International Audio Arts Festival
April 4th-7th 2019
HearSay became in 2017 an independent arts organisation in its own right.
But it started with a conversation over tea in the kitchen of Grey Heron Media. who make award winning audio - radio features, commissioned audio, installations, in Ireland and beyon. For more than ten years now their small team have been making award winning audio from their base in Kilfinane (yes that Kilfinane!). HearSay founder Diarmuid McIntyre (and Creative Director of Grey Heron) picks it up:
"Our small team at Grey Heron work in a very colloborative manner, supporting, inspiring and learning from each other. In recent years we'd been continually excited by, and sharing with each other, the work of sound artists, other radio makers and audio producers that we have been coming across - online, in performance, on our radios and in our favourite podcasts. Over cups of tea we'd been having enthusiastic conversations about the new audio possiblities we're discovering, how it informed our creative work, but we wanted more - we wanted to engage with the people & concepts, behind these sounds and ideas, we wanted to open ourselves to experience audio in new ways.
We looked around for the place where we could meet all these various makers working in disparate fields - radio producers, sound artists, theatre makers, game sound designers, film sound editors, musicians, field recordists, audio story makers - that place didn't seem to exist.
We felt an inspiring conversation could be had & we wanted to be in the room when it happened - but how? Over many cups of tea like one in East London with the wonderful folks behind In The Dark, who are just as enthusiastic about the possibilities of telling stories through sound as we are, eventually the penny dropped - we'd have to create that space ourselves: a shared space for audio creators working in different fields to meet and interact with each other and with audiences, in an exciting atmosphere of innovation, inspiration and collaboration. And that was where HearSay began."
HearSay brings creators and listeners together to celebrate and explore creative audio. For participants and contributors arriving from the four corners of Ireland and all over the world, the HearSay festival is uniquely immersive and memorable experience - the "woodstock for audio" as Rikke Houd put it.
For three days of the festival, the mountain village of Kilfinane becomes a hub for all kinds of people, passionate about audio, from all over the world, who come to share their enthusiasm, their insights, and their sounds.
There are no VIP areas at HearSay, no borders or walls. All participants and contributors, locals & visitors come together in an atmosphere of celebration and collaboration - sharing stories and inspiration at events, bumping into each other on the street and catching up over a pint in the local pub by night.
HearSay is rooted in the local community. The people of Kilfinane and the surrounding area are enthusiastic participants in HearSay too, and they throw their weight behind the festival, collecting contributors from airports, giving local lifts, volunteering to make tea & sandwiches, stewarding and supervising venues, providing accommodation for our contributors and giving themselves over to the idea of the Audio Village.
There were over 100 different events at HearSay19 - encounters, experiences, and deep delving into the craft of creative audio. There are event designed to engage an audience not already familiar with the exciting world of the audio arts. There are events imagined to inspire afresh the most experienced of makers.
Programming for HearSay is still rooted in that original idea - create a space where a conversation can take place between those who work across all the various audio arts.
What happens when you drop a radio features producer, sound artist, a theatre maker and a game sound designer into the same room and ask them to explore creativity through sound? Where people are asked to break out of their own disciplines to explore the audio adventures of others, what discoveries can be made? What creativity can happen over the dynamic sharing of jaw-dropping audio in astonishing places? Through encountering audio and audio maker in surprising contexts? What ideas and collaborations can be fostered over a chat at the village square, a pint in the pub - when everyone in the village is there to celebrate and be inspired by creative audio?
We seek out as contributors a rich range of practitioners from all corners of the sound world and literally from all over the physical world. The only criteria is that each contributor should be excelling in and pushing the boundaries of their own field and be open to creative colloboration and engagement in a mountain village!
Contributions are playful and serious, and experimental and intimate as our contributors throw themselves into the HearSay spirit and the Kilfinane Community.
In advance of the inaugural HearSay festival we wanted to get people thinking about the possibilities offered by HearSay's spirit of exploration and inspiration.
We launched the HearSay Audio Prize. We wanted people to push the boundaries with their work - to take on the festival's principals of creativity and collaboration & we were excited with the results. Each year the prize has grown and the power and range of the work submits continues to astound us. To do justice to the hundreds of maker and their passion, we draw together each year a stunning panel of judges from across the world.
The Hearsay Audio Prize has 9 awards up for grabs split with two streams - Create (work created specifically for the prize) Celebrate (work created prior to festivals). Each stream has overall awards and there are also five special category awards. The submitted pieces can be maximum 7 minutes long.
In the year 2019 the prize attracted attention of 158 audio entries from 28 countries. The prize includes flights to Ireland from anywhere in the world for all nine award winners and a weeklong residency in a luxury mountain lodge,
Of course the next question for the growing team behind HearSay was where? How did Kilfinane end up being the centre of the creative audio world for three days and nights of the Festival. Diarmuid again:
"It took us a while to work it out - we knew we didn't want HearSay to be in a city centre conference venue or a suburban hotel - we didn't want people to walk out of an exhiliratingly inspirational event and step onto a street of shoppers and to feel the excitment drain away. We were literally working IN the answer to "where?". Our home village of Kilfinane, what if the whole village was taken over by audio for one magical weekend it felt mad, it felt wild, it felt right.
The willingness of people to open their doors was its own inspiration to us in planning HearSay. The festival in its first year felt like it was reaching into every corner of the village, from the parish priest's spectacular front parlour to the village barber shop, from local people's kitchens to a converted church. In that first year, local people were genuinely wondering what was going to happen, but willing to go along for the ride to see what would happen. For the second edition we were opening derelict shops, converting furntiture displays, - 19 different places in this small village became HearSay venues not to mention the conversations taking place over food and coffee and in the six pubs. And it become "our festival", with so many local people offering help, suggestions, and space."