Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland duo Saint Sister go marching on a voyage of discovery

 

By Sonia Butterworth

They are being hailed as Northern Ireland's next big thing in the music world.

Indie folk duo Saint Sister, made up of Morgan MacIntyre from Belfast and Gemma Doherty from Londonderry, have just released their debut album, Shape Of Silence, to critical acclaim and are currently on a world tour, including a date in Belfast on Saturday.

Morgan said: "We're just so excited to be taking our music and playing it round the world and having a big stop gap in Ireland with eight dates here, too.

"This is our first album and we realised that it's been a project that has grown over the last few years, it's a mixture of singles and EPs.

"When I look back I can see the conversation we were trying to have. At the start it's much more upbeat, more like us against the world, and then towards the end the songs get lonelier and more self-discerning."

Saint Sister draw their influences from classical Celtic harp traditions, Sixties folk and electro-pop to create their own unique sound, and a prevailing theme through their music is the notion of sisterhood. Morgan and Gemma (both 26) decided to form the group in 2014 after meeting while they were living in Dublin and singing in a college orchestra together.

"We studied in Dublin separately and then met at the end of college, we were both singing in an orchestra together and I knew I wanted to meet Gemma as I thought she had a beautiful singing voice," Morgan explained.

"I knew she played harp and put it through pedals which I thought was so interesting and it really intrigued me. So I asked her to go for a coffee.

"I was really trying to make it as a singer and songwriter but knew I needed a partner and, with Gemma, I guess what helped, too, was we both have one sister each and so grew up with that dynamic: all of the trial and tribulations of negotiating and sometimes having to put you first and sometimes the other.

"I trust her 100% and I think essentially we end up reflecting the other's expression; each giving to the other what we ourselves do not have.

"We both knew pretty much straightaway that we wanted to make music and throw ourselves completely into it."

The duo formed back in November 2014 and quickly started to gain a big following and reputation on the Dublin scene.

Just a few years later and they are on the brink of a world tour that starts in the USA this month and will coincide with the release of their album.

It's clear the sister connection runs deep and no surprise their name reflects that.

They have made several videos to accompany their songs, with Morgan's sister Orla McIntyre starring in their song Madrid which was shot by highly acclaimed Bob Gallagher in rural Donegal.

Morgan said: "Yes, we both take a lot from our sisters and it was important to bring that on board.

"We started out as Oh Sister but that name was already taken and so we didn't want to continue with it, but it took a while for the Saint to come.

"Gemma came up with it and it clicked. It added a levity and spirituality that just felt so right."

Saint Sister play the Black Box in Belfast on Saturday, October 20. Their album Shape Of Silence is on sale from Friday, October 19. For more information visit www.saintsisterband.com

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