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


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

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


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!!


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

The First #sRated Milestone!


My own dressing room and a cup of tea…. well if that isn’t a good way to start back on the road gigging, I don’t know what is!! 🙂 Last night was such a buzz. I hadn’t gigged in such a long time and I was mad to get back out there and sing my songs, telling the stories and doing my usual mad leg movements that happen under the piano as I play. The venue was incredible too. It was the Íontas Theatre in Castleblayney, Co.Monaghan and from everything to the dressing rooms, to the main theatre and foyer, it’s just a fab place to play. The sound was also superb! When you arrive somewhere and know that you are dealing with top class facilities, it makes you feel so much more relaxed, confident and excited. Iontas Theatre

As a performer, the audience cannot be seen at all from the stage. You can hear them shuffle and cough and clap but you cannot see a soul. It’s a little weird singing out and simling at a black canvas but it gets you into a zone and its ALL about the performance.


I did a 25 minute set that included my opening piece that includes a section of a Mendellsohn piece of music that develops into one of my own songs ‘Showtime’. Its a little opener to my set and I really enjoy the blend of genres. Following that I did an old number ‘Fix You Up’ and managed to get the audience singing along with me.. After that was my newest song and with the lyrics only finalised about 4 hours before the gig, I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off but for a first performance, it went better than expected!

After that, I read out my poem ‘Northern Borders’ https://sineadmcnally.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/northern-borders/ which I accompany with my own take on the well known ballad ‘Hills of Donegal’. It’s a difficult one as the emotion is high throughout but people got it and that’s what’s special about sharing it. I finished up my set with ‘Ship Street’,

one of my favourite songs that I wrote last Summer after a visit to Brighton to attend a female songwriting workshop with Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle. Fiona wrote One Directions ‘Little Things’. Hence the line in the song that says “I got lost in love and loss and all those little things..”

I finished up a very enjoyable, emotional and buzzing set with one off my debut EP ‘Something Has Changed’, a piece in 6/8 time that is a lot of fun and quite tricky on the fingers!!

Thanks to Barry Jay Hughes, to all at the Iontas Theatre and to all who bought and ordered my CD’s. Over the next few years, I will work towards a changing room of my own in the 3 Arena!! Dream big!! Chat soon x

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

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