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In the eye of the beholder…

Look out Rose of Tralee, there’s a new Pageant in town… With the Dublin music scene continuing to buzz with fresh talent, it’s time to shine our Void spotlight on “Beauty Pageant,” a band that’s been making waves with their infectious tunes and genuine camaraderie. Meet the dynamic ensemble of six friends hailing from the northern reaches of Dublin: Ian and Dale on guitars, Luke on bass, Matt behind the drums, Walshy on keys, and the charismatic Cormac lending his vocal prowess. All hovering around the ages of 27 to 28 (27, after all, is officially still mid-twenties).

“Beauty Pageant’s” journey as a band began as a natural extension of their friendships, rooted in the shared experience of secondary school. However, it was during their college years that this musical collective truly found its identity and spent their days and nights bonding as a tight-knit unit. While only one of them, Walshy, who we have previously featured in the Void delved into formal music studies, the love for music has always been a central pillar of their social world, whether it be attending gigs, soaking up the festival scene, or dissecting the latest sonic trends over late-night conversations.

Their eclectic influences are as diverse as their personalities. From Ash to Pavement, Pinegrove to Porches, Weezer to The Thrills, Wavves to Guided by Voices, Soccer Mommy to Blink-182, Joyce Manor to Hinds, Built to Spill, and countless others, “Beauty Pageant’s” musical palette is rich and varied. The band’s sound has been a harmonious collision of these diverse musical flavors, although they couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Weezer when they unleashed their debut single, ‘Born to Stay’.

Intrigued by “Beauty Pageant”? You should be. This band has not only captured the essence of their influences but has also crafted a sound uniquely their own. So, stay tuned and get ready to embark on a musical journey with “Beauty Pageant” as they continue to carve their own path in the Dublin music scene. With their passion for music and their tight-knit bonds, “Beauty Pageant” is destined for big things, and you won’t want to miss a beat of their journey.

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Tell us about yourself!

We’re six friends from the general north Dublin area, that’s consists of Ian on guitar, Dale also on guitar, Luke on Bass, Matt on Drums, Walshy on Keys, and myself, Cormac, on vocals, last time I checked we are all 27-28 (27 is officially still mid-twenties).

The starting point for most our friendships is secondary school, although It’s really in the college years that the band developed as a defined unit and when we socialised most as a group. Out of the band only one of us, Walshy, specifically studied music in college, although music has always been a core feature of our social world, whether It’s been gigs, festivals or the topic of our conversations.

As a group some of the bands we have bonded over the years have been Ash, Pavement, Pinegrove, Porches, Weezer, The Thrills, Wavves, Guided by Voices, Soccer Mommy, Blink-182, Joyce Manor, Hinds, Built to Spill, to name a few, I’m not sure which of these have influences has affected our sound as a band, but we did get a lot of Weezer comparisons when we released our first single ‘Born to Stay’.

The best film I’ve seen is a tie between Chungking Express and School of Rock, Ian’s favourite is Happy Gilmore, I can’t speak for the rest of the band.

Seeing as we rehearse in North Strand we’ll have to pick Cusack’s as the official pub of Beauty Pageant, can’t beat a cosy pub with a vaguely nautical theme. Following this logic, Cloud Café would have to be the official café of the Band, and Da Mimmos the official restaurant.

What does being a musician(s) mean to you?

For me the communal nature of the band is central to my experience of being a musician, I see the band, the gigs, the recording process, the rehearsals, the cover art, the music videos, all as an extension of our friendship, a release of creative energy that’s more than just hanging out and talking. The mere act of creating something together that didn’t exist before is pretty cool I think.

Even though as the songwriter the songs start as quite solitary personal things, the edition of the group in the creative process is essential. We discussed semi-seriously before in the past how we could see our music as ‘Anti-Bedroom Pop’, at a time when quite soft, insular music was being celebrated in the indie-world like Mac Demarco or Clairo (artists who we do however actually enjoy a lot), It appealed to me to do something different, I didn’t want the songs to sound like they had been all created by one person sitting alone recording all the parts into a tape machine or their laptop, I want them to sound like six people in a big room.

What events led up to pursuing music? Did something snap or was it a gradual progression? Where do you find inspiration? Is there a place? An emotion? A cultural event? A mixture of many things at once?

Personally I’m not a very naturally musical person, no one in my family is particularly either, but from the age of around 11 I became obsessed with music and bands, I remember being glued to screen watching 2007 Glastonbury coverage on TV and that summer I began getting NME magazine every week. I was always intrigued by songwriting and the idea of being in a band, but it took until I was about 15 or 16 until I started to write songs with my childhood best friend, Iarla (the original guitarist who has since left the band), he taught me enough barre chords so I could create basic song structures, in the following years on weekends and summers we would record little home demos in Iarla’s family dining room on an ancient dell laptop.

Finally in 2018 we made a music video for a home demo of our song ‘Memory Foam’ and released it, much to the surprise of friends and family who didn’t realise I even did music, this need up being the catalyst to us getting our act together and forming a full live band and played our debut gig in the Workman’s Club that September, we played sporadically in the following years through Erasmus years, graduate visas and Covid lockdowns, but in the last two years we have knuckled in the studio, and last November released our first single ‘Born to Stay’, we’ve have since released another single and our debut EP. We’ve also gained a lot of experience as a live band, playing numerous venues in Dublin as well as Belfast, Galway and London.

Where do you find inspiration? Is there a place? An emotion? A cultural event? A mixture of many things at once?

Im not sure exactly how to answer that question, I suppose it all originates from a quite abstract feeling, I usually let chord progressions and the melodies I mumble over them create a feeling, then begin to try to fit words into those melodies, I find there’s often a bit of reverse engineering involved, I can get into a zone where I can just pour lyrics out once I’m enjoying where the song is going, I’ll then look back and try to figure out if any of it makes sense, maybe swap some words out and fine tune it. I love words and sentences and language, mostly our songs end up being about yearning and hope, I find it hard to write straightforward love songs but on the other hand I would struggle to go full goth as well, the songs need to have a happy ending, or at least suggest the possibility of one. I’m not sure where the inspirations come from, probably a mixture of my own memories, things I see written down, films, I am kind of selfish though, I only really write from my own perspective, I’ve never been able to do the Blur-style character portrait.

Can you tell me how you approach your work? Do you follow a particular system or just jump right in?

Nearly all the songs begin at some point with me strumming chords on old Argos nylon string guitar in my room, forming the melody lyrics and structure, I might make a lil simple GarageBand demo, or ill just show the chords to the band at rehearsal with some vague direction of how I might imagine the song will sound, then the song will usually morph with the different members addictions, a synth hook, or guitar, the tempo of the drums, often the song has a completely different energy to how I initially imagine it, the collaborative process imprints a lil bit of each members personality onto the track.

What do you aim for people to feel or acknowledge when viewing / listening to your work?

I like the idea of the the music being a bit of an antidote to loneliness, or an antidote to the monotony of life, I suppose I’m just trying to create a soundtrack to my own life, music to capture those days or moments in your life where you actually feel like your in a movie and can almost hear music playing in the background, life’s not just going to work and looking at instagram and going to the pub once a week, you need something else to injects a bit of colour and communal joy into life, Ive found recently I’ve gotten so used to listening to podcasts I sometimes get out of the habit of actually listening to music, and then when you actually do and your completely in the moment with it and it can fill that void in your head, I’d like our songs to be able to do that to someone.

Why not say some words on your latest release? Or give us the scoop on some unreleased work?!

We’ve just released our debut EP ‘A Bank Holiday Miracle’ in August. Recorded in various bedrooms and studios over the last two years, and mixed by Les Keye of Arad Studios the EP brings together our first two singles ‘Born to Stay’ and ‘I’ll try to Start Again’ with new songs ‘Starfish Town’ and ‘To the Sunbeds’, the latter of which is our usual live set-closer and is maybe our biggest sounding track with a big wall of organs and overdriven guitar. The EP is a nice introduction to us as a band, and I think the Frankenstein nature of its recording process reflects the sonic progress we’ve made as a band over the last couple years. It’s available to stream on Spotify and all the other streaming platforms, the music videos for ‘Born to Stay’ and ‘I’ll Try to Start Again’ are available on Youtube.

Have you got any plans for the future?

We have quite a few different bits in various stages of recording that we’ll be releasing throughout the next 6 months or so. There’s bunch of songs we recorded last summer with Les Keye as well as some songs we recorded with fellow indie-rocker Oisin Walsh of Spearside in the Spring. I think we’ve started to really find our sound in the last year so I’d love to get back recording again in the new year. Would love to get a few more music videos under our belt as well, as the collaborative process of putting them together has been so satisfying. On the live end of things I’d love to play more gigs outside of Dublin, particularly Limerick, Cork and Derry.

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