I Have A Tribe by Annett Bonkowski

I Have A Tribe by Annett Bonkowski for NBHAP

Don’t we all admire the moon’s beauty and its calming appearance from time to time? We certainly do. The moon has been the subject of human desire for a long time. The Irish songwriter Patrick O’Laoghaire from Dublin spent day after day looking up at the night sky when he left the studio where he recorded I HAVE A TRIBE‘s debut album Beneath A Yellow Moon. And there he was – the bright moon in between all the darkness. Like a loyal friend who would watch over all the work that had been done. Until the next morning would bring new impulses and different rays of light. All carefully reawakening the songs.

‘I’m quite in love with the moon. We would leave the studio each night and there was this big yellow moon. When it’s a nice full moon, I find it hard not to stare at it.’

After two much-praised EPs, Yellow Raincoats and No Countries, Patrick O’Laoghaire returns with an album full of organic and at times fragile, but beautiful songs that have a warm feel to it. The nature of the eleven tracks is far from the coldish looking moon that we seem to know. It’s a heartfelt yellow instead. The melancholic atmosphere we believe to experience at first is soon replaced with a greater sense of joy, once you fully dive into the the piano-driven melodies that promise unfiltered emotions and echo a pleasant intensity.

‘The feeling you get from seeing VILLAGERS playing live kind of moved me to go and play myself. I thought maybe I should give it a go. I wrote to Conor and we did a song. That’s how I really started playing my own stuff.’

Underneath the surface there is no room for sadness according to the man who has been turning the colours in his mind inside out while writing these songs: ‘For me, these are not sad songs to sing. If I sing them, they make me think of my friends. I just wrote about these things, to see and accept them in a grateful way. To play and sing these songs is not like returning to a sadness. It’s none of that for me. If it was, I wouldn’t do it. For me it’s not about going deep into a sadness and spreading that. It’s kind of the opposite actually.’

The feeling of joy as an essential part of the process

I HAVE A TRIBE had quite another idea of what the album’s sonic vision should capture, says the bearded singer: ‘I was hoping to explore lightness. I was less inclined to try and get the perfect sound. The message of a song isn’t going to be compromised because you hear someone else pick up their instruments in the recording.’  Something that is far more valuable than perfectionism is often buried under a tight schedule: fun. So Patrick O’Laoghaire made sure he didn’t miss out on it while being in the studio. It’s not hard to imagine that the cheerful looking man from Ireland enjoyed the process of recording his songs along with producer Paul Savage.

In between all the hard work, they would laugh a lot, O’Laoghaire assures us:

‘We had the same approach. We would find stuff and just use it. It was like a room full of toys. We would play a song, pick up the next bit, put it there and the idea was just to enjoy it. I didn’t want to have a big soundscape, but something quite natural.’

I Have A Tribe Press Shot

I Have A Tribe Press Shot

Piano love

Including a focus on the piano which he fell in love with right away as he tells us: ‘I fell in love with it quickly because of the way it was taught to me. This is a big toy, go and have fun. Seeing my niece playing little tunes was a good reminder – it’s a nice game to play. Just to keep the freedom in it and not get too caught up in the heaviness.’

Patrick O’Laoghaire may do this project on his own, but he states that nothing about it is lonesome. It’s also one of the reasons why he performs under the moniker I HAVE A TRIBE: ‘I like the word ‘tribe’. There’s an openness to it. To call it something other than myself was to try and not have a separation between the audience and the singer at the gig. It’s a comfort thing, too. You might go and play a shown on your own, but if you have this idea that we’re spending these couple of hours in a room together, it’s not so isolated for me.’