Trinity’s independent music scene on the rise

Jonathon Boylan explores Trinity’s avant garde music scene, speaking with Luke Carey, Greg Tisdall, Mark Deering, and last year’s Battle of the Bands winners Cooks But We’re Chefs in the process

The Trinitones, Battle of the Bands, Trinity Ball, and every college event all have one thing in common: music. Indeed, in years gone by, Trinity’s music scene has moved from strength to strength. Not only does campus life facilitate the aforementioned marquee escapades and acts, but it also enables fledgeling musicians to transform their amateur guitar strumming into something more tangible.

Musical events and societies are at the centre of life in college. For example, groups such as the Alternative Music Society (DUAMS), TradSoc, DUDJ, and the Midnight Disco are staples of the college experience. Similarly, Trinity Orchestra and Trinity Ents alike are under what seems to be an omnipresent spotlight. That said, what is perhaps the most interesting part of music in Trinity, is the abundance of independent acts who have utilised college to, in the words of Louis Walsh, “get their foot in the door.”

Seven-piece hip-hop jazz group Cooks But We’re Chefs, whose triumph at last year’s Battle of the Bands brought them the holy grail of a performance slot at last year’s Trinity Ball, are amongst the most prominent examples of this. “The music scene in Trinity is fantastic. It has provided us with a great platform to show what we’ve been working on over the past year, and proved to be a brilliant way to get more involved with college life.” It would appear that their Battle of the Bands win could ultimately prove to be what catapults these prospects onto a far bigger stage, a success which would perhaps have been harder fought without such competitions.

Having said that, the college music scene has more to offer than the Battle of the Bands. Indeed, Trinity’s primary competition for up and coming acts carries with it an intimidation factor for acts who are just beginning to find their feet.

Greg Tisdall, a second year solo artist who has just released his first self-titled album, will undoubtedly be throwing his hat into Trinity’s musical ring this year. However, he did have this to say. “The competitive side of Battle of the Bands and things like that can definitely be off-putting. To go to one of those and be told you’re not good enough would be heartbreaking. I also think that only picking one act to play at the Ball could be improved upon.”

Despite their own victory, Cooks But We’re Chefs also mentioned that “it could be cool to see more Trinity-based acts play at the ball, and local acts could definitely be supported more.” This perhaps demonstrates that the competitive approach is not always fruitful when it comes to college promotion of self-made artists.  

However, one man who has benefitted from Trinity’s more traditional musical facilities is this year’s PRO of Trinity Orchestra, Mark Deering. Deering, keenly interested in music from a young age, describes joining the orchestra as “one of the better decisions I made in first year”. This is undoubtedly due to a wide variety of experiences he has encountered within his first year in the society. “On one hand you’ve got the classical concerts we perform, banging out a bit of Tchaikovsky and the like, and then there’s our pop gigs. Having the opportunity to play at Metropolis, Trinity Ball, Forbidden Fruit, All Together Now, and even Electric Picnic is insane. There’s something a bit surreal about performing Toxic on the oboe to a massive crowd at EP.”

Although such opportunities are coveted by all up-and-comers, the Trinity effect, where a laissez-faire approach leads to more freedom of expression in all of College’s musical societies and students alike, is undoubtedly one of the core triumphs of music in Trinity. Deering himself notes, “the big thing is that there’s so many chances in college to be creative”. Perhaps it is College’s general inclusivity and openness to change, as demonstrated through student campaigns and a diverse foreground of student opinion, that allows such great musicians to really find their feet.

This attitude seems to be shared amongst many more “unconventional” artists on campus, whose endeavours are aided by life in Trinity in a more nuanced way. For entities such as these, the college factor becomes hugely beneficial not through the on-campus competitions, but via diverse networking opportunities, and an abundance of prospective performances to bring their homegrown creations to a brand new audience. For Tisdall, College has meant the discovery of a new drum player who he simply bumped into on campus, and the potential to play in front of a crowd on a more regular basis. Be it society balls, during Rag Week, or “any kind of open mic pub crawl I can find”.

Similarly, Luke Carey, a second year Music and English student, and mastermind of the six-piece band Lu Tysky has found college life to be increasingly beneficial to his music career. “I definitely had more confidence throughout the year as I began to meet new people and found a new audience. That’s been really cool for me. I also met my bassist, Nathan, in College, so I suppose that’s been a big help.”

It is clear that Roy Ayers’ claims of music “having the power to bring people together” is omnipresent within Trinity. At all echelons of college life, you find hubs of avant-garde musical success stories. Interestingly, when quizzed about whether studying music has helped Luke with his work, he mused “only in a subconscious way. The biggest help is definitely just college life in general.”

Indeed, music in Trinity is undoubtedly at the centre of College’s unspoken mission statement. That is, to transform passion into careers. For Cooks But We’re Chefs, Greg, Luke, and Mark this has already begun. Greg has recently signed to perform his first headline gig in collaboration with Aiken Promotions, who were impressed with his previous performances, and Lu Tysky’s accolades include a Hot Press “Song of the Day” award for their single “Play”, along with an upcoming record label entitled “Pillow Talk Records”.

It is evident from the ubiquitous presence of creative minds such as these, that the music scene in Trinity is one of the most vibrant on campus. Be it jazz, rap, pop, or grime, Trinity is a place where all aspiring artists seem to have a place, and most importantly, an entirely new audience.