New Creative Ireland

Body&Soul 2018 offers audiences an opportunity to discover a different, contemporary side to Irish culture, bringing bubbling and emerging creative scenes and new cultural industry into its creative fold for the weekend. A varied programme including Louise O’Neill, Blindboy Boatclub, the West Cork podcast and Waterford Whispers News will join some of the country’s most innovative musicians across the festival site.

Groundbreaking music artists, immersive theatre, beautiful art installations, gastronomic experiences and indulgent wellbeing areas come together to provide a weekend of sensory exploration at this truly independent festival, many of whom represent a fresh new generation of break-through and emerging Irish talent.

From Galway taking centre stage as European City of Culture in 2020, to Dublin’s world class animation and creative technology scenes and contemporary arts biennales such as EVA and Drop Everything, Ireland’s contemporary cultural landscape is ripe for showcasing at a particularly progressive moment of social change.

This is echoed from a musical perspective on the festival’s hand-crafted stages, which will host a new generation of Irish rap artists, including Mango & MathMan, the MC and producer duo leading the charge in Ireland’s hip hop renaissance. Spekulativ Fiction and Mankyy will be representing the South-West, with their unique fusion of rhymes and beats that has renewed interest in Ireland’s potential as a hotbed for innovation within the genre.

Meanwhile, experimentalists such as Pitchfork-favourite Davy Kehoe will expound his ‘adrenaline-fuelled krautrock’, BBC6 Music DIY darlings Pillow Queens take on toxic masculinity and anxiety, brazen and bold all-female Limerick punk outfit Pow Pig have a bright future ahead of them, along with improv pop-outfit The Bonk from Waterford. BBC2 Folk Award winners Lankum reinvent the folk music tradition with their raw, urgent sound that has mesmerised Guardian critics, and newcomer ROE’s self-described ‘grumpy electro-pop’ as featured on ‘Made in Chelsea’ and ‘The Only Way is Essex’ will delight the Body&Soul Stage.

Galway-native Anna Mullarkey creates her own genre-bending ethereal solo show, dance-focused electronica duo PrYmary Colours combine deep, soulful vocals and exalting beats and rising stars from Cork Shookrah’s uniquely Irish neo-soul that has garnered them the title of ‘Best Irish Band of 2017’ from the Irish Times.

Meanwhile Wonderlust, the little stage of curiosities will host outspoken, feminist writer and activist Louise O’Neill. Frequently been heralded as the voice of a new generation of Irish women, her recent release Almost Love, navigates the minefields of relationships with a uniquely difficult female protagonist, meanwhile The Surface Breaks is her feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid. The stage will also host a conversation with the people behind the addictive podcast hit West Cork. Heralded as ‘Ireland’s first true crime podcast’, investigative journalist Sam Bungey and documentarian Jennifer Forde have gripped listeners with their vivid investigation of the murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier that has dominated Irish headlines for over 20 years.

The Library of Progress will champion critical thinking at the festival with some of the country’s sharpest minds. Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits – whose Blindboy Podcast has swiftly garnered a million listeners for his unique introspections on mental health, racism and history in modern Ireland – will host a series of events that probe this current moment in history, and everything from alternative facts to creative production are faring on this island. Shows like ‘Illuminate!’ seeks to demystify the creative process, delving into sources of inspiration and showing how creativity improves mental health with 4 leading Irish thinkers. Meanwhile legendary satirists Waterford Whispers News will debut a new show, playing on the world of ‘fake news’ with their characteristic biting social commentary.

The 2018 edition of the festival, which is now in its ninth year, has the theme of Alchemy – and attendees are encouraged to interpret what Alchemy means to them, be it through their mindset, energy, costume or ideas. With great projects, relationships and concepts evolving out of conversations had and moments shared over the three days at Ballinlough, this is the audience’s chance to harness this energy and become the change they want to see.