Driven Snow: “more direct and honest than anything I’ve done before”

by James Hendicott
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They might be a new-ish name on the scene, but Driven Snow are also Irish indie royalty. Consisting of husband/ wife pair Kieran McGuinness (of Delorentos) and Emily Aylmer (of Republic of Loose), their style manages to be both typical and atypical of such a partnership.

Forged during lockdown between caring for their kids, their music is gentle, poetic, and has a sense of romance. More unusually, it can also, sometimes, be somewhat abrasive lyrically and explores ample negatives as well as positives. One particular track, for example, prompted Kieran’s friends to ask if everything with Emily was alright (the track, thankfully, was not about their relationship).

“We’ve worked with music for years, but never had the chance to sit down and devote the time you need to do something special together,” McGuinness says. “Covid and all that, while terrible, gave us the chance to focus on that. I never stop writing songs, and I’ve always asked Emily her opinions on songs I write for Delorentos. She has a great ear for melody and arrangement and has been a sounding board for ages. So working together just worked really well.”

“We were both out of our comfort zone. I had a way of writing after six albums with Delorentos,” McGuinness says. “With Driven Snow, there’s been scrutiny on the song since really early on. It’s funny to have someone come in early and say something doesn’t work, and I think only Emily could get away with it with me. There’s no problem telling me something is bad, and no competition.”

“We always sing to the kids, and being parents has been a big thing for the music. We had thought of doing alternative interesting songs as nursery rhymes. We did some early versions and brought them to a friend, and he said they were good but we should be writing our only songs, and we just thought ‘of course we should’. And that was it, we just did it.”

The result is gentle and gorgeous, poetic and somehow cutting at the same time. On some levels the album ‘A Kind of Dreaming’ is a simple singer-songwriter record. On other levels, it’s “more direct, more honest than anything I’ve done before,” as McGuinness tells it.

‘Aurora’, for example, is an old song that originally opened with “another evening of waffles and beans,” until Emily said it was a terrible line and Kieran started again. “It’s not about us, it’s an older idea, but it came through as something we wrote together,” he recalls. “I’d often write around fictional kind of scenarios, but in Driven Snow that never felt right, so everything had to be brought around to that new style and perspective. It had to mean something in this new way of writing.”

“It’s not a character and it’s not about love. It’s about melancholy. Actually living your life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, joy and sadness. To accurately reflect that, a beautiful hopeful melancholy is the most powerful way of representing the reality of it all.”

“Another song, ‘This Is Mine’, is about me being aware that I can get quite low and have quite tough periods, and I have to take them and accept it, deal with it. I sent this to a friend and they straight away asked about our relationship. It’s about something totally different, but people do read things into them.” 

“I wasn’t ready for how much people would put us in as the protagonists in the songs. We had no idea what our band personalities were going to be, and very naturally and very organically, it became a true, open, clear version of us, being kooky and messing around. I’m with the person who knows me best, so there’s no nonsense.”

Driven Snow’s ‘A Kind Of Dreaming’ is out on February 9th, and followed by launch shows in Whelans on February 16th and 17th.

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