Tuath Interview: “Irish sounds beautiful and not enough people were doing modern stuff in the language”

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Tuath’s latest EP, Existence is Futile, is out now.

Irish quartet Tuath, that’s Irish for ‘nature’ for you heathens out there, are true innovators. Incorporating what seem like completely disparate musical influences, their music is at once experimental and exploratory, and melodic and infectious. Combining the English language (for the first time), trip hop, shoegaze, and hip hop, their latest EP, Existence is Futile, is the kind of release that continues to unveil its secrets even after a multitude of listens.

We spoke to the duo’s enigmatic front-man Robert Mulhern about their use of the Irish language, sampling Al Green, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Catch Tuath when they support The Altered Hours at The Grand Social, Dublin on 15th December.

Overblown: You released your most recent EP, Existence is Futile, in June 2016. How did you approach differ from your approach to writing and recording your debut album?

Tuath: This EP came about very very differently to usual. Our first EP was written after the whole band was more or less defunct except me and Ashley. This lead to me not having to wait around for everyone to record their precious parts on it and I could move preposterously fast and record everything except the sax myself.

This time, I had started smoking a lot of weed. I hadn’t smoked weed properly in a long time for creative reasons, and like shit man, I went hell for leather every day. I got into the head of Reuben Nielson from UMO,I really loved how he just used sorta found sounds as drumbeats and just fucked about on top of that until he had an idea. Then, I thought, “fuck it”, lets just make some juke music. Let’s make everything a found sound.

The title track from the EP came from when I was in Sweeneys Dublin, and I was having a pint and this song came on, I heard a sample in it and I was like “Shit, that’s mine now”. So I went straight to the barman and asked what it was. He said it was Al Green ‘Still In Love With You”. So I took my internationally recognized, legal 4 seconds from it and manipulated the absolute fuck out of it, recorded some hazey guitars over it and put a DJ Rashad inspired 808 under it. It sat about for months until one day I put guitars over it.

After the guitars were put down on it, I had a massive panic attack about the state of everything cause my mind wanders. So I literally described this panic attack in what little words I could hold together on the fly in my mother’s kitchen as I was home visiting that weekend while she was away. I was going through an existential crisis at the time so the whole EP came to be about the existential threats facing us as a species. Our up coming album is entirely about that too. It’s all I can think about. I had to change a few songs on the album since Trump got elected and all. You seen the state of the environment lately?

So yeah, the songs were recorded everywhere, from kitchens to toilets to actual recording studios to bedrooms then I just send whatever material to Ashley and he saxes over it like fuck. Sometimes I fuck about with the pitch and he just sorta goes with it begrudgingly (Thanks for putting up with that Ash). I don’t really give a shit where I record so long as I’m recording. I really love not even lo-fi recordings but like, shit recordings where you can barely even hear whats going on.

O: Judging by the EP title, you are Star Trek: The Next Generation fans. What is your favourite episode?

T: I’m generally not but “Deja Q” for shits and giggles. There is more “They live!” paraphernalia on our EPs art than anything else.we almost directly ripped it off haha(thanks to white crow media for that one).

O: The Irish language is used for the band name and your first EP. Is Irish important to the band’s identity?

T: The band was originally entirely os gaeilge because I am a gaeilgoir (Irish language enthusiast – ed) and I am an anti nationalist so I figure I would protest common nationalism by singing os gaeilge against nationalism and other issues. Tuath musically is generally about some horrible shit that is going on on the planet at whatever time so I used to sing entirely in gaeilge about that because Irish sounds beautiful and is beautiful and not enough people were doing modern stuff in the language. It really pissed me off that we had to rely on things that younger people deemed “uncool” and backwards (even if they are not) to further the language.

I find that it is very self indulgent to be singing about things like global issues during times of artistic need when only a handful of people can understand the language so I have recently decided to keep the Irish songs to topics that pertain directly to Ireland or personal grief. We have a song recently recorded as sort of the unofficial 5th track to this EP about the suicide rate and how it affected me this year personally. It is sang as sort of a story in the older sense.I started a hip hop band with an Irish lyrical genius called Craos with Seamus Barra O’ Suilleabhain because I believe in the language and how poetic it is by default. He does a much better job than I ever could and so long as I am involved in Irish, I am happy. P.S : Everything said in Irish is lofty and poetic somehow, even boring shit like the expression for “I am bored” which is literally “My two arms are as long as each other” in English.

O: Musically, you meld a number of styles ranging from shoegaze to trip hop to noise rock. How important is it for you to maintain this variety?

T: It’s important to maintain this variety. When this variety is true to what we feel at the time, you won’t know it’s the same band when you hear our album. It is a concept album, a sound track to a non existent 70’s B movie about aliens. So as you can imagine, it’s our re imagining of bossa nova, gang vocal “Do di do” music, 70’s prog using modern sounds and drum n bass mixed with 70’s psychedelia. Also trip hop and math rock kinda shit. If it sounds good like who kinda gives a fuck?

O: You’ve just released a video for ‘Who Do You Want Me To Be’. Tell us a little bit about the concept behind the video and its creation.

T: Haha, See episode 1 of season 3 of Black Mirror for more details. The concept is simply, you may use social media to present yourself as some sort of amazing person. This might make you feel good about yourself,but what if you are just a lonely. Self absorbed piece of shit behind it all, whacking off to yourself?

O: Last month you played Hard Working Class Heroes. How did that go? What’s your opinion of HWCH?

T: It was a woeful gig but they did a good job of everything else.

O: What is next for Tuath?

Answer: This album is being picked at every day. It is a labour of love and does not have the same pressures with it as our last EP so we are going to be plugging that one like fuck when its ready. We are trying to hassle cool bands that we like to let us play with them at the moment too so if that works out it’ll give us a platform to fuck about with our live set,we want more engaging visuals so look out for that. We are doing a sort of remix EP with our new electronics manipulator’s other band Shammen Delly. We are doing remixes of each others songs and a few gigs in December to show it off. We are going into a studio in December as well to bang out a 3 track EP of more up beat stuff. This time I am writing the lyrics through a child’s eyes. And by that I mean I am going to ask a bunch of children questions about what they think life is and use their answers as lyrics after some light editing.I don’t know that many children but my mate has a 3 year old, she could probably sort me out I think.

O: Who are the greatest Irish band of all time? Why?

T: The Pox Men.

They’re wistful, sexy, insatiable, alluring, gentle, funny, not funny, strong, weak, multi dimensional, uni dimensional and paradoxical. Check em out ta fuck.

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