Colyne Laverriere and Julie O’Sullivan of Les SalAmandas. Photo: Jacob Goode

Predestination Ballydehob

There is a lot to be said for how fate or destiny - or whatever you choose to call it - can take people in many different, surprising, and often completely life-changing directions.

For instance, if Colyne Laverriere hadn’t asked her mother for one more chance to stay in Ireland, and if her search for a paying job hadn’t taken her to Ballydehob, then she would surely never have met Julie O’Sullivan, a Ballydehob resident and aspiring songwriter. What’s even more certain is that their debut album, ‘There’s A Sea Between Us’, would never have come to exist at all.

In November 2017, Colyne moved to Ireland from France “to learn English”. Initially, she fancied Galway, but within weeks realised that €400 wouldn’t get her very far. Luckily, an au pair job came up and by the end of the year, she had settled in Ballydehob.

Meanwhile, Julie had applied to Dublin-based BIMM for a place on a song writing course but was side-tracked by the news of a similar one in Cork. As 2018 rolled by, both Colyne and Julie started working in the town’s café Budds, which is where destiny provided another twist to their story.

“At the end of a work shift, after we had cleared up, Julie put on some music and we both started singing,” recalls Colyne.

“Then Julie told me she was a songwriter and I told her that I also wrote songs, which was an absolute lie. A few days later, Julie came over to my house with a bottle of wine - a great call - and from that night onwards we started writing songs.”

Julie adds: “The first attempt to put words to music was a very personal poem that Colyne had to translate and explain every emotion of it. It’s about her mum and is now a song called ‘Rejane’. It was a great evening, we just spent hours chatting about everything.”

From that point onwards, Colyne and Julie, under the name of Les SalAmandas, slowly but surely continued to build up a collection of songs that are, says Julie, “mostly about us and our lives. Also, they’re a narrative of the last 4 years, since we first met, and signposts as to how we have grown as people. We would talk for hours and get ideas from that.”

“The songs reflect our own experiences, yes,” agrees Colyne, “but at the same time they’re very general in that people in their 20s are going through similar things such as relationships, failed ones, new ones, old ones, coming out of something and starting something new, struggling with mental health and trying to become a certain kind of person.”

Whatever the subject matter, the songs on Les SalAmandas’ first album tell compelling, emotionally charged tales. The 11 unadorned indie/folk tracks are bolstered by engaging melodies and harmonies.

The tunes were crafted over the past 3 years through performances at Ballydehob’s Levis Corner House and at festivals such as Body & Soul, Coughlans Live, Doolin Folk Festival, and Vantastival. Between then and now, Julie and Colyne have shared stages with luminaries such as Paul Noonan (BellX1), Wallis Bird and Mick Flannery.

“We just had a bunch of good songs, and we made an album out of them,” says Colyne. “Some songs are very sad because, like everyone else, sometimes that’s what we are, and some songs have very important lyrics, but the music makes you want to dance. Ultimately, it’s a good representation of who we are as people and musicians.”

Les SalAmandas’ debut album, ‘There’s a Sea Between Us’, is on Spotify.