Billow Wood talk about life after winning the Le Crunch Apple of my Eye Song Contest
Brought to you by Le Crunch Apples from France.
"It has set us up to pursue something we love doing."
Billow Wood have come a long way since winning the Le Crunch Apple of my Eye Song Contest way back in 2014. Originally going by the name Flat Out, since winning the competition the band rebranded and found themselves in a position to continue making music. In 2017, they released their first EP entitled 'Can You See Me' and have been touring the country with it.
The indie folk band spoke to JOE about their experience of the song contest and how their career has progressed since that win four years ago.
It’s been a good year for you. What’s been the biggest change that you have experienced in the last year?
It has been a great year! The biggest change we have experienced hands down is changing our name for our original music from Flat Out to Billow Wood. We are very excited to showcase our original material far and wide. We have streamlined all our original music into one place under the name Billow Wood, we would love if everyone checked out our new music on our social media.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard you?
There are many genres we could fall into. As we play traditional Irish instruments people tend to think we are about to blast out some Ceili music, however, our original material couldn’t be further from this.
Our line up does comprise of a harp, bodhran, accordion and fiddle, but we have created a pretty unique sound using these instruments in a more alternative, more folk mainstream way. We use the term Neo-Folk to categorise ourselves to the public.
How much did winning the Le Crunch Apple of My Eye Song Contest help you?
This is something we still reflect on quite regularly. Although we won way back in 2014, it has set us up to pursue something we love doing.
Obviously, the cash prize was a fantastic reward and enabled us to progress in the music industry but we have also learned so much since performing our version of 'Pumped Up Kicks.'
What was your highlight of the last year?
There were many highlights. I think we all probably have our own personal ones. There were a lot of “firsts” for us last year as Billow Wood had just been born. We recorded our first EP of original material with the new name. This was both an exciting and nervous adventure for us. It was fantastic to work with Martin Quinn in Jam Studios in Kells. Without sounding cliched, we got some great insight into the journey that a song takes from paper to recording.
Performing a live session on Fergal Darcy's show on Today FM with our song 'Turn Out The Light' to shed light on mental health in young people was also a nice achievement.
Appearing in December’s edition of Hot Press magazine as “Rising acts you should keep an eye and ear on.” That was pretty sweet.
Oh and obviously getting to work with JOE.ie was great as always. We loved getting to perform a Magic Cover on the JOE Show. JOE.ie have been an amazing help for us in terms of sharing and spreading our music to a larger audience.
What’s your approach to writing new music?
We have become a lot more comfortable in writing our own music. As songwriters, you can get inspiration from anything and the ideas can come at any time. Ciara has a unique way of conjuring up song melodies and lyrics. There have been numerous times we have been sitting around Ciara’s phone listening to very random humming sounds, where she has sprung up from her sleep and reached for her phone to hit the record button. Sometimes she doesn’t remember doing it! Haha. Although a lot of it has proven to be sleep induced mumbling, we have actually got some decent melody ideas from it. Haha.
In general, as a four-piece, we bring the bones of an idea that we have individually come up with to the table. Then we can dissect what we think will work in terms of song concept, lyrics and melody. We never have any differences in opinions and we never fight... (awkward silence).
But overall we do work well as a team, and songwriting for us, so far, has been a positive experience.
Can your fans look forward to a new EP in the near future?
So we have just released our new Billow Wood 5 track EP called 'Can You See Me'. We are especially proud of the tracks on this EP. Some are personal stories and experiences, so it is very rewarding to share these songs with people. We are also very lucky to have worked with some very talented people. Without blowing our own trumpets, we really love our EP graphics, produced by Stephen Padden from Ballina, and also our music videos! Our music videos were recorded by Ciaran O’Donnell. Such talent. We would love everyone to check them out.
Clip via Billow Wood
What’s been your favourite gig so far and why?
Our favourite gig... I think we all agree that our EP launch in Whelans was our favourite. Who knew there was so much involved in organising such an event?
We had spread the word as much as possible and advertised in all the usual places, but that feeling of not knowing how many people are going to show up is pretty frightening. Fortunately, we were overwhelmed by the turnout and managed to sell out our first headline gig as Billow Wood. We even had to turn people away! Also, we found out a lovely couple had flown over from Norway to come to the gig. It was brilliant.
What’s been the strangest experience you’ve had at a gig?
As a band, we have found ourselves in some strange situations and places.
In 2016, we found ourselves in Malawi, Africa, as guests of the Irish Embassy and the Irish Ambassador at the time, Aine Hearns. This was a surreal experience. We had a number of official concerts to play, and also some local gigs. During our time, off we got to witness the extreme poverty of the country. This was a massive eye-opener.
In total contrast to Malawi, later that year we took up residence in the Irish venue, Raglan Road in Orlando, Florida. The juxtaposition of going from one of the poorest regions in the world to one of the richest parts of America was crazy. So to answer the question, the strangest experience we have had is both of these experiences happening in a number of weeks of each other.
JOE: What can your fans look forward to in the coming months?
We are very excited to be continuing our “Can You See Me” tour over the next couple of months. The tour is taking us back to Dublin and also Limerick, Galway, Mayo and to Donegal. To find out more information you can check out any of our social media - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Also, we are heading back Stateside for a number of gigs in March. We have a number of concerts to play in McGinley's Golden Ace, Indianapolis to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and also the Irish Heritage Centre Of Greater Cincinnati. From there we fly to France to take part in the “Les Semaines Irlandaises en Artois-Gohelle music festival.
We also have a number of music videos coming out over the next couple of months, so again... check out our social media.
What are your ambitions for 2018
We could write an essay on everything we'd like to achieve this year. Every year, we say that the previous year is going to be hard to beat.
We are planning on releasing new singles this year. It will be great to get back into the studio again.
We suppose we would love what every musician would love. To be doing something we love and making a career out of it. We are always growing and learning, and trying to perfect our craft. You can never do enough of that.
If you'd like to follow in Billow Wood's footsteps, find out how you could enter the 2018 Le Crunch Apple of My Eye Song Contest here.
The Le Crunch Apple of My Eye Song Contest is proudly sponsored by Le Crunch Apples from France. The apples are available nationwide in a number of different varieties - Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Red Delicious! Check them out on @lecrunchapples, Facebook and YouTube. T&Cs apply.
Brought to you by Le Crunch Apples from France.