On the Rise: Gary Duffy Schedules Show at Empire Music Hall

Photo by Stephen Edgar

Previously featured musician, friend of The Jumble, and up-and-coming pop artist Gary Duffy is making a comeback to the world of live music with a special gig at the Belfast Empire Music Hall this September. After securing a regular spot performing weekly at The Maverick Belfast’s ‘Sing it Back’ Gary is more than ready to put on a top class show.

29 year old Gary Duffy has found success with singles like ‘Going Nowhere’ and ‘Did You Ever Really Love Me?’ and is working on a new single due to be released latter in the Summer.

Speaking to Gary about the upcoming performance, he let The Jumble know that a full scale show of singing, dancing, and entertainment is to be expected, along with a range of special guests from all around Belfast and NI.

Tickets are available here with a first come first served sales point for seated tickets and standing tickets also available.

Keep up to date with Gary Duffy and his music on InstagramFacebook, and Spotify.

Looking Forward: A Conversation with Emily Osborne and Sam Dineen.

Three weeks ago, The Jumble Magazine hosted a survey called ‘Looking Forward’ via Instagram stories. The survey was designed to get an idea of how readers feel about coming out of lock down, both as creatives and as students. Today, Sam Dineen from The Jumble chats to Emily Osborne, a Belfast School of Art Design Graduate, creative, and Ulster University’s Student of the Year to discuss those survey results and the future of the NI creative scene. 

In the questions for creatives element of the survey (which were answered by between 60-80 people, with numbers varying per question) it seemed clear that the majority (81%) of respondents felt that the way the world has changed since 2020 has had an impact on the TONE of their work. Would you say the same thing about yourself? 

Yeah, definitely. I found it really interesting to learn that so many people feel the same way. Personally, the introspective nature of the pandemic really reflected onto the tone of my work. The fact that I didn’t have loads of stimulation from the outside world to influence my creativity meant that a lot of the work I was doing was more introspective or existential. Back in the winter of 2020 that seemed really clear on socials too, there was a lot of creative work focusing on mental wellbeing and mental health, as well as addressing the greater part that we as individuals play in society. 

Most (64%) of those people said that covid has made their work more existential, rather than escapist. As an artist and creative, do you see this existential tone becoming more normal as the world moves away from COVID? 

I actually don’t know. At the minute, everything feels existential. It’s hard to be escapist and to dream of things because it’s literally impossible to plan anything ahead in this setting. My fear is that as soon as some sort of ‘normality’ is achieved we will immediately forget about all the self awareness we have gained throughout the pandemic. I think the excitement of everything will totally distract and consume people, making it much more difficult to create that sort of introspective work. 

That’s a really good point. I do think people at the minute are very quick to want to put this whole thing behind us, but that is understandable. In the survey 78% of respondents said they don’t want to see pandemic content in the future, with only 16 people saying they would be interested in that kind of material.

I do think that maybe as we move out of it people will pull on the heartstrings with all of the things that the pandemic exposed, you can already see it starting in advertising and marketing. I imagine culture events and museums will incorporate themes like the value of the NHS or the side effects of isolation. I think it’s important to remember that we are still in the moment, we aren’t yet ‘post pandemic’. 

I’m lucky enough to not have lost anyone to COVID in the past 15 months, and I understand that there is a luxury in saying “Oh, I’m not interested in any kind of art or media about this in the future” because it hasn’t drastically altered my life in that way. There are obviously countless creatives worldwide who have lost so much to the pandemic, whether it’s family members, livelihoods, or their own health- looking forward I don’t think it will be a case of ‘post-COVID’ content for people in that kind of situation. 

That’s a great point. A global pandemic hasn’t happened to the current generation of humans on this planet up until this point, so there’s no one to really ask about what the world is going to look like after it. We have this massive event that has affected millions worldwide, and we know that they have been affected, so we can’t really expect it all to just switch off one day, that’s not what humans – and artists – do. 

On a lighter note, 64/79 people who answered said that they have taken up a new creative skill or hobby over the past 15 months, which is great. Even The Jumble Magazine itself only had a chance to shine because of extra downtime during the early days of the pandemic… Have you ventured into anything new during this reflective period? Or do you think that such confinement and restriction can stump creative conquests? 

I think it’s a bit of both. At the start of the pandemic I was really suddenly furloughed, so I decided to literally try every craft under the sun. When I was back in uni that creativity started to die down. I think that was a result of not being in the city and being stimulated by other creatives. I think it’s normal in a scenario like this to ebb and flow. 

It’s a weird comparison, but back in the really early days, when it all felt very surreal, it sort of felt like a really scary half term. There was this constant anxiety about this world changing event combined with this sudden lack of anything at all to do. It was totally bizarre. I think that very quickly turned into an influx of ‘creative hustle culture’ online. Suddenly every outlet was telling you to learn a new language, read lots of books, pick up painting, or start a business. That got overwhelming very fast, especially if you were just trying to adjust to the sudden change of pace. 

Yeah, that was so strange. I think it started to change as everyone collectively went through a creative burnout. I don’t think that push is good for people’s mental health. The notion of it feeling like a scary half term is so accurate, lots of students I spoke to for ‘Students of Lock down’ felt the exact same way. Everything was on pause. 

There were also a few questions about the use of ONLINE events in lieu of in person ones. With 66% of people saying that online events make them feel LESS like they are part of a creative community. Some respondents cited feelings of disconnect and isolation. However, many respondents also pointed out that online events are more accessible for disabled people and those who are unable to travel to Belfast (or other cities) for in person activities. As well as highlighting that online events have the potential to reach a worldwide audience. 

Going forward do you think that a mixture of in person AND online events will be a good way to make everyone feel safe and involved? 

Yeah, I think that’s for the best. The accessibility conversation has needed to happen for a very long time, but I think more needs to be doable online too. For example, creatives tend to really rely on micro-interactions to move forward in their careers. Those little introductions after an exhibition, getting to know new people, networking in general. That’s something that has been really hard to replicate in online events. That’s what I really miss. Some online events can be really draining, but others are fantastic! I have found myself taking part in regular events that I would never have considered if I had to travel to them in person. The ability to access events from anywhere in the world on a whim is for sure a massive plus. It’s great for people who can’t afford to travel worldwide for events too. 

I agree with you that those micro interactions are a lot harder to replicate online, especially when you’re relying on internet connection to keep conversations natural and fluid. 

(Ironically the connection of our call dropped right at this moment)

The survey then moved on to the second element: questions about online learning, the subject covered in you and Dillon’s short film ‘Perpetual Limbo‘. 68% of respondents said they did NOT enjoy online learning. Respondents said they felt disconnected, isolated, and found it hard to find motivation. One respondent said that long hours of staring at a screen and not meeting classmates was a struggle, with another saying they would “always end up daydreaming”. In ‘Perpetual Limbo’ the character seems to have difficulty concentrating in online classes, and the mundane repetition of it all seems to get to her. I graduated pre-pandemic, but can you tell me a bit about your own experience? Does it reflect that of the people who sent these responses to the survey? 

Yes, it definitely does. Online learning was so much harder than I thought it was going to be. My wifi is really bad, and constantly being kicked from the class due to connection issues really took it out of me. I found myself opting for recordings of the class that were made available afterwards, ones that I could actually hear, instead of taking part in crackly versions of them as they happened live. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for struggling with it. You also see another side to your university, you’re seeing lecturers in a much more intimate setting- in their own homes trying to teach whilst dealing with their own stressors. It really makes it harder on everyone. 

One of my favourite things about uni was the social and self-expression element. It felt like school, but with no uniforms or rules on makeup or hair dye. I loved going out spontaneously for drinks after lectures, growing into myself as a young adult and really just using it as an opportunity to play with my appearance and my interests with that new found freedom. I can’t imagine uni without that element, the idea of sitting at home the whole time seems like it would be a lot less fun. 

100%, it’s mind blowing how much it changes the experience. I personally don’t know one person who has enjoyed this year more. I at least had my first year in ‘normal’ circumstances, but I feel awful for the new students who didn’t get that. I really hope they get a year of normality. I wouldn’t have known how to cope with all of those new people without freshers and nights out and icebreakers, so my heart really goes out to them.

Of course, some people did find positives in online learning. People said they enjoyed that learning became more flexible to their lifestyle, that they saved time by not having to commute, and that they liked doing work from the comfort of their own home (or even their own bed). As a COVID student, do you agree with any of those sentiments? What do you think university is going to look like as we move forward? 

There are positives too, for me a lot of it was about time management. It was a lot easier not having to travel. My timetable beforehand meant that some days I had one class in the morning, then nothing for hours, so I found myself spending money to travel in, sit for an hour, and then spend lots more money getting food and occupying myself for hours until another class came up. Being at home has saved a lot of money and time that way. In the beginning, my work seeped into everything, but I eventually put together a working from home schedule which helped a lot. I do fear that current students may struggle in future workplaces as a result of being so in control of their timetables via working from home. I hope that this teaches universities just how important in-person learning is, not just for the sake of the content being delivered but also for the student experience. There are certain classes that could remain online in the future, but there should be a focus on how university also provides a really important physical space for students too. I hope to see a bit of a hybrid model in the future, maybe an option to go to classes in person and online too. 

The survey asked arts and film students if they felt that they had a decent online alternative to their end of year screenings and shows, 87% of respondents said no. Those shows are obviously so important for future job opportunities, so it must have been incredibly difficult to work through an entire degree only to lose out on that experience. 

I’m not surprised at that result at all. The thing is, it is so tricky, this scenario is nobody’s fault, and nobody was prepared for a global pandemic and all of the ways it would seep into and change life and studying as we know it. Creative education is often underfunded and lecturers, in my experience, were doing the best they could. Now you have this situation where students are graduating with mounds of debt after having paid full price for a year with less experience. It’s really difficult to gauge what to do with that. A lot of our graphic design work was individual, and the creme de la creme was the end of year show we had all been dreaming about since first year, so not having it cut has really shot us down. Had I known in advance what this year would have been like, I probably would have taken a year out.

Check out the full survey results below:

Questions for CREATIVES

Has the way the world has changed since March 2020 had an impact on the TONE of your work? 81% of 73 respondents said YES

If you answered YES has your work become more escapist or existential? 64% of 61 respondents said Existential.

Have you started working on a new creative hobby or skill in the past 15 months? 81% of 79 respondents said YES.

As things have moved online have you felt MORE or LESS part of the creative community? 66% of 79 respondents said LESS.

Looking forward to future media, do you want to see the pandemic being a feature of upcoming content? (movies, TV, etc) 78% of 73 respondents said NO WAY.

When it is 100% safe to do so do you see yourself going to more local gigs than you did pre-pandemic? 89% of 81 respondents said YES.

Do you think there are any benefits to having online events in a ‘back to normal’ post-COVID world? 69% of 78 respondents said YES.

Questions for STUDENTS:

Do you/did you enjoy online learning? 68% of 24 respondents said NO.

Were there more or less opportunities whilst learning online? 84% of 31 people said LESS.

Did you take those opportunities if/when they were offered? 63% of 27 people said YES.

In (hypothetical) hindsight, do you wish you could go back and take a year out during the pandemic/ online learning? 57% of 23 respondents said YES.

For the arts/film students, do you feel like you had a decent online alternative to your end of year exhibition/screening or show? 87% of 15 respondents said NO.

Students of Lockdown

Students of Lockdown was a 4-part zine series used to document the 2020-2021 student experience. The zine series was created by Emily Osborne, who also helped create the previously featured short film ‘Perpetual LImbo’, which deals with the same topic. Much of the student experience is determined by in-person experiences, extra-curricular activities, and external support systems. With many students experiencing either hybrid or entirely online learning – spending time in isolation, working alone, and finding it difficult to reach out for support, the zine was created as a way to examine how students were affected in both their health and their studies. Emily talked to The Jumble about the zine.

The series was split into four ‘seasons’ to reflect specific periods within the last 18 months and to help separate feelings or emotions tied to specific events. To ensure the series was reflective of the student’s experience and not just my own, I surveyed students across Northern Ireland and the UK. Asking for their open, honest, and anonymous opinions and comments from throughout the year. and then used these to form the basis of content. 

Season One: Endless Summer focused on those uncertain months in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. Many people had mixed feelings over this time and the anonymous survey proved a useful tool in allowing people to express this. 

Season Two: Perpetual Limbo focused on the winter of 2020, which for many of us was short days, darker nights, and a cold chill that we just couldn’t shake. It was clear by the content how much this time negatively affected student perceptions and motivations. With many students thinking they were the only ones feeling that way,  only to discover their friends and family had been suffering in similar ways. 

Season Three: Emerging From Languish looked to those fresh crisp spring months and leaving the winter behind us. Many students found themselves burnt out and exhausted with online learning, but what was most inspiring was what these students said to themselves to keep going. The sheer determination by many who were not in great places still got up, logged on, and showed up. This season was about looking at things in a new light and finding ways to draw out the positives and encouragement we all desperately needed. 

Season Four: What Now? Was the most abstract season of the series. This short segment looked to the future, to remind us that we are not determined by this year and that what happened next was up to us. Thrust into the professional world as brand-new graduates, how would we use this experience to help progress and grow? How would we be able to make the most of the situation and support one another on the way?

From a design perspective, this artwork was interesting to make, as the series had focused so heavily on the unusualness of the year behind us and highlighting the strange that I wanted this advice card to reflect exactly that. By not only allowing but highlighting the wide rivers within all justified text, the wording feels disjointed and varying in pace. Reflective not only of many voices contributing to the conversation but instills a sense of unease even when the words seem positive.

The series was encased in a bespoke hand-constructed; laser engraved Perspex slipcase. The Perspex was the most applicable material to use for this project considering its prevalence in the new world we all live in. The etchings within the case were engraved in reverse, to appear as if they are floating within the Perspex. Forever suspended in time. The carefully weighted and prominent use of the slipcase was to act as a signifier that this experience is being ‘put to rest’ the etchings are dually representative of a gravestone and an artifact. A zeitgeist of its time.

Finally, the series, cover advice card, and belly band are designed in such a way that when completed and compiled, within the Perspex box the work looks clinical and representative of the pandemic visual language. Once removed from the encasing the work explodes in a flourish of colour, illustrations, and design. To reveal beneath the abundance of opinions, experience, and feelings surrounding this poignant moment in time.

Read Students of Lockdown here , and check out the Instagram page for the zine here.

Short Film: Perpetual Limbo

Awarded the 2021 Greer Garson Film Award for best use of Creativity in Film in association with Ulster University. ‘Perpetual Limbo’ is a short independent film that was co-created by Emily Osborne, an Ulster University final year Graphic Design student and Dillon Osborne, a freelance creative based in Northern Ireland. Emily Osborne spoke to The Jumble magazine about the film, discussing that she and Dillon wanted to achieve in its short but packing timeframe.  

2020 felt pointless and repetitive. Sort of without purpose. Whilst the world seemed to be burning around us, we stayed inside and tried to continue as if normal. 

When you think of the Final Year of University for a Creative Degree. You imagine that last year should be filled with friends, classmates, exams, collaborative projects, experimentation, workshops, hands-on experience, and of course the typical general student lifestyle.

Hard Work and one last blowout before you take on the real world. Now consider that final year taking place in 2020-2021.

PERPETUAL: (adjective: Never ending or changing.)

LIMBO: (noun – an uncertain situation that you cannot control and in which there is no progress or improvement)

I wanted to try and review the emotions surrounding online learning and isolation and after confiding with my brother on how difficult I was finding it – it was weirdly relieving to hear even he – an established creative in his industry – was feeling the same sort of way. He had been keen to make a short film and this seemed like the perfect purpose. It was great to work and learn alongside and him on this project, watching as he used his passion for videography to help us turn a feeling/idea into this short film.

The film has been met with outstanding support and resonated with many. It has been humbling hearing other students’ and professionals’ experiences alike. The feedback from this sparked a new determination within me to further document this learning experience of 2020-2021 and was ultimately what led to my final university project ‘Students of Lockdown’.

Watch ‘Perpetual Limbo’ Below.

Follow Emily Osborne and Dillon Osborne to keep up with future projects.

Track Review: Nylophone- ‘Life Goes On’

Wicklow native Niall Woods aka Nylophone strips back from his usual synth layered sound to produce the bare all finger picked acoustic track ‘Life Goes On’. Inspired by names like Doves, The Shins, and Atlas Sound, this track opens up about the experience of loss, the sense of hopelessness that we face at the beginning of the grievance process, and the bewilderment as our natural ability to keep on keepin’ on takes over. 

“Sometimes, after a loss, it seems as if the world should stop. It can be unimaginable that life could possibly continue as it used to, but somehow it does, and often takes you by surprise. Perhaps it’s because you run on automatic, or perhaps it’s because the sheer weight of routine and tradition somehow trudges onwards with no regards to your personal expectations. In short, life goes on, and that’s exactly what this song is about.” 


Nylophone is no stranger to writing about the subject of grief, with previous tracks like ‘Grandad’s Grave’ discussing loss from the point of view of a son watching his mother grieve. ‘Life Goes On’, however, takes a more adult approach to the situation, picking up on the universal nature of loss, as Nylophone sings into himself while simultaneously singing outwards to the world of people who know this feeling too.

‘No-one will understand how to move on and they’ll think they cant, but they’re wrong, life goes on’ 

‘Life Goes On’ is a track that knows your experience of grief, it emphasises with your ‘what ifs’ and comforts you with its simple message of resilience, a fantastic lyrical feat from Nylophone and a beautiful sounding track.

Listen to ‘Life Goes On’ here.

Track Review by Sam Dineen

Growing Online as an Artist: Erin McClean

After graduating from Falmouth University in 2017, NI based Illustrator Erin McClean moved home, not expecting to grow a huge online following on her artwork account on TikTok (gaining over 80k followers in under a year). Since then, Erin has opened her own Etsy shop, which has over 170 sales and a 5 star rating, Erin has also recently been signed with an illustration agent, she spoke to The Jumble Magazine all about her dream of becoming a children’s illustrator.

I’m Erin and I am an illustrator. I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books, so I chose to study Illustration at Falmouth University in Cornwall. I graduated in 2017, and since then I have been working on my portfolio and recently opened an Etsy shop (Erin McClean Illustration). When I’m not drawing (or doing all the admin that comes with having your own business!) I love to read. My goal is to be a published children’s book illustrator.

My work is narrative based with a focus on children’s illustration. I love when people tell me my art makes them feel nostalgic, that’s the best compliment ever!

I mostly get inspiration from other illustrators. There are so many amazing, clever illustrators out there who are making gorgeous children’s books. I have a huge collection of children’s books that I’m always looking to for inspiration. One of my favourite illustrators is Shirley Hughes. I’m also a huge Studio Ghibli fan! 

Now more than ever, an online presence is really important for illustrators as that’s how a lot of art directors and agents find new artists. But you definitely don’t need a huge following, my agent contacted me off Instagram when I had around 7K followers. Social media is also great for keeping up with other illustrators. The kidlit community is great and super supportive and I’ve made loads of friends in this industry. Also, having an online presence on TikTok and Instagram (both @eriberart) has brought a lot of traffic to my Etsy shop which is awesome. I only opened my shop a few months ago and I’ve been shocked by the amount of support I’ve received online! I’m currently working on expanding my product range beyond art prints and postcards.

At the same time social media can be very time consuming. I think it’s important to take breaks, and to stop yourself from falling into the habit of creating content exclusively for social media, or constantly following social media trends and challenges. I try to make sure that every new illustration I create has a purpose and fills a gap in my portfolio.

When it comes to my artwork and what makes it unique it is pretty hard to put my finger on one specific thing. I think I’m good at capturing emotions and genuine interactions between characters. My favourite thing to draw is kids in different scenarios, I love to try and capture that magical essence of childhood.

Like everyone, the past year and a bit has had an impact on my creativity. I work a full-time (non-art related) job so, in a sense, working from home has given me more time to work on my art as I don’t have to commute. But it’s also taken it’s toll on my creativity. I think to create good work you need to fill your ‘creative bank’. One way that I do this is by watching movies and tv shows or reading books, but nothing seems to beat the experience of travelling to new places, which I can’t wait to do again.

Follow Erin on Instagram and TikTok, and be sure to check out her store on Etsy for a range of stickers and art prints.

‘Never Give Up’ Custom Guitar by Terry Bradley and Chris Moffat Raffled for Action Mental Health.

A custom guitar collaboration made by Irish artist Terry Bradley and Chris Moffitt of Kithara Guitars will be presented to a lucky winner in a prize draw  in aid of Action Mental Health.

Irish Artist Terry Bradley is known for his iconic and unique style, he has been painting professionally for 25 years and has two successful galleries in Northern Ireland. In the past he has collaborated with Harley Davidson, ABSOLUT Vodka and Nokia. Throughout his life Terry has suffered with anxiety and depression, often using his artwork as a means of catharsis. 

Chris Moffitt is a successful luthier, creating handmade and bespoke guitars in the Kithara Guitars workshop in Belfast. Chris has also had his own struggles with mental health and was diagnosed with depression during his time in university. After struggling with depression and attempting to take his own life on two occasions, Chris found it was his faith that played an important role in his recovery. Kithara Guitars was born out of his genuine love and passion for guitar making, which he found a creative release from his own anxieties. 

The pair were introduced by Simon Cordner of Windmill Guitars. They soon bonded over their love for art and music, as well as the realisation that they had both experienced suffering with poor mental health. This inspired them to start a conversation about men’s mental health, as well as creating this beautiful guitar. With this guitar, which is handcrafted by Chris and hand painted by Terry, the pair hope to reach out to more people and de-stigmatise the topic of men’s mental health, encouraging men to open up more about their emotions and experiences. Terry’s artwork depicts a colourful, bright, and happy face, symbolising the ‘mask’ that many use to cover up their real feelings and struggles. The back of the guitar features a lone figure by a full moon, along with the slogan ‘never give up’ which Terry lives by. This symbolises the darker realities of many peoples struggles with mental health issues. 

Terry and Chris with the guitar.

Action Mental Health presented themselves as the perfect charity for this project, as their various  services help to change the lives of those living with mental ill health and promote resilience and  well being to future generations. To raise money for this deserving charity, Terry and Chris’s guitar is  to be raffled, with one lucky winner receiving the guitar as their prize

Donations of £10 or more will enter you into the draw. Make sure you have ticked the box to share your contact information when donating and share the page via Facebook to secure your entry. The competition closes on the 30th July at 12:00pm and the winner will be informed shortly after via email.

So far the draw has raised over £3,000 for Action Mental Health, make your own entry and donation by clicking here.

Photographs courtesy of Terry Bradley and Chris Moffat.

Tackling Homophobia in Football: Belfast Blaze FC.

Established in 2019 Belfast Blaze FC is the first football club in Northern Ireland that has been set up and dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Since then, the club has found its footing in the local sports scene, growing its membership to 150+ members and gaining a sponsorship from Pride Sports UK, as well as recently announcing that they will be competing in the inaugural all Ireland LGBT Football Tournament: The Declan Flynn Cup. Danny Malone from Belfast Blaze took some time to answer a few questions about the football club.

Belfast Blaze FC has been all about creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to train for, play, and enjoy football in Northern Ireland. Belfast Blaze is the first team in NI to be set up with this dedicated goal, how have you been getting on as a team since then?

As a club we are building and growing all while trying to keep it as safe and enjoyable as possible for every member that attends. We have a club committee that handles the running of the club and keeps everything in line to ensure that we run smoothly, but like everything else COVID-19 has certainly knocked us back a bit. Despite this, I know that as a team we will get to where we want to be, we already have a number of games and tournaments lined up for when regulations allow us to go back to some kind of normal.

What’s the best thing about being a part of Belfast Blaze Fc?

Being able to play a sport you love without feeling out of place. Its so great to play football and feel welcome. Belfast Blaze have lots of different players on different levels from different backgrounds- so absolutely everyone is made to feel a part of the club.

Some of the Belfast Blaze FC Team.

Recently the team has been picked up by sponsor Pride Sports UK, an organisation working to challenge homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in the sporting world. What does it mean for the club to achieve a sponsorship with such a great organisation?

It was brilliant news to get such a big sponsor from an amazing organisation! We found it hard to get sponsor from any local organisations so we ended up having to look across the water. Sometimes I personally feel that Northern Ireland can be a bit behind the times when comes to stuff like this … but it is great to have the support from Pride Sports UK.

For those who are interested, how do you get involved? Is there any entry requirement level to join the team

Everyone is welcome to be a part of the team, no matter what football skills or lack there of they may already have. We run training nights and kick abouts that help provide different drills teach new skills, We also have fantastic coaches that give so much of their time to help train people to the best of their ability.

Photo by Belfast Blaze FC

Learn more about Belfast Blaze FC by Following them on Instagram.

Interview by Sam Dineen

Monoxide: New Music from A.N.J.A

Photo by Nathan Magee

Previously featured artist and woman in rock A.N.J.A is back with her new single ‘Monoxide’ a bad lady driver anthem telling the fictious story of a woman on a hunt, flipping the norm of female victimhood in stories of killers and murder. A.N.J.A speaks to Sam from The Jumble all about the new track. 

A.N.J.A! It’s been over a year since your first appearance on The Jumble? How’s life been treating you since then?

Life has been treating me rather kindly! Even though it has been incredibly tough year for me and many, many others and we all wish this past year would’ve gone differently…

Since we last spoke, I released my first self-recorded EP, a music video and I took up busking full time (between lock downs) which has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned a lot of new things music and releasing-wise and even managed to make a couple of new connections and friends. I’m grateful I could spend time with my loved ones (even those over in Germany). Now I’m fully motivated to get this music train going even further!

‘Monoxide’ is thrilling, on first listen you can picture a femme fatale in a movie scene, the confidence seeps through every second of the song. Can you tell us a bit about your inspirations for the track?

‘Monoxide’ was inspired by night stalking serial killers that abducted their victims in their cars. Now, I am a true crime fanatic and always have been but after weeks of taking it too far I felt more sickened than ever by these crimes. A thing that really drives me mad is that the majority of perpetrators are men and so many victims of homicides were and still are women! So me being the strong, independent and vengeful lady that I am, wrote the lyrics to this driving, powerful track that I had just recorded and within that could now switch roles: I created a femme fatale driving around on a leisurely hunt, becoming the dominant person that’s in control. Strong female characters causing mayhem are a recurring theme in my music. My love for Tarantino and his movie “Deathproof” is certainly coming through, as well!

Musical inspirations for ‘Monoxide’ were sounds of the surf rock era and alt and desert rock coming from artists I currently love like Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality and Iggy Pop. Also, I’ve been listening to BBC 6 every day since we bought a radio about a year ago, I’m pretty sure you can hear that in the track.

Creating such a vivid story through lyrics is a huge achievement! What’s your personal favourite lyric?

My favourite lyric of ‘Monoxide’ is “I will make you look delicious”. 

The true story behind it is really gruesome ,there was a man, a serial killer who I won’t name, who put make-up on one of his victims to take a photo, he used the make-up to make her look alive and then demanded ransom.I took this idea and spun it a bit further. My song and the lyrics can be read in a dark way, but there’s another way of reading it which gives the song a more light-hearted tone. 

Generally I like lyrics to be evocative and a bit enigmatic, mysterious and cool. I’m a big fan of weird and outrageous words that make you want to find out more.

You mentioned that you have recently started busking in the city centre. What is it like performing somewhere so public?

It has been so great! At a time where live music is so restricted it has been a soul saver for me to be able to perform regularly and I think it has been for other people, too. So many have come up to me saying how good it felt to hear someone singing again and that it put a smile on the faces of every passer-by. The donations I have been getting have helped me get through the past year. In my opinion the government just hasn’t done enough for us musicians or anyone in the arts sector.

Now, I’ve got to say, busking is not easy. It’s a very daunting task. It takes a bit of courage to put yourself out in the street and into a very vulnerable position, especially when you’re on your own. But courage pays off and I cannot say it often enough, the people of Belfast have been incredibly kind and encouraging. I hope I can be an inspiration for other musicians, especially girls who you don’t see busking as often, to just go out there and show the world what you got!

What’s coming up in the future for A.N.J.A? What’s the thing you’re most excited for as the world(slowly) starts to return to normality?

I cannot wait to play shows again and to go and see others play, too! I’m hoping to soon put a live band together so I can bring that new, heavy sound out on the stage. In Autumn I’m going to release another single and will start working on my first full album. Playing all the summer festivals and travelling next year – that would be a dream.

You can keep up with A.N.J.A and her music on the following platforms:





Interview by Sam Dineen

3 Thoughts on Kitchens.

By H. R. Gibs

1. Alone

I am sitting at the kitchen table and the ghost who lives upstairs throws a bucket of water out the window. Back when God told us the myth about bringing us into the world alone, he failed to consider memory. 

The world is born from your mother and the first sound it makes is her downstairs in the kitchen. I don’t need to tell you what that sound is like, you can already hear it. The clink of a mug on the countertop. The rain stick run of cereal into a bowl. The louder bash of a pan being put back into the drawer. 

Alone is an aspiration, the reach for an untouchable lie. When you are alone in the supermarket, you stand side by side with a stranger, brushing hands in two isolated attempts to grab the same bag of spinach. Alone, you exchange pleasantries to the night shift cashier. She knows the truth; that this pre-packaged loneliness is far too loud and far too bright to be mistaken for solitude. 

Being alone in your room is still the sound of your mother. You can hear her now, padding up the stairs to turn on the hallway light at the exact moment it becomes too dark to see without it. Without such a sturdy soundboard to send ideas backwards into the night-sphere nothing can mean anything. 

Alone, you stand above her. The plot on the hill is too quiet. The hush of a million billion blades of fine-tuned grass lean in to listen. The longer you last, the more you hear her voice in your head, mingled with your own. There she is, in your acting on a sudden desire to steam the dirt from the kitchen floor or in the angry weeping at the sight of a littered countertop. There are never enough forks or teaspoons. 

Your name in print is lost to a crossword sea of newspaper letters. The well-trodden road is full of strangers reciting the same lines. It is the opposite of being alone. 

2. Belly 

I am here, on my belly, wrestling with a root of ivy and I have never felt more present in my life. It takes every ounce of me to dredge the plant up out of the earth. The space left behind looks bigger the further away I am. It is a magic trick. 

When I come back outside after getting a glass of water, the bald spot under the hedge has spread so I no longer recognise my garden. I repeat this careful rhythm in small portions as the weeks get warmer. My belly spends this time flush against the stone in the yard as I yank intruders from the soil.

Back inside, I watch from the window over the sink as the birds arrive. I do the hard work for them, churning and sifting up the nutrients of old soil. The blackbirds fill their stomachs. In the mirror I see my own belly in pink light. Protruding a rounded slope over the waistband of my trousers. It is soft and disappointing. It sculpts itself outwards. It disregards the calculation that values it most in concave negation. Outside the birds feed on their equivalent of pasta and wine.  

At night the window over the sink is a reflection. I don’t bother to switch on the big light as I open the fridge. Its glow is enough guidance for my hand which reaches for leftover eggs and cheese. My feet sound like wet slaps against the titles. Through the window the night birds watch as I eat until I am no longer hungry. 

3. Placemats

Setting the table using placemats, lays a border of where things are meant to be. This is the grace line where spillage is allowed. You’ll have to forgive me for the refugee crumbs which spray across the dinner table when I laugh at your jokes. 

Sometimes I want to shrink down small enough that our placemats feel whole kilometres long. I want to become so small that if I leave one here in the sun the space underneath it will remain like a sentinel and collect all those men who can’t take the heat. We grew up with invisible lines running all over this city. This would not be much different. 

If I was small a year would feel long again. I might be able to forget all the times we ate without the placemats on the sofa. Have you counted how many glasses I have broken in the time you have known me? A place to rest without disruption. Boundaries. I’ll race you up the table legs and see how the lines have shifted since we last looked. 

Lately we keep using the good plates. We eat at the kitchen table and discuss our day. The washing machine has started to smell funny.

Now I am spilling less, and we don’t need the placemats in the way we used to. We keep them for special occasions. It is all a matter of show. Their outline is scorched onto the tabletop and onto my mind’s eye, marking where it’s safe to be and where it’s not. Good is better than perfect. You’ll have to forgive me when I knock over the soy sauce with my elbow.