ferna is a new musical expression from the north of Ireland. It favours subtle colours and contrary ideas. It works across electronic and organic forms. ferna was nurtured in Coleraine (the “nook of ferns”) and then Belfast. It is the work of Hannah McPhillimy, a composer with previous acclaim but a calling to take her art to another place. ferna (pronounced fear-na) merges the artist’s birthplace with her first name, a project title with actual roots.
ferna aims to tells the stories that otherwise get lost in the noise. It offers a voice to what isn’t normally said out loud and it brings visibility to the unseen. At a time when so much thought is being stifled and prevented, the ferna brief is to serve the quiet sentiments, searching out meaning away from the clamour.
There’s an affinity with artists such as Sufjan Stephens, Villagers and Laura Marling. Later in 2022 there will be a ferna album called ‘Understudy’, a summation of this artistic reach. The songs are inspired by the likes of Milkman, the intense novel by Anna Burns, by the life story of Corretta Scott King (author, leader and wife of MLK) and the photography of Francesca Woodman, who found resonance in blurred images and unexpected angles.
Hannah McPhillimy has already performed at sxsw in Texas and the SongLives series in New York. Jim Carroll from the Irish Times has declared her as “a bit of a wonder.” She has appeared alongside artists such as SOAK, Foy Vance and The Gloaming. She completed a Masters in Music Composition at the University of Michigan (2017 - 2019), under the tutelage of Kirsten Schuster and Evan Chambers.
“ferna is deep of thought with a poetic dexterity and musical daring.” Says the author and blogger Steve Stockman. In the coming months, this daring work will steadily unfurl.