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Saint Yorda: Patron Saints of Sound

“Whether it’s music or painting … over time something builds up inside, and when I make music or art it feels like a release,” says Paul O’Reilly, vocalist and guitarist for Saint Yorda.

Irish band Saint Yorda originated as a collaboration between schoolmates O’Reilly and Kevin Terry, who say they got serious about making music together in 2010.

And in the glorious tradition of The Pixies and Sonic Youth, they recruited lady bass player Roslyn Steer to round out the trio.

“I knew Roslyn as a double-bassist from music college, so we asked her to play bass guitar with us,” Terry says.

According to O’Reilly, they began with a specific idea of how they wanted to sound,  including guitars, types of beat and effects.

“For about a year we just wrote songs and didn’t do live shows,” reveals guitarist Terry. “While that was good for figuring things out it was kind of sterile … playing music in front of people made some things clearer for us.”

Since then, the band has become more open regarding songwriting and sound.

“While those things still heavily inform our music, I think we’re a lot more fluid in how we write. We’re more comfortable as a band and as writers and are willing to just let things happen,” O’Reilly says.

In August, the band released six new tracks on their Bandcamp.

The melancholy build up of their songs, the unexpected instrumental turns and the slow, patient singing draws the listener in. This band is confident enough in their sound to let you come to them, as you inevitably will.

“It’s a record of what our sound was like at that moment and it made it clearer for us what we were actually achieving,” says O’Reilly. “I think we’re still trying to figure out what we sound like.”

Song: Manta Ray

“For me it was great to have a solid block of time playing with the guys — when I first joined I loved the sound and the songs but having never played pop bass before, I was a little nervous,” explains Steer .

While the band is still discovering the sound they want to create, O’Reilly wants to be more ambitious with the music they make.

“I have a sort of vague ideas of what I want to achieve in my head, but its not fully formed yet,” O’Reilly shares. “I want to make really great pop music; with every song I want to make it better than my last.”

“Ideally, I want to expose something vulnerable, something I’m not quite comfortable with,” explains Terry.

Touring is an unsolved problem for the band at the moment, however. Bassist Steer is currently pursuing her master’s and O’Reilly works full time, so while a full tour has not yet happened, the band play shows around the country when possible.

I was listening to “Manta Ray” last night, and my sister asked me if I was listening to “Ian.” She was referring, of course, to Joy Division. And I was shocked at how quickly the comparison was made.

Song: Surf Song

There are definitely elements of the 70s English punk band thrown into the Saint Yorda mix, but I have found their tunes surprising and addictive in their own right. A little more Irish than English, one might say.

It’s always exciting to hear a band in its early stages, when impatient talent mixes with experimentation. There is the sense that this trio is on the verge of something great.  And that need to create, that need present in all artists to make something out of nothing, comes through in the layered, interesting sounds they’ve come up with so far.

“I don’t think I’d cope very well with not making it,” Steer says.

I’ve heard that only unfulfilled love can be romantic, so until Saint Yorda begins touring properly, The Spec will exist in a state of romantic hopefulness.

Download their new tracks for free here, you lucky melomaniac.


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