“The soundtrack of my deepest fears.” Why now was the right time to release my new single. #NALLY

nally-mysilentnight-1450pxLet me introduce you to ‘My Silent Night’, a song I wrote a few years ago but was waiting on the right time to release it. The song was three quarters of the way through the production stage when I pressed pause on it. That was November 2013 and I was exhausted. I didn’t have the energy or interest to release the new songs I had begun writing and producing so I put everything on hold and trusted that I’d know when the time was right for me to release the song.

Fast forward three more years and with a renewed energy and a deeper sense of understanding of myself, I am happy and proud to share ‘My Silent Night’ with you. It’s an eerie little song, definitely a lot more moodier and ambient than my previous singles. It’s inspired by the traditional ‘Silent Night’ that we all know. I thought it would be cool to take the idea and structure of the original and create something alternative, something dark. The song begins with whispering. I actually recorded myself saying ‘You’re not good enough’ backwards, which was good fun even though it was tricky. The producer Martin Quinn then decided to reverse that phrase again to really mess things up. Recording this song was so much fun. I didn’t want to create something for radio, I just wanted to create something that was totally me and to my surprise it all came out a little off centre and a lot less mainstream. I have to say, I’m very happy with that. Creating easily digestible, popular music to get on the radio is fine in the case where someone asks you to write a catchy hook or phrase that stays with the listener for hours, days maybe. But I just wanted to make something that was interesting to me. Maybe it’s the music nerd in me. I’m happy to know the little secrets behind the various layers of the music. Even if no-one else gets it, I do and I’m more than happy to share the detail with anyone who asks. It may all seem a little selfish but I wanted to be able to stand over my new releases and say, yes as weird and wacky as it may be, they were my choices and my preferences.

My first few years releasing music taught me I could handle the mainstream stuff. I know how to put together a good pop song. But as an artist in my own right ie. NALLY, I didn’t want to do that anymore. Plus let’s not beat around the bush here, I’m a lot older now. When I made my first EP, I was 27 and then at 30 I left my job to focus on writing and releasing music. I’m now 37 and while I don’t see that as a bad thing, I am inevitably more aware of who I am as a songwriter and also as an artist. I deliberately separate the two now. In the beginning, it was all the one; an experiment in music.

Before signing off, I’d just like to explain what ‘My Silent Night’ means for me. I already explained that I pressed pause on releasing it in 2013 when it was well into the production stages. While I had gone through a tough few years up until then with short bouts of burnout and depression, the song never felt more attached to me as it did when I found out this year that my body wasn’t exactly working efficiently enough for me to have children without the help of specialists. It took months for the news to sink in and while I am still a long way from understanding how I feel about it, I know that my whole identity took a knock. The one role in life that we feel is a given, a certainty, a role we put off stepping into while we define ourselves in our careers.. All of a sudden, I hadn’t a clue who I was or what I was meant to do. And that is exactly what ‘My Silent Night’ stands for. It will mean something different for other people and that’s great. I love that about music. But for me personally it’s about my identity and the if’s and buts I now have in my life since I got that news. Some fears are temporary and some last much longer. I am a very positive person in life but I also learned over the years that we need to honour all our emotions, sit with them and accept that they are there so that we can find a way to feeling better in ourselves.

And here my friends is my musical take on what those fears and anxieties sound and feel like. Hope you enjoy… (this is a free link to listen to the track but if you would like to support it further, you can purchase it on iTunes for 99cent or any good digital stores. Stream it on Spotify, Apple Music etc) Links below..

MY SILENT NIGHT – SOUNDCLOUD LINK

PS. Have a close look at the artwork. Maybe now that you know the background, the contents of the image will make sense.

PURCHASE ON ITUNES:

STREAM ON SPOTIFY:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Fantasies #NALLY

So today, I had my first meeting with the photographer I am going to be working with for my re-branding images. Paul is a digital artist who I discovered on Instagram. I was immediately drawn to his work because I love the way he can take a shot of a regular image and transform it into something more fantastical and surreal.

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St. Peters Tin Church at Laragh by Paul Connolly

We took a look at my Pinterest boards where I keep hundreds of images I love and discussed how we could use them to create something unique to me. The images below are two of the images that I have really been inspired by. (Image caption credits photographers, external links at bottom of article)

As I explained to Paul, I want to create something quite fantasy like, like a character version of myself. Having worked for 6 years in the music industry, I know how intense and overwhelming it can become. I just want to have fun and enjoy the visual aspects of the music projects as much as the aural. It’s so important to have a real sense of adventure and to just go with that. I don’t want to be afraid or worried about what people think. Everything about the next few releases represents freedom and empowerment to be whoever you want to be.

The next stage is to discuss the shoot ideas with the make-up artist, work out costs and finalise a date and I will post regular updates on how each part of the process is coming along! Finally, during the process of sifting through Pinterest for images that stand out to me, I was delighted to discover the work of a lady called ‘Mary Katrantzou‘. She is a Greek designer with absolutely stunning creations. I’m off now to have a proper browse through her work! Chat soon folks and thanks for being part of the adventures!!

Photographer Links:

Paul Connolly Digital Artist

Huainan Li Behance

Garjan Atwood

Trying out the Trad #NALLY

trad fiddleAround 10 years ago, I was playing a lot of Irish traditional music, in seisiúns and with friends etc in my local town of Dundalk. I decided to try and write some ‘tunes’ even though I didn’t know if there were any rules or do’s and dont’s when it came to writing in this style. So I just went for it. I decided on jigs in 3/4 time and I called them ‘July Jigs‘ (click to hear them)  I was very nervous playing them in front of the pro’s – the musicians who are out there every week playing polkas, slides, reels and jigs etc but they went down well and nobody refused to play them so I suppose that was a good sign🙂

On Friday night next, I will be playing them again for the first time in many, many  years and I feel a little bit more confident this time round. I’ve lost some of that shyness and have decided to embrace that whatever I create should have a chance to be heard, liked or disliked!! I am busy rehearsing them this week and I am so looking forward to being joined by lots of musicians on the night, including a great flute player and piper Patrick Martin who will also play the uileann pipes on an air I wrote called ‘This Heart‘. I will also be performing a new ballad called ‘Stephenstown‘. It’s all in aid of Louth Hospice and the night is being hosted by The Crawley Family, who are a super talented group of musicians from Gyles Quay. Tickets are already sold out so it’s looking like a great night of music for a great cause!

Here’s a short video of me preparing the jigs for Friday night’s gig🙂

Trying out the Trad

Getting lost in the music of Colm Mac Con Iomaire…

Every so often I find something magical in the world of music and it’s important to me to share it on my blog. This time, it’s an absolutely stunning piece of music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire called ‘Emer’s Dream’ – I discovered it when I received a list of music for a wedding I am playing at in two weeks time. It literally stopped me in my tracks and as I said in previous posts like this, that only happens occasionally. When it does, I know I’ve found something incredible. Colm is the violinist from the hugely successful Irish band The Frames but his musical heritage goes so much deeper, with roots in traditional Irish tunes, classical music and he has a innate respect for stillness and awareness of self, which really translates in his music. Of course after listening in awe to ‘Emer’s Dream’, I delved deeper into the music of Colm Mac Con Iomaire and found so much more of it to be equally mesmerising.

Time for me to stop typing and for you to go and explore. Find a space to switch off and get lost in the magic.

Colm’s Music Links

 

‘Feeling great, eating ice-cream’..The sadness behind the LOL’s :(

Because of the nature of my work, I’ve had a lot of time off in the past few weeks. It has given me a chance to be still. I regularly sit on my own just doing nothing. (I know, I sound like a complete crazy woman). Other times I write music or read, maybe make some notes on projects and ideas that I would like to work on later in the year. I’ve enjoyed just recollecting and reflecting on my life and I’ve also enjoyed being ‘present’ in the presence of others. There are many great benefits to having this time to myself and it really gives me an opportunity to take stock of situations, relationships and life going on around me. By getting out of the rat race for a while, the pace of my life has slowed down. I can take more in and I can give more out. However, what I’ve seen and heard over the past few weeks has really upset me and I felt I needed to address it in a blog post, even though my blog is generally about all things musical!

I’ve been so, so saddened by the pain and worry that so many people are carrying around. So many of the people I’ve been in company with over the past few weeks are really hurting inside, in despair or lonely. I’ve asked my husband if he felt it too and he was certainly aware of it. Perhaps because I have had time to sit with it, I am really feeling it and taking it in and most importantly questioning it. I am very much aware that I am off the conveyor belt madness right now and I can see all the people in my life who are running like mad to keep up with it. It leaves them no time whatsoever to deal with themselves, to process an emotion that came completely unexpectedly, to reflect on how they feel about their work or their relationship etc etc. There just isn’t the time! #ticktock

Busy

Another thing I’ve really noticed is that people expect so much more from each other all the time. Within work, family and day to day life, we demand more and more. In turn, we expect more from ourselves and by not fulfilling all of the demands we put on ourselves, we end up feeling totally inadequate and often then resentful of others.

I believe that the root to a lot of this demand and expectation comes from the ‘illusion’ or as I like to call it ‘the delusion’. It takes less than five minutes on social media to go from being in a good, positive and focused head-space to suddenly feeling like everyone else’s life is so much better than our own. Right now, I look ridiculous. Pyjama bottoms and slippers, hair all over the place, stuffing my face with a toastie. You don’t need to know that though and even better, I can upload a photo right now, one that was taken 2 years ago, contoured up to the eyeballs looking like the world is at my feet and caption it ‘Feeling Amazeballs, Life is Great’. And within a split second, you are now part of the illusion that everything is great in my life and I look 10 years younger than I actually am. And I can do that again and again and again and again until eventually you have a perception of me that is way, way off anything close to the truth. We become less connected to each other, with less in common every day with lives that are illusion’s apart.

Fact is, we all need each other as much if not more than we ever did before. We all have challenges, that part of it has never and will never change. What has changed, and it’s only my opinion, is that we are less aware of ourselves and of each other. We are strangers who see pictures and posts of each other looking our best, feeling great, eating ice-cream, LOL… How can any of us truly be honest about the crap day we’ve had, or the relationship breakdown, or the overwhelming debt etc, if we are conditioning ourselves to share only the days when we look and feel amazing? It worries me that kids nowadays value themselves on likes and shares and the illusion that we as adults consciously create is actually their reality.

I know it is totally unusual for me to write about subjects like this but I have to say it how I see it. Many people are sad and very much alone. If we can perhaps slow things down and be a little more present with ourselves first, then maybe we can start to reach out again and connect. Telling it how it really is and not courtesy of the app that gives you a thousand options on how you feel or look at any particular moment in time…

The Invitation Quote

 

Starting from Silence

imageI’ve set myself a challenge to write a song that fits in with the type of songs you might hear being sung in the wee hours of the morning in a little cosy Irish pub. Last Friday I joined in on one of those such sing-songs and sang a couple of my own particular favourites such as ‘Grace’ and ‘Caledonia’ – songs that fit in perfectly with the crowd no matter their age. Songs that usually tell stories of places or events and never age.

Just two weeks ago, I had the joy and honour of spending a few hours with Irish composer Julie Feeney. She is a beautiful, bubbly person who spoke so openly to everyone at The Songwriter Club, giving up her time to tell people her stories about composing and her experiences in the music industry. One thing that stood out to me was her belief in writing from silence, something I’d never really challenged myself to do. So while I was out walking my dog Ollie last Sunday I gave it a try. And the result is a song called ‘Stephenstown’, which is named after the town land I was walking in. The tune and the lyrics came to me pretty much in unison although I had focused on getting the air first. Sometimes they come together and it’s half the battle when it does🙂 I realised as I was walking in the sun that the various sounds around formed a beautiful soundtrack of their own even without visuals. I could hear sounds from the hurling match in the community sports field, people out in their gardens chatting and it genuinely felt like music to my ears.

“The clash of the ash as the home team attack……a man shouting words to inspire”

I decided on the key of A major and once I get back to the house I recorded my ideas on to my iPhone and took it from there. I have two verses and a chorus written and would like to write two more verses to complete it. I’ve concentrated a lot on painting pictures with the lyrics and less on chord sequences and hooks etc. I hope this is a song I can bring to those intimate sing-songs and have it fit right in with all the other beautiful songs that belong there!

Here’s a short clip of the song which I recorded on my iPhone at home earlier today. Hope you enjoy🙂 https://soundcloud.com/nallymusic/nally-blog-post-21st072016-starting-from-silence

 

A Grounded Return… #sRated

After such a long long break from blogging I’m delighted to be back on board! It’s a very exciting time for me and easily a time when it’s hard to stay grounded with all that’s going on but a good time to start filling you in on all that’s happening and the upcoming musical plans. At the moment I am planning my wedding so it’s all go, never mind the day to day running of being a self-employed musician and music teacher. This year also saw the launch of NCKIDS – a children’s chorus that I hope to establish as a really popular singing group over the coming years. I am really busy getting it off the ground and running their first singing camp this week so it’s a busy, busy start to NCKIDS… NCKIDS Facebook Page

NCKIDS

Official Logo

And then there’s my next EP. Just thinking about recording it this Summer gives me butterflies, such is the desire to release and perform my own music again. It’s been 3 yeas since I’ve worked on recording and releasing my music as an artist and that time has been hugely beneficial to me. I’ll explain more in posts to come but for today I just wanted to say hello after such a long break from blogging. It’s a lovely morning here in the wee county so off out for a walk. So from me, my green tea and my home grown daffodils have a lovely Sunday and I look forward to sharing the events of all things musical, marriage and no doubt some madness along the way!! 

Good to be back xx