in the same room or in the same “timezone” – some people would come in in the morning and put on a part and some people would come in during the night. A lot of it was done in that kind of systematic way. But, weirdly, it was still very collaborative in that sometimes separated way. So a lot of the stuff we didn’t actually write by sitting in a room and jamming together. It was written by individuals and parts were put on by different people.

When we came to play it in a live sense, we had to almost learn it as a band for a couple of weeks and try get a sense of what it actually sounds like live which was quite interesting. I think it then takes on a different voice or a different body of sound when you’re actually playing it as a band as opposed to recording it individually.

Some of [the songs] have developed nicely, but I think for the next record we’ll try a different approach where we might jam more or record as a band again like the first record [Hither Thither]. We’ll play them for a while or tour them before we record them. I think there are always different stages that a song goes through, so it’ll be interesting.

CMM: The music industry has obviously been hit very hard in the last couple of years. What’s it like working in the Irish music industry in 2014?

PS: It kind of is what you make of it really. Some bands will go out and tour relentlessly and probably do quite well. [But] it’s a very small and limited field. You only have a certain amount of places that you can play. Depending on what kind of band you are, it can be even more limited. I think a lot of it is about getting out of Ireland and try – as much as possible – to branch out of playing in your own country. For some bands even playing in a different town could be a new experience. That’s great when you can do that, but once you get to that level you always want to do more.

I think the industry is healthy. There are loads of great acts and they’re all doing individual things and some are getting quite big, and it’s great to see that. I think it’s always healthy: There’s always a healthy abundance of original music, it’s just whether it’s channelled in the right way or handled correctly.

CMM: What plans do O Emperor have for 2014?

PS: We’re looking at playing South by Southwest [festival in Austin, Texas]. I can’t really say for certain if we’re going. We’ll see if we can actually plan it properly. It’s a major operation really. We did it about three years ago.

CMM: So you know it’s difficult.

PS: Yeah, it’s a big thing. It’s a big commitment to go over there. [It’s difficult] financially as well. Hopefully we can get over there. We have some plans to do some US touring as well so fingers crossed, it will all go well.

CMM: That sounds really exciting. One last question: Paddy Power have you priced at 7/1 to win the Choice award – are you going to be betting on yourselves?

PS: Actually, I was going to. And we went up to 3/1 yesterday. I won’t really get much now – I should’ve put it on when it was at 12/1. Some of my friends put one on when we were at 12/1 so they’re in for a good win if we get it.

CMM: So an anxious few weeks for them as well then!

The winner of the Meteor Choice Irish Album of Year will be announced at an event in Vicar Street in February. Tickets for the awards ceremony are on sale now priced €23.50.

‘Vitreous’ is out now.

www.oemperor.com

This article first appeared on campus.ie.