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Dawning of the Dea

Mollie McGinn of Belfast rock duo Dea Matrona told David Hennessy about their debut album For Your Sins, getting Dolly Parton’s go ahead and how they are ‘manufactured band’ put together for a school talent show years ago.

Dea Matrona, the Belfast rock duo made up of Orláith Forsythe and Mollie McGinn, have just released their highly-anticipated debut album For Your Sins.

Since officially forming in 2018, Dea Matrona have been making a name for themselves in Northern Ireland and much further afield.

After first finding viral success with their Fleetwood Mac covers, they would then prove themselves with original songs like Siren Song, Hard On Yourself, Won’t Feel Like This Forever and Make You My Star which soared to No.1 on both the Irish and UK iTunes Rock Chart.

Now they have found their own sound with more recent singles like Stuck On You, Stamp On It and Red Button.

They have shared the stage with big names such as The Black Eyed Peas and Van Morrison. They have also supported the Eagles of Death Metal on a tour of Europe.

They have certainly come a long way since they were busking on the streets of Belfast playing covers of songs by Led Zeppelin, Cream, Aerosmith, and Chuck Berry and other 60s and 70s acts they are inspired.

Mollie and Orlaith originally met in school, bonding over their love of those bands.

We spoke to Mollie McGinn who plays guitar and bass in the days ahead of the album’s release and the band heading out on their current tour.

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Mollie McGinn told The Irish World: “We’re in chaos mode at the minute just getting ready for the album and touring.

“It’s just been absolutely a mad week learning the new tunes in practices and all and just getting ready to go on tour- Buying loads of new socks to make sure you don’t run out. All those things.”

I bet the mundane things like socks as you mention become so important when you’re on the road..

“Exactly. You don’t want to be landing in Bristol without a pair of socks for the day.

“Actually I was buying my socks the other day and I got spotted, so that was weird, because of the Blue Lights feature.

“A lot of people have been like mentioning it to us

and stuff since that came out which is really cool.”

The girls recently cameoed in the BBC’s Belfast set police drama.

Did you enjoy it? “Yeah because we’re big fans of the show.

“We were a little bit starstruck as well.

“It was really cool to be a part of.

“It’s been class.

“It’s definitely been a pretty big deal for us, so very cool.

“It was a Dolly Parton track (we were playing) and the producer actually had to get permission from Dolly Parton herself for us to do it as well, so it’s pretty cool that we got the go ahead from Queen Dolly.”

Is it something you would like to do more of though? Would you even do some acting in the future?

“I don’t know if acting would be my thing to be honest.

“I think Orlaith did GCSE drama so who knows with her?”


Let’s talk about the album, For Your Sins. By the way why did you call it For Your Sins? “I think we just wanted something a wee bit edgy and cool.

“And then we were going through all the lyrics in the album and we sort of realised that we did have quite a lot of religious themes and stuff.

“We were like, ‘Yeah, that could be cool to kind of sum it up’.

“And we didn’t want to just name the album Dea Matrona. That was our other option.”

The album begins with Stuck on You which sounds so different to some of the earlier stuff that was heavily influenced by Fleetwood Mac and had a very 60s, very psychedelic sound.

Would you agree that you have grown into your own unique but very modern sound now?

“Yeah, totally. It was kind of one of those ones where we couldn’t really pinpoint what we were inspired by.

“It just sort of came out and we were like, ‘Yeah, this is a Dea Matrona vibe’.”

Red Button reminds me of Stevie Nicks, it has something slightly Edge of Seventeen about it.

Is she someone who inspires you?

“We’re big Fleetwood Mac fans, for sure.

“They’re always one of our main bands that we grew up listening to.

“They’re definitely a big inspiration for the album.

“I think there was definitely a lot of moments in the album were inspired by Stevie Nicks.

“So it’s cool that you did hear that.”

You say you have been learning the new tunes and the album is a real mix of old and new, isn’t it? It has more recent songs like Stuck On You and Get My Mind Off while there is also older tracks like Won’t Feel Like This Forever..

“Yeah, we never released Won’t Feel Like This Forever.

“I think we might have done a video of it live once but we never really give it the release.

“Wilderness probably goes the furthest back.

“We just thought it’d be cool to kinda have some of our earlier stuff on the album too.”

You’re about to head out on your biggest UK and Ireland tour to date, is that exciting? “Yes, really exciting and we’re touring as a four piece for the first time.

“That will be kind of fun.

“We always just have craic on the road.

“It’s always a lot of fun, hanging out with your mates and playing shows and meeting fans and things.”

You’re known as a duo but you say you’re going to be a four piece for the tour, have you got someone helping out with a bit of guitar or what?

“Yeah, that’s right.

“When we were recording the album, me and Oralith both play guitar so a lot of times, we would have songs with two guitar parts and then bass and stuff.

“So we were like, ‘Yeah, it would definitely really help the sound to have somebody extra on this tour’.”

You say you have been rehearsing, do you have to get used to being a four piece too?

“Yeah, exactly.

“We’re not honestly the most rehearsed band.

“A lot of the time we’ll just do one practice before a tour but this time, we are managing two or three so there you go.

“I think tomorrow (Wednesday last week 1 May) is the practice so that’s how fine we’re cutting it as well.”

Orlaith and Mollie both play guitar and bass and have raised eyebrows when during a gig they have swapped instruments.

Will we still see you and Orlaith swapping your instruments as you have in the past?

“Yeah, there’s always a bit of that.

“We can’t stick to one instrument during the set, that’s too hard.

“We like a wee bit of a swap.”

You must be looking forward to the album coming out…

“Yeah, and we’ve got a lot of acoustic in- store signings which is really fun for me and Orlaith because we do write a lot of the songs on acoustic first so we have different acoustic arrangements for a lot of things.

“It’s always a lot more intimate as well to be able to meet and chat with people and sort of spin the songs in a different way, so we’re really looking forward to those as well coming up.”

Does that take you back to your busking days and you could have more contact with your audience? There wasn’t that stage there..

“Exactly. That’s why we’re kind of looking forward to those as well.

“They’ll be good craic.”

Although they have been established as Dea Matrona since 2018, the girls have been playing together for longer than that originally busking as simply Orlaith and Mollie.

“It’s kind of hard to pinpoint (when we started) because we loosely played together at the start for a long time.

“It definitely does go way back and it does feel like it has been like a long road to the album.”

You and Orlaith met in school. You bonded over your shared taste in music, didn’t you?

“Yeah, we were in the same class for a year or two before we started hanging out.

“I think there might have been a talent show in school or something.

“We both wanted to do it as a solo act but they said, ‘Either you do it together or not at all, there’s one place left here’.

“So we were sort of put together to do this.

“That was the first time we played together and after that, I don’t think we talked for a while either but then we sort of realised that we had the same music taste.

“Then we did start hanging out after that a bit as well and then from there, we just were pretty inseparable in school, just jamming and learning songs.

“Then I think maybe a year or two on, we’d started busking together and stuff so it was all very organic.

“But there probably was a bit of chance there too.”

So it all went back to that school talent show? Reminds me of how they made One Direction on X Factor the way you put you together..

“I know. We always joke that we’re a manufactured band.”

You’ve done so many great shows up till now. I guess the Van Morrison one leaps out. Is that a special highlight for you? What else leaps out as a highlight for you? “That was definitely a highlight.

“I think one of our highlight gigs as well recently was supporting Kaleo in the Iveagh Gardens.

“It was just such a cool one.

“I also think just selling out our own headline shows and hearing people sort of scream your own words back to you has to be a really mad moment too.”

It also wasn’t so long ago you played Wembley Arena..

“Yeah, that was definitely a real highlight.

“That was our first time playing in such a big arena.

“We couldn’t believe it.

“And then there has been definitely some really cool support slots as well that we got.

“Like you said Van Morrison was a big moment and then also doing our first European tour with the Eagles of Death Metal was crazy.

“I think just observing their rock ‘n’ roll energy was definitely really cool.

“It definitely inspired us.

“They were just so fashionable and cool so we definitely came back from that tour like, ‘Yeah, we need to up our game. These guys are really cool and really good’.

Touring with the the Kris Barras Band was probably similar, was it? “Yeah, totally. It was definitely the longest tour we’ve done and then we were straight off that and going to Texas and supporting Chris Shifflet from The Foo Fighters as well.

“Chris Shifflet was just honestly such a good guy and was like a real mentor to us.

“He was awesome.”

It was early on in the band’s journey that they got the thumbs up from former Eagles guitarist Don Felder who said, ‘These girls can really play!!!! I LOVE IT’.

Some big names have endorsed your music, what has that been like?

“So mad.

“I think it was even last week Brian May liked our stuff on Instagram and started following us as well so were really starstruck by that.

“We were like, ‘Wow, he’s definitely one of our biggest guitar heroes as well.

“That was really a pinch me moment.

“It’s definitely been really mad.

“Sophie Ellis Bextor as well commented on our video of Murder on the Dancefloor.

“We’ve just had so many really big ‘wow’ moments over the years.”

Dea Matrona started out as a trio with Mollie’s sister Mamie completing the line-up on drums.

However in 2022 the band announced that Mamie was leaving to continue her education and focus on other interests outside music.

I’m sure it was an adjustment but you, Orlaith and Mamie are all happy with things now? “Oh yeah, totally.

“We’re all happy with the decision.

“Me, Orlaith and Mamie still hang out a lot.

“And Mamie does a lot of our artwork.

“We’re all really good mates.

“I mean, we were sad when Mamie left but I always sort of knew it was coming because it just wasn’t her thing.

“She’s very happy doing what she’s doing so it all worked out in the end.”

It didn’t occur to you to replace Mamie, did it?

“No, we never really thought about replacing her.

“We just kind of kept going.

“You can’t replace Mamie, you know?”

We have interviewed numerous bands and artists from Northern Ireland. Does it feel good to be part of a really exciting crop of new artists coming from there?

“Yeah, there definitely is a really cool scene here and just so much talent everywhere.

“When you walk into a pub or something, there’s so many great singers and there’s so many really cool bands and stuff around here.

“There’s just so much happening.

“Maybe what I would hope for in the future is that more young people will pick going to see live music over the club nights.

“That would be cool because there’s just so much live music but sometimes you do sort of sigh when you’re heading out of a gig and then there’s a really huge queue for the club DJ night after.

“It would be great to see that kind of turnout for a lot of local live bands as well.”

You play at a gender balanced festival this summer also, have you encountered difficulties being female in the industry?

“We just prefer not to sort of think about it.

“For us live music doesn’t really have a gender.

“We’re just happy to be playing where we can so we just don’t really spend much time thinking about whether it’s harder or it’s not, we just kind of get on with it.”

Back to the album release, Mollie says: “It’s just good to be busy. We’re really excited and we think this is just the beginning.

“We’re really just getting started here.

“There’s so much more we want to do and so many more ideas that we have.”

For Your Sins is out now.

Dea Matrona are touring the UK and Ireland.

For more information, click here.

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