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14 questions with Niamh Bury – the emerging folk talent signed to Claddagh Records

We sat down with the Irish folk musician to discuss her new single ‘Beehive’ and more.

Those of you paying attention to the Irish folk scene of late will no doubt have heard of Niamh Bury

The Dublin native recently signed with revered Irish trad label Claddagh Records, and followed up that news with the release of her debut single ‘Beehive’, on July 7th.

‘Beehive’, which was released alongside a video directed by Ruth Clinton, is a gorgeous, ethereal contemporary folk track, one that has been making waves among the Irish and international folk scenes since its release.

So, we thought it would be the perfect time to sit down with Niamh, to discuss her debut single, signing to Claddagh Records, and more.

Hi Niamh. What are you busy with, in terms of music, at the moment?

There’s lots of behind-the-scenes planning going on for music I’m releasing in the coming months. I have a bunch of songs I’ve been living with for a little while now, so it’s really exciting to finally be letting them out into the world. 

You performed with Inni-k in the Cobblestone on the 30th of June. She’s amazing, who are some of the other Irish musicians you’ve been enjoying lately?

Too many to name here! There’s been some amazing music in the last few years from artists like Anna Meike, Aoife Neasa Francis, and Niamh Regan, and I’m really excited to hear new stuff soon from Rachael Lavelle, Lemoncello, Maija Sofia and Landless. I’m also really delighted to be label buddies with ØXN, a new supergroup with Radie Peat, Katie Kim, Elly Myler and John ‘Spud’ Murphy – they recently released their first single, “Love Henry”, and it feels instantly legendary.

You played a few times throughout the summer so far – is gigging a big part of your plan for the rest of 2023?

I’ve got some plans in the mix for a mini tour and some exciting things are happening towards the end of the year. I plan to do more touring next year, so my main goal for the rest of 2023 is to spend lots of time writing in between releasing music.

Claddagh is a renowned trad label, Do you have a strong affinity for the genre?

Yeah, definitely. There’s such a richness in the tunes and songs, and the way they’re revered and expressed as a community that I’ve never really seen anywhere else. I help run a traditional singing session in Dublin – the scene is very much alive with new artists interpreting old material and making it their own. It’s a pretty exciting time to be around Irish music. 

‘Beehive’ releases on July 7th, it’s your first single as a Claddagh Records artist. What first drew you toward Claddagh as a label?  

I was always aware of Claddagh growing up and I had a CD of the Patrick Kavanagh album. They’re such an iconic Irish label, so it’s exciting to see them regenerating and releasing new music again. 


“the scene is very much alive with new artists interpreting old material and making it their own. It’s a pretty exciting time to be around Irish music.” 

Staying with ‘Beehive’ – what about that song made you want to release it as a debut single?

I really love the production and arrangements. I had some amazing musicians work on it with me, so I’m excited for people to hear it.

Also on ‘Beehive’ – what were some of the musical or creative inspirations involved in the creation of the song? Anything you were listening to, reading, etc at the time? Any relevant anecdotes?

The song came about after a long trip I took across Canada from Montreal to the tip of Vancouver Island. I picked up a book in Victoria called Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature, where there’s a passage that describes the human brain as a beehive – at once chaotic and intricately ordered. The image really struck me and the song emerged from there.

Was there a producer involved in the recording of ‘Beehive’, and where did you record the track?

I produced the song with my friend Brían Mac Gloinn, who engineered and mixed it too. We spent some time in Black Mountain Studios in Co.Louth, which overlooks Dundalk Bay and is a dreamy place to record. Brían is obviously an amazing musician – forming one half of Ye Vagabonds, playing with artists like Anna Meike and All The Brave Hunters – but he also has a grá and talent for recording others, so I was very excited to work with him.

Do you have a home studio set up? If so, how did ‘Beehive’ evolve from its earliest demo?

Yeah, Beehive started off as a demo with just guitar and vocals. Brían and I emailed back and forth through the lockdowns in 2021, swapping references and discussing production ideas for Beehive and other songs. In the studio we had Ryan Hargadon (keys), Caimin Gilmore (double bass), Kate Ellus (cello) and Alannah Thornburgh (harp) come and sprinkle their magic over what I had laid down. I was totally blown away and it felt really special to work with such incredible wizards.


Do you have a consistent approach to songwriting or is it a dynamic process?

It usually starts with a lyrical idea, which might come from a book I’m reading or a conversation I’ve just had. I find it really satisfying to arrange words into something that lands with me in some way – it’s like a puzzle. I’ll then take it to the guitar or piano and see what happens. I like to work quite intuitively with the music and not overthink things. But I might take a completely different approach with my next collection of songs – we’ll see!

Apologies in advance for a tricky question, but how would you describe your music to someone who’d never heard it before?

I suppose the easiest way to describe the music would be contemporary folk, but there are loads of other influences in the mix from jazz to Irish trad. Genres are a handy way to describe something quickly, but ultimately the listener has to sit with the music and decide whether or not it resonates with them.

What is your current favorite song?

My boyfriend recently got me onto Wayne Shorter, a jazz saxophonist who sadly passed away this year. His album Native Dancer from 1975 has a song on it called “Ponta de Areia” featuring the Brazilian singer and musician Milton Nascimento. It’s a big jam and makes me very happy whenever I hear it.

What was your introduction to songwriting and playing music?

I was about 14 when I first started writing properly. I was very obsessed with Fiona Apple at the time, so my first songs were probably bad imitations – very sad ditties composed on my mom’s baby grand at home. I gradually got more into writing with guitar, but it was a good few years before I ever aired any of my own songs in public. I started busking and playing in sessions around Dublin when I finished college, and it slowly grew from there.

Who would you cite as your biggest artistic inspiration?

I think the music you engage with in your young teens has a massive effect on shaping who you are. So, for me it was artists like Fiona, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell and Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. As I got older, I was inspired by people like Lisa Hannigan and Joanna Newsom. But I’m constantly adding to the list!

‘Beehive’ is out now on all streaming platforms. 


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