Who are The Japanese Popstars?
After seeing the line-up for Glastonbury we stumbled across this band. Don’t be confused by their name – the three band members are not from Japan, but Northern Ireland. They’re also not ‘popstars’, as their obtrusive music is more at home in dance tents than MTV.
After being inspired to make their music after seeing a dance act at Ireland’s Oxygen Festival, the band quickly received critical acclaim. In 2008, they won ‘Best Live Act’ at the Irish Music Awards – which they also received a year later – and were voted ‘Best Breakthrough Producers’ at the 2008 DJ Mag of British Awards. But then, we read an interview on their Facebook page, which said – ‘It’s a hell of a long way from Derry to Tokyo’. The Japanese Popstars are a journey, which started in Ireland and is including countries all over the world. A manifestation of the legacy of The Wild Geese.
Sprawling out of Derry and Dungannon, playing their first gig in Limerick they have ‘carved out a reputation to rival the biggest names in dance music as a must-see live act and purveyor of raucous, foot-stomping, energetic electronic dance music’.
Here’s a little piece of the action:
The variety and diversity of Glastonbury Festival means that festival go-ers can experience much more than chart topping acts. Warming up this year’s festival was Brian Cox, who took to the Cabaret Tent to host a live edition of his award winning radio show ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’. The show takes popular science and combines it with an easy-going, comic appeal – which has won it a ‘Sony Award’.
The physicist was joined by co-host Robin Ince, comic Shappi Khorsandi, Professor Tony Ryan and Bill Bragg in their ‘rational tent – a solitary place where the light of reason can burn safely among the smoldering rubble of the enlightenment strewn across the muddy fields outside’ (as Cox and Ince described it).
|The Cabaret Tent at Glastonbury
Brian Cox has already brought science to the forefront of prime-time TV in the UK, hosting the popular BBC documentary series ‘Wonders of The Universe’. The series explains special occurrences which have shaped the universe and laws of nature we are familiar with.
Cox has rightly become an inspirational figure.
Imelda May is a haunting Irish export. The Dubliner started her career in the music industry when she was just 16 – sometimes being barred from her own gigs because she was underage – and performed on the acoustic stage at Glastonbury on Sunday night.
‘I was getting tips from the best musicians in Dublin. One of them said, “Your voice is great, but it needs to roughen”‘ she says on her website. Imelda was a unique individual from a very young age, refusing to follow the music trends all of her classmates did. Instead, she was draw towards Rockabilly and Blues. She remembers the turning point of her music career after being confronted by heartbreak, her father said: ‘is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues’.
|Like The Wild Geese, May’s raw talent is Untamed.
Becoming popular on the Dublin music scene, Imelda was determined to build on this momentum. She released her debut album, ‘Love Tattoo‘, through her own label in 2006 and went on to win the ‘Female Artist of the Year’ at the Irish Meteor Awards.
Imelda May also recently performed for Barrack Obama during his visit to Ireland in May. Alongside other Irish performers – it was a day for Wild Geese from all over the world to come together in a celebration of their shared heritage:
‘It was a great honour to perform along with the cream of Irish talent for O’Bama and a pleasure to meet him and Michelle. The atmosphere was electric. The speeches were inspirational and bought fire to my heart and a tear to my eye’.
Two Door Cinema Club have helped to get the Glastonbury Festival underway. The Irish indie-rock band performed on the globally recognised Pyramid Stage earlier this afternoon.
The band have had a remarkable career so far. Their debut album ‘Tourist History‘ won the ‘Choice Music Prize’ for Irish album of the year in 2010 and they received €10,000 prize money. In the spirit of The Wild Geese, the band generously donated all the prize money to Abaana, an charity based in Northern Ireland.
Since starting in 2007, the band have been regulars on the festival circuit and toured the globe with their easy-going sound. Performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury – one of the most famous stages in the world – is something the band will surely remember for a long time. It’s a struggle to get to this stage, and it proves that Irish culture is appreciated at the most popular level. As Harmless Noise rightly says, ‘when the big guns ask you to play Glastonbury, you know you’re doing something right’.
For those of you not lucky enough to be at Glastonbury, this is what you’re missing:
This weekend, one of the biggest festivals in the world will be taking place. Glastonbury has a rich history within the music industry and bands all over the world work hard to secure their space on one of its many stages.
Earlier in the week, festival go-ers started arriving, ready to be both soaked and sun burnt by the unpredictable weather. The event will include performers from all over the world, including an impressive selection of Irish bands.
The globally renowned U2 will finally be headlining the pyramid stage, after they had to pull out from last year’s Glastonbury due to a back injury Bono suffered.
Morrissey will also be taking to the main stage before U2. No stranger to the festival scene, the former frontman of The Smiths is of Irish descent – a true example of the modern day Wild Geese.
Harmless Noise gives us an impressive overview of Irish music at glastonbury, and reflect on a distinct Irish flavour in each year’s line up. Interestingly, the article says: ‘U2 and Hothouse Flowers represent Irish music as it’s formally recognised by the international community but the younger performers can engage that same audience and provide a more accurate portrayal of contemporary Irish culture’.
Irish performers at Glastonbury over the years have included Ash, The Boomtown Rats, Villagers, Fight Like Apes, Imelda May, Christy Moore, Sinead O’Connor and Van Morrison.
The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey have decided to take a closer look at the contemporary Irish music scene. Stay tuned.
Congratulations to Rory McIlroy! The Northern Irish sportsman won the US Open over the weekend, realising a childhood dream and proving he’s no longer an up-and-coming contender.
The twenty-two year old returned to the ‘Hollywood Golf Club’ in Co. Down Ireland, where he used to practice as a youngster, proudly exhibiting the trophy he received for winning the US Open.
‘I can’t thank my parents enough for what they’ve done for me and winning the US Open is only a tiny little bit of my appreciation for what they’ve done, so hopefully there’s more trophies for them in the future and more things for us to share and celebrate’.
His remarkable journey echoed the scene a year ago, when fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell won the same trophy and celebrated the win at his childhood golf club in Portrush.
‘Graeme inspired me and gave me a lot of belief that I could do the same thing… If Graeme hadn’t won last year I don’t know if I would be standing here talking to you as a major champion’.
But McIlroy shares the fiery ambition of the Wild Geese, as he now intends to build on this momentum and is setting his sights on ‘more trophies’ – already preparing for The Open, the oldest of the four major Golfing tournaments.
‘I will be putting in plenty of practice ahead of The Open, doing all the hard work before the tournament… I want to give myself every chance to win the last two Majors of the season’.
The Republic of Ireland football team won a shock victory over Italy on Monday night, when they faced off in Liege, Belgium. The win over the four time world champions followed Ireland’s Carling Nations Cup success and their win over Macedonia which qualified them for the Euro 2012 tournament.
Ireland’s manager, Giovanni Trapattoni took made a brave decision to effectively play a reserve team believing that this would give younger, inexperienced players the opportunity to gain much needed international experience.
Ireland’s latest string of victories have revealed the talent and determination of many of their players. Simon Cox, scored one of the goals that lead Ireland to beating Italy less than a month after his debut:
‘It’s been a great few months. I have enjoyed my club football and then to get the call-up to come away with Ireland was a terrific boost for me… Then to get a goal on my debut, and then get a goal against Italy was just great’.
Cox was eligible to play for Ireland because of his Irish roots – linking back to his Irish born grandmother – and exemplifies the dream of The Wild Geese. Although, they left Ireland, they dreamed of one day returning. Although many of them didn’t get the opportunity to return, their legacy continues into the modern day. Simon Cox retuning to represent his country is a humbling realisation of this dream. Looking back at the match, Cox said ‘It’s an unbelievable honour for me’.
A few days before the match with Italy, Robbie Keane entered the record books after scoring his 50th international goal and becoming the highest goalscorer in Britain and Ireland. After inspecting the list of top goalscorers, Keane commented: ‘I am very delighted and very proud to be amongst that elite. But for me, it’s all about the team and the team performs’.
‘You can set your stall out to reach certain goals, and my goal was to reach Niall Quinn’s record [of 21]. I reached that and then you look to another one, so I am obviously delighted that I did that. When I first came into the Ireland squad, Niall Quinn said to me I would get 50 goals, so it’s probably down to him’.
Some exemplary achievements of modern day Wild Geese.
When leaving Ireland in 1691, The Wild Geese had to shape their own destinies in the face of their difficult situation. In unfamiliar lands, they built new lives for themselves and were not held back by their circumstances. The same can be said of Aaron Fotheringham from Las Vegas, who was born with spina bifida. You can see what Aaron does in the video below:
Reading his bio on his website is very inspiring: ‘Aaron never let anything stop him. Even as a baby and small child, he did anything anyone else his age could, he just had to figure out how to make it work for him… He enjoys showing young kids with disabilities that a wheelchair can be a toy, not a restriction’.
Recently, Fotheringham successfully completed a backflip from a mammoth 15m ramp – nicknamed the ‘giganta’. This was his latest stunt in a row of successful feats that have stunned crowds worldwide, a placed him the record books once again.
On Sunday 29th May 19,617 people gathered in the South African city Durban to participate in the legendary Comrades Marathon. Starting at 5:30 am, participants were given twelve hours to reach the city of Pietermaritzburg, and faced ruthless and ever-changing terrains.
This year’s winner was Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi who completed the ultra marathon with an astounding time of 5:32:45. But Muzhingi is only getting started: ‘I want to win nine times and then retire’, he said after finishing first in the 2011 Comrades Marathon.
|Muzhingi was met at the finishing line by his wife and son
In an extract from his newly published book, Comrades Marathon: The Ultimate Human Race, John Cameron Doe describes the event:
‘The distance and terrain are such as to take the average person to the very limit of human ability in the quest to cover the distance on foot within 12 hours. Nowhere else in the world is there any race quite like it’.
|Comrades Marathon is an annual event, but the route alternates between an ‘Up’ race, which starts in Durban and ends in Pietermaritzburg, covering a distance of 86.96 km; and a ‘Down’ race, which starts in Pietermaritzburg, ending in Durban and covers a distance of 89 km. The race has checkpoints which participants must reach in order to be kept in the marathon, to ensure that the marathon does not take more than 12 hours
This ultra marathon is an example of the continuation of The Wild Geese story – Men of Action striving to achieve the impossible. Completion of the Comrades Marathon is extraordinary in itself, but to achieve a time of under six hours and plan to go back for more, to further push physical and mental limits is remarkable. Just as The Wild Geese pushed themselves for the dream of ‘Freedom for Everyone’, these athletes exemplify that working toward a dream is worth the intermediate struggle.