How long have you been playing music? And what was the first song you ever learned to play?
I’ve been singing since always really. Everyone in my family sings so I was surrounded by it at home and at school. My earliest memory is singing along with the TV to ‘Name That Tune’ with Lionel Blair on the BBC….. And now I feel old.
The first song I ever learned to play was ‘Sorry’ by Tracey Chapman. I was about 12 I think, and I was given a wee nylon string acoustic guitar for my birthday. I remember feeling completely amazing, being able to play a song myself – just the total biz. I had completely forgotten that lovely memory! Thanks for reminding me!
First album you ever bought with your own money?
Ooh, I think it was a tape of Gloria Estefan’s ‘Cuts Both Ways.’I urge everyone to go immediately and YouTube ‘Get on your feet.’ Brilliant.
How did you get involved in the music scene in Limerick?
When I first moved to Limerick, I was doing my Masters at the Irish World Academy and Dave Irwin was in my class. He’s just a gorgeous pianist and guitarist, and he was working on Liam O’Brien’s ‘Crooning at Christmas’ jazz show in Dolan’s. Dave told Liam about me, and they asked me to do a few songs. And it just went from there really. One of my favourite things about Limerick is the way people just take you into their group of friends – there’s such a welcome here. One gig, and suddenly I was meeting all of these beautiful musicians and being asked to do more. When I first moved here, someone told me I’d get pulled in by the music community here. I was meant to be here for 10 months and that was almost 9 years ago.
You were part of the Pig Town Fling last year and also part of the documentary that was filmed…how was the experience, recording and performing with so many musicians from Limerick?
I had such a gorgeous time working on the Pig Town Fling. I was paired with Godknows Jonas and the poet, Jo Slade. We came from completely different backgrounds musically, but we all have a love of words. We had such a great time writing that song, and then when Denise Chaila, MuRli and Trent came on board for the recording it just knitted together.
And being part of the gig itself was something else. We had been backstage running through the song for a good while, getting amped up. If you’ve ever seen Godknows perform, you know that you have to deliver 110%. By the time we actually got to the stage, we were just so excited to perform. That was a perfect moment, I’ll hold onto that. Thankfully, Darren Ryan caught the moment we came off stage. I love that photo.
If you were to describe you music to someone who hadn’t heard it before…what would you say?
I always find that really hard to answer. I think I’m a bit of a mix-up of sounds because I grew up with the whole singer-songwriter folk background, but I also have a huge love of gospel and soul. I used to listen to Aretha Franklin’s Gold album on repeat, the entire way through my teens. So… I guess my songs try to bring folk and soul together in some way.
You have an EP up on Bandcamp called Some Stories, when did you record it, where and with who?
I recorded Some Stories just because I needed to get the songs out there, for my own joy. I had a brilliant time recording it. We could only get everyone together for a day and a half so we recorded almost all of it live, in the Irish Chamber Orchestra Studio. Such a gorgeous group of musicians worked on that, I was really lucky. I didn’t intend it to happen this way, but the combination of everyone’s musical backgrounds made that folk soul thing work I think. I had CillianO’Dalaigh on guitar, Thomas Johnston on pipes and whistle and Kieran Munnelly on snare and flute. All of those guys are really beautiful trad players, so they brought that to the table. Then we had the gorgeous jazzers, Boris Hunka on keys and Peter Hannagan on double bass. And Diane Daly on violin, she’s supremely talented and completely made Kenmare Bay, which is the most complex song on the EP. And it was all recorded by Sean Og Graham. He’s an awesome musician himself, and I’d heard the work he’d done on Niamh Dunne’s album, ‘Portraits’ so I knew I wanted to work with him. A very happy day and a half that was.
Words – Olivia Chau
Photography – Tarmo Tulit