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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#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.

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#GoIndie

#GoIndie

Instead of my ramblings today, I have decided to share #GoIndie – a blog that shares the thoughts of a selection of Indie’s like myself. It’s a very positive contribution and I think it’s very important to encourage this kind of space. The independent music world is fast becoming such a vibrant and busy environment and I believe that some really incredible successes are on the cards across this new generation of music makers. I really hope to see lots more from #GoIndie

Burning out and bouncing back…

For the first time in just under a year, I am back in the recording studio. It’s actually hard to believe that it has been that long and I suspect people have wondered why I have been so musically quiet this year. For 2 years, I consistently released my music. Starting with the first release ‘Moody Blues’ in February 2011, followed by ‘Green Eyed Monster’ in June and ‘Dance With Me’ in December. Then in 2012, I prepared, planned and recorded my debut EP ‘10,000’, which I released in August last year and it included two new single releases and a tour. ‘10,000’ was a milestone for me but it also began a period of ‘burnout’. Having packed up my belongings from the classroom where I taught up until June 2010, the pressures of self-management, funding, promotion etc took its toll by November 2012 and it was time to stop for a little bit. The constant pressures, meeting the bills, managing a music career and just trying to have some form of normal life got too much and I was forced to stop thinking about it all for a while.

Truth is, I never ever stop thinking about it all. I did however manage to find a good mental space to adjust again and to deal with any disillusionment, frustrations and general fatigue that working in the music industry brings. Winning the ‘MRU’ Best Female in December 2012 was just incredible. It was a fantastic acknowledgement of my two and a half years of effort and commitment and for a week or two, the buzz from the award gave me a new lease of life. I really believe that award events like the MRU (Music Review Unsigned) are so important and its really important that events like this happen every year!

Of course with the beginning of a new year, it also meant the start of the music plans for the year ahead. By the time it got to the third week in January I had a release schedule and project description prepared. To cut a long story short, a series of unexpected musical diversions took place and the schedule changed within the space of the next month. I was a little concerned about not sticking to the plan but it appears to have been a little blessing in disguise.

It’s now the middle of May 2013 and the creative spark is very much alight again and naturally with getting older, I do think a new musical maturity has come with it. I am back working with Martin Quinn at Jam Studios in Kells and we are trying out some new sound ideas. I don’t want to give too much away but we are using a very electronic starting point infused with some rock music features and not forgetting my little love for pop and classical music!!

Ok, so that description hasn’t helped but in simple terms I have grown up. The last couple of years have been a series of highs and lows and I have learned to take advice, something I wasn’t so good at starting out. I know what I want to do and I also know what I need to do. I believe its about finding the balance between making a personal decision and making a business decision. I make no excuses for following some musical trends and I don’t buy into the potential criticism’s about compromising my art or creativity. For me and for the moment anyway, it’s a business and I must make decisions that ensure it becomes a successful business.

However, I do look forward to the day when I can sit in a studio and record a 10 minute long song with whatever sounds I choose knowing that the song is purely an expression of myself at that moment in time with no time constraints or financial pressures.

In the meantime, it’s back to the tracks. Very excited about the new music. Watch this space..

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All my music is available to buy from digital music stores, iTunes, Amazon etc.
To contact me, please email: mcnallysinead@hotmail.com

Venue hiring and firing…

Anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t like getting drawn into negativity or bad feeling. Admittedly, I would rather avoid conflict in most situations too. However, I did say when I started this blog that I would be honest at all times and share all sides of the music industry coin with you. I guess it’s of no benefit to other people if I only share the glossy stuff. I’m thinking that a little ‘grumble’ of the week feature might be a suitable tag name for posts like these. My grumble today has been the lack of response to my enquiries about possible gig dates and venue suitability.

I am planning a number of tour dates in Ireland for September/October this year and I want to be prepared. I have to build on my audience, save for the costs of venue hire, band expenses etc. Booking these dates late Summer is not an option for me. I am actually shocked at how slow or how absent the information is getting back to me. Given that it is my job to fill the venue, pay the band and of course pay the venue, I really am gobsmacked that venues especially in Ireland are not on the ball at returning emails with regards to possible business. Now before anyone jumps on the bandwagon, I know that not all venues are suitable for some acts, not all acts are big enough or experienced enough for some of the more sought after venues. I understand booking guys and girls are dealing with a lot of emails and phone calls but I always allow for that. It’s when days roll into weeks and 1 email or call rolls into 2 or 3 and still no response. And surely, a little bit of manners is all it takes to reply to an artist or band just to tell them they are not suitable for the venue or the dates are unavailable.

For me as an artist that works extremely hard on preparing a schedule, I expect that I don’t have to chase people that much to book or at least develop some correspondence with them. It gets to a point where I make the decision that I don’t want to deal with that venue anymore. Surely in a time when we are all working hard to make the music industry work, an artist or band that is prepared to put money into touring and hiring a venue that THEY have the responsibility of filling, should be met with enthusiasm or at least interest and at the very least with information. Grumble over…