Bring Your Own Hammer is not a band, a group, an ensemble or even a collective. If anything, it is a faction but unlike nineteenth-century factions, who met, armed with sticks and two-handed wattles in fairs and markets, it is armed with voices and instruments and dedicated, as no faction before, to the re-interpretation of historical material in song form.
The composers, singers and musicians involved in the project are:
Agu is a singer, songwriter and music producer with Polish and Czech roots. With a background in classical and World Music, she performed as a lead vocalist in electronic, jazz and World Music bands in Prague before debuting as a soloist with an album titled Ke Světlu (2015) on German-Czech independent record label Yannick South. Transcending the borders of countries, cultures and genres, her music embraces a variety of languages and musical influences. Her songs have been played on RTÉ Radio 1, Raidió na Gaeltachta, and major national radio stations in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. She is also a frequent collaborator with Czech composer Karel Antonin on film and TV productions (Cyril & Methodius, Final Reward) and video games (Medieval Engineers, Dex).
Linda Buckley is an Irish composer who has written extensively for orchestra (BBC Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ NSO), with an interest in merging her classical training with the worlds of post punk, folk and electronica. Her work has been described as “sublime and brilliant” (BBC Radio 3) and “strange and beautiful” (Boston Globe). She was elected to Aosdána in November 2021.
She has scored films (Nothing Compares on Sinead O’Connor, co-composed with Irene Buckley), by Pat Collins (Henry Glassie: Field Work) and Tadhg O’Sullivan (To The Moon), with awards including a Fulbright scholarship to New York University and Gold at the New York Festivals Radio Awards.
Recent collaborations include work with experimental folk duo Anna & Elizabeth, writer Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Irish National Opera, Contempo Quartet, Iarla O’Lionáird, Joby Burgess (Barbican), Nordic Viola and Crash Ensemble. Linda holds a Music Degree from University College Cork, a Masters in Music and Media Technologies and a PhD in Composition from Trinity College Dublin. She has lectured in Composition at TCD, Windmill Lane and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2020 her album From Ocean’s Floor was released, featured by Iggy Pop on BBC Radio 6 as “beautiful music – here is somebody really special”.
Originally from Cork, Ireland, Cathal Coughlan was a founder and singer of acclaimed 80s/90s groups Microdisney and Fatima Mansions, and is widely considered to be one of Ireland’s most revered singer/songwriters, beloved by fans of caustic literate lyricism and erudite songcraft. Following the demise of Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s he released five acclaimed solo albums, took part in an array of collaborations and guest appearances, and along with his Microdisney bandmates was the first recipient of the IMRO/NCH Trailblazer Award, which celebrates culturally important albums by iconic Irish musicians, songwriters and composers (1985’s The Clock Comes Down The Stairs). His sixth solo album, Song Of Co-Aklan, was released by Dimple Discs in 2021 to widespread critical acclaim. He followed this with a new project with acclaimed producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, Telefís. Part celebration, part satire, Telefís is an exploration of Irish nostalgia and modern global hierarchies, strange characters and caricatures springing from Coughlan’s fertile imagination, while Jacknife Lee creates irresistible electro-funk backdrops full of melodic, squelchy synths and thunderous basslines. Telefis’ second album a Dó was released in October 2022.
Adrian Crowley is a songwriter, singer, composer and performer, originally from Galway and now based in Dublin.
April 2021 saw the worldwide release of his ninth album, The Watchful Eye Of The Stars, produced by the legendary John Parish. This album follows Dark Eyed Messenger (2017), produced by and featuring Thomas Bartlett aka ‘Doveman’ .The album was recorded in New York in Bartlett’s studio in under a week.
Previous albums include I See Three Birds Flying (2012), Season of the Sparks (2009) and Long Distance Swimmer (2007) – all of which were nominated for The Choice Music Prize.
Adrian Crowley’s album, Season Of The Sparks won the Choice Music Prize for Irish album of the year in 2010.
Since recording with Steve Albini in 2001, Crowley has toured extensively throughout Europe and USA receiving attention from The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Les Inrockuptibles, Mojo and recording radio sessions for New York’s WNYC, WFMU, BBC 6 Music
Crowley is also involved in film with his debut role as screenwriter working with Irish director Niall Mc Cann on the latter’s new feature film, entitled The Science of Ghosts. The film saw its world premiere at The Dublin International Film Festival. He has created music for film, most recently writing a score for a short film entitled ‘In The Woods With A Dead Dog’, directed by British – Ukranian actor and director Vera Graziadei. The film is based on a short story by Michel Faber (Under The Skin) and Crowley also plays the lead role. Crowley has recently collaborated with Crash Ensemble, Lankum, Barry Adamson and is currently working on his tenth album set for release in 2023.
(Photo: Conor Horgan)
Neil Farrell is a musician, songwriter, and producer from Galway, Ireland.
A founding member of the Galway band Toasted Heretic, whose four albums provided them with a top ten hit, rave reviews in UK and French press, and bizarrely, a legal tangle with Tayto Crisps demanding they “withdraw and destroy” their albums.
In recent years Neil has released two solo albums “A Trip to the Sewers of Paris” (2018) and “A War About an Egg” (2022) both under the moniker of ‘The Melancholy Thug’.
Eileen Gogan started her musical ventures as a true voice singer, one who tends to veer away from popular affectation of the singing voice. This style has led her to sing with some of Ireland’s most noted and interesting bands (The Would Be’s, The Revenants, The Drays and Microdisney). In 2015 she released her first solo album The Spirit of Oberlin written and produced by her.
In 2020 she released a second album, Under Moving Skies (written, produced and mixed by herself!). And in 2022, an EP of 4 songs “Another Golden Day” produced by Sean O’Hagan (High Llamas, Microdisney).
Composer, songwriter, guitarist, singer, sound wrangler and servant to a cat.
After a spell as lead guitarist in The Tea Set, Nick released his first solo album The Great Indoors in 1987 on the specialist psychedelic label Bam Caruso. He also worked briefly with Malcolm McLaren and played on the single Eve ov Destruction by Psychic TV. He stopped making music in 1989 and after completing a PhD became a full time academic at The Cass School of Art. In 2019 he released a comeback album, A New Life Awaits You. He was featured on the album Miniatures 2020 and released a collection of instrumentals, The Electromagnetic Imaginary on Dimple Discs in 2022. The label will release a new album of songs, What Time Can Do, in Autumn 2023.
Tony Higgins is a composer and musician from Galway, Ireland. His music has been featured by NPR, PBS, The Wall Street Journal, Métropolis (Brazil), TG4 (Ireland), Channel 4 (UK), ARTE (Fr/D), and more. As a musician, he has collaborated with artists such as Agu, Seamus Fogarty, Meljoann, So Cow, and Dott. To hear more music, go to www.tonyhiggins.org.
Carol Keogh has been part of the independent music scene in Ireland since her first band The Plague Monkeys garnered critical acclaim for their debut EP Navigator in 1994. The Plague Monkeys disbanded after two albums Surface Tension (1997) andThe Sunburn Index (1999) and Keogh went on to contribute to Ken McHugh’s Autamata project as a songwriting partner and singer, before rejoining former bandmate Donal O’Mahony and forming The Tycho Brahe with Diarmuid MacDiarmada. Two albums (This Is and Love Life) were released in the early 2000s, again to strong critical reviews. After an hiatus Keogh returned with her first solo album, Mongrel City, in 2014, recorded with her band The City Fathers. The following year a longstanding collaboration with electro-acoustic composer Sunken Foal bore fruit, under the project name The Natural History Museum, with the release of their album Attenborough and the follow-up EP Manmade. Over the years Keogh has collaborated with many well-known Irish artists including Sharon Shannon (co-author of Shifting Sands), Jerry Fish (duetted on Back to Before), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (co-author To The Wild, Dare to be Wild soundtrack) as well as guest-singing with many others (Miriam Ingram, The Dudley Corporation, Josh Johnston, Nina Hynes, S J McArdle, Sean Millar, Ken Stringfellow) both recorded and live.
In March 2022 Keogh released the first of several albums under the solo guise of The Wicc. The entirely self-arranged and produced Wolf (Part 1 of The Wolf Chronicles) has been described as “a conspicuously individual work by an important Irish artist” (Tony Clayton-Lea, Irish Times). The Wolf Chronicles project was conceived as a multi-part, cross-platform project, which will expand into theatre and video works. Album 2 of The Wolf Chronicles is expected to be released in early 2023.
Branwen Kavanagh is a musician and performance artist from the West of Ireland. Her work is imagination centric and is inspired by mythology and folklore from home and around the world. She is a songwriter, a sculptor, puppeteer, a visual artist, writer of surreal visual plays and a lively adventurer. She gathers many of these strands together in her performances. Her live music show is a theatrical affair involving crankies, bone puppets, weddings, an array of unmusical objects employed as instruments, as well as actual instruments including loop pedals, banjo and guitar. She is involved in a number of music projects, past and present including Branwen her current solo act, Twin Headed Wolf (a previous outfit with her twin sister) and currently Rufous Nightjar (3 part acapella group) for which she is the main songwriter. She has a number of albums due for release in the near future. She has performed far and wide, engaged in many inspiring collaborations and has been devoted to the arts for as long as she can remember.
Wally Nkikita (Aka DJ Wally) is an artist, originally from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, based in Galway city. He is a founder member of Galway African Diaspora-Ireland, a community group which promotes African culture in the city of the tribes (Galway), leader of Galway Sonke Multicultural Choir and he plays an essential role in the evolution and promoting of African culture in Galway city.
Wally performs once a month at Club Aras na nGael as part of “Afro Music Night”
He started singing in childhood, As an artist his music appeals to listeners across many genres and generations.
He has travelled to multiple countries and cities performing, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Amsterdam, Paris and Germany to name a few. He performed as the supporting acts for various artists such as Tinariwen, Wiz kid, Gims, Davido and Black Coffee.
DJ Wally has also performed at festivals around Ireland such as the Galway Volvo races and Electric Picnic
He brings his own brand of Afro pop and hints of reggae with a folk edge to countless audiences around the globe
Where is Wally!
Brigid Mae Power
Brigid Mae Power is an Irish singer, songwriter and musician. She has produced three solo albums since 2016. All have been highly-critically acclaimed with 2020’s Head Above The Water regarded as one of the finest Irish albums of recent years. The Guardian described her simply as ‘extraordinary’.
Michelle O’Rourke is a singer based in Dublin, Ireland. Empowered by a background in Baroque vocal music, and ever-fascinated by the role of voice in the ritual of performance, Michelle maintains a diverse portfolio of work: from contemporary classical music, to devised interdisciplinary projects, to holistic vocal coaching. Michelle has featured on a number of critically-acclaimed releases, including a major interpretation of historical material entitled Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows (with Simon O’Connor, Ergodos label). For Bring Your Own Hammer she performed a new musical setting of the nineteenth-century song text, ‘My Grief on the Sea’.
Mike Smalle is a musician, songwriter and producer from Galway, Ireland. He has released 8 albums to date under various guises. 2021 saw the release of his first album under his own name (Pagan Pulse) and this year he released the mini-album ‘Bun Os Cionn’.
Over the years he has recorded a number of radio sessions including several Fanning sessions (RTE) and a session for the late great John Peel in 2001. His 2005 album ‘Moon Pool’ was nominated for the inaugural Choice Music Prize in Ireland. His music has featured on a number of compilations most notably Cian O’Ciobhain’s ‘An Taobh Tuathail’ series, Chris Coco and Rob da Banks’ BBC Blue Room series and for The Mutek electronic music festival in Canada. He has also written music for film, documentaries and art installations. His music has been reviewed in the NME, Mojo, Uncut and his albums have been included in Dan Hegarty’s ‘Buried Treasures’ book as well as ‘101 Irish Records you must hear before you die’ by Tony Clayton-Lea.
For more information, visit: mikesmalle.com
Jah Wobble is a well-known bass player.
Michael J Sheehy
By his own account, Michael J Sheehy has pissed away two or three careers. His first band Dream City Film Club were signed to Beggars Banquet towards the end of last century and despite early promise they crashed and burned after recording their second album. Sheehy then released three critically acclaimed solo albums with Beggars Banquet and toured Europe and the USA with the likes of Kristin Hersch, Tindersticks, Ed Harcourt and Bauhaus front man Peter Murphy.
Despite a few bumps along the road, he has continued making music as a solo artist and as part of the rock band Miraculous Mule as well as one half of psychedelic electronic duo United Sounds of Joy. In 2020 he released his critically acclaimed solo album ‘Distance Is The Soul of Beauty’, his first in a decade.
Simon Fisher Turner
I’ve made many records and still enjoy music / film / silence.
Born Dover 1954. Worked as Yorkshire Paving Stone Gardener, Van driver, Selling over expensive ties in Chapel Market and I’ve been a waiter for four days.
Please look on the internet for more stuff. KOL. Derek Jarman. Edmund De Waal. Optical Sound. Creation Records. Mute Records. I would like to paint and live in Mexico. May peace prevail on Earth.
(Photo: John Hollingsworth)
Ian Catt is the highly-regarded producer, mixer, engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer behind an array of fast becoming legendary recordings by the likes of Saint Etienne, The Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars, The Occasional Keepers, The Wake, Heavenly, Harvey Williams aka Another Sunny Day, The Hit Parade, and folk legend Julie Felix (to name just a few).
More recently he has worked with Bobby Wratten’s Lightning In A Twilight Hour and artists on the Elefant and Shelflife labels such as Dylan Mondegreen, Alpaca Sports, The School, The Proctors, and When Nalda Became Punk, as well as Tiny Fireflies.
Ian’s solo project, Katmandu, released a single and an album on the Vinyl Japan label in the mid-1990s. He was also a touring member of Saint Etienne.
Seán Mac Erlaine
Seán Mac Erlaine is a composer, musician and mastering engineer. Recognised as one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking creative musicians, he has worked with many leading lights of music today. Seán’s work is genre agnostic and readily intersects folk, free improvisation, jazz and traditional music.
Seán tours and works internationally with a hugely diverse range of musicians and artists reflecting his own versatility and interest in cross-platform work. He has performed with leading musical figures including Jan Bang, Barry Adamson, David Toop, Ernst Reijseger, Jennifer Walshe, The Smith Quartet, Hayden Chisholm, Eivind Aarset, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Barry Guy, Iarla O’Lionaird, Maeve Gilchrist, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Erik Friedlander, Damo Suzuki and many more.