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Joel Harkin

Folk // Belfast, Antrim // he/him/sé/é

Joel Harkin is a singer of songs and a spinner of yarns from Donegal. His 2020 album Never Happy was shortlisted for the NI Music Prize, which is more than Van Morrison can say, a win in and of itself. Joel Harkin lies awake at night, terrified at the prospect of the looming abyss. He channels these fears into his haunting songs. But don’t let that put you off. He is known for the contrast between his music and the whimsical, surrealist and very funny chatting he does as he tunes his guitar.

He is an artist best experienced in the room.

He has played all around Ireland, Britain and a little village called Pussy in the French Alps. He has supported artists like Courtney Marie Andrews, Joshua Burnside, Kitt Philippa, Grace Petrie, Junior Brother and Dani Larkin to name a few. He hopes you think he is good craic and he wants to get on with you. He is everyone's best mate.

Press Quotes:

"This is the sort of misery that I love" - BBC Radio 1

" A fast rising Belfast songwriter" - BBC Radio 6 Music

"An uncommon joy." - Dig With It Magazine

"Never Happy immediately became my personal soundtrack that is the background to this grey period in which emotions mix with each other and flatten like my immobile lips. It is the record that will make your day seem a little better than it was before. " - DLSO.IT

"It (Vada) is absolutely brilliant" - BBC Radio Ulster

"Bursts of melody twist and turn within the piece, with Joel Harkin patching his indie confessionals to pop lucidity." - Clash Magazine

"Despite this records title, somewhere in the debris Joel Harkin finds the contentment he's longing for. There's echoes of Oberst, Bridgers and Burnside, but the voice emerging from the gatefold vinyl is sincerely his own. A very important record." - Encore NI

"Vada grabbed our ears with its confident and lush arrangement." - Nialler9

"A deeply dreamlike release from Joel Harking, the hazy alt-folk of ‘Vada’ makes for an engrossing offering that plays with subtle sonic gestures and introspective songwriting. " - The Last Mixed Tape

"“Vada” is a delicate full-band effort marrying thoughts of rural home life with a 1991 coming-of-age classic" - The Line of Best Fit

"The track finds the Belfast-based singer-songwriter ruminating on family life and inequality, while he brings his lo-fi alternative folk sound to emotional new heights." - Hot Press Magazine

"You’d remember Joel Harkin if you ever saw him live. He talks plenty between songs, often spinning off into personal stories and revealing a bit too much information for tender ears.His debut album Never Happy contains keen observations about the Ormeau Road, Alicante, Kyoto and the Rocky mountains. Bonus points for writing a lovely goodbye to his adored dog, Memphis. " - Daily Mirror Northern Ireland

"The Donegal singer-songwriter’s craft brims at every turn with pathos and pure insight, and is rounded off with a melodic sensibility all his very own." - The Thin Air

“A love song like few others, Joel Harkin’s touching ode to a lost love reminisces on the little things across a bed of typically downcast guitar swirls and infrequent instrumentation that brings out the beautiful lyrics. Written for his dog Memphis, it’s a touching tribute that hits true while lapsteel and harmonies add warmth to the whole affair..” Chordblossom

Notable Live Shows:

● Grace Petrie Build Something Better Tour - Irish Leg Support
● one final cry for help - Co-Headline tour of Ireland and britain with Brodie Milner - November 2023
● Duke Special support slot Sunflower Bar, Belfast 7th & 8th of April 2023
● Grace Petrie support slot at The Black Box Belfast for The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival May 2022
● Dani Larkin support slot The Black Box Belfast - December 2021
● Joshua Burnside tour support Ballybofey, Derry + Belfast November 2021
● Never Happy Album Launch in The Black Box Belfast - October 2021
● Showcasing Artist at Ireland Music Week - October 2021
● A Song For Just For You At Christmas for The Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, France - Dec 2020
● Atlantic Sessions Virtual Festival November 2020
● Hot Press ‘Y&E Sessions’ Livestream November 2020
● 2 Shows at Other Voices, Ballina - February 2020
● Output Conferance and Showcase - February 2020
● Junior Brother support slot The Palm House, Belfast - December 2019
● Joshua Burnside support slot Bennigans, Derry - October 2019
● Kitt Philippa support slot Upstairs at The Mac, Belfast - May 2019
● Courtney Marie Andrews support slot in The Black Box, Belfast - December 2018
● Rose Water Tour - November 2018
● New Year Tour - January to February 2018

Cool things that have happened:

● Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival's Artist in Residence 2024
● 'Is Iomaí Lá Sa Chill Orainn' - Number 3 on Chordblossom's NI Songs of the Year 2023
● 'Sham Supermarket' - Number 6 on Chordblossom's Irish Releases of the Year 2023
● Hot Press Magazine - Rory Gallagher LP Revisited
● Hot For 2022 is what Hot Press said about me January 2022.
● 'The Only Thing I Fear (uladh. Remix)' - Number 4 on Chordblossom's NI Songs of the Year 2021
● Baba Yaga Songwriters Retreat Participant
● Soft Gut Song Camp Participant
● Queen's Radio - In Session - May 2021
● 50 Conversations about Music Participant @ Output Conference Belfast - February 2021
● The Vox Set, Live in Lost & Found w/Joshua Burnside - February 2021
● 2 Weeks of Online Songwriter Retreats at Songwriter's Garden with Chris Difford of Squeeze Jan+Feb 2021
● Live Interview on Arena RTÉ Radio 1 November 2020
● 'Never Happy' - Number 7 on Chordblossom's Northern Irish Albums of the Year 2020
● 'No Recycling' - Number 12 on Chordblossom's Northern Irish Songs of the Year 2020
● 'Vada' - Number 72 on the Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Tracks of 2020
● Nominated for the Best Album Award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2020
● 'No Recycling' airplay on BBC Radio 6's BBC Introducing Mixtape with Tom Robinson 2020
● "Thought I'd Go Home" airplay on BBC Radio 1's Chillest show with Phil Taggart 2019
● Nominated for the Oh Yeah Contender Award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2019
●"Thought I'd Go Home" Number 12 on Chordblossom's Top 50 Northern Irish Songs of 2019
●"Thought I'd Go Home" Number 90 on The Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Tracks of 2019
●Oh Yeah Centre's Scratch My Progress Talent Development Program Participant Class of 2019/2020
●"Old Churches" Number 12 on Chordblossom's Top 50 Northern Irish Songs of 2018
●"Old Churches" Number 82 on the Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Releases of 2018

Photos by Ruthless Imagery, Carrie Davenport and Aaron Cunningham

Upcoming Gigs

11th May 2024 18:30 CQAF Supporting Katherine Priddy More details

Joel Harkin's current Artist Picks: