Saturday 24 August 2019

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Lifestyle & Leisure

Hausu are taking over the world

Wednesday, 31st July, 2019 4:24pm

One Thursday in early July, an email pinged into my inbox.

It was a press release from Cork music collective Hausu announcing an ambitious move: five consecutive weeks of new singles and live shows, including new music from four of its artists, Arthur Valentine, Automatic Blue and Ghostking is Dead, and a headline gig at Cyprus Avenue on 1 August, the group’s first hometown showcase.

It’s a surprising move for a group which has only held one live event in its short history and has been notably selective in its releases.

With a diverse roster of artists, ranging from mind-bending psychedelic rock to sweet acoustic balladry, it’s a wonder a Hausu assault like this didn’t happen before now.

Honing their craft within the walls of CSN College and their own bedrooms, the group’s artists have enjoyed airplay on local airwaves thanks to supportive musos like Mike McGrath-Bryan, as well as some national attention thanks to 2FM’s Louise McSharry.

But having adopted a policy of drip-feeding output since its birth, which is still less than two years ago, what was the thinking behind such an onslaught of activity this summer?

The idea was, as Hausu PR man Colm Cahalane says, to share some of the unreleased work the group had been sitting on for so long. A “clearing out the vaults” of sorts.

But it also had another purpose - to clear the path for a more focused charge, a flushing out of the old to make way for something new, bigger, more ambitious.

Several weeks in and the progress is clear; Arthur Valentine’s jaunty new single ‘2018’, complete with horns and dispirited commentary on social media, has garnered about 3,000 plays on Spotify, and Automatic Blue’s sleek funk-infused jam ‘Boy Toy’ has also been rightly attracting plaudits.

The DIY success of Hausu and others like it has emerged almost as a rallying cry from the embers of an independent Cork arts scene which has seen major spaces like Camden Palace and Cork Community Print Shop go by the wayside in recent years.

Their loss, combined with the economic upturn and resulting construction boom, has created a dearth of dedicated arts spaces which, coupled with the rise of the home studio, Ableton and a more proactive DIY approach, has created a perfect storm within which independent music has thrived on Leeside in recent years.

“The rise of collective culture in Cork and beyond has been incredible,” Colm says. “With Teletext Records, Flood Collective, SESH FM, Gash Collective, Angry Mom Collective etc - groups essentially taking the same idea we had - just doing it on their own and breaking through. As you said, a lot of that comes from the dearth of space - coming together to forge a path through the limited room we have.

“The spaces that do remain for us to perform are amazing. The Roundy takes risks with the gigs they put on, often leaning into niche stuff like improvisational music nights, or new electronic music like hard drum. Cyprus Avenue has been incredible supporting us and giving us a huge platform for our first show.”

It’s not only about the music, either. As well as its fleet of musicians and PR arm, Hausu is also powered by talented artists Neil O’Sullivan-Greene and Emer Kiely, who design the artwork for most of its releases.

Keeping things in-house (pun slightly intended) is arguably another way in which the group has been able to forge its own easily identifiable aesthetic and identity. While each artwork is different, there is an obvious linear pattern which has allowed the collective to become one of the most recognisable faces of Cork music.

Doing things your own way is a learning process, of course, and Hausu have found some aspects easier to navigate than others.

“We’re losing it trying to figure out how to adjust to the world of play-listing,” Colm admits. “What songs get selected by Spotify for editorial or suggested playlists seems borderline random, and there’s no personal contacts or feedback from the people behind the curtain. It’s frustrating.

“We’d rather build up an honest audience of people who see us at gigs and follow us along our journey.”

Colm is, however, keen to underplay the importance of social media, which he calls “painfully overrated”.

“Nobody uses Facebook like they used to, and it’s punishing to work with if you don’t fork out for ads. Twitter is dying. Instagram is full of noise. We got like five times more likes than normal for a picture of some stickers and a hundred times more likes than normal for a joke post where we replaced some audio from a Batman film with a rant by Conor McGregor’s dad.

“It’s all about building a little crowd - people who enjoy our music and look for more on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever, and building a network out of the people who’ve shown interest in our stuff and reaching out personally to build relationships.”

This Thursday 1 August will see the first Hausu live show held on Leeside. Following a successful jaunt at Pot Duggans in Clare back in March, Ghostking is Dead, Arthur Valentine, Actualacid and Automatic Blue will all be taking to the stage in what promises to be an exciting night for fans of local Cork music.

Future plans are already in the pipeline, including a new EP and single from Automatic Blue, the long-awaited debut release from another Hausu act, Mothra, and a new release from Actualacid.

Whatever comes next for Hausu, a “group of friends who make music together” and who “don’t intend to compromise on what we want to make”, this is their summer, their time. Their summer run is an explosion which in years to come may be looked back on as a mere ripple, if what is being promised next is anything to go by.

Hausu at Cyprus Avenue takes place tonight, Thursday 1 August. Tickets are €8 and are available from Eventbrite.ie.

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