Originally formed as a quintet in 2013, Hvmmingbyrd released a well-received album but broke up soon after. Founding member Deborah Byrne refused to let the dream die and teamed up with Suzette Das to resurrect the band.
The pair have released two singles this year, ‘Out Of My Head’ and the brilliant ‘If Love Was Enough’ with its accompanying video directed by Crooked Gentlemen.
Hvmmingbyrd have spoken about the difficulty they have in classifying their music. They combine the vocal interplay of traditional and modern folk, minimalist electronica, and the intensity and honesty of singer/songwriters.
Hvmmingbyrd strike the perfect balance between authentic electro and pop songwriting. You would never guess on hearing Know My Name that this was recently a folk group.
The EP consists of five songs with short interludes of wordless vocalizations. The sound of their interweaving vocals is hypnotic.
Hvmmingbyrd perform a mashup of Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ live and the influence of both Madge and ‘Teardrop’ vocalist Elizabeth Fraser are clearly audible on the lead single ‘If Love Was Enough’.
“‘If Love Was Enough’ has a dark theme but a bright sound whereas some songs on the EP are a bit darker and edgier. They explore relationships and loss”, says Byrne of Hvmmingbyrd Mark II.
Know My Name has a theme of a very modern kind of love. ‘If Love Was Enough’ mourns a relationship doomed by circumstance. ‘Blindsided’ wields menace musically and lyrically. ‘Never’ is the cry of the defiant single person determined to remain unattached for the time being. It’s a long way from ‘Love Me Do’ and to accommodate more complex feelings, more complex music is necessitated.
Those who have heard the recent singles will already be aware that the change of personnel has heralded a change of tack as Suzette Das brought in electronic instruments. Though the presentation of the songs has changed, the writing hasn’t altered greatly. Byrne was the main songwriter in Hvmmingbyrd’s previous incarnation and her partnership with Das is a natural evolution. So much so that it is often tricky to tell whose part is whose.
The title of the EP is taken from the song ‘Legacy’. Byrne says it’s “about wanting to leave your stamp, the human search for significance. It’s making a statement, mostly to ourselves, that what we are doing is actually good and we should be proud of it.“
Hvmmingbyrd follow a recent series of gigs in Scandinavia, a set at Electric Picnic, and three gigs in as many hours on Culture Night with a launch show in The Grand Social next week. They’ll have a full band backing them and if it is anything like their recent gig in the Workman’s, it is not to be missed.
Hvmmingbyrd launch the Know My Name EP in the Grand Social, Dublin on Thursday September 29.