After an exciting 2022, culminating in winning the NI Music Prize single of the year, ferna is only getting started. Her debut album, ‘understudy’, launches today, with an album launch gig in The Empire, Belfast May 4th in collaboration with The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

Along with the album ferna is releasing the stunning single ‘Open Up’ .

Tickets available –

Based in Belfast, but originally from Coleraine, the indie artist calls ‘understudy’ is a labour of love for both Hannah McPhillimy (aka ferna) and producer Stuart Reid (Killer Kella, Duran Duran), with a mission to amplify hidden characters and quiet sentiments. The album is the result of a tentative creative partnership which started over five years ago when they crossed paths in ferna’s hometown. 

ferna reflects, “I was feeling stuck in a musical rut when I met Stu. We met to discuss recording a video, but he proceeded to provide an extremely honest assessment of my song writing so far. I then approached him about working together, after taking a few days to repair my ego.”

The collection of songs that would become ‘understudy’ grew slowly, partly due to circumstances –  a stint in the US, a global pandemic, rebranding – but also because the tracks demanded that kind of attention.

“‘understudy’ is all about what’s going on beneath the surface. Who is not speaking? What nuances are we not picking up on? Stu and I were already obsessed with every tiny detail, but this became hyper important due to the theme running through the album. I can honestly say that every single note, effect and instrument has been handpicked and agonized over at some point.”

‘open up’ is emblematic of the album to come. Warm strings and retro drum sounds merge into pulsating bass synths and live kit, while ferna’s vocals bloom from fragile to powerful. Lyrically, the song asks a question that the album attempts to answer: what happens when we become spectators, rather than players, in our own lives?

‘understudy’ is available to pre-order here – It will be released on digital and streaming formats from 14th of April and on CD from 4th May.

ferna recently announced details of her 2023 launch in Belfast’s iconic Empire Music Hall as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts festival. Tickets for this show are available here –

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