SXSW 2017 Interview: Loah

By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 11:00 am

Every year at SXSW, I hear at least one musician who takes me completely by surprise. One of the most intriguing artists I saw on the Thursday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was Irish/Sierra Leonean soul singer Loah, (known offstage as Sallay Matu Garnett) who performed on the Full Irish Breakfast showcase hosted by Music from Ireland at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub. Currently based in Dublin, Loah cites time spent in Sierra Leone during her teenage years as a major influence on her music, as well as the more expected Irish music tradition, which she developed in her classical training at Trinity College. She melds aspects of classical Western and West African style together seamlessly, with hints of jazz and a strong soul foundation, to create a sound that is refreshingly different and stood out to me as quite unique among the other Irish artists on Thursday’s showcase. [Loah also appeared last autumn in Dublin at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016. – Ed.]

As mentioned in TGTF’s preview of Irish artists at SXSW 2017, Loah previously collaborated with 2017 RTÉ Choice Music Prize nominee and well-known fellow Irish musician Bantum on his single ‘Take It’, as well as receiving a co-writing credit on Hozier‘s hit track ‘Someone New’. Her own debut EP, titled ‘This Heart’, has been a long time in the making and is due for release at the end of April via Irish label Ensemble Music. The EP will include Loah’s first single ‘The Bailey’, streaming just below.

SXSW 2017 marked Loah’s first appearance in Austin, and she mentioned in our interview that she was eager to take in some of the city’s sights and sounds in her spare time during the week. Following her visit to Texas, Loah played a show at New York’s Irish Arts Center on the 22nd of March, which was previewed here in the Village Voice. Take a listen below to my interview with Loah, and keep an eye on TGTF for more about Loah in our upcoming review of the Full Irish Breakfast.

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