- 04 Jul 19
Having played one of the most unexpectedly packed-out shows of Longitude 2018, Tullamore trio Chasing Abbey have been invited back to Marlay Park this year. Peter McGoran hears about how the Offaly lads are positioning themselves for global stardom.
Chasing Abbey had absolutely no idea how last summer’s Longitude performance was going to go. Granted, they were still riding on the wave of receiving the Choice Prize Song of the Year for ‘That Good Thing’ a few months earlier, and a series of follow-up singles had made them the buzz band of the moment. But the Tullamore outfit were going up against Saturday night’s Main Stage headliner, Travis Scott.
Bee – whose real name is Joanthan Byrne – was nervous.
“You do be searching sometimes on Twitter or something just to see if there’s a buzz about your show,” he laughs. “And people were saying, ‘Awh they’re going up against Travis Scott, they’ve no hope of anyone turning up.’ Some people were tweeting photos of tumbleweeds for our gig. Then as it turned out, we packed out the Heineken Tent. It was full to the brim and we couldn’t get any more people in. We’re obviously massive Travis Scott fans – normally we’d have been down the front for him – but to go up against him and to hold our own, it was just a big thing for us.”
Their recently released debut EP, The Odyssey Project, has further enhanced their status as one of Ireland’s most exciting hip-hop acts.
“Prior to The Odyssey Project, we had only three songs available for the fans,” Bee explains. “But we were writing songs every day, and it was frustrating for us, because we felt like we had a lot more to say and give. So for us to be able to put a body of work out there earlier this year, it was a dream come true for so many reasons. We felt like our fans didn’t fully understand us with just three songs, so to have eight out there, we feel like they can connect more. It’s also important for what we want to do with our live show. People are pumped to see us live, so we wanted to have more songs for that.”
With their EP, the trio have honed a unique sound, which is less overtly pop and more distinctly trap-rap than their first three singles.
“We produced about 95% of it ourselves and we recorded all of it in Tullamore,” Bee recalls, “so it was nice to really get into it and push our boundaries as musicians, as producers, as writers. It was a big experience for us. In the nitty-gritty of the producing, there were some highs and lows – that’s to be expected – and we had a few falling outs and all that, but it was all for the greater good.”
Chasing Abbey are the latest in a long list of emerging hip-hop artists who have infiltrated the Irish music mainstream. Bee agrees that the domestic scene is in better shape than ever.
“Awh, the scene is crazy,” he beams. “Maybe the generation before us had a lot of dirty work to do in terms of creating a platform for artists like us. The platform is very much there now. And it’s led to this ‘golden generation’ at the moment. So I think when we look back in 50, 60 years, people like Jafaris, Soulé, all the gang, they’re going to be remembered as the ones who took it to another level.”