There are so many amazing women in Irish music today. Right up there in our list of favourites are Hvmmingbyrd, AKA Deborah Byrne and Suzette Das, a singer-songwriter/producer duo based in Dublin, Ireland. They fuse warm sensual vocals, electronic pulses and shimmering pop sounds with heartfelt lyricism. The girls have performed at lots of Irish festivals such as the Body & Soul stage, Electric Picnic, and Indiependence and have supported established Irish acts The Young Folk and Ryan Vail.
Listen to the lovely “Legacy” whilst you read what Deborah had to say about her teenage experience and what shaped her into the fabliss young woman that she is.
Hey Deborah, hows it going? Describe your teenage experience in 3 words..
Intense. Rollercoaster. Insecure.
As a kid, what were your dreams? How have they worked out for you?
Since my teens, I’d always dreamed of getting involved in music but without any formal musical training, I thought that would prevent me from doing music professionally for some reason. I also didn’t have anyone around up for collaborating. I let a few critical voices have too much power over me (including my own!) but now I know that if people tell you you’re not good at the thing that you love doing, they’re either wrong and talking out of insecurity or different taste, or they’re right and you need to dust off your hurt pride and focus on getting better through training and practice – everybody starts somewhere and there’s no shame in that. A few years ago I stopped focusing on my limitations and transferred my energy to trying to make opportunities happen instead and just went for it. I’ve probably started my musical career a lot later than I’d have liked but at the same time, I’m more ready now than I would have been back then. I think my teenage self would be happy with where I am now which makes me feel grateful and happy.
Who were the greatest influences on you as a teenager?
Probably my friends at the time, for better or for worse!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever overcome?
The world can be a bit cruel and demeaning to girls (the fact that “girly” or “like a girl” are still seen as insults says it all!) and I definitely internalised those messages so most of my challenges have been within my own head. To be honest, I still battle with my mindset to believe that I’m worthy, valuable, lovable and making wise life decisions but on a good day, I do believe that and I’m proud when I do.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I’ve been learning loads these last few years so I’m not sure I can choose just one! It’s never too late to learn a new skill or to change the direction of your life. Many of the obstacles we face are in our own minds. Time is so precious so there’s no time like the present. Living purely for your own gratification leads to self-destruction but working to change the world even in tiny ways is life-giving.
What do you like most about yourself?
My resilience, my sensitivity, my sense of humour, my empathy, my ambition, my musical side, my crinkly eyes, my strength.
If you could invite 5 women, living or dead to dinner, who would it be?
Amy Poehler, Dolly Parton, Oprah, Bjork and Meryl Streep to name but a few.
Who is your go to female when you need a shoulder to cry on and why?
My mum and sisters. My bandmate Suzette. My galpals. Myself and my journal!
What do you love most about being a girl?
The openness of female friendships and how you can talk about anything within it. For years I’d internalised that super common trope that guys were ‘simpler, more drama-free, less bitchy’ to be friends with or just overall superior to girls and with time, I’ve realised that that is nonsense. People are people and there are amazing girls out there and amazing guys. If you’re struggling to connect with girls, work hard on becoming the kind of friend you’d like to be. Sometimes it takes time to build meaningful relationships but when you find someone you click with, treasure it.
If you could say anything to your 15 year old self, what would it be?
Being a girl with a strong personality is a gift. Your body is perfectly lovely as it is no matter what the media or men in your life tell you. Your value lies in far more than what you look like – you might spend your whole life striving to believe that but I promise I’m working on it! Try not to give time and importance to people who don’t deserve it. I wish you didn’t have to go through some of those things you are going through but all this will stand to you some day. One day, you’ll actually like who you are. There’s loads of amazing people and experiences to come. I think you’re brilliant and I am so proud of you.
Thanks so much Deborah for taking part in this lovely chat. You can follow Hvmmingbyrd on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sure why wouldn’t you?
We love hearing about new Irish musicians, if theres anyone we need to know about, please let us know…