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Q Breakers: Irish Rockers Dea Matrona Fuse Classic Riffs With Woozy Country-Tinged Harmonies

'You feel like you have to do your bit because you're just surrounded by so much talent in Ireland right now.'

dea matrona
Source: Press

Dea Matrona are former school friends Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsythe.

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If Irish culture is having something of a moment right now (and it is) then among the sudden flood of bands both traditional and fiercely modern pouring out of the Emerald Isle right now, Dea Matrona stand out.

The Belfast-based duo, comprising former school friends Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsythe, have just released their debut album, For Your Sins, and are in the midst of a tour across the U.K. and Ireland. For Your Sins is a riff-heavy gem with its influences worn proudly on its sleeve, from Led Zep and the Arctic Monkeys to more Americana-infused Fleetwood Mac and HAIM vibes... and more than a touch of traditional Irish, too.

“The album was always a big goal for us,” says Orlaith. “Like over the past four or five years, since we started, we've always been: we need to make the album! So now it’s here it actually feels really mad that we’ve done it.”

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Still only in their early 20s, the duo formed Dea Matrona (named after the Celtic “mother goddess”) after bonding as teenagers over a shared love of classic rock.

“I think we like were originally competing against each other,” says Mollie. “So we were sort of a little bit like enemies at the start, trying to outdo each other with music we knew. What was kind of weird about it as well was we were bonding over music from mostly the 70s. Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Dolly Parton… it was something that both of us were seeking out ourselves and getting inspired by. And, you know, coming into school the next day, like: ‘have you heard this?’ And that's really what got the ball rolling for us playing together.”

While still in school the pair began busking in the streets of Belfast with Mollie’s younger sister Marnie (then just 14 years old) on drums, playing covers of everyone from Chuck Berry to Simon & Garfunkel, before, in December 2020, a video of them busking Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” blew up online, racking up over a million views and suddenly catapulting the schoolgirls into the wider Irish consciousness.

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dea matrona album cover
Source: press

The duo went viral online after being spotted busking in Belfast.

“Because we were learning so many different songs together, we just kind of wanted to go and play somewhere,” explains Orlaith. “And then after some videos of us busking went viral we started getting gig offers, and then we started doing festivals off the back of that and it just became the next stage to release our own stuff.”

Mollie says that despite the covers, they had been writing their “own stuff” from the start.

“Probably before we were even a band, to be honest,” she says. “I remember, when we were just mates bitc-ing in class, if somebody was annoying us, or we had an exam or something, we would just write songs about it, like in a sort of jokey way. So we kind of started it off just for the craic, which was just a very exciting and a very, you know, natural way to start a band.”

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A series of singles and EPs since, as well as appearances at SXSW and a slot supporting Eagles of Death Metal, have built a sense of gathering pace about Dea Matrona, that has culminated in For Your Sins.

With the album clocking in at a tidy 33 minutes, and none of the 12 tracks lasting longer than three and a half-minutes, it’s a compact, in-and-out experience, but also breathes with an assurance and maturity not often found on a debut. While songs like “Stamp On It” and “Did Nobody Ever Love You” hark firmly back to their foot-on-the-monitor 70’s rock sensibilities, other tracks like the country-tinged “Dead Man’s Heart” and woozy harmonies of “Glory, Glory (I Am Free)” and “Won’t Feel Like This Forever” showcase a more sophisticated set of influences.

“That was sort of the vibe we were looking to create, like not really focused on one sound,” says Mollie. “I think if we had to choose one genre to describe ourselves, we probably would go with rock. But I think it’s in the sense that bands like Fleetwood Mac can go really hard rock and then also strip it back to really soft acoustic stuff.”

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dea matrona for your sins
Source: press

'For Your Sins' was released May 3.

Orlaith adds: “For me, I grew up playing Irish traditional music, so there’s some of that there too, but there’s so much other stuff that has come out of Ireland, bands like Thin Lizzy and The Cranberries, who have been a big influence on us for this album.

“But everywhere you go here, it's just music everywhere, especially now, and you feel like you have to do your bit because you're just surrounded by so much talent in Ireland right now. So being an Irish band feels like a really healthy place at the moment.”


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