Isabella Ambrosio sits down with rising Dublin act TV People to chat about their new single ‘String’ and what the band wants from the future.
In 2019, a new band hit the Irish scene running. Gaining support from the likes of Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 and promotions from Spotify and the legendary Abbey Road Studios, TV People have already proven themselves to be a Dublin-based act to follow. The four-piece is a collection of musicians that draw on their indie and garage rock musical influence.
I sat down with three of the members of TV People, who delivered thoughtful answers, building a harmonious conversation about mental health, inspirations and influences, as well as the struggles of being a new band, especially during a pandemic.
The members of TV people consist of vocalist and lead guitarist Paul Donohoe, Rob Kavanagh on bass, rhythm guitarist Len Rochford, and Brendan Clarke on drums. With Donohoe’s smooth vocals and the recurring slow guitar lines, TV People’s genre seems to almost float between a slight punk influence, whilst also dancing delicate lines of the indie genre. Their recent single ‘String’ discusses mental health with the use of beautiful metaphors, but ultimately, a cohesive dialogue about one’s mind not being in the best state. It felt relevant to touch on, with the month of November this year being used to bring attention to men’s mental health, and given the refreshed focus on men’s mental health, the track is made all the more poignant.
When I asked if this recent surge in conversation led to the creation of their single, Donohoe was eager to answer; “Talking about mental health related stuff amongst ourselves is very normalised, anyways. So, that’s something we’ve always done amongst our group of friends, we’d be very open about our mental health. I don’t know if it was necessarily a really conscious decision to be like ‘We’re going to shine a light on mental health’. It’s speaking what we kind of know already. But, definitely, it’s a very beneficial thing to do, as you said yourself, there is a stigma about talking about it, particularly amongst Irish men. If it has any positive effect coming out of that, that’s brilliant”.
“I think we’re very lucky that we have that mentality that we’re quite comfortable talking about mental health amongst ourselves and personally, myself and my wider group of friends, it is quite normalised and mental health issues are ubiquitous. Half the people I know are on antidepressants or something else. So, if you’re in a position like ours, where it’s normalised and you feel comfortable, it’s nice then to be able to write music about it and talk about it a little bit because it honestly just gives people who listen or follow the band, a bit of comfort, y’know?” Clarke added.
Although humble, they are no strangers to success. They received notable recognition from their single ‘Nothing More’, which collected praise from BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6, ‘Kitchen Sinking’ earning a spot on Spotify’s ‘An Alternative Éire’ playlist and ‘Time Eats Up’ receiving heavy promotion from the notorious Abbey Road Studios. The list of mainstream Irish supporters includes none other than Hot Press, RTÉ and 98FM, to name a few. When I asked how such praise has, if at all, impacted them as a band. Paul pensively states:
“It’s been a weird one obviously, this last year, because with Covid, you envision in your head, you start getting big UK radio play and features, so you know, ‘next time we’re going over, we’re playing big gigs’ and we can’t even play a gig in Dublin right now, and it’s been a lot of radio play and press coverage. We can’t really do anything…” Donohoe trails off and Clarke picks up right where he left off, “You can’t cash in on the success a little bit, you know? In normal times, if you get on BBC or get a big feature in a big magazine, you might be able to translate that into ticket sales or something like that. But, I guess we’ve been just trying to sell merchandise and build a following on Spotify and things like that, but it’s tough and it’s difficult to know what to do next”. Kavanagh was quick to comment as well, “The timing as well was kind of unfortunate, as we would have been giving it a lot, and it would have been great to feed off the success of the last two singles in the form of gigs and getting over to the UK to do a gig, it’s a shame. But, hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer”.
With the support and their success, I asked the burning question; "EP or an album? And when?" and Donohoe smiles with a sigh; “It’s always a tough question because, for us, the main barrier to releasing music is the money, really. We’re obviously an independent band, so basically, whenever we come up to the release of the single, and we’re mixing and mastering it, and we’re putting money into the release of it; where for about a month or two, we’re all absolutely skint and we’re loaning each other money back and forth and trying to figure out how we can fund everything. Something like an EP or an album is definitely on the agenda, long term…”. He adds, “But, if anyone who reads the interview and wants to throw us a €1,000 to get it recorded, that would be great”, the band laughs and I can’t help but laugh as well, sympathising as a broke college student. Clarke opens up the conversation further on the financial side of creating music; “I’m not sure people really know that independent musicians spend all of their cash on music. Like, obviously it’s a passion and something we’re all very willing to do, it’s a very expensive hobby and it’s well worth it, but it’s a shame that it’s hard to make money from it at the same time unless you’re very, very, very successful and do big tours in huge venues and stuff like that”. They remarked about having an EP in the future afterwards.
As an up and coming band, influences and inspirations are always a conversation that others seek to begin and often finish themselves. With labels concerning genre or specifically impactful musicians being stapled upon everything within a second of its conception, often before it has time to speak for itself. Speaking on their influences, Donohoe jumped in;
“Initially, when we started, I knew Len [Rochford], who isn’t in the meeting right now, and Brendan [Clarke] for a few years, and we were really into this American band called Twin Peaks and a UK band called Parma Violets and they had this kind of messy, kind of trashy sound and I thought that was cool. And I’d say, that as time has gone on, the range of influences that each of us in the band have and are kind of pulling inspiration from are so far apart that it’s kind of a melting pot of ideas. And there’s obviously a lot of great music coming out of Ireland at the moment like in hip hop and R&B and rap and everything, and it’s extremely inspiring, because there’s always been this misconception that Irish acts couldn’t do that well unless they went abroad and somewhere else, whereas now you’re seeing so much homegrown talent from so many different people from different backgrounds and completely different influences from all around the world coming in and it’s incredibly inspiring to be around and to be involved in any sort of music in Ireland at the moment. It really makes you think that anything is possible and it keeps you going, you know”.
With the inspiration and momentum TV People appear to have garnered, it’s easy to get excited about one of the most interesting acts in Dublin. Building a harmonious conversation about personally and collectively important topics, whilst layering masterfully notated fragments of their own inspiration and influences, is a talent they achieve effortlessly.
The trajectory of TV People is well worth looking out for and supporting.