Interview: Five minutes with The Burma

Indie rock group The Burma have just released their single and video for ‘When you’re Gone’, ahead of the release of their EP Sugar Moonlight. The group has seen has performed at festivals such as  Vantastival, Doolin Folk Fest and Whelans Ones to Watch. After the release of their debut single ‘Quicksand’, the band was supported nationally having regular radio play of their music, and several thousands of streams among popular streaming platforms.  The bands sound sits close to acclaimed musicians like Keane, Oasis and the vocals of Liam Gallagher. The Burma answers exclusive questions in our five minute Q&A.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Our families are all into music in some shape or form, Pete’s uncles would have played in bands all their lives and Cian’s dad has been involved in the industry for a long time too, so it was always there. Pete and I got into bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes when we were about fifteen/ sixteen, and started playing in bands together. We met Cian on a music course in Cork in 2012 and a few years later we all ended up in The Burma together.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Pete does most of the producing. He’ll write demos and record everything on Ableton before sending it to us. We’ll then come up with our own ideas for the song, whether it be lyrics, melody or drum parts.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

We did a song a few years ago called ‘Better Believe It ‘ with our good friend and amazing singer/ songwriter Colin Andrew, there was a lot of call and response kind of stuff with the vocals playing off each other. It was really fun and it would be cool to do something like that again in the future.

What’s on your current playlist?

Tame Impala, Frank Ocean, The Neighbourhood.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

There’s a cool scene in Cork where a big chunk of your crowd will be there to see musicians from the city, everyone comes and supports each other and it’s cool to see someone in the crowd really getting into the set when you were in the crowd loving one of their gigs not so long ago. I always find too that the people who look bored and uninterested are always the ones who come up to you after saying they absolutely loved it, which is funny. Now, I don’t get as anxious when I spot someone looking like they want to kill me.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Pete is always getting new sounds and making the guitar sound like anything but… I use a Boss vocal processor and that can keep things interesting too. We mess around with tracks a lot more recently with Cian launching them off an SPD.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

We usually get the drums down first, depending on how many songs we’re recording, it can take a couple of days. We move on to bass, guitars, synths and leave the vocals until last. Everyone is present for the whole process and has input on everything. Our producer Christian has a great ear for what makes a song work and parts can change a lot when we’re in the studio.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

It was around the time we got into bands like Arctic Monkeys around their first albums where everything they were saying was really relatable. It was the first time that happened. They were just really normal lads that talked about the same things that we got up to on the weekend. I think that’s when it became really appealing and seemed realistic to us.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Our cars.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Just Charlie. A Galway man living in Cork. He’s recording his first album at the moment and it’s going to be unreal. His voice is incredible.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Just having a structure. Getting up early, reading, getting a bit of exercise in.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Ableton Live for demoing, Roland SPD-SX for live tracks, Boss VE-20 vocal processor for live vocal effects. When we were recording we used a lot of Christian’s vintage gear in Monique Studios like vintage drum kits and old effects pedals.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Not at the moment.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I think we’ve learned to box smart with what we release and when to release things. We were definitely inclined to rush things out at the start just out of pure excitement. We think about our live shows much more now too, we’ve realized that it has to be a little bit contrived and thought out, for it to really come off. 

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

We’re releasing our new EP Sugar Moonlight in April. We’ll be gigging extensively through Ireland with some shows in the UK too and we’ll be playing the festival circuit in the summer.

Famous last words?

Go check us out on Spotify and whatnot, we’ve got some music videos on YouTube too for the singles. We can’t wait to get out gigging the new stuff and hopefully start seeing some new faces at the gigs.

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