Nealo – Interview | Characteristic

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Musical collaboration is a beautiful thing. It creates a meeting of minds, as evidenced by the works of the greatest bands and artists of all time, like David Bowie who constantly changed who he worked with depending on the type of music he was making. However, 90% of the time, such collaborations arise from friendships that turn into working relationships.

Hibernacle aims to reverse this dynamic by putting acts you would not normally associate in a room to write songs in the hopes of creating working relationships and friendships within the Irish music community.

When the rapper from North Dublin Nealo was invited to perform at the inaugural Hibernacle event at the Doolin Hotel, he was associated with Bell X1 and HousePlants frontman Paul Noonan.

“After a really tough year, it was really good to collaborate with people and write, to be forced into a room with certain people to write and that would be ‘you have to get out of here with something. and play it tonight, “which was crazy pressure but really fun,” explains Nealo, of the event which also featured such figures as Lisa Hannigan, Saint Sister, Royal Yellow and Toshin.

Of course, Nealo is no stranger to collaboration through his production on the Irish hardcore scene and his work with INNRSPACE and his collaborations with Shiv. Despite this, the experience still took him out of his comfort zone.

“I had never done this with a stranger before” said Nealo, of his cold collaboration with Paul Noonan. “I remember he sent me a beat the night before and I was like “okay, I’m just going to go out and write this”. The morning we had the writing session, I went down to Doolin Pier for an hour and started writing. I went back and put it down and made a song out of it and played it two days later. It was a very cool experience once you got out of your comfort zone.

Nealo was intimidated by the prospect of working with such an established music star in such an unusual way, but credits how gracious and welcoming Noonan was.

“This is all going through your mind, but you have to be like, ‘here I’m here to do this.’ You have to get rid of this impostor syndrome and say to yourself, ‘I’m in this room for a reason, this. it’s no coincidence that I’m here, I can do my thing ‘”, Nealo said.

“You just have to be confident about yourself because if you start to get nervous you just don’t get anything out. If you’re feeling nervous or under pressure, you’re just going to write garbage. The best thing you write is when you’re free and you don’t care about a thing it’s the best thing you ever write in my opinion. I don’t write well in the studio. I can write a hook or something, but if I want good lyrics, I have to be alone and write.

You would think that with such a situation, a sense of competition between the writing camps could develop, especially around the live-streaming element of Hibernacle. After all, it would be natural if no one wanted to deliver the worst song, but Nealo insists that the experience forged a bond between all the artists put together.

“It was more encouraging, we wouldn’t be worried about our songs. It was more ‘deadly ah, they wrote a banger’. It was a real vibe of continuity and I think Meet Me At The Castle is probably going to be the same kind of vibe. Everyone encouraged each other. “ explains Nealo who is clearly looking forward to reliving the Hibernacle experience at Claregalway Castle this weekend.

“It got me into a really good friendship with Saint Sister, and Morgan is on a few songs on my album now, it’s been really great in terms of making friends. Like you said before, a lot of collaborations come from. ‘friendships rather than just “I want to be in the studio with this person because I think they’re really good”, more “I vibrate with this person, let’s make good music together’.

If you see me live you’re always going to think ‘oh they look like they’re having fun’ and more importantly ‘they look like they’re having fun with friends’ and I think that’s where comes good music rather… two really good artists in one room might not make a good song, but two very good friends in one room, a deadly song most of the time I think.

This is the scheme that Nealo uses to approach the recording of his second album, which is slated to see the light in the first quarter of 2022, with appearances from Shiv, Rebel Phoenix, Uly and Adam Garret as well as Morgan de Saint Sister.

“I work with Willhouse who is a Carlow beat maker, he sends me a lot of stuff, but Adam Shanahan is the main man behind it (My Fault). I go to his studio every week and he hooks me up. sort of the backbone of everything. There’s a girl called Rachel McAuley, she sings live with me, she’s on a lot of records too. “

“I don’t mean to be too selfish … but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I put the most work and pain into it and it paid off and I’m pretty excited to release it ”, Nealo says about his upcoming album, which he describes as being centered around love and relationships and sees it moving in a more experimental direction.

“Most of my records don’t even have beats on them, there are only two songs with drums on them. It’s mostly me talking about those crazy lo-fi soundscapes. I found they really matched my style, I could just talk ”, he declares before adding.

“It’s the difference between being in a house and being in a field. I feel less locked in when there’s no drums on the beat and I can just go talk whatever I want and that’s when I put out the best lyrics.

“‘All The Leaves Are Falling’ was more like a band playing the songs when it’s more ‘we’ll have a sample loop, we could put saxophone on it, we could put keys on it’ and then I’ll just go go and run my guys on it for a few days and it works great, it’s new ground for me anyway.

You can hear Nealo’s new pitch at Meet Me At The Castle at Claregalway Castle this weekend (September 25-26). Tickets on sale here.


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