Looking for some new music to kickstart your Monday morning? This weeks Track of the Week comes from BIMM Dublin’s Feibhár and her debut single ‘Forfeit’ – listen now.
What inspired you when writing this track?
This is an interesting question because this song has been inspired by several things. It took so long for me to decide that it was ‘release ready’, that every time I learned a new thing, I rearranged the song accordingly! It was one of those tunes I just couldn’t let go of. It didn’t feel… finished yet; and I was determined to get it there.
It began as a poem that I wrote on my way home from college one weekend. I was sitting on a bus, it was raining heavily, and I was feeling as miserable as the weather. I felt like my songwriting had become stale, a conflicting feeling when you’re studying songwriting and everyone around you is writing incredible music!
I turn to poetry and creative writing to explore feelings that feel too big to explore within myself. I personify these big emotions and create stories around them to understand them better. In ‘Forfeit’, the emotion is represented by a shadowy figure.
It sounds like the song is about someone else, but it’s about how my relationship with my music has changed over the years because of how much I have changed, and trying to figure out where I stand with it now.
Were there any particular music influences while you were writing?
There were, actually, I can even name them! I’m normally terrible at describing my influences but this poem became a song for a third-year assignment! It was interesting to have the words already, writing the music to a given brief, instead of creating my own. The brief was to write a song for Birdy – Daughter, Bon Iver and St Vincent were the reference artists.
The song had to be atmospheric and alternative, yet commercial, with an emphasis on the quality of the lyrics, and lots of room for backing vocals. I listened to a couple of their tracks on repeat and made notes about what the most stand-out features of each were. That’s where the piano came from. I don’t really play the piano, but I plan to teach myself over the summer!
Is there anything you do to try and make your music stand out?
I don’t actively try to make my music stand out, I just write it the way I write it! You will always find oodles of backing vocals and hook-y lyrics though. If I enjoy writing and playing it, I feel like people will be attracted to it as it is.
How did your songwriting process work?
Forfeit took over a year to become its best self. When I first structured and arranged it, for that assignment, it was at 100bpm and over five minutes long. After I had submitted it, I kept going back to it… I felt there was something there. I planned it to be my second single, but it grew to be more important to me, because of the lyrical content, and because of how meticulously I was arranging and rearranging it. I decided it had to be my first, it said more about where I was at the time.
I’d been a session vocalist on my friend’s track around the same time and I’d met an engineer/producer who I got on well with through that, Ciarán Hilliard. I sent him the song and asked if he was interested in mixing it and recording my vocals. His first two notes were “it’s too long and it’s too slow”, both fair points. So, I amended the structure and sped it up. We went back and forth for months whilst I tidied up the production and added more backing vocals.
After sitting on the song for so long, tweaking it for months with a severe case of demo-itis, working with Ciarán helped me take it to the next level and it would not be the song that it is without his influence. Trusting someone else with my art, like this, was a new experience and it 100% benefitted the song.
Describe your sound in 3 words…
Atmospheric… Celtic… Pop?
How has studying at BIMM helped you develop as an artist?
I didn’t really know other songwriters before I came to BIMM, music was just a hobby that I happened to be really into. I did the CPD Diploma in Songwriting in 2013 and that year I became more serious about my songwriting. I became a very disciplined writer, setting myself creative goals, so it was no longer a hobby. I have so many notebooks full of songs from that year.
I had my son in 2014, and in 2015, I started the BA in Commercial Modern Music. By that time, my priorities were in a different order, but I threw myself back into my music. First and second year were the best! My songwriting thrived, as I was fully immersed in this new world where all anyone wants to talk about is music; what music they’re listening to, what music they’re writing, what gigs they are playing and what gigs they are going to. It was hard to have writer’s block when we were playing constantly in our classes.
Third and fourth year have not been as creatively rewarding, but I’ve developed more as an industry professional, which (as an independent artist today) is arguably as important as the songwriting. I’ve learned about publishing, marketing, branding, collection societies, etc. I’ve worked hard, learning as much as I can, about as many aspects of the industry as possible.
What’s your favourite thing about BIMM?
The tutorials system! Seeking professional advice from your tutors for free is invaluable. Ooh, and the masterclasses. Again, FREE! We’re luckier than we take advantage of! I would have struggled a lot more with this release without BIMM and the learning opportunities it has offered me.
Anything exciting coming up you can share?
I’m working on an EP, which I’m going to release next year, but until then, you can look forward to a spooky second single which I plan to release around Halloween. I’m also going to get back into gigging over the summer, once final year is over!