Cambridge Folk Festival Special This week Ceol Colletive talked to the talented young singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery who will be playing at Cambridge Folk Festival and Glastonbury this summer.
Hi Ciaran, Congratulations on the Hot Press Magazine “Big Break Winner” Award. Looks like 2015 will be an amazing year for you.How was the Big Break Live Show in Dublin last week?
Thanks a million. It was a real blast. I've never been in the spotlight like that before so it really strange, especially with the photos of my face everywhere. But it was cool. I really didn't expect to win the competition in the first place.
I just entered out of curiosity to be honest and then the next thing I was on the front cover of Hot Press. It's a bit crazy
For people who do not know your music, can you tell us about yourself and your music?
My name is Ciaran Lavery, songwriter & singer from Aghagallon. Star sign - Cancer. Birthday - July.
My music has over 14 million streams on Spotify. I was named as Zane Lowe's last ever 'Big Hype' before he left Radio 1 & my music has been playlisted on Amazing Radio. I have shared the stage with Villagers,
Emily Barker, Stu Larsen & The Lost Brothers within the last year. I also really like dogs.
You come from a tiny town in Co. Amagh in Northern Ireland. Do you find that has had a big influence on you as an artist and your song-writing?
I think it's hard not to be influenced by my surroundings. I love living here. I've just recently settled here & hope that my family can grow here.
I have a lot of fond memories of living in Aghagallon. All my fathers' family are from here, have always been & in many ways it's just an extension of me. There's not much to it, it's certainly not huge but it's home.
You started writing your own music at the age of 17 but before that you played in different bands and were influenced by American music. Can you say more about that?
Who isn't influenced by America? Even in school we learned about American history, most of the movies/tv we watched growing up was American based & music was no exception. Before I wrote I listened to a lot of American hip-hop, growing up in a time when Eminem exploded onto the scene. I was also drawn into punk rock through Green Day, No FX, Blink 182 etc.
I think it was all a part of growing up. Influential people like Jim Morrison, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan all caught my eye/ears in those formidable teen years.
It wasn't just American music alone that influenced me then but it was certainly a strong reference. When I was writing music for Captain Kennedy I was listening to a lot of Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, people like that. Looking back now I guess it took me a while to find my own voice, to be able to talk about my own personal experiences that have shaped my own music now
Your songs are very personal, passionate and often full of heartbreak and despair. Do you find it difficult to share these highly personal feelings and memories with others?
I don't think so. It took me to grow up & be able to be comfortable about opening up over things, being able to share them with people who hear the music. I don't find my songs as despairing as some people might think (haha), but I am real interested in what people take from them & I guess in a weird way once I put a song out there to people, the song belongs to them & not to me
You once said that you always admired artists who didnt have a filter on their lyrical content but never thought you would be brave enough. Do you find yourself more brave these days or is there still a filter on your lyrics?
I don't try to overthink lyrics these days, what comes out naturally for me is probably the best & most honest I can be. Either way I don't try to force it. But for sure, I have a lot of love for people who keep the filter off. There's not too many who do & I've still a lot to learn in that regard
Your earlier songs seemed more sombre than the songs on your newest solo album “Kosher” from 2014. Was it a conscious decision to make more up- beat brighter songs?
Absolutely. At some stage you have to want to dance. I think if I released the same tempo records again & again I would bore myself & wouldn't fault anyone for finding my music a total snore. There's so much of my feelings of not wanting to be pigeon-holed or have my music hemned into one specific genre that drives those changes in tempo & general recording. I want to take risks. It seems to be working
In April you and Ryan Vail released the new album “Sea Legs”. How did the collaboration come about? Can you tell us about the album and in what way it is different from your previous work?
Working with Ryan was a dream. I guess, as mentioned before, it was all borne from that desire to take risks. I had the idea kicking about in my head for quite a while but the timing was always off. I spent a while listening to Ryan's music & took a chance by contacting him on Twitter,
I just basically threw the idea at him. We managed to be playing at the same festival around a month later & had more of a chat about the idea of recording.
From there, I got to writing & sending demos onto Ryan. The whole process was seriously quick. To be honest I was surprised by how people took to the album.
In my head I thought Sea Legs was just going to be something for us two & that if people liked what they heard then that would be a bonus, but it ended up really turning a few heads, so that was super cool.
You are playing Cambridge Folk Festival for the first time in July. How do you feel about playing there?
I've heard so much about the Cambridge Folk Festival & the huge names who've played there over the years like Bert Jansch & Paul Simon.
It's practically an institution, so I'm obviously honoured to be asked to play at this years festival, especially alongside names like Joan Baez & Frank Turner as well as my good friends The Emerald Armada.
What can we expect to hear at Cambridge Folk Festival and your Ireland tour in August?
I'll be doing a lot of solo shows this year including the Irish Tour & Cambridge. I've recently recorded some new material & I've also some brand new stuff I'm going to be trialling on the road. I guess bar that you can expect some really bad jokes, awkward silences & me in my suit
What else is on the cards for your this year? This is a really busy year for me. I have Glastonbury coming up really soon and a full Summer of festivals taking me up to Autumn time.
I have the Irish tour in there, a UK tour booked for October along with some dates in Switzerland & a tour of Germany in November time.
2015 Is Electric Eel Shock’s 21st Birthday… They are celebrating with a World Tour of Europe in June and July! Catch them this Sunday night in The Workman's Club.
1. Who are you? We are the rock and roll band that has Geisha girl groupies "Electric Eel Shock". Who are you? 2. Where are you based? Formed and going in super sushi town Tokyo Japan. But myself and bassist Kazuto met a long long time ago at high school in Osaka. I had to protect him from all the bullies because his mum used to dress him in girls clothes. Still sometimes he wears a training bra. 3. What achievements do you want me to know about? I've got offer to design the fishing rod to sell in Europe! Because I am fishing freak, If they bring me a big money, my rock'n'roll should be more free !!! 4. What are you up to now? Right now i am waiting for rest of band to get up so we can drive to our next show in liverpool... 5. Name something unique about you or/and your product? We are not a product! That is for washing machine or saucepan or new trousers. We are creative being, however we will appear on compilation album product for Japanese Ninja animation product. It is called Ninja Slayer. 6. Tell us about a song/album/artist who changed your life. Deep inside / Truth and soul / Fishbone Before I heard it, I had 3 different bands for each genre about Metal, Funk, or Punk, But they showed me I can play all genre in one band. That is the base of Electric Eel Shock.
7. Have you found any unsung heroes recently? If so tell us about them. On this tour we met a very nice house engineer in Edinburgh. He took time on the sound check and was very kind and easy guy which is always a pleasure for band. Afterwards we chatted, we discussed festivals, he seemed to know a lot and i began to realise maybe this is not just local band guy. "What is the name of your band?" I asked him. It turned out he was Irish Rob, bassist of Exploited... wow real hero band. He is now my new hero and legrndary hero all in one guy! 8. What are your future plans? Give back our all borrow money and eating a lot to feel full... And then we'll go to studio to make new album everybody is waiting long time. We are sorry. We made several albums back to back in past but it was important to live life a little. Make new connections. Find new ideas. We are nearly ready to create again... 9. Where can I spend money on you or your product? Yeah, we are happy to be product if you want to give us all your Irish money. Go to our website electriceelshock.com there is a slot you can insert coins and notes. You can buy our best album. Covers album. All our back catalogue. CD or vinyl. Maybe you will look good in a new EES t.shirt. we have 2xl for big western guys. And XS for small shy asian girls. All are available to buy on web shop or at the venue! We need your money to get back to japan! 10. Last question, ...... Make Us Laugh You know our ex manager Bob Slayer is now a comedian. I think this is because everyone in the music industry always told him he was a big joke. We could be a big band without him holding us back. He is with us on this tour, but not as tour manager, he is official tour drunk. He does opening act where he appollogises for not making us legendary rock stars that you know we are! Come early to our show and heckle him! He really is exactly bastard!
Photo Credit: Ben Morse In the press you are often called a Folk musician and your music is described as Punk/Folk. I understand that you don´t consider yourself a folk musician. So how would you describe yourself and your music?
I think there's an element of folk to what I do, perhaps more ideologically than anything else - I'm interested in communication, iconoclasm, a sense of place, that kind of thing. There have been some folk-influenced stylings on some of my records as well. But I don't sing trad. I grew up with punk. Beyond that, people can make up their own minds. I'd rather play people my music than discuss it, in the final analysis.
You have just finished your 6th album which you recorded with your amazing band “ The Sleeping Souls” in Nashville. Can you tell us more about the new record?
The record was recorded pretty much live, with Butch Walker in the producer chair. It's more raw, unpolished, more aggressive sounding than the last record I made. It's a collection of songs about survival, about defiance, and I suppose it's kind of upbeat, in a way. I'm very happy with it, I can't wait for it to be released.
Nashville seem to be a very popular amongst European musicians at the moment. Why did you choose to record your new album there and how did it influence your song writing and the album? We recorded in Nashville because that's where Butch's studio is. The songs and the arrangements were all worked out before we got there, it wasn't a factor in the sound of the album.
Will your new songs be as personal as on some of your previous records? Yes, the songs are personal, that's how I write basically.
When is it released? We'll be announcing a release date when we're ready.
You have toured non-stop for the last 10-15 years doing more than 1650 shows playing venues like Wembley, London O2 Arena and at the London Olympics. Looking back at your very successful career, what have been the highlights so far?
I can't really just pick one or two occasions from the thousands, I don't really think about things like that. I think, in a way, the fact that I am continuing to make a living from travelling and playing music itself is a highlight for me. I always wanted to do this, I told people I would, and most everyone laughed at me as a kid. But I did it anyway. I'm proud of that.
What makes a good song and an amazing gig?
Those are two very different questions. A good gig, for me, has to be a communal experience, where the weight of the world lifts collectively off the shoulders of the performers and the audience together. There has to be a sense of connection. A good song, well, there isn't just one approach to that, and if I could give a simple answer I'd be a rich man.
This spring you published your first book “The Road Beneath My Feet”. It's a tour diary more than an autobiography. Can you tell more about the book and the funniest/wildest story you have from all these years of touring?
It's my first book. I was at pains not to try and write an autobiography. I'm way too young. So it's tour diaries, recollections from years out on the road. It's been pretty well received, which I'm happy about. The stories are all in the book.
In July you are back at Cambridge Folk Festival for the 3rd time where you will be doing an acoustic solo gig. How do you find playing Folk Festivals compared to other festivals?
I like playing Folk festivals, I've done a fair few of the Canadian ones as well. It's an opportunity for me to learn, for the most part. I didn't grow up with folk music, I'm a latecomer, and there's still so much I don't know, so many artists and songs and approaches that are new to me.
Does Folk music and the singer-songwriter genre influence and inspire your own song writing?
Yes, very much so, given that it's kind of what I do for a living. I listen to a lot of folk, singer/songwriter stuff.
You have a busy summer coming up playing festivals in the States and all over Europe. What are you plans for the rest of the year?
I have a new album coming out this summer, which engenders its own onslaught of touring and promotion and so on. I'll be very busy.
Irish bands are dotted all over the Glastonbury line-up from the Waterboys and Hozier on the Pyramid stage to Christy headlining the acoustic stage to Ciaran Lavery and Marc O'Reilly performing numerous gigs around the massive site. Don't forget Lisa O'Neill is a special guest of Billy Bragg in the Leftfield tent on Friday at 3pm. Check out this Irish Artist at Glastonbury playlist:
I loved everything about The Doolin Folk Festival. It was intimate, friendly and relaxed for the whole weekend. The organisers brought together a line-up consisting of national folk stars along with local trad/folk legends and for the first time brought The White Horse Sessions to Doolin from it's home in Kenny's of Lahinch. The festival became a celebration of Irish Folk music. Friday First up on The White Horse Sessions stage was Galway multi-instrumentalist Tom Portman with a solid set of tunes to open a folk festival. On the main stage David Hope brought his brand of mid song humour and charming songs to the gathering crowd. I'll never tire of hearing songs like 'Daybreak Someplace' and 'Hell or High Water' or indeed of hearing about the origin of these songs. Following David were local trad act 'Fiddle Case' with special guest Christy Barry. The large crowd were hugely receptive when Christy Barry was awarded the Doolin Festival award for lifetime achievement from Luka Bloom. The Evertides performed a great set on The White Horse Sessions stage and were one of the finds of the weekend. The all female, all harmonising three piece make awesome music to swoon to, move to and sing to. There's elements of pop, ragtime and soul infused into their folk sound and they are as refreshing as them come. Listen to The Evertides here now .... Next up for us following the angelic voices of The Evertides was the demon voice of Elder Roche whose picture you can see above and below this review. There are not too many acts playing a mid evening festival spot who are called upon for two encores but such was the intensity of Elder Roche's performance that the crowd responded in kind to a wonderful artistic display. Old and new songs sounded wonderful with 'Kerry Black Mountain' being an earworm of mine for most of the weekend. We caught the last 15 minutes ofSharon Shannon's set and wow is an understatement. Sharon and her band were suitably outstanding, in command of the crowd, genre hopping in an instant and most importantly were bundles of fun. The headliner of The White Horse Sessions was Marc O'Reilly. Marc and the band brought energy and a good amount of psychedelic folk n roll to Doolin. We're big fans of Marc with huge expectations that were met by this wonderful three piece band. A suitable end to the first day of the festival. Saturday Fiach Moriarty kicked off proceedings on Saturday afternoon with a solid set of songs and mid tune banter to entertain the early crowds. Many of the songs performed can be found on Fiach's most recent album 'Revolution'. Was great to hear the song 'Married to Music' again. The traditional music of Bryan O'Leary & Friends delighted the early dancers on the main stage. On the The White Horse Sessions stage I got to hear the opening songs from American troubadour 'John Francis'. His version of 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' was perfect. The main stage with Colm Mac Con Iomaire called and I was delighted to hear the new songs performed by his 11 piece strong band. Colm's music is textured, layered and meaningful and the performance from this seasoned band was as expected top quality. The trad act 'Four Winds' took to the main stage next for a fun filled jaunt through reels, jigs and slides galour. I loved their enthusiasm and their intensity throughout the whole set. One of the best trad bands we seen at the festival. The Ludlow Massacre was a particular highlight for me.The Lost Brothers began their set with a tale of getting lost on the way to Doolin by accidentally heading for Sligo. Charming old time tunes are the order of the day from The Lost Brothers with Mark's lead acoustic guitar playing majestically accompanying Oisin's old time vocals. Colm Mac Con Iomaire took to the stage once more to join the brothers on a couple of tunes which went down well with the large crowd. It was my first time catching 'We Banjo 3' live and they were another massive revelation for me. Their high energy, enthusiastic performance could only result in toe tapping and smiles from the appreciative crowd. If you've never listened to We Banjo 3 before now is your chance: The final band we caught on The White Horse Sessions stage was 'A Band Called Wanda' who began their set with a rallying trumpet cry on the balcony outside the second venue to entice punters upstairs. It worked and 'Wanda' performed a fine set of tunes taken from their debut 'Green' album and their debut 'Red' EP! We finished Saturday by catching a few songs from Mick Flannary. Everything good that Sharon Shannon did on Friday to turn the festival into a party, Mick and his band sadly did the opposite. Sunday The White Horse Sessions shone brightly with a fantastic line-up on Sunday. Sean's Walk, a young three piece consisting of cello, guitar, piano and fantastic lead vocals. The songs range from radio friendly pop to well written thoughtful tunes. A band to watch out for now and into the future. The Niall McCabe band from Cork were absolutely outstanding performing an acoustic set of soulful heartfelt tunes that drew you in and entertained thoroughly. I heard a number of great covers of the weekend but Nialls take on 'Every Breath You Take' was really special for it's originality. Niall's vocals are spectacular as well .... check out this song to hear what I'm on about: NoCrows on the main stage brought all kinds of gypsy folk music to the festival and it was great fun yet again. Folk music like this from the Sligo based band can get people moving, dancing and singing like no other. Back upstairs was another Cork band 'Nothing New Under The Sun'. The two lads performed a solid set of folk pop tunes which have massive potential to be huge. Finishing the weekend for us was Dublin based folk rock band Mongrel State who rocked the White Horse Sessions stage. Their performance was hugely entertaining with lead vocals alternating between Claudio and Darren making for a varied sound throughout their set. Finishing with Mongrel State resulting in us hitting the road home on a quality high from the Doolin Folk Festival. Top 5 performances: 1. Marc O'Reilly 2. We Banjo 3 3. Elder Roche 4. Niall McCabe Band 5. The Evertides
"Somewhere Between Lost and Found", is the second EP from the Dublin based six piece The Jigsaw Jam and is released worldwide tomorrow, Friday 12th June. It's a fine mix of traditional, pop, indie, folk which intertwine throughout the whole EP. The EP contains 4 original tracks and one cover 'Man in the Moon', written by Bill Dickson and Kathy Stewart with each song dragging you into different genres that ultimately complement each other.
The EP kicks off with the instrumental 'Jasmine's Jig' before easing into 'Ag Caint' a bilingual tune with male/female harmonies which gracefully swoons towards a catchy, refraining "Tar abhaile liom" meaning come home with me in Irish. It's the real star of the EP and can be heard exclusively here below:
"We Have Done" is a perfect little three minute pop song heavily based on mandolin and them gorgeous harmonies. "Skylight" is another fine track with keys now at it's core enhanced by violin initially before the full band sound takes off carrying the alternating male/female vocals. The EP finishes with a return to a more traditional folk sound. "Man in the Moon" is world's apart from the pop of 'We Have Done' but for an EP that begins with a Jig, it makes sense to finish with a song that conjures up images of an Ireland gone by.
It's not often I admire a band for doing for doing things the right way. The Jigsaw Jam are releasing a varied EP of excellent tunes that will appeal to a wide array of music fans. The PR is self managed and the band's EPK includes everything a reviewer would need. They have developed into a group that's comfortable with their own sound and are launching the EP with a gig upstairs in Whelans on Friday July 3rd. Be sure to check out the rest of "Somewhere Between Lost and Found"
The Jigsaw Jam - Somewhere Between Lost and Found [8 out of 10]