Ahead of the first SelfMade event on the 2nd of February, we interviewed some of the musicians taking part to get an insight into the reality of being a DIY musician on the Irish music scene.
Deborah and Suzette of Hvmmingbyrd will be joining the panel discussion at the event and gave us an insight into the inner workings of the band…
As a working musician, can you give an example of what your day to day is like?
We practice, write and produce together twice a week and then administration, emailing, receipts, pitching, applications, bookings, social media etc dominate the rest of the time! Unlike a lot of bands who also work as session musicians and cover bands, Hvmmingbyrd is our only musical gig so we probably perform once every two to three weeks apart from during the summer or touring when we’re gigging once or twice a week.
How do you balance your day job with your creative work?
We both have part-time day jobs that allow us flexibility to focus on music and the ability to pay our bills: Suzette gives private piano and singing lessons. I (Deborah) work freelance as a career & life coach and do some casual administration work too.
Can you tell us about your experience of being a DIY musician on the Irish music scene?
No one likes to hear musicians complain but honestly, it’s very tough! There is virtually no public financial support available to artists like us and most independent shows are run on a shoestring budget so artists are lucky if they break even. Because of the lack of funding, most artists have to be ‘everymen’ and look after every aspect of their business themselves which can be very draining and distract from the reason they got into music in the first place. We are thankful for the support and encouragement we get from fans and fellow musicians because without them keeping us sane and cheering us on when we feel like we’re about to give up, we couldn’t do it.
What has been a highlight in your career so far? What was involved in reaching this point?
Having our music that we wrote and produced ourselves used in TV, short films and ads. Each time, it was as a result of a curious and hard-working music supervisor doing their research and sending us an email so we are very lucky in that respect!
What women motivate and inspire you in your music career?
Musical friends like Sinéad White or Jess Kav (and not just because she’s going to be interviewing us during the panel!) are our cheerleaders when we feel like giving up and I *think* we are that to them too. DJs like Claire Beck and Kelly-Anne Byrne who share their time and insight with us. Established artists like Moya Brennan who has been a very important mentor to us and who has built a full-time music career while maintaining artistic integrity. All of the aforementioned women’s work ethic, determination and unbelievable skill really inspire us to be better.
What are your plans for 2018?
The pressure we put ourselves under is excessive at times and we wonder whether it is down to that female conscientiousness. So we are going to be releasing a few more singles this year, continuing to hone our studio and live production but mostly, we just hope to enjoy it more.