UPPWARD TRAJECTORY Westport rapper in the ascendant, Uppbeat.
Rising star, Westport rapper Uppbeat chats to The Mayo News ahead of his Westival performance
HEARD of the Westport rapper making waves for himself on the national and international music scene? If you haven’t, you soon will. And music fans in his home town are about to get the chance to see him live.
The rap artist known as Uppbeat will be returning home to perform in that creative juggernaut that is Westival (Westport Music and Arts Festival), which starts tomorrow (Wednesday) and runs until Monday, October 28.
Uppbeat – real name Finn Costelloe – is one of the rising stars in a thriving Irish music scene. In the last 12 months, he has packed out storied venues in Dublin like Whelan’s and The Grand Social, while his music has won critical acclaim in Hot Press and elsewhere.
Reviewing his track ‘Hold Me Close’ in Hot Press last month, impressed critic Selina Juengling wrote: “In today’s time, traditional (or toxic) masculinity becomes more and more questionable and is challenged day by day. Uppbeat’s new song and music video is a testament to that much needed change of social structures … ‘Hold Me Close’ sheds light on the difficulties men face towards showing affection to their fathers, brothers, uncles and any other men in their lives. It discusses just how dangerous it can be when pride gets in the way.” Shot on a Westport bog and along the local coastline, the video is well worth a view on YouTube.
Costelloe left Sancta Maria College in Louisburgh back in 2017 after completing his Leaving Certificate to avail of the greater musical opportunities available in Dublin. But he loves nothing more than returning home to the west of Ireland to showcase how he has developed as a musician.“The last time I did a headline show in Mayo was last year in the Town Hall Theatre,” he told The Mayo News. “I always love coming back to see everyone, showing them how I’ve grown and returned with a better product.
“There are probably more nerves about it because it’s my home. When you’re away, people here are only seeing and listening to me through social media and they might be thinking it’s great, so you have to be able to come back and impress them in person, which is nerve-wracking.
“But the support has always been great at home. This [Westival] is the show we’ve been rehearsing for the most and we’re bringing the full group down to make sure it’s a success.”
Uppbeat will be performing in the Westival Club at The Mill Times Hotel, supporting electro-indie-house-pop duo Le Boom for a night that will surely tick all the boxes for music lovers.
Fans of Uppbeat can expect to hear hits songs like ‘Hold Me Close’, ‘Much Luv’ and new single ‘Broken’ (released just last Friday), as well as tracks from his debut EP, ‘Enter Aquarius’.
“Live performance is my favourite part of music,” he said. “It’s where I feel most comfortable … it’s great to have that energy in front of you.
“When you have people in front of you and you think that they’ve taken time out of their day to listen to your songs, it’s the most humbling thing in the world.
“When I’m performing live, I like to play on creating moments during every show, a moment that the audience will remember – that’s our main aim going into each show.”
AS a youngster, Costelloe’s favourite music was punk rock. He played in punk bands before he gravitated towards grime, eventually settling on what he loosely calls ‘alternative hip-hop’.
His artistic streak, he says, comes from his parents, Liam and Gabriel, both of whom are painters. By his own admissions, neither painting nor drawing came easy to him, but he found his talents in writing and music.
Throughout his teenage years growing up in Mayo, he was the only rapper, but local musicians like Rosa Kinsella, Gráinne Fahy, Tony Reidy, John Keegan and Fresh Evidence were there for him to bounce his thoughts off and draw inspiration from.
“Westport is a great place to grow up in if you’re from Mayo, and there was a great community there who always supported me,” he said. However, opportunities weren’t plentiful, and he knew a move to Dublin would benefit his career in many ways.
“Being from the west of Ireland is a gift when you’re living in Dublin,” he said. “You stand out as a different artist … I have completely different influences than anyone on that scene which I would say makes me more attractive to bookers.
“There’s fewer opportunities [in the west] such as music festivals, booking agents, managers, promoters, the business side of the industry, compared to Dublin, and so that’s kind of where you have to be.”
In his music Uppbeat aims to be thought provoking, ‘bringing through heartfelt messages but in a light-hearted and fun way’. Being from Mayo, he feels he can give a greater representation of what Ireland is like outside of Dublin.
“I’ve noticed in Ireland that a lot of different artists represent very specific aspects of Irish culture,” he added. “But I’m trying to represent the whole of Ireland, because I feel if you’re from the west but living in Dublin, you have a better grip on the Irish way of life.
“I’m trying to bring what I think Ireland is to the world in the most positive way I can, showing it’s not just a toxic drinking culture, or a rugby culture or whatever,” he continued.
“I like to mainly focus on people. Such as in my last song, ‘Hold Me Close’ – it’s about that father/son relationship and how we can’t fully open up to each other and the outcome of that.”
IT’S probably one of the more difficult industries to break into, and with the growing number of Irish artists coming through, the bar is being set higher and higher.
From his own perspective, Uppbeat is currently in his ‘college years’ of learning his trade; difficult situations will arise from time to time, but the more work you put in the greater the outcome in the long run.
“If you go to college and study law, you’re five, six, seven years studying, and what you get out of it is what you deserve,” he said. “If you apply that to music and do your best every single year, good things will happen.
“On paper it’s a very difficult industry to make it in, but I think at the end of my ‘college course’ I hope to have a fan base, a sound that I really like, and a way of making a living out of it.
“The industry is booming in Ireland right now and a lot of people outside of the country are looking at us for their next acts, which is really exciting for the future.”
Uppbeat’s new single, ‘Broken’ (featuring Aaron J) is now available on Spotify, Apple Music and all streaming platforms – or see Uppbeat’s Instagram, @uppbeat.
For more on the Westival line-up and to book tickets, see westival.ie.