Keywords Season 1 – Ep 01. Distance



Keywords is brand new series presented by Zoë Comyns which brings together stories, sounds and words that you have recorded yourself – each week guided by a keyword. We have commissioned work by established and emerging writers, sound artists and poets. Over the series you’ll hear voice memos and calls, music, essays and fiction.

For the first episode, seeing as it’s on all our minds, we set Distance as the keyword. We received so many submissions for this word and we have included a range of interpretations in the programme.

Episode 01.distance


Sarah Keating is a radio producer and journalist based in Singapore. She sent us a short recording from her balcony in Singapore, where she now lives. As thunder rumbles in the background and she talks about the present moment and on the importance of listening to the world around us.

Sarah Davis-Goff is one of the founders of Tramp Press and in her debut novel Last Ones Left Alive Ireland is a post virus landscape filled with walking Zombie-like corpses. Her new piece for Keywords Between Us captures other dystopias and fears. Sarah recorded her piece herself on her phone and sent it on to us.

We are now so used to hearing voices on messages, online videos with slightly distorted DIY recordings, that I think this adds to the pieces to hear slight variations in the audio. I have taken the recordings and weaved sound and music around certain pieces to bring them together for listeners.

Nick McGinley’s essay looks at different kinds of distances in his piece called Hikikomori. It’s a Japanese word meaning confinement and ‘social withdrawal’ and this is something, as Nick explores in his piece, that can be imposed by the State or it can come from within ourselves.

Aodán McCardle is a performer, writer and artist and he’s the author of two books, Shuddered and ISing (from VEER). For Keywords Aodán has written a prose poem, a stream of consciousness beginning with, he says, ‘the dilemma of the unsaid, its return and being revisited in language and then becoming a specific memory’.

Marcella O’Sullivan is a songwriter and a writer living in Melbourne. She’s also a mother and in a lyrical piece written for Keywords she describes a hot summer night as her son lies beside her. She notes the changes as he grows and develops.

Writer Sinéad Gleeson and music producer Stephen Shannon have collaborated on an audio essay for this first episode of Keywords. It’s fair to say that the quality of this recording is very high as Stephen Shannon is a very well respected music producer. Together their collaboration yearns for the sounds and sights of the forest, the sea and imagines the loneliness of Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse its ‘own stone of self-isolation’.

Sinéad’s collection of essays is called Constellations and Stephen Shannon creates under the name of Mount Alaska (with Cillian McDonnell).

K Quintet are husband and wife duo David Duffy (Composer/Double Bassist) and Ksenia Parkhatskaya (Dancer and singer) have composed a song called ‘Standing in the Distance’. They tell us it’s a simple love song in many ways, but also inspired by the current crisis ‘while we all wait apart from each other, and ‘call through the distance, how are you?’

K Quintet’s first album “something else” is a straight ahead jazz record harking back to the 50’s and 60’s, while they are currently recording their second album ‘Colours’ which will be released in late 2020.

Keywords is presented and produced by Zoë Comyns and is a New Normal Culture production for RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.
Assistant Producer: Regan Hutchins

The series is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision 3 Scheme and by RTÉ