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Hello Hellfire! Loah talks music, art and recording at Hellfire Studio

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The Hello Hellfire team caught up with Irish-Sierra Leonean ArtSoul singer-songwriter Loah, whose debut EP was largely recorded at Dublin’s Hellfire Studio.

Q: Hello Loah! Tell us about yourself and your music.
A: I’m from Maynooth in Co. Kildare. I grew up there, but I’m half-Irish, half-Sierra Leonean, and my music reflects my mixed influences a little bit. It’s soul/funk influenced, and a little bit of west-African in terms of the rhythm and the melodies. So it’s not a common sound. It’s still in development, but I call it ArtSoul!

Q: How is your summer of festivals going?
A: I was performing on the main stage at Body & Soul… it was absolutely amazing. I’ve a couple more festivals this summer: we’re book-ending it with Body & Soul, and Electric Picnic on the first weekend of September. Then we’ll be down in Clonmel Junction Festival, in the Mitchelstown Cave, and then Galway Arts Festival. There’s a few really cool festivals coming up.

Q: Tell us about recording at Hellfire Studio.
A: I did the bulk of recording my debut EP, which is now out, up at Hellfire. We did all of the band stuff there – drums, bass, guitars, synthesisers, strings, percussion… The only thing I didn’t do there was the vocals, because I needed a lot of time and I wanted to try different processes.

We started last June, spent a week and came back a couple more times. Joe also came with us to the Royal Irish Academy to use their grand piano in an off-site session, then we brought the stuff back to Hellfire.

Q: What do you like about the studio?
A: I love working in Hellfire – it’s so spacious, and beautiful out there… you do feel very comfortably cooped up; you’re removed from the city and you’re in a parallel universe where you can focus on the work. It’s my favourite spot to record.

Joe McGrath’s an absolute legend too – first of all he’s a great engineer, which is the fundamental thing, but he’s also a really great people person; he knows how to make everyone feel comfortable… he’s very accommodating of everyone’s needs, he’ll give you suggestions if you want but he’s totally respectful of your direction. He really listens and takes into account details you might miss.

Q: What’s next for you and your music?
A: The new EP is out and I’ll try to get that listened and toured as far and wide as possible. Then it’s about getting started on the next one straight away. More gigs and more recording!

Loah’s debut EP The Heart is out now.