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! 🤔

<

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.

<<<<<<<<<

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

Advertisements

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 

  

#sRated Recording DIY Style! 

  

It’s FINALLY a bright, sunny morning here in Ireland! I’m on day three of a pretty miserable cold that hit me hard on Monday and knocked me for six. It’s one of the worst things about being self employed! You push yourself as far as you can go because you kinda have to. Ain’t no such thing as a paid sick day! 
Anyways, the point of this mornings bright and sunny post despite the sneezing is to tell you that I finally started to do something I should have done on day 1 of my music career. My good DJ buddy Dave O’Connor has been shouting down my ear for years about setting myself up to do some pretty decent home recording but I just never really took it that seriously and kept putting it on the long finger. I wish I hadn’t but I’m starting now and would like to share some of my experiences as I go through the process of buying items and recording.. Maybe my experiences will be useful to someone along the way! 

First up I was told, is to invest in a really good mic and the Rode NT1a had been suggested to me many times. There are lots out there but at €189 brand new on Thomann Ireland it’s a decent price and won’t break the bank. I did a little scan for one on the private seller sites and found a guy up the road selling his for €130 – “barely used” the ad said so fingers crossed! I offered him €110 so I’m hoping that for the €80 savings it will be a good buy! I’ll keep you posted!! 

Apparently the next not so expensive step is to purchase a pre-amp! I might as well be looking into a ditch as to knowing what exactly they do but it’s my job now to find out and buy myself one! 

I’m happy that I finally got a move on in setting myself up to home record. While nothing beats the real experience, it’s ridiculous that I am not  doing all my demos and basic productions myself here at home. Got the ball rolling now at least and I’ll share my experiences of it along the #sRated way! 

Happy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2014 and I have been completely useless with blogging updates since August! All of my attention went on my NCKids project NCKids which only really finished last week… More to follow on that.

For now, I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year and reflect musically for a couple of moments on the year that was 2014!

I learned to toughen up and start thinking ‘business’ in 2014. It meant being a bit of a ***** at times but I realised that if I was to realistically live and earn from songwriting and performing, I had to step it up a notch and act professionally even if that meant upsetting some people in the process. That may sound a little harsh but it was a transition I had to make or else leave my music in a very hobby-like, comfortable, safe and people pleasing place, which just wasn’t for me.

So with that, I made the decision in January 2014 to open up some opportunities that were both musically challenging and enjoyable as well as being clever little business moves that generated revenue and could individually be built into successful little businesses! I am proud to say that I have achieved those ideals and whilst I have to remain tight lipped about one of them until its launch in April 2015, the NCKIDS brand is off to an exciting start. Yes, it requires work and a lot of funds before it’s a profitable business but I have lots of ideas for 2015 that may help speed it up and attract some investors.

I didn’t write anywhere as much as I normally do in a year. I’ve missed it terribly but my head was somewhere else and I’m looking forward to the time off in January to play with some ideas, write for some pop pitches and just explore where I’m going as an artist.

I guess you could say that 2014 has been about the songwriter ‘business’ person in me. Thinking outside the box as a writer with a view to being a
a music entrepreneur of sorts. Whilst it hasn’t been easy turing up in boardrooms negotiating contracts and being business savvy, I have to admit that I have enjoyed the challenge in it and more importantly the reward in hearing the music you wrote getting the professional respect and reward it deserves. There are of course times that I write and play just for sheer personal and social enjoyment regardless of the reaction or outcome but there are no words to describe just how good it feels to see what you do best becoming a real career, a real business!

Thank you for keeping up to date and taking an interest in the music and events. I hope ‘Showtime’ provides some insight or inspiration for other songwriters out there and I promise to write more frequent updates!! Thanks also to those of you who are supporting what I do. I am very grateful.

Happy New Year!!
Sinead x

Songwriting – It’s not all about ME, it’s all about YOU….

images

As someone who started out songwriting at 11, not knowing how I was actually doing it, I wrote to make MYSELF feel better, to tell MY stories, to share MY experience!! No, I didn’t accidently leave the caps key on, I wanted you to see that back then it was ALWAYS ALL ABOUT ME!!!!

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending an IMRO songwriting afternoon with a hit songwriter called Ralph Murphy. (See links below) Ralph has a very interesting story and some pretty hot credits to his name across many genres with literally a whole life experience in the music industry. Needless to say, he didn’t beat around the bush and he didn’t hold back. In an industry that involves so much ego and b******t, it was refreshing. My hands were shaking as I handed over one of two songs he was going to review from my catalogue. I remember writing in an older post how your songs are like your kids – you create them, you nurture them and then when the time comes, you let them out into the big bad world! So, inevitably you form an attachment to them and as I reflect now, possibly an unhealthy, slightly obsessive attachment to them. I didn’t really want him to find faults in my songs. I really wanted him to love them as much as I did…. But then boom, out of nowhere, a five minute critique suddenly becomes a whole lifetime of “aaahhhhhhh of course, now I understand…”

Whilst it’s a bitter bill to swallow hearing that there is room for improvement to lyrics or melodies that you thought you couldn’t improve on, it was the reasons why they had to be improved that helped me to swallow that big, bitter songwriting pill. There were many reasons, many interesting and “ah of course” reasons but one reason that really stood out to me and made me think from a different side of the coin is the fact that it’s always all about you. (‘you’ being the listener)

In order to fall in love with MY song, YOU must feel like it is all about YOU, that my details are in fact YOUR details, that my melody is in fact YOUR melody. You don’t care about my story or where the song came from or who the guy was that broke my heart or stole my car, why should you? Whatever the time of day, whatever it is you are doing, that song that comes on the radio that you will connect to, tells your story, not mine. I learned so many valuable things over a couple of hours that had me rushing to the piano with a pen to ‘re-write, re-place, re-assemble’ and it actually feels like the wool has been pulled from over my eyes.

From uses of pronouns, to word meters to just getting over myself, that afternoon was without doubt a big learning curve in something I thought I had pretty much perfected. Whilst it was a little shock to all our systems initially, there is a great sense of freedom and excitement in moving on with that knowledge!

“Hits aren’t written, they are re-written” – Raphy Murphy.

http://murphyslawsofsongwriting.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Video

The Picnic’s Off… Roll With It!!

On a weekend that I had marked so deliberately in the diary with huge capital letters and a yellow highlighter pen with the words ELECTRIC PICNIC, I instead find myself on a bus to Dublin for an appointment at the passport office. The only experience of EP that I’m getting today is the Twitter and Facebook updates!!

Flashback to last May when I was jumping around with the news that I was finally going to EP after all the years of hoping to get there. Not only was I going to it, but I was going as a performer. I told all my friends and followers and even the local newspaper wrote about it. It didn’t bother me either that I would be performing as a musician within a band ‘Conor Quinn and The White Chalk’ (see previous blog posts) rather than as a solo artist. A weekend pass to Electric Picnic and an opportunity to perform is a great one whatever role you play when you are there.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have worked hard for the last few years getting my own music out there and I have learned that you should grab opportunities that come along with both hands. When the opportunity came along to be part of an exciting new band, I grabbed it because I heard the music, I met the people and I wanted to give it a go. It was also good to take myself out of my comfort zone and my own music style and see what I could learn. However, things didn’t work out for me despite many months of rehearsals and travelling the road to Mullingar from Dundalk and at the beginning of August I made a very difficult decision to leave the band.

The purpose of this post is not sour grapes or bitterness but rather to highlight the fact that the music industry is incredibly shallow and fickle and as Liam Gallagher once said, “you gotta roll with it”. It is an industry fuelled by music and filled with ego. Being soft and delicate in your approach to it is the wrong way to go about it but sometimes there are some things that don’t feel right and you just have to cut your losses. It’s a fact about the industry I work in that I really don’t mind. It doesn’t put me off working in it once I know that’s how it is.. I don’t regret anything either about my time in the band, although a little disappointed not to be at the festival. I tried something different and put a lot of faith and work into it but in the end it wasn’t for me. So for this weekend only the picnic’s off!! In the meantime, the songs are coming out of my every pore and I’m feeling very creative. There are two more single releases on their way from me before the end of the year. Any of you at EP, have a drink on me and enjoy the buzz x

“I think the second you feel you’ve gotten somewhere, you’re nowhere.” Michael Goldstone, VP A&R, Epic Records

Image

‘Women Who Rock’

'Women Who Rock'

Capturing the fun and spirit of the debut ‘Women Who Rock’ gig on May 3rd 2013.

Performing on the night were: Suzie Whelan, Clara Rose Monahan, Rachael McCormack, Sinead White and Carly Cúna and myself Sinead McNally. We held the event at Bewleys Cafe Theatre, Grafton Street, Dublin. An incredible night of blues, pop, rock, folk and even a touch of RnB.. Amazing! Watch this space for more information on the next one.