MUSIC and fashion meld together into a multi-disciplinary event this week in Northern Winds, whilst we get some more news from your favourite festivals and brand-new music from some of the country's more diverse artists.

Clothes and music have always walked hand in hand, especially in genres such as Punk. Now, we have news that you'll be able to check out how deep that connection goes in real-time. At a press event this week, it was revealed that showcase competition, Defying Gravity: A Punk Odyssey, will make its debut in East Belfast later this year.

Scheduled for a March 16 launch date, the competition will bring together designers and creatives for a chance to show off their skills to a diverse and legendary cast of judges. Initially centred around iconic British Punk figure Jordan Mooney – who sadly passed in April 2022 – Defying Gravity will honour her legacy by giving a
wide range of local fashion designers the chance to showcase their work and walk
away with immersive work experience with a major TV network and a £1,000 cash prize.

Judges include legendary Glasgow fashion designer Pam Hogg, award-winning Belfast hairdresser and stylist Paul Stafford, fashion designer and illustrator Sara O’Neill and London musician Marco Pirroni (Adam Ant, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sinead O'Connor).

The event will be musically curated by Phil Kieran, the producer and scorer of some incredible pieces of film, and MCed by Julian Simmons. Defying Gravity co-founder Sinead Green said: “We are holding this event at the Banana Block, a living museum in the heart of East Belfast which is fast becoming a favourite venue for the music community in Belfast. It is born from our friendship with Jordan Mooney, and in tribute to her – hence the name Defying Gravity, the title of her memoirs detailing her life and career from its beginnings working in Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s King Road boutique to becoming a countercultural icon. She was our original guest judge and as she passed away last year, we wanted to continue with the show in her memory and deliver something that she would be proud to be a part of.”

Tickets are on sale now.

In live music news, we have plenty to talk about at home. Alt-rockers New Pagans captured hearts and imaginations with the release of their debut album The Seed, the Vessel, the Roots and All. One of the few bands nominated for the prestigious 'Best Live Act' at the NI Music Prize, they're always a treat to catch in person. And now you can. As a part of their wider UK tour later in the year, the rockers announced a series of Irish dates to kick off their performances this March. Taking in a headline slot at the Ulster Sports Club on Thursday February 2, punters can expect to see some of the highest quality guitar music on offer. Tickets are expected to go quickly for this one.

Staying in popular music but shifting towards the electronic, we also received word this week of the first wave of artists to expect at this years AVA Festival. Always a haven for electronic music enthusiasts, the festival continues its outward growth and development by including the likes of rappers Cental Cee and Slowthai alongside international acts Overmono and Job Jobse and local talent like Kessler and Mount Palomar. Watch this space for more dance floor filler updates.

And as always, we end this week's column with a spotlight on some of the best independent releases coming out of Ireland this week, January continues to be a strong month for us as a sector, with a varied and vibrant scene producing some high-quality records early in 2023. 

At home, we have the new album from Myles McCormack, with the standout track 'Every Time' as the highlight. McCormack has a knack for taking traditional instruments and turning them into cinematic, expansive arrangements. This is continued on his new record, which has flown under the radar but is excellent in every facet of its recording. A must listen for folk enjoyers.

And at the other end of the spectrum we have the latest from Archy Moor. The Dublin rapper continues towards the release of his debut EP by dropping a new track, 'I've Been'. A miasmic meld of liquid rap beats, jazzy inflexion and modern hip-hop sensibilities, the track sounds international. We await his full release with bated breath.