In 2017, hip-hop surpassed rock as the most popular genre in the US for the first time ever, and it’s clear to see that this has also had an effect on the rest of the world, including the island of Ireland. In recent years, we have been experiencing a behavioural shift as we observe the breakout of urban culture in America and the UK. The listening habits, content consumption and creative output has altered quite significantly, especially among the youth. Take for example the Longitude line-up, it has completely transformed from what used to be a curation of indie artists, to a festival dominated by new age acts. As we embrace this revolution and the increased diversity in our country, we are opening our minds to new influences. This leads to the creation of new styles of music, art, dance and other forms of expression, but with an Irish twist.

Stormzy performing on the main stage at Longitude 2019
Photo credits: @warnermusicireland

Rejjie Snow and Hare Squead have found international success, whilst Versatile became the first ever home-grown rap group to sell out the 3 Arena. Other Dublin artists such as Kojaque and Jafaris are also making a name for themselves locally as well as further afield. However, this upsurge of next generation acts is not confined to the capital. Cities such as Cork, Limerick, Galway and Belfast are equally playing their part. In fact, due to the availability of the required equipment, combined with the connectivity of social media, musicians from every corner of Ireland are impacting the burgeoning scene.

Waterford, in particular, have been making a lot of noise in recent years, and this is largely down to the outstanding work put in by the Anomaly collective. Although, what exactly is Anomaly? What is it that they’re doing and how is it affecting the growth of creativity in their area? We decided to find out more through a Q&A with some of the collective’s founding members, Fionn Murphy, Evan Miles and Rob O’Connor.

What is Anomaly and where is it based? 
“Anomaly is a collective of creatives that has its roots in Waterford but is also based in Cork and Dublin.”

When was Anomaly formed?         
“Anomaly came to be in November 2017, after months of bouncing ideas off each other. The collective originally started off with seven members.”

Where did the name Anomaly come from and what is the “Sphere”?                                         
“Señor Alex Gough came up with the name. We wanted it to represent shit that was outside of the norm, so we eventually settled on the word Anomaly, a word that means “something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.” And that was that. It was exactly what we were sifting through dictionaries for.                                                
The Anomaly Sphere is a subdivision of Anomaly that focuses on helping a roster of artists to grow. The Sphere currently works with 16 Irish artists, ranging from some of the best rappers and singers found in Ireland, to underground poets and electronic producers.”

Who are the members and what do they do?                                                        
“The members of Anomaly as a core are Fionn Murphy (entrydismissed), Evan Miles (dj & producer), Alex Gough (jack of all trades/drummer/rapper), Rob O’Connor (peerpressure clothing) and Luke Halley Kelly (LHK, dj & producer).
The Anomaly Sphere comprises of Pat Lagoon, Evan Miles, Alex Gough, Darcy Faith, RikShaw, Wongy, Decomp, Awkward Z., TunesOnTick, Janksy, $alamay, Katie O’Connor, Tobi A., Cal Pacino, shesaid.”

How did you all meet and how does an artist join the Anomaly Sphere?                      
“Waterford and Tramore are small gaffs. Some of us knew each other from school, some from the locality, and some just from being known as absolute gowlbags. For the Sphere, we hand-pick the artists but we are just after launching our submissions page.”

What inspired you guys to start Anomaly?              
“It all stemmed from a real frustration at the lack of outlets for creativity in Waterford, along with a lacklustre social scene. So many heads were putting out such sick art, both visually and musically, and it wasn’t getting the recognition it deserved. That’s why we decided to host our first exhibition – so people could dance to local artists, surrounded by other local artists’ visual art.                                                
The Anomaly Sphere came to be later as a pretty natural development – we had developed relationships with a bunch of artists from around Ireland as they performed at exhibitions and through the scene. It just made sense for us to take steps in that direction, and already after such little time we’re seeing mad results for artists that invest in us.”

What are your thoughts on the Irish Scene at the minute and are there any artists outside of the Anomaly Sphere that you’re keeping an eye on?
“Most of us at Anomaly believe that Irish Music has never been stronger. The quality of music being pushed at the moment is insane. At the same time, because of that growing hype and momentum, we feel like too many people gas up some Irish music, even if they don’t actually think it’s good. The scene needs to be more critical for it to move forward. There are people setting the bar like Kojaque, Alex Gough and Jafaris, who are doing shit for the culture unlike what we have seen before. That’s where the bar is. Praise greatness for greatness, and call mediocrity what it is – mediocrity. Radio stations, podcasts, zines – they all have a part to play in this too.
Artists we’ve all really been fuckin’ with are Jenovah (his shit live HITS) , 7th Obi (Taxi Club will be looked back on as a piece of art) and PJ The Poet.”

What are your greatest achievements to date?
“Not many people know about this but one of the many facets of Anomaly is our stage design and the aesthetic approach that we bring to our exhibitions. In 2018, we ran and designed the homegrown stage at Konnect Festival. In 2019 we not only ran our own stage, but were invited to execute the entire festival’s stage designs, where some of the best international DJs performed. Crazy seeing Kerri Chandler, the king of house, play on your very own stage.”

Have you got any events planned for the future? 
“We have nothing for the immediate future but we are working on some dope ideas for this year.”

What are your goals for 2020? 
“We have shifted our goals for 2020 to be more focused around building up the Anomaly Sphere but we have huge visions for this year and the future.”

From the above answers, it is clear that collectives such as Anomaly enable like-minded individuals to meet and share ideas. They foster new connections in an organic manner that may not have been attainable otherwise. We are at a very exciting time. Ireland is on the cusp of developing its own, unique urban landscape with artists, bangers, beefs, styles and lingo. While this could of course come without the help of Anomaly, you’d be a fool to disregard the launchpad that they are putting in place. The music that we listen to at their parties will become Irish sound and the clothes that we see worn will become synonymous with Irish streetwear. Watch this space as they continue to pave the way.