Interviews

Q&A: Siobhan Lynch of Holy Magick

Following the release of Holy Magick’s psychedelia-infused, garage-rock debut album, we sat down with front-woman Siobhan Lynch to speak about the five-piece’s eponymous record, her favourite Brighton watering hole and the group’s back and forth writing process. 

Your album is self-described as “a collection of Nihilistic anti-romance ballads…” – could you describe your music in a little more detail for our readers?

Holy Magick is an unlikely fusion between my own gothic/punk background as a songwriter and Dom Keen’s psychedelic rock aesthetic as a producer and musician. From two very different worlds, we mashed together our influences and then just really liked the way the music sounded. This is a time when subcultures are increasingly blurred in definition, so this kind of experimentation can have quite fun results, but we do also have the middle ground influence of both being obsessed with a specific era: the late 70’s.

Dom’s other projects are largely rooted in psyche/kraut rock, but his music also reminds me of fantastic bands like The Legendary Pink Dots or Small Faces. My other projects draw a lot from from post-punk and IDM, but I also tend to magpie all sorts of random pop references.

Live, Holy Magick is excessive, loud and quite unpredictable. As a band we like to keep an element of openness and chaos about the performance, even though the music has also been meticulously micro-crafted. We have a create-to-destroy mentality.

How did you come to create an anti-romance piece and what inspired you to create the album?

Dom would send me these amazing demos of the tracks and caught up in how exciting they sounded, I banged out the songs instinctively, often keeping the first takes of newly written parts because the music felt so automatic and correct to me. It was only after a while that I saw the pattern that was forming – slightly off versions of ‘love’ songs, free of romantic mythology or materialistic agenda-driven bonds, told in the form of little stories or extracts. I decided to embrace the theme: meaningless moments that form their own beauty, just like the act of writing and recording music with someone, forming a band with other musicians, and ultimately playing your music to an audience. I don’t believe there is any inherent meaning to anything, but certain acts of mindlessness or pointlessness are sometimes the loveliest thing in life.

Holy Magick’s Siobhan Lynch

You have a krautrock, psychedelic vibe to your music – what influences you and are there any particular artists or genres of music, or maybe something outside the realm of music?

Holy Magick are mutually mad about Can, Funkadelic, Serge Gainsbourg, The Fall, Bowie and the Velvet Underground.

I have never myself been hugely geeky or married to one genre, but I do like nihilistic decadence: Wire, Nick Cave, Cranes, Sonic Youth, Throbbing Gristle and Talking Heads are on heavy rotation at present.

Outside of music I love surrealist art and literature, but I am also a huge fan of science fiction in all its forms.

What’s your favourite song on the album and tell us what makes it stand out?

‘Lifeboat’ is my favourite track from the album – the guitars are tremendous. We threw it in as an afterthought almost, but now it’s my go-to song if I want to play something to friends that summarises the album for me. The most fun track to play with the band live though is definitely It’s Your Money.

What’s Holy Magick’s process behind making music?

In the sketching stage, Dom writes the music in his studio, playing all of the parts, and when he is ready he sends me MP3 drafts to write the songs to. I record as I write, I have a Joe Meeks microphone and a BR1200 that I record vocals with in my own studio, then I send the finished songs back to Dom to drop into the track before he hones the instruments – he has a fantastic set up with some really beautiful synths and drum machines that he gets so much musicality out of, but for me it’s the guitars that are always something very special, so I am always excited to get the finished first mix back.

When a track is complete, we then take it to the band, who bring fresh energy and ideas to the sound – after this, gigs keep everything lively, and inform us of how much more we possibly can vamp in the moment – a lot! At that point, the process comes through the connection with the audience, which is the most wonderful and unpredictable part of it.

You are signed with Brighton independent label, Lost Room Records – where’s your favourite place to go for a drink in Brighton?

There’s a lot of fun to be had in Brighton and a lot of great bars but it’s the Bees Mouth for me, so lovely and peculiar, and the detail that has gone into the design of the place is slightly insane. There is a Patti Smith-themed toilet and a Steve Buscemi-themed toilet downstairs. I think they were once gendered but no one has cared for years, so it’s basically a free for all down there now –although maybe that’s just me!

How does it feel to be releasing your self-titled debut album? How long has it taken to get to this point?

A while – we’ve been very particular – and we are so grateful for the patience and careful listening, vision and oversight of the good folks at Lost Room records, and for the great work of studio monster Tom Tyler.

It is extremely exciting to be releasing these tracks, and to be here right now. Dom and I were writing together, alongside our other projects, for about two years before it all started to come together with the band as well. We have had a few pitfalls since then: losing a couple of really great musicians through unfortunate circumstances, but new faces have brought different energy and the core has kept growing in confidence and purpose.

How did you first get into music, was it something you always had an interest in?

I’ve been singing, writing and producing music my whole adult life and grew up wanting to be some sort of artist, but I was private about it for years as I have always been a bit shy about what I do. I have a day persona at work which is quite stuffy and grown up, but by night, as well as rehearsals with Holy Magick, I produce my own lo-fi gothic-electro stuff as Butterheart, and am half of a dark and demented electronic band called Clarence Mubotica, in which I also play electric guitar, Korg and Kaoss Pad. I’m always busy, and I suspect that in writing and performing all the music I possibly can I am secretly having far too much fun in life and should probably stop, but I doubt that I will.

Holy Magick’s debut album is out now. 

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Q&A: Siobhan Lynch of Holy Magick
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