just the basics
I’m a singer-songwriter from Dunboyne, Co. Meath, currently based down south in Cork city.
I have a powerful singing voice – when I was young, I sang in the choir and I was often told not to sing for the group parts as I tended to drown out the rest of the group! They did, however, give me plenty of solos to keep me occupied :)
I got my first guitar from Santy when I was 12. For a LONG time, I underestimated the importance of tuning the guitar so I couldn't understand why it sounded so awful! When I got my hands on some pitch pipes, things started to improve and, when I finally got an electric tuner, sure I was laughing.
I spent my early guitar-playing years singing songs by artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I would have loved to learn more Joni Mitchell songs as she is my biggest inspiration but her combination of unusual guitar tunings and her ability to play bar chords were a bit too much for me to emulate. So, I have had to content myself with only being able to play “Carey”.
Although I experimented with song-writing in my teens and early twenties, I found myself lacking in having much to sing about really. This changed when I arrived in Seoul, South Korea in 2004. Having gone there primarily to work as an English teacher, I began attending the Seoul Artists Network open mic at Woodstock in Itaewon and there I found my tribe, as they say. One of the lads, Tim Gittins (guitarist extraordinaire), gave me some advice which has stayed with me: “The way I see it mate - when you’re writing your own songs, you can’t make any mistakes!”
So, I began writing my own songs in earnest. And, more importantly, I began to finish them and perform them in public. The highlight of that particular stint in South Korea was my televised performance at the 2005 World Arirang Festival, where I performed, along with some covers, an original song called “The Door”, which I had written following my second visit to the Woodstock open mic.
It was a song of hope but, unfortunately, it was not to last. The guy I had written it for did not feel the same way and the remainder of my time in Seoul was measured by extremes of stress and heartache, interspersed with lots of laughs and musical fun. It was difficult to extricate myself from a group of people whom I cared about so much. And I think we had the potential to make a lot of beautiful music together.
When our teaching contracts came to a close, we spent a couple of months in Thailand and then planned to spend the summer in London to see what would emerge musically back in “the real world”. First, however, we stopped off in Ireland and, at that point, things started to get pretty strange in my head. I was hospitalised and diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that was that. The party was over.
By the time I was discharged, Tim had had to leave London and return to New Zealand. The rest of the gang were around but, by then, the wind had kind of gone out of the sails. It still feels like a terrible shame that we have never all been in the same room together since.
I spent quite a long time trying to recreate the magic with other musicians. I have lived in a lot of different places, including Vietnam, New Zealand, Spain, Dublin, Bristol, London (on two occasions) and South Korea (on three more occasions). I always seem to stay just about long enough to make some progress and then, just as I’m starting to make inroads, I take off somewhere else again!
Following my last trip to South Korea, I decided to spend some of the money I had saved on recording a full-length album. I count myself very lucky to have come across Rohan and Al Healy of Beardfire Music and their dad, David Virgin. We recorded the album “Love Madness” in the autumn of 2017. It features twelve songs – the first six are all about the ‘love’ and the second six are more about the ‘madness’ that ensued. I’ve been told it has a Cranberries-esque vibe throughout, which sits well with me, as Dolores’s harmonies would have accompanied me throughout my formative years.
(Just as an aside, I asked a friend of mine, Lukas Betlach, to paint the artwork for the front cover of “Love Madness” for me. I had been waiting impatiently to see what he had come up with and he finally sent me a picture of it in January 2018. I was so delighted with it, I was dancing around the house, until the news came through that same day that lovely Dolores had left us and I landed with a thump. So, I shed a couple of tears and felt that I was taking the baton in some way.)
I released “Love Madness” in April 2018 and I got some good feedback but, unfortunately, I did sweet sweet nothing to promote it and instead I ran away to Vietnam so it didn’t feature on many people’s radars at the time.
However, my trump card is still probably “The Door” - it’s the one that started me off and, if I hadn’t written it, I think my life would have been very different. It didn’t really fit with the story of “Love Madness” so I have decided to release it as a single. I went back into the studio with Rohan and Al in September 2019 and got the bulk of it laid down. I also got Rebecca Cant, my beautiful friend and Seoul-mate, to play some flute on it. I think it turned out great!
Just waiting for the artwork at the moment and hoping to have a video made for it too. So, it will be released everywhere and anywhere as soon as I get all my ducks in a row. But it shouldn’t be too long now so watch this space!
Thanks for reading x