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October 2020

We've seen the future of indie pop, and it looks a lot like whenyoung

Irish trio whenyoung have some of the best new band bangers around, and with words of advice from Bono no less, who knows what's next?
Published: 10:07 am, May 08, 2018
We've seen the future of indie pop, and it looks a lot like whenyoung
Despite having just a handful of songs to their name, Irish London-based trio whenyoung are already gearing up for three massive tours supporting Dork favourites Dream Wife, Declan Mckenna and Peace at their shows across the UK.

Made up of Aoife Power on vocals and bass, guitarist Niall Burns and drummer Andrew Flood, the three Limerick-born teenagers bonded over a love of The Strokes, The Ramones and The Clash.

After moving to Dublin with city aspirations, they all relocated to London at different times, and that’s when whenyoung was formed. “We’ve known each other since we were 15,” Aoife remembers, having all played in different bands before moving to the capital.

“We moved from Limerick to Dublin because it was so small. Dublin was great, but you always want to go to a bigger, more exciting city,” they agree of the move. “When we came over we decided to try it out, and I think, musically, it clicked immediately. We all knew that we could do different things..."

With a DIY approach to fusing pop hooks and melodies with punky guitars, they began playing shows together and learning from each other. “We try to create raw and punky sounds, but we love pop music and catchy melodies like The Beatles and Motown too,” adds Niall. “That’s what comes easy to us because it’s what we listen to.”

In terms of Aofie’s own songwriting process, the tracks usually come from her just humming a melody. “When she’s drunk!” Niall is quick to add, laughing down the phone. “Yeah, we have written stuff when drunk,” Aoife jokes. “Then we make the music happen around it. It’s pretty organic, nothing special...”

That humble ‘nothing special’ has gained them some big-name fans though. The trio recently found themselves performing at Shane McGowan of The Pogues 60th birthday in Dublin thanks to their cover of ‘Fairytale Of New York’. “We sent it to his manager, and apparently Shane loved it."

While at the party they even had dinner with Nick Cave and Bobby Gillespie. “We were so starstruck, like, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’ We could barely even speak!” Niall gushes. “Andrew got really drunk and knocked over two chairs near to Nick Cave,” Aoife recalls.

“It was definitely a night to remember; Sinead O’Connor made a guest performance, and Bono was there. “I was saying how nervous I’d been and he said that nerves never go away,” Aoife remembers of his advice; “he just said concentrate on the music and songs and forget about everyone else.”

As well as that completely unexpected evening, whenyoung count The Maccabees’ Felix White as a fan too. Playing a gig where he was in the crowd, Felix was so impressed that he offered to release whenyoung’s single ‘Pretty Pure’ on his label Yala! Records.

“He had played ‘Actor’ on his radio show, and we got talking after that gig. He really champions new music and new bands,” Niall says. “He was immediately really supportive, and The Maccabees are one of our favourite bands, so it was very exciting.”

While ‘Pretty Pure’ is about “escaping people’s expectations of you and trying to do things that feel natural and pure”, Aoife says their music is influenced by “issues of the moment... Our music offers a different voice,” Aoife suggests.

“As well as personal things to us, our friends and life in general, we’re talking about issues that affect people.” ‘Actors’ is about how people can often feel insecure around social media and ‘The Others’ was written about the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and people being neglected in society. “It’s not just pop music,” Niall suggests.

With twenty shows scheduled for May alone, a dozen festivals booked throughout the summer and some yet to be announced headline shows, they’re surprisingly not feeling too pressured. “We’re really excited, but we feel prepared,” Aoife suggests. “We’ve been in the studio a lot, and obviously it’s a big jump, but we feel ready.”

Taken from the May issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. whenyoung are currently on tour with Peace.

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