“I grew up in a strong Irish community in Manchester in the late 70s and early 80s and music was a very important part of that culture. I started playing Irish music and at the age of eight or nine at a local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I went to Irish music classes three times a week and everything about that experience felt right. My earliest memories are of an incredible sense of community and warmth and of being part of something that was perhaps different than what was going on at school. I started off playing the fiddle and then quickly moved on to mandolin, banjo, accordion, whistle, bodhran and various other traditional instruments. My brother and two sisters all played instruments (each different to what I was learning) and so I ended up inheriting their instruments or at times I just claimed them as my own!
“By the time I was 11 I was playing in the local Ceilidh band alongside other local musicians (including Michael McGoldrick and Dezi Donnelly). It was a fantastic, vibrant time in Manchester and I have very fond memories of noisy pub sessions, ceilidhs in Irish clubs and the incredible warmth of the older Irish people – there was a real sense of belonging.
“For me, growing up in Manchester in the early 80s, Irish music was about something more than just the music. It was about identity. Like lots of second-generation kids growing up I felt incredibly Irish when I was in Manchester and incredibly English when I went to Ireland on holidays. Who knows – perhaps music early on was a way of affirming identity.“It was a real blessing in my mind, learning music the way in which I did in the early years. Everything relied upon being able to ‘play by ear’. Irish music can be quite fast and certain key ingredients are improvised. Having to do so much by ear, so early on, opened up ways of hearing music which I am grateful for to this day. When I studied music at University I was reading dots very well and all of that but it seemed like such a left brain way of going about things. In my mind all creativity starts as a right brain thing.
“I think the early days of being immersed in trad music sessions and having to rely on one’s own internal map when playing helped to nurture an intuitive approach to music. It possibly taught me to trust my own internal world and to go with those often faint (musical) impulses which the subconscious (or collective unconscious!) throws up from time to time.
“To quote Damien Dempsey on the Speech Project album: ‘You go into the spirit world’, when you create music. I love that idea and it resonates with me deeply. Christy Moore told me something similar. He talked about having ‘white light’ experiences on stage. I think my early days playing traditional music were the start of a fascination in the spiritual and non tangible aspects of making music.
“I moved back to Ireland with my family at the age of 14 and by this time I had nabbed my brother’s electric guitar – this became an all-consuming obsession right throughout my teens. I remember practising guitar for hours and hours – pretty much every day. I loved it! I also started playing keyboards and started messing around with synthesizers and electronics. When I was in my teens I was asked by a local singer to play fiddle at a recording session at a real proper recording studio… that was a key moment for me. I loved everything about being in a studio (and still mostly do) – that perhaps started a passion for the whole world of recording and production – something which I never get tired of!”
No shows booked at the moment.