Hiva Oa

From Cork to Edinburgh to Belfast, a musical journey takes a new turn.


Photographed for State's Faces by Olga Kuzmenko

What prompted the move back to Belfast from Edinburgh?

A few years had passed since the previous release and, with a change of lineup, it was time for a fresh start elsewhere and with a renewed focus. It had been some time since I left Cork, but I was keen on getting back home and to understand what Ireland was all about again. It can be easy to miss the people here. And I don’t just mean close friends and family, but just how general folk interact and carry themselves. Edinburgh will be missed, but it’s exciting to be back.


How do the two cities compare musically?

The two cities are about the same size, which generally results in everyone knowing everyone else. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook! Both could probably do with a few more small independent promoters and venues. But then again, I guess that could be said for most places.


Had much changed while you'd been away?

There seems to be a lot of positive changes since the last time I lived in Ireland. The island certainly feels more connected than before I left. The music scene around the country certainly feels much stronger. It has been really exciting to get exposed to bands in Ireland that we may not have had the chance if we had stayed in Edinburgh.


How had the band developed during that period?

I guess this band only ever existed away from Ireland, having been born during our time in Edinburgh, and much has changed over the last four years in terms of lineup and direction. I’m not sure it is something that will ever stand still, but we are incredibly excited to be releasing the music through our base here in Belfast and getting to travel around the island playing these songs. There has been a renewed life put into the band over the past twelve to eighteen months and we are very excited to see what we can do.


What was your best moment of 2016?

In January of 2016 we were invited on a two week tour around Italy. From tiny villages with nothing more than a cafe in the middle of nowhere to the big cities of Rome and Milan, we travelled the length and breadth of the country and met some of the most amazing people (and ate/drank some of the most amazing food/wine). That certainly set us off on the right foot for the twelve months ahead. It was great to finally get some new music out. It have been a long time coming, but really happy that we waited until we were a bit more settled back in Belfast before doing so. 2016 was also the first time we were able to play live in Ireland. Something we have been eager to do for so long and we managed to get around to playing absolute jewels like Roisin Dubh in Galway and De Barra’s in Clonakilty (both of which we are returning to in February). It was great to play Dublin for the first time also at HWCH. What a city.