Ten minutes with Dark Tropics

Ten minutes with Dark Tropics

Gerard Sands and Rio McGuinness make up the pop noir duo Dark Tropics. Based in Belfast, their new single Carnival has just been released.

Dark Tropics

Rio answers our questions

What are you up to?

As of the time of writing this I am currently multitasking, finishing up my masters dissertation, working on lyrics to a new song and drinking a cup of tea. I find I’m more productive if I have multiple things to work on at once, when my brain goes to mush while working on one, I can use a different part of my brain to work on another! It’s an essential skill to have, and of course, one which requires copious amounts of tea!

Which piece of music always sends a shiver down your spine?

“Un bel di vedremo” from Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. I

.Who would be in your ideal band?

Joan Jett.

How did you get started in music?

Choirs, so many choirs. Everyone in my family has an intense love for music, my grandfather played piano and conducted, my grandmother sang, my dad headbanged, my mum danced around the kitchen and sang to me, and my uncles played blues.

Where are you from in Ireland, and what are your roots?

I’m from Antrim, with some roots in Scotland and around Ulster. I’ve tried to map it, but not with the success I’d like. My heart and soul belongs to this isle.

What’s on your smartphone playlist at the minute?

I have a playlist full of Japanese noise music, mostly female vocalists, Midori, Otoboke Beaver and the likes. Then I have The Scratch, Gurriers, Enola Gay and more local bands on that playlist.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

I would have always said Dingle, but Glenveagh National Park is coming in close second.

Which song being played a party would make you get up and leave?


If you were told musicians are no longer welcome in Ireland, where would you go? - Scotland, probably Edinburgh.

Mozart or Martin Hayes?

Martin Hayes.

Who will you thank in your Grammy award acceptance speech?

My family and partner, for pushing me to do what I need to do, Gerard for having really good ducking reflexes after a long studio day, and my cat, for putting in tireless hours as a non-licensed therapist.

If you weren’t a musician what other job would you be really good at?

Animal rehabilitation worker and conservation officer, if I wasn’t doing music, I would be working in reptile care and conservation.

What's the worst piece of advice you've been given this year?

Bathing a cat is better than using no-rinse shampoo. I still have the scar on my face.

Have you a favourite line from a song?

“Slow down, you’re doing fine. You can’t be everything you want to be before your time”

In terms of inanimate objects, what is your most precious possession?

A white music box with painted pink and lilac flowers.

What’s the best thing about where you live?

The traditions

....and the worst?

The price of Guinness

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?

Nothing is more important than your physical and mental health. And therapy is not just a solution, but a preventative measure.

What do you believe in?


What do you consider the greatest work of art?

Watching someone laugh until they snort, its pure joy.

Who/what is the greatest love of your life?

My cat Roxas