Photo by Olga Kuzmenko
You could say 2016 was the year that Ports truly arrived.
The momentum and expectation on the local band had been slowly building ever since their days as Little Bear, what with the reaction to their demo ‘I’d Let You Win’ and also the international exposure they received during their legendary Other Voices gig at St.Columb’s Hall back in 2013.
The guys hit the studio again but this time as Ports and provided us with an incredible taster of what was to come when they released their debut single ‘Gameplay’ in late 2015 and went on to catch the attention of MTV and appeared in their TV series Awkward.
We all waited in great anticipation for the release of their debut album. Then, in May of last year like crescendo, ‘The Devil Is A Songbird’ dropped in our laps and made that long wait all worthwhile. Discover Northern Ireland got in the act too when they used Ports latest single ‘The Far and Few Between’ for their recent ad campaign.
PORTS - The Devil is a Songbird (Official Video)
The guys return to the city this weekend to join a stellar lineup of local musicians for Homegrown 2017. For the past five years the annual event has been showcasing our incredible local talent and this year is no different. Paul Casey & Band, Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas and The Henry Girls. complete the lineup.
I caught up with Ports singer and bassist Steven McCool who began by telling me how they are already back in the studio working on new music.
“2016 was a great year for us and it has really set us up for the future” he said. “There was an amazing response to the album and with ‘The Few and Far Between’ being chosen by Discover NI for their advertisement campaign was just massive for us. Another single which we released off the album, ‘Gameplay’ was on MTV too which was amazing.
“It built a platform for us to be able to build our own studio and now we can spend more time to work on our music. We’ve been working on new music now for 2017.”
PORTS - PORTS - I'd Let You win (Live)
“We have decided that we are going to take our time with the next record from a recording point of view. We want to make sure that we are really happy with what we put out but we are aiming for an album release possibly this summer and we’re planning to put the first single out next month.”
Unsurprisingly, it’s not just nationally that the Derry four piece have been grabbing the headlines, “there’s been a great response outside of the country too. We’re actually going to play in Kansas City next month at the Folk Alliance Festival” said Steven.
“Spotify has taken a really big interest in us too because of the amount of hits that we’re getting, and the majority of those are from abroad, throughout Europe and the America and Canada. It’s starting to spread which is amazing for us. If you already have a crowd that you can play to in another country then it makes it all the worthwhile to travel there.”
The guys are looking forward to returning to the Millennium Forum on Friday 13th January. “This will be our second time playing Homegrown and it’s great to be asked back” he said. “We’re really fond of Paul Casey who is organising it, he’s a really nice guy and has always treated us really well and it’s great to play a great venue with a host of top professionals.
“Homegrown is an amazing gig to play and it highlights the great talent in the town, there’s such an abundance of talent in Derry that it’s ridiculous. There’s always a massive turnout for Homegrown too and it’s a crowd who really love their music.”
You can catch Homegrown featuring Paul Casey & Band, Ports, Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas and The Henry Girls at the Millennium Forum on Friday 13th January with tickets from £12.50.