John O’Flynn (Dublin City University)

‘Dominant Others’? The Other Voices Festival and Associated Media Productions


Other Voices (OV) is a niche festival and associated TV series that promotes an eclectic range of indie rock/pop and contemporary folk genres. Primarily based in the town of Dingle, Co. Kerry where its first events were held in 2001, OV is curated and promoted by the South Wind Blows (SWB) production company. Since then OV and SWB have enjoyed significant national and international exposure through a series of broadcast concerts, recordings, music industry gatherings and associated one-off events. The latter include two televised showcase productions that were programmed and promoted on behalf of the President of Ireland in 2013 and in 2014.

I begin this paper by outlining the range and scope of activities produced by OV, and by considering the impact of these activities on the domestic field – including their potential influences on musicians’ careers.  Next, I examine the ways in which OV has negotiated shifting relationships between festivals and popular music industries over the early decades of the twenty-first century. Here, I interpret its overall success in reproducing an aura of liveness and immediacy that can be experienced beyond OV’s limited-capacity events. For the final section of the paper, I consider OV and SWB as part of an “anti-hegemonic—hegemonic” field[1] in which a small yet influential network of media producers and associated production companies consistently promote and highlight music that is imagined as alternative to the mainstream of popular music production and consumption. I propose the term ‘dominant others’, in contemplating the claims of OV and similar enterprises towards otherness, while at the same time enjoying the privileges of state support, including funding and access to national media outlets. This is considered against a seemingly parallel world of hiddenness experienced by many popular musicians and their audiences within the same domestic field. 

Short Biog:

John O’Flynn is Associate Professor of Music at Dublin City University where he teaches film music and popular music among other courses. He has published widely in these areas as well as on topics relating to intercultural music practice and music in higher education. Book publications include The Irishness of Irish Music (Ashgate: 2009/2017), and the volumes Music and Identity in Ireland and Beyond (with Mark Fitzgerald; Ashgate: 2014/2016) and Made in Ireland: Studies in Popular Music (with Áine Mangaong and Lonán Ó Briain: Routledge, 2020). He is also author of the forthcoming Music, the Moving Image, and Ireland (Routledge).

[1] Brusila, Johannes, 2001. “Musical Otherness and the Bhundu Boys – The Construction of the ‘West’ and the ‘Rest’ in the Discourse of ‘World Music’,” Same and Other: Negotiating African Identity in Cultural Production, edited by Maria Errikson Baaz and Mai Palmberg, 39-56. Stockholm: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, p. 39.

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