Hearing and Feeling Colours: Meet Ireland's Most Colourful People

Natalie Dyer talks to Ireland's most colourful people about their experiences of seeing colour in music.

There are those expressions ‘green with envy’, ‘yellow-bellied’ and ‘seeing red.’ Then the superstitious rationale of the virginal, white wedding dress and unlucky green car. A mingling of one's spidey senses is no new thing. So, to those of you not already acquainted with the idea of Synesthesia, it’s a condition whereby one sense is simultaneously perceived by one or more additional senses. There are also many different forms of it.

A common category is ‘sequence-space synesthesia’ - when months, numbers, or the letters of the alphabet occupy spatial locations in the mind’s eye. Such synesthetes are eight times more likely to work in a creative capacity, and quite a few talented artists throughout history have had it. Poets. Actors. Also musicians Tori Amos, Dev Hynes, Pharrell Williams and Billy Joel.

Today, we’re talking about Chromesthesia. The one where sounds automatically and involuntarily evoke an experience of colour. Before Ireland’s most colourful people are lined up to talk about these encounters, we find out why they are obsessed with their chosen colour.

What does the colour orange trigger for you?

Emmet Ferdle// Digital Designer at Momondo

“I’m just naturally drawn to orange stuff, it’s like, I can feel a twinkle in my eyes when I see it. I especially love the obnoxious, unnatural shades - neon orange for example - that really commands your attention. But orange occupies a fairly vast space between red and yellow, and I love the whole spectrum of hues it envelops. From a branding perspective, orange is used to represent both unattainable luxury (Hermès, Versace etc.) and bargain-friendly economical (KAYAK, EasyJet etc.).

“It’s also got those fruity connotations (did you know the colour was named after the fruit in English?), as well as being warming or energetic - fire, sunshine, spices. Not to mention safety orange. Those especially bright shades are used to grab attention - traffic cones, construction sites, jumpsuits. I suppose at the core of it all, orange has a reputation for being extremely noticeable.”

What does the colour pink trigger for you?

Sinead Bailey Kelly// Conceptual Designer and Founder of H&G Creations

“I think the colour pink has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the last few years. When I was a young tomboy, I thought it was too girlie of a colour to wear. Since my late teens, I've developed a close relationship with the LGTBQ community and pink makes me feel strong emotions of love and equality. To me, pink has become a gender neutral colour. I'm especially happy to see it gaining popularity in men’s fashion, as it’s a start of a silent revolution on breaking down gender norms.”

What does the colour yellow trigger for you?

Fortune Lago// Hip-Hop DJ

“Yellow triggers sort of a happy emotion. I guess because the sun is yellow. Does it have a reputation? I think maybe it's not too great. Not a lot of people wear yellow or have yellow things like a car. People don’t wear bright colours because they aren't always happy with change. They stick with what gets them less attention. I don't really like trends because once it's a trend it's out of style.”

What do multi-colours trigger for you?

Poppy De Scrace// Bodypaintee

“I find emotions and colour can be closely linked for me. For example, I was in tesco the other day and saw bunches of yellow flowers. I looked at the roses and tulips, then bought some for myself because the colour was brightening up my not-so-happy day. So, I doubt you'd ever see me in a white dress, unless it was to be doused in neon paints or something!”

Hot Press then asked the gang to pin colours on the following music genres:


Emmet described country music as dark tan because he couldn’t stop picturing cowboy boots. Fortune thinks of brown too. “When you’re driving and listening to country, it’s usually in Texas and the first colour you see is brown.” Sinead thinks country music feels warm and slow like yellow. Poppy says that she doesn’t know any country music except Trixie Mattel and a little bit of Dolly Parton, so on that basis she sees pink.


Sinead feels rave is “heavy and dark like red” and Poppy associates the genre with neon colours like acid green (which could also be a word feeling association indicative of the acid dance subgenre). Emmet thinks rave is bright green or luminescent: “flashing wildly, so that everyone and everything in the space is intermittently washed in various shades of green”.


Poppy expressed that as a teenager she went through an emo phase. She described metal as being a combination of purple and silver. “It just reminds me of those days when I would go to the local metal gigs and get out of my own head, into a like-minded community”. Emmet is poetic in his view on the colour of metal music: “[It’s] black but not completely black, more shiny. The kind of black you find if you’re looking at the sea very late at night and the moon is bright, but half covered with clouds so the waves are barely and unevenly lit - almost black”. Sinead feels that metal is “harsh and cold like blue”.

Irish Trad

Sinead and Fortune reckon Irish trad is earthy and native like green. Emmet sees a vivid burgundy, but has a more personal account for why that would be. “My bosca ceoil was a marbled crimson colour with burgundy bellows, and the wooden box I carried it in had maroon padding. Saying that, fiddles and banjos can also acquire burgundy tones at candlelit sessions.” Interestingly, Poppy’s impartialness to Irish trad sees her further associate it with a colour that’s long been pigeonholed as boring and bland. “Irish trad is grey. I don't hear it much, but when I do, I have no interest in it. It's fine, but its a background colour.”


Almost everyone considered pop to be pink in some shape or form. For Sinead, it’s “fluffy and sweet like pink”. Emmet said rose pink because he thinks it’s “vibrant, perky and tends to demand a lot of attention”. Poppy looks at it as a pale pink. “It’s fun - but not too offensive or anything”.


Emmet believes that many influential hip hop artists make use of red in some aspects of their visual presentation, from album art to style of clothes. Emmet also considers red to be a strong and energetic colour, which he says pairs well with hip-hop’s mood. Sinead feels hip-hop is cozy and deep like purple. Poppy said that hip-hop is a combination of a few strong blocks of colour: “pink, purple, yellow, blue - colours seen in street art”. The only one who can’t pin a colour on hip-hop is Fortune, who is, co-incidentally, a hip-hop DJ.

On marketing music and colour as one. Emmet reckons he’d be naive to think his opinion on the visuals he associates with a song or artist aren’t based on their YouTube thumbnails, album art, or the colour outfit they wore when he saw them live. Otherwise, if he’s only heard a song and has no visual references to choose a colour from - he pictures a colour based on his own preconceptions. That may be another song he’s reminded of, or what he imagines the artist to look like.

On storytelling by wearing colour. Sinead recently had someone say to her that she’s a walking advertisement for herself. “My brand colour for my business at H&G Creations is hot pink. When I wear all pink, I like to think of myself as a walking business card for H&G.”

Do their music preferences have an influence on their colour obsession? Emmet says it’s something he’s never really considered. “I do love the kind of music that invokes that warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s similar to what I experience after getting home from work freezing and drenched, before switching on my orange lamp, slipping into my orange sweatpants, and curling up on my orange bed”.

Sinead unequivocally agrees that her love of 90s music has influenced her love of pink: “TLC, Spice Girls, No Doubt, Aqua, Vengaboys, Clueless...So many influences on pink vibes in the 90s. Especially Lil Kim - what a boss. Block colour, pimp faux fur, full length coat over a silk night slip. Absolutely into it.” For Poppy, the music she listens to is largely made up of soundtracks: “When I was a teenager I got very into the Mighty Boosh [Old Gregg and The Hitcher, in particular]. It was around the same time my love of green really took off”.

On musicians who use one particular colour as a means of identification. Hot Press suggests singer P!nk and the boyband Blue as an example to the group. Sinead says the most obvious choice of colours for these bands would be to identify that one is feminine and one is masculine. “I think it’s interesting that P!nk would choose pink as a name to identify with. I find her to be a strong woman with quite a masculine energy...So, using the word pink as her name is almost a contradiction of all associations with the colour pink as being feminine”.

Emmet imagines that most artists would choose their names based on personal experiences or random strings of words that just feel right. “I recently read somewhere that P!nk is raising her children gender-neutral. Maybe she chose her name as some kind of reclamation of the colour. Maybe the word was just a nickname. I guess it’s difficult to judge if a colour in a name represents something socially or artistically significant, or something else entirely.”

As an area of study, the research of synesthesia has grown exponentially over the past few centuries. When people first discovered synesthesia in the 19th century, it was wrongly traced back to the eyes due to a prior knowledge of colour blindness. This ideology was shelved when it was discovered that people could actually generate the same senses with their eyes closed, confirming its base in neurology. Since then, the research agenda has moved on from questioning the legitimacy of the condition to understanding how exactly it can affect subjects. It wasn’t until the 1980s that neurologists, Richard Cytowik and Simon Baren-Cohen, began to understand its characteristics.

All food for thought. Or food for the ears, eyes and nose.


Related Articles

Germany Considers Making New Immigrants Take Concentration Camp Tours to Eradicate Anti-Semitism

The proposal is believed to help tackle hateful attitudes among new arrivals in the country.

Read More

Three Complaints of Bullying and Harassment at RTE

At the behest of the Freedom of Information act, RTE have released allegation details about inappropriate behaviour dating back to 2013.

Read More

This Show Has a 100% Fresh Rating and Just Arrived on Netflix

Netflix's new addition is predicted to be a huge hit...

Read More

Marvel Giving Popular Female Character a Standalone Film

Film fans have been awaiting the character's solo outing since her first appearance in 2010.

Read More

TRAMLINE LIVE MONDAYS: Orchid Collective to Headline First Night

In association with Hot Press, TRAMLINE LIVE MONDAYS are to host some of Ireland's best underground musicians from January 15. First to enter the venue's spotlight, will be headliners Orchid Collective with support from Vulpynes and Jesse John Heffernan.

Read More

WATCH: The Killers Cover Arcade Fire's ‘Crown Of Love’

The Killers surprised fans in Quebec over the weekend by covering Arcade Fire’s ‘Crown Of Love’.

Read More

Anair TV Announce Music Series With TG4 Ahead of TradFest 2018

Anair TV are teaming up with Temple Bar Company to produce a six part series about traditional music during Tradfest 2018.

Read More

Dublin Smartphone Film Festival on Lookout for Filmmakers

The Dublin Smartphone Film Festival - celebrating filmmakers who shoot exclusively on mobile devices - has its debut on January 27.

Read More

Grime is Now Recognised as an Official Genre on Spotify

Spotify has officially recognised Grime by giving it a standalone category.

Read More

Most Engaging Tweets Of 2017 Revealed

Social media analytics firm, Talkwalker, has checked the stats and listed the top ten tweets that received the most engagement throughout 2017.

Read More

The Distillers Hint at Getting Back Together for 2018

The distillers' frontwoman, Brody Dalle, teases the band's return for 2018.

Read More

Britney Expected to Bring Tour to Dublin This Summer

Details of Britney Spears' upcoming world tour are starting to emerge.

Read More

David Bowie’s Son Launches Book Club Inspired by his Dad

Duncan Jones - the famous director who also happens to be the son of Bowie - has started the David Bowie Book Club.

Read More

WATCH: Brutal Deleted Scene From IT Surfaces Online

You have been warned...

Read More

12 Bizarre Music Collaborations That Almost Happened

Bringing you some of the biggest "what ifs"...

Read More

GIG REVIEW + GALLERY: NYE Countdown Concert with Kodaline, Keywest and Hudson Taylor

Hot Press rings in 2018 with Kodaline, Keywest, Hudson Taylor - and 8,000 of their devoted fans - for NYF Dublin’s fourth countdown concert.

Read More

Screech From 'Saved By The Bell' plays Harvey Weinstein in Violent New Music Video

Saved By The Bell actor Dustin Diamond has portrayed Harvey Weinstein in a violent new music video.

Read More

Chance The Rapper Critiques Depiction of Racism in New Netflix Movie Bright

The 'No Problem' rapper has taken to Twitter to discuss the portrayal of race in Netflix's new movie, Bright.

Read More

Star Wars Actor Alfie Curtis Dies Aged 87

Star Wars' Alfie Curtis, who acted in the 1977 film Episode IV: A New Hope, has died at the age of 87.

Read More

Ridley Scott Has Blunt Thoughts About New Blade Runner Movie

The director of the Alien franchise addressed his feelings towards Denis Villeneuve's follow-up to his work on Blade Runner.

Read More

Cher Defends Meryl Streep After 'She Knew' Allegations Surface

Cher has come to the defence of Meryl Streep following accusations that the actress knew about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct.

Read More

Hot Press Track of The Day: Bobby Basil '1 Time Thing' Feat Huva

Irish Hip Hop artist, Bobby Basil, drops new single '1 Time Thing' in aid of Pieta House.

Read More

Album Full of Irish Hip Hop Talent in Aid of Pieta House Out Now

The District Recordings label has just released an album full of Irish Hip Hop talent in aid of Pieta House.

Read More

The Ultimate Playlist of Irish Christmas Songs From The Past Decade

Here’s a few underrated Irish scorchers to heat you up during these cold days of Christmas.

Read More

John Legend Cast as Jesus in New Version of Jesus Christ Superstar

John Legend has been given the lead role for a new live version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Read More

ALBUM REVIEW: Andy Warhol's Dream, Trevor Sensor

Straightforward songs with a jagged vocal rawness.

Read More

Gorillaz Releasing New Album Next Year

After the release of their highly anticipated album Humanz back in April, they've announced another album release for next year.

Read More

Ireland's Music Subculture Fans Tell Hot Press What They Think About Eachother

Ready for some counter-intuitive counter-culturing? Hot Press' Natalie Dyer speaks with die hard fans in Ireland’s underground music scenes. All to see what they think of one another.

Read More

Immersive Stories Exhibition Added To Audi Dublin International Film Festival Bill

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival (ADIIF) has a special Virtual Reality conference and exhibition (Immersive Stories) at The Mansion House next February 24 and 25.

Read More

Fancy Dress BYOB Festival Taking Place on NYE

The gold themed Midas Touch BYOB Festival will be kicking off on New Year's Eve, with over three areas of music, art, spectacle, surprises and enlightenment.

Read More

GIG REVIEW + GALLERY: King Kong Company and Le Boom at The Academy

One marriage proposal. A fist-pumping cyclops. A psychiatric, military bunny. And one Stormtrooper knockoff wielding a laser gun. Where else, other than at a King Kong Company gig?

Read More

Lankum live at Vicar Street

Read More

Paddy Casey Meets Hot Press in Legendary Grouse Lodge Recording Studio to Talk New Music

Paddy Casey is back in the recording studio. This time, he’s teamed up with a group of young musicians – Joolz Jones, Kilian Petit and Jared Dylan – and taken himself off to Grouse Lodge, Co. Westmeath. Natalie Dyer talks with them about the art of collaboration, the stumbling blocks to recording, and what it took to bring Paddy back.

Read More

Ireland's Biggest Music Conference Returns in February 2018

Top names from the global music industry are being lined up to speak at Ireland’s biggest music conference - Output Belfast - which will take place at The Mac and The Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast next February 8.

Read More

Panti is Coming to The Big Screen

UK's Playground Entertainment is developing a new drama based on real-life drag queen, Panti Bliss.

Read More

Olympia Adds Another NARCOS Date

A second night (May 18) has just been added to the NARCOS event about Pablo Escobar.

Read More

Bronagh Gallagher Performs at The Grand Social This Friday

The Irish actress and soul singer will be performing at the loft in the Grand Social this Friday, December 8.

Read More

Here's Some Irish Productions You Can Look Forward to on RTE This Christmas

Turn on the telly for the Fairytale of New York documentary on Shane MacGowan, Brown Bag Films' latest animation feature, a 1980's husband and wife skit show - and for many more RTÉ TV highlights...

Read More

Of Mice & Men Announce Shows for Dublin and Belfast in 2018

Of Mice & Men will play Dublin's Academy venue as well as the Mandella Hall in Belfast.

Read More

Mike Shinoda Urges Media to Get Facts Straight Over False MDMA Claims on Chester Bennington's Autopsy Report

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda responds to reports that Chester Bennington had MDMA in his system the night he took his own life.

Read More

Huge List of Celebs Coming To Celebrate Shane MacGowan's Birthday in Dublin

Nick Cave and others will be attending the 60th birthday of the infamous star.

Read More

Rare Screening of Hush-A-Bye Baby Starring Sinéad O'Connor Takes Place at IFI Tonight

The screening will be introduced by director Margo Harkin.

Read More

Five Festive Ways to Embrace Foreign Culture This Christmas

Feliz Navidad and a Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!

Read More

Album Review: Romaplasm, Baths

Same subject matter, but with more experimental sounds.

Read More

NF Brings His Perception Tour to The Academy Next May

The American hip-hop artist is coming to Europe with his World Tour - and more specifically - with a Dublin gig for May 2018.

Read More

King Kong Company Announce Two Dublin Gigs

The Waterford dance band will play in The Olympia and The Academy in 2018.

Read More

Andrea Bocelli Announces 2018 Dublin Show

The Italian tenor will return to the UK and Ireland to play two shows next year.

Read More

Here’s Five of the Best Adult Stop Motion Animations To Watch

Bringing you five of the best...

Read More

Local Art Collective Issued With Official Warning Notice to Remove Stormzy Mural in Smithfield. New Mural is Drawn in Protest

The local art collective has retaliated to the warning notice by drawing a stencil over a section of the iconic Stormzy mural.

Read More

Hot Press Got Parents To Talk To Their Kids About Music. Here's What They Said

Some surprising answers...

Read More

Silences Release New Single, 'L.A.'

The Armagh boys treat us to a new track...

Read More

GIG REVIEW + GALLERY: Orchid Collective and Silences at The Workman's Club

A night of emotive melodies and honest lyricism down at the Workman's Club this weekend.

Read More

Singer Suing Demi Lovato and Disney Over Claims 'Frozen' Ripped Off His Song

Jaime Ciero won't 'let it go' and believes the song has "striking similarities" with his own song 'Volar'...

Read More

Wyvern Lingo Just Released A New Winter Single - 'Snow II'

The Wicklownian three piece band are releasing the festive track through Rubyworks.

Read More

Brian Harvey from East 17 Arrested For Sending 'Malicious Tweets'

It is reported that the former 90s boyband star has been brought to a police station in North London.

Read More

John Lennon's Stolen Diaries Have Been Recovered in Berlin

A 58 year old man has been arrested in connection with the theft.

Read More

Fianna Fail's Niamh Smyth Calls for Commitment on Future of RTE Orchestras

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts & Culture, Niamh Smyth, has called on the Culture Minister to reaffirm Government support for the retention of RTE’s two orchestras.

Read More

LISTEN: Death Cab For Cutie Release Unheard Recording of Their First Ever Show

The recording is currently up on Bandcamp with the download proceeds going to The Aurora Commons NGO in Seattle.

Read More

Backstreet Boy's Nick Carter is Accused of Rape by Former Dream Singer

Carter has denied Melissa Schuman’s allegations.

Read More

'Steve Jobs' Starring Michael Fassbender is Now On Netflix Ireland

The 2015 Danny Boyle directed film, Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, is out now on Netflix.

Read More

ALBUM REVIEW: Everyday is Christmas, SIA

The Australian singer disappoints with her Christmas album, which was released on November 17.

Read More

Former Westlife bandmate, Mark Feehily, Announces Christmas Gig in Sugar Club

The singer will perform songs from his aptly named new album, 'Christmas'.

Read More

Radio Poll Reveals Ireland's Top Ten All-Time Favourite TV Characters

The poll was announced on Ian Dempsey’s Today FM Breakfast Show.

Read More

WATCH: The Cast of Daddy's Home 2 are on Gogglebox Ireland Tonight

To mark the release of Daddy's Home 2 in Irish cinemas, the cast of the film will be on Gogglebox Ireland tonight.

Read More

Here's Six Dublin Buildings That Once Had a Musical History

A sign of the times...

Read More

Morrissey Has Alarming Thoughts on Sexual Abuse Victims of Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein

The Former Smiths singer voiced his opinion on the recent rush of sexual assault allegations in Hollywood to German news outlet, Spiegel Online.

Read More

Forbes Announces Highest Paid Female Musician

Taylor Swift has been knocked off top spot...

Read More

Darian Malakian From System of A Down Calls Psycho Killer, Charles Manson a 'Genius' and Posts Tribute on Facebook

The Chop Suey! musician shared a Facebook post paying tribute to the 60's cult leader and killer.

Read More

GIG REVIEW + GALLERY: Oíche presents a night of live music with Where’s Luke and guests at Bello Bar

Four unique acts play an eclectic mix of r&b/soul, electronic, funk and rock music to a familiar crowd.

Read More

Eminem and Beyoncé Scaling Higher in Irish Charts With Their Single 'Walk on Water'

'Walk on Water' was only released one week ago but is predicted to reach number one by next week.

Read More

Spotify Buys Music Recording Start-Up, Soundtrap

Spotify has bought the Stolkholm based start-up, which offers its users software to make music.

Read More

Pharrell Williams Has Recorded A Song That Won't Be Released Until 2117

The 'Happy' star made only one copy of '100 Years – The Song We'll Only Hear If We Care', and has locked it in a water-vulnerable safe.

Read More

Vans Warped Tour Coming to an End

Vans Warped Tour founder, Kevin Lyman, made a statement today announcing that the festival would be finishing after its 2018 run.

Read More

10 Podcasts You Should Listen to in 2017

If it's background noise in the kitchen or just plain old enlightenment you're after, this list of music, lifestyle and comedy podcasts will see you through.

Read More

Album Review: Green Twins, Nick Hakim

Back with a wispy and otherworldly sound.

Read More

Ezra Furman Announces New Album Release and Gig in The Tivoli

The musician will release his new album, Transangelic Exodus on February 9, and has also penned in a number of international live dates - to include the Tivoli theatre for May 29.

Read More

Ireland’s First Ever Stop Motion Feature Film Nearing Release Date

The post production team are putting finishing touches on Captain Morten and The Spider Queen at their Galway based stop motion studio - with big Irish names voicing the entire cast.

Read More

Michael Bublé Announces Concert at Croke Park

The star will stage a fully seated concert in Croke Park on July 7.

Read More

HBO to Ring in New Year by Airing Entire Harry Potter Franchise

All eight films will be available to stream, starting with 'Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone' on January 1.

Read More

Touch Sensitive Announces November Gig at The Grand Social

The Australian producer and DJ will play on Friday 24 with support from Irish duo, Kilnamana.

Read More

Advertise With Us

For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below


Find us elsewhere