Dublin band and queer favourites, Pillow Queens, will tonight make their US TV debut playing live on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and I think it is fair to say, we’re all pretty proud of our queens!
2020 was a difficult year for everyone. Musicians were particularly impacted with their whole industry grinding to a halt as a result of COVID-19. Despite these challenges, the Irish music community carried on regardless and not only were there some game-changing album releases (as evidenced by the RTÉ Choice Prize shortlist for 2020) but Irish artists showed true flair and creativity against all the odds. The Pillow Queens are certainly leading that charge having released their debut album in lockdown – an album that has been roundly praised as an immediate fan favourite.
Una Mullally wrote about the band for the Times in September 2020 at the time of the album release. I talked to Mullally about the band and how much they mean to the LGBTQ+ community in terms of visibility and representation. Mullally shared that the Queens are “a breath of fresh air for dykes in Ireland. It’s mad to think how much we needed them and didn’t know.”
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This interview is from the March 2019 issue of GCN.
Spending a Sunday recreating the poster for The Favourite for the cover of GCN will go down as one of my more interesting workdays. Hanging out with Pillow Queens, the Dublin based quartet as they get ready, each getting hair, makeup and costuming done, I quickly feel like I’m hanging out with my own pals such is their ease and vibe with each other. They are really fun to be around and that same happy energy is palpable in every note of their catchy music.
The band Pillow Queens are Cathy McGuinness (guitar, vocals), Pamela Connolly (bass, guitar, lead vocals), Sarah Corcoran (guitar, bass, lead vocals) and Rachel Lyons (drums, vocals). They have been together a little over two years and my, have they made that time count. Their EP Calm Girls, released in 2016, which includes the fan favourite track and instant classic, Rats, set their stall as a rock band with serious skills and a real sense of fun – an antidote to the bloated, male-leaning seriousness of the guitar rock music scene. To see them live is pure joy, they are loud, energetic and really bloody entertaining.
They have been touring and performing steadily since they formed, Pamela explains, “We haven’t stopped. We’ve kept going from one step to another really quickly. It makes the time go so fast, It’s a bit daunting but it’s so cool.”
The band have supported Pussy Riot, Future Islands, played Other Voices in Dingle as well as the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic and embarked on their own tour of Ireland and the UK.
Their second EP State of the State, released in 2018, including the total banger, Favourite – cementing the bands status as a force to be reckoned with in the Irish music scene.
All the hard work is paying off. Their latest track, Gay Girls, is nominated for this years RTÉ Choice Music Prize. They are in good company, shortlisted beside the likes of Hozier, Saint Sister and Mango X Mathman.
The bands’ videos have been making a splash too, as they work with amazing Irish directors and creatives. Two notable examples being the video for Favourite by Bob Gallagher and Gay Girls by Kate Dolan. Sarah explains, “We have a huge involvement in the music videos. We worked really closely as well with Bob and Kate on forming and executing the idea and even with the first video, for Rats, Pamela directed it as well. We were all there, we all did set design, I edited it and we were all massively involved in it.”
Gay Girls by Kate Dolan made a big impact, garnering critical acclaim and being described by The Rubberbandits on Twitter as: “One of the best Irish songs and videos all year. Fucking brilliant work.”
Pamela continues, “The only time we stepped away from it was with Kate with the Gay Girls video. We weren’t available for it but we knew the premise of it – we said to her we’d love to do a communion video but we didn’t know if it was hard or easy to get children to do music videos.” Sarah adds, “Kate had worked with kids before and we knew that. Kate’s short, Little Dolls has done amazingly in festivals. That’s got kids at the forefront and she’s just incredible working with kids, we knew that going in and we trusted her with that.”
The resulting video is a visual feast that reaches beyond merely telling the story of the song and feels very vital for where Ireland is at right now in terms of social change, the church and young women’s/girls’ place in society. Cathy adds, “When I watch it, I find it extremely beautiful. Kate can obviously take all the credit, it’s so nostalgic and makes me warm and fuzzy inside.”
Pillow Queens are a band that have brought something charmingly fun, unequivocally queer and female to the Irish music scene and we are all much better off for it.
They make a strong case for being all of our favourites and I for one, dear reader, am utterly convinced.
Find out more by visiting the Pillow Queens site now.
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