Wyvern Lingo, another group of distinctive Irish musicians, describe with more earthy terms the difference between their displays for everyday and for performance. “It’s usually slimy ponytails and tracksuit bottoms when we’re at practice,” describes Karen. “And then we throw on some makeup and some masso hoops and we’re grand to perform!” interjects Caoimhe as all three break into laughter.
The outward visibility of Wyvern Lingo’s connection is based less on their outfits and more on their general rapport. When speaking to all three members, Karen Cowley (vocals, keyboards, bass synth), Caoimhe Barry (vocals, drums) and Saoirse Duane (vocals and guitar), three stark individuals were heard, and this parallel of similarities and contrasts is a fundamental part of Wyvern Lingo’s act. Three voices come together in an eerie excellence, while each individual takes the helm of a different instrument.
The band’s similarities resound both vocally and visually in the music video for Used. The trio, painted with berry lips, wearing wildling hair and witch-like robes, bring a fantastical look to their already fantastical sound. “We worked on a shoestring budget”, Saoirse explains as she, Caoimhe and Karen go into details of scavenging for scrap pieces of material to create their costumes. “We sat down with the director, Patrick Ryan, and hashed out the concept together,” says Karen, “and then Caoimhe headed up the costumes.” The result imagery – three visions in white lamenting a loss of love – is almost fitting for a Shakespearean tragedy. The band’s influence is strong throughout the video, something which they hope to continue in the future.
Meanwhile, the video for Letter to Willow was less fantastical both in terms of the musical style and visual aesthetic. “We’re still into a hip-hop look, but we feel like we’ve changed a lot from this video,” says Caoimhe. Karen then explains that, “we used a stylist, which worked out great. But it was more because, at the time, we thought that that was something we had to do. We wouldn’t have been confident enough to put it together ourselves.” Caoimhe continues, adding that “now we want to represent where our style is today and how it has changed, we don’t want to be put in a box.” When asked what brought about the change or the boost in confidence, the answer was simple, albeit a little exhausting. “We did 55 gigs over the last year,” Saoirse say. “You get used to dressing yourself.”
“Over the last year, we realised how important it is to have an image for Wyvern Lingo as a band,” explains Saoirse. “We reckon the deli lady in Bray where we get our lunch thinks we’re in a cult.” Laughter breaks out momentarily again before Karen continues. “We have a look reflective of our sound. We are weird but also current.”
The little sparks of individuality jut out conspicuously but not offensively. “Saoirse wears a lot of black, she has that look from The Craft. Whereas Caoimhe is more adventurous, she’s forward thinking, always a little ahead. And I lie somewhere in the middle,” lists Karen. “We want our look to be natural and sincere, like our music,” says Caoimhe, before adding, “we do sometimes joke that we perform in capes though, but that’s down to all that mesh.”
Going more kimono than cape, at a recent media awards Karen and Caoimhe wore the work of Irish designer and recent NCAD graduate, Annique van Niekerk. “Whenever we can we try to support Irish designers,” states Caoimhe. True to their word, Karen sported a Thea by Thea halter top while performing at Longitude earlier this year and all three of the group are particularly fond of the pussy-inspired creations of young designer, Forever Feral. “We’d love to wear more of it [Irish design], we really would.”
And in all likelihood, they will. With more confidence than ever in their own styling abilities as well as their abundant musical talent, the trio look set to make waves throughout the year.
For more on Wyvern Lingo check out their website wyvernlingo.com
Words: Sinéad O’Reilly