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Music broke the orange and green divide: Bicep


BRIT NOMINEES: Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson, aka Bicep

BRIT NOMINEES: Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson, aka Bicep

BRIT NOMINEES: Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson, aka Bicep

Bicep believe dance music is so popular in Northern Ireland because it gives people the opportunity to express themselves and cross the divide.

Childhood friends Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson come from different backgrounds and do not have any religious beliefs.

They formed one of the most exciting dance acts around and are nominated for two Brit awards.

Matt told Phil Taggart on his Slacker podcast: "Belfast had good subcultures. Growing up you had little goth scenes, indie scenes. You still do. You go to City Hall and there are goths.


Phil Taggart

Phil Taggart

Phil Taggart

"You don't get goths in London. You don't get proper punks. (In Northern Ireland), there's no flags associated with the music.

"(The subcultures) are a great way to break down those social barriers and some of those divides and let people cut loose for a bit."

Andy told how, as a younger man, he fell in love with music at venues such as Katy Daly's and Shine, and admitted that he sneaked into clubs and bars while under-age.

"A lot of the bars play really good music and a range of good music. I remember growing up and going to Katy Daly's and hearing such a range of music, like emo, goth stuff, classic rock and Chemical Brothers-esque stuff. That was across the board," he said.

"We went to Shine when we were at school, not when we were actually able to go. We were just 16 or 17.

"Shine wasn't just one place. It was like three bars in one. It was the old bar with 3,000 people, with the Snackbar and Bunatee. It was very broad musically."

"Going to Shine was like being smacked in the head with a hammer," added Matt.

"It was either very intense, in-your-face Italo-tinged electro or really aggressive techno. Anything that sounded moderate was back bar music. The main rooms were always harder.

"(It) music is a subconscious thing. It's very important in Northern Ireland because of that. Also, Irish people aren't the best at expressing themselves, whereas music is an easy way to bond."

Andy joked: "There's nothing like bumping into someone in the toilets of Shine and saying 'I love you, brother.' Music is an easy way to cry.

"If it wasn't energetic, it was boring. Especially in the 90s, even the local radio would be playing trance hits. It was way more ingrained in Belfast than in London."

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