Originality and how falling out with my own music made me appreciate it more!

So what do Groucho Marx, a difficult drumming score and CRAZY eye-lashes have in common? Well, somehow or another their paths crossed in a small, two bedroomed house on the east coast of Ireland in 2011, when I set out to create something original! 🤔

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Music ‘originality’ is highly questionable. After all, there are only 8 notes in an octave and 12 keys to choose from. On top of that there are fundamental rules about how we move around those keys and notes. So inevitably, music is repeated and copied and repeated and copied and repeated and copied…. Most music we listen to reminds us of another song or piece of music we listened to, so being TRULY original is very, very difficult.

I released ‘Moody Blues‘ in February 2011 and I was super proud of it. It did very well for me and received lots of praise and radio play, becoming a very popular choice on morning radio for its’ energy and message. However, less than 3 years later, I actually didn’t want to perform it anymore. I was a little embarrassed by it. The cynic that had begun developing in me was not, excuse the pun ‘in the mood’ for it anymore. It was a little too cheesy for my liking and it hadn’t opened any ‘serious’ doors for me. Embarrassed as I am to say it, I didn’t care for it anymore and I left it out of many if not most performances.

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Fast forward 7 years and naturally life has changed me. It changes everyone year by year, experience after experience. My focus on ‘serious’ doors opening for me and being levitated into music industry fame pissed off about 2 years ago thank God, when real life came along and bit me in the butt a few times. Life softened me, despite facing some of my hardest moments and eventually I remembered to look at the whole, sweet, glorious picture.

I had become a musician who forgot the importance of being a creator. I had become a musician who depended on likes and shares and being ‘cool’. As much as I tried not to be musically driven by what people liked and what 2FM or Today FM were playing, I tried to be part of that gang. I burned out trying to fit in. Last night funnily enough, I had a dream about meeting a group of girls who I went to secondary school with. And guess what, they were the same bunch of assholes in the dream as they were in secondary school. Only, this time I was SO relieved not to be part of their gang.

Somehow or another, Groucho Marx, a crazy set of eyelashes and a nifty little drumming score were put together because I had ideas. Musical ones, lyrical ones, visual ones. And with a determination to see that vision through, ‘Moody Blues‘ came to life. Of course someone has already sung some of the lyrics and there are lots of chord progressions and melodies that have been played a million times before but the way in which those elements are presented and arranged because of the vision behind it are what make it original. Anyone can reproduce something that’s already done by changing it up a bit but originality lies in the commitment to a new way of presenting and arranging the musical content.

<I’m very proud of the song despite there being things about it that aren’t all that ‘cool’ anymore or ever maybe 😮 Because art is really just a moment in time, original because of the creator not because of the tools. Credit to Martin Quinn in Jam Studios for his incredible ability to produce and understand my mad ideas in studio and the very generous team behind the video production who survived on tea and crisp sandwiches. Finally to the beautiful venue that is Darver Castle in Co.Louth for letting us use their home and venue for our fun and games.

Thank you, chat soon x

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Nally in Wonderland

 

NALLY Illustration

Nally in Wonderland – Photo and Design by Paul Connolly Digital Artist

So here’s what happens when a songwriter with some crazy ideas meets a digital artist with the talent to make those ideas come to life! I wanted my 2017 images to be really imaginative and full of colour. I came across Paul’s work early last year and really loved how he could take a regular image and transform into into a magical, wondrous version of itself. So I knew he was the right person to work with on the new imagery and couldn’t be happier with the outcome..

 

The image captures so many elements of what I do and what I’m about and it gives me the chance to showcase ‘NALLY’, in the quirky, fun and creative way that I would like to be perceived.

Big shout out to everyone involved in this project. Paul and his lovely partner Alma and the beautiful Aoife Rogers Makeup Artist. Go check out their work.

Hope you like the new look… XX

Studio Stings and Stairways – #sRated

As I typically do on a recording day, I made myself late with excitement. Yesterday was my first day back in the studio since last December to build some content for online marketing, demo a new track and get the ball rolling on what’s coming up for release in the next few months!! Days in the studio remind me of the days in primary school when I waited months for the school tour to come around, planning my outfit and the filling for my sambo’s and of course collecting money to spend on sweets and presents in the novelty shop at the end of the tour! With all that prepared, I’d wake up way too early and spend the morning flapping around with excitement only to realise I had just five minutes to be at the school gates, dressed, washed and packed!!

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After a delayed start, we got cracking on stings for Matthews.ie. It’s a bit surreal hearing my music on their radio ads that are currently running on LMFM and NorthernSound but I am so proud everytime I hear the ads come on! After that, we made a showreel of a selection of the music I have recorded and released to date, which is really handy to have for online marketing and showcasing my work up to now. It’s actually lovely to hear short snippets of the songs back to back and reminds me how much work has gone on up to this point in my career. I’d advise any artist to do that just for a little boost as well as it being a very useful soundbyte.

Finally we worked on a demo of a song that I have co-written with a girl in America who I have never met personally but we connected online and decided to try working together. The song is called ‘Standing Right Here’. Lynda wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. It’s exciting working out of my comfort zone. The song is not something I would write for myself or sing myself so I’m working in a very different way, quite a methodical way asking questions like what sort of vocalist would suit the sentiment of the track, what genre will it sit into best, where do we position it etc.

First thing I did was put down the guide piano track. Played it fairly well and thought, that didn’t take long, I’m happy with that only for Martin the studio engineer and producer to tell me that my intro came pretty close to being a rip off of Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven both melodically and in chord sequence! Well that was the end of that intro and it was a case of re-writing on the spot. I was more annoyed with myself for not spotting the similarities! A risky little business this songwriting is!!

Other than that near miss, it was great to be back in my own little sweet shop and of course now I have the bug back so badly that I’m just waiting on confirming my dates to record a new track for release in October/November. I’ll leave you with the track that I had a very close shave with.. Enjoy and chat soon!

Stairway to Heaven

#sRated Photoshoot – Magic in the Making!

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Last Wednesday, I filled my car with props, clothes, accessories and all sorts of bits and pieces, spent about an hour putting the hairdo together and hit the road to Sligo! It was a long morning of preparation after a few weeks spent putting Pinterest boards together, sourcing a photographer and makeup artist, etc etc. I decided early this year that I wanted to update my visuals and start to define my brand as such in line with new music and a new #sRated approach! When I found Suzy McCanny Photography, I was immediately like YES, this is the vibe I’m going for. Loved all of her work – check it out here, incredible! Suzy McCanny Photography so I got in touch with her and shared my Pinterest board

and we took it from there! She reccommended Michelle Anderson Make Up Artist to me and again I was blown away by her work. So creative… MAMU So after that, I hit the N53 on a glorious afternoon with a few ham sandwiches and arrived in Sligo at Suzy’s studios at 4pm. It was a great few hours, getting the make up applied is always relaxing and fun to see it coming together!

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Afterwards we discussed what shots we would focus on achieving and got to it. Suzy had also made a beautiful backdrop (picture at top of post ) out of old music sheets, which looked so effective even just by itself. I’ve been in a couple of photo shoots before and it’s all about the pose and positioning of your body. Being small, Suzy gave me tips and pose suggestions that helped elongate my body! Some of them feel totally weird and uncomfortable but end up looking great on camera! After approximately 300 photos, we finished up and had a quick flick through them and chatted about how some of them might look when they have been put through the next creative process! That’s where the magic happens and I can’t wait to pick out my favourites and get to work on them with Suzy.

A Moment of Music Magic – RAE MORRIS ‘Cold’

Every now and again, I come across something that completely stops me in my tracks, so much so that everything I had planned to do goes out the window and I lose myself in a little moment of music magic!

Yesterday, through some internet search or another I discovered Rae Morris and this track ‘Cold’. I love everything about it and I am very inspired by the production in the track. It’s quite simply perfect in so many ways.. I imagine she is going to excel and make a massive impact in the music world throughout 2015.

Check out her new album Unguarded here: RAE MORRIS – Unguarded

A Musical Canvas…

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So last month, I decided it was time to inject some colour into my artist shots and I organised the first of two shoots that I plan on doing this year. Being independent always gives you great freedom in your decision making, although with that freedom comes a great big load of responsibility, which can be a little daunting….

The result is a selection of very colourful yet somewhat abstract photos and I thought a short blog post on how these shots came to be and the concept behind them might be of interest to some of you.

I began the photo-shoot process on Pinterest. Pinterest is AMAZING, there are no other words for it. I have used it for the last few years to compile all my visual ideas into one place. It is like an Aladdin’s Cave for ideas. I discovered very early on that two very strong styles of shoot were coming together so I made the decision to separate them rather than get completely conflicted about the shots I wanted. Shoot one, this one, consisted of all the visuals that were quite playful, fun and full of bright colours so I decided to work with that style of shoot first. I also wanted to build something quite abstract into the shoot, something people might ask questions about. I used the set as an opportunity to create that wonder. As you will see, there are seven white canvas’s displayed around me, each one with a block colour splashed on to it. They represent the seven single releases I have had to date. Each one has it’s own place in what I have done to date and by putting them all together, it brings me to where I am now. Hence, the reason why I represent the amalgamation of all the colours you see around me.

I have reservations about some of my decisions on this shoot but overall I am happy with the outcome. I went back to my friend and photographer Mark McGuire to take the shots for me as we have worked well together on other shoots and knew he would ‘get me’. 🙂 The set and styling itself cost me very little, (I had a miniscule budget)…in fact it was less than €50 to put it all together, using things I had already and some supplies from an art and crafts shop, some white piping and lots of items you would find in a primary school art cupboard!!

It was great fun and I am delighted that the shots capture a bit of my more playful side… Shoot two will happen at the end of the Summer and I look forward to bringing those shots to you then!! Thanks for reading xx

‘Lyons Tea’, Mondays and lists…

A typical day in the life of a full time singer/songwriter you’d imagine would start with lots of songwriting followed by lots more songwriting followed by organising a few gigs etc etc..

Well, I hope to one day describe a typical day as exactly that but for just under 3 years now its been a little different!!! It starts like most people’s with the alarm going off and then snoozing. Being my own boss obviously affords me the luxury of deciding how many times I press that snooze button. I learned pretty quickly that taking advantage of that control only ends up in feelings of laziness, poor work effort and bad self discipline so I get up like most people round 8am and get started into my work at 9pm. If I have been gigging the night before I might allow myself an extra hour or two!

I then proceed by plugging in the laptop and in my diary I make a list of things that need doing! (This naturally includes house stuff like utility bills, payments etc) I believe my teaching years especially 3 years of Junior Infants has taught me to be be very organised and practical. Oh before this, I will usually pop a little update or post on my Facebook page and on Twitter! They just become such a part of daily working life. It’s the equivalent of ‘filing’ as you go.

Once I have my head straight on what needs doing, I get stuck into it. Every day is completely different in terms of the items on that list, which I love. I love variety and changing things around. It keeps me on my toes and it keeps me interested.

So as an example, today’s list includes preparation for workshops I am giving to a group of St.Pats students in Dublin to help them with music planning for their teaching practice. It’s a great way for me to stay connected to education and earn money as I do it! Also on my list is to finish writing lyrics for a dance music track. I also have to organise my first ‘mini tour’ of 2013 which I have scheduled for June! It’s important to me to get to London in the next month or two so I need to get some events organised for that too. I would absolutely love to busk on the London underground so I need to apply for that!!

Obviously other things crop up throughout the day and I just have to prioritise as I go! In the afternoon I will go and teach piano for about 5 hours so its all go.

Thank God for blue skies too. It really makes a difference to getting up and keeping motivated!! And as for ‘Lyons Tea’… As I reach for my second cup in under 1 hour!!! Till next time..

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