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.
Up next in our series of interviews is Sive, who will be performing at the event…
As a working musician, can you give an example of what your day to day is like?
My work involves quite a variety of different kinds of projects, which keeps my day to day life nice and interesting! I could be preparing for workshops, sourcing or arranging new material for a choir, running rehearsals, learning new songs for gigs, or travelling around doing music sessions in community or healthcare settings.
How did you make your creative work into your career?
I’m lucky in that music is my full time career, but often people think that means I have more time to work on my own music which is really not the case at all. It took me a while to figure out how to strike a balance – when I first started doing more community music work I kind of neglected my own music for a while, but now I appreciate the importance of keeping my creative self ticking along. Not only is it important for my own well-being, but it makes me more creative and enthusiastic in every aspect of my work with other people too. So I try to do a little bit of practice every day, and set aside time for writing as often as possible. It’s not always easy because there’ll always be something more pressing coming up in the immediate future that I have to be ready for, but it’s worth carving out the time.
Can you tell us about your experience of being a DIY musician on the Irish music scene?
It can be tough, particularly when you’re finding your feet and unsure what it is you want from your career. When you haven’t figured out what you want for yourself and what your own values are, it’s easy to be swayed and get dejected by a fickle industry. But in terms of actually being out gigging and meeting other musicians, my experience has been largely positive. The majority of people you meet are really open and supportive of one another.
What has been a highlight in your career so far? What was involved in reaching this point?
It’s so hard to pick just one…performing on Other Voices popped up in my head, so we’ll go with that! It was 2013 and I’d just released a new EP, having released my debut album the previous year, and saw that they were running an open call for a slot on the show. It involved crowd voting which normally I avoid like the plague because I hate hassling people for votes, but I decided to make an exception because it had been a dream of mine for a long time. So I guess every bit of work I’d done up to that point – being out gigging and releasing music and connecting with people – was what enabled that, because I needed people to get behind me to make it happen. If I’m really honest, just being in a position where I can make music every day and do it on my own terms is its own ongoing highlight!
What women motivate and inspire you in your music career?
There are so many but here are a few who spring to mind: Kathleen Turner, who is an inspirational community musician as well as a wonderful singer, songwriter and performer. A friend of mine called Sharon Murphy who runs a really successful Music & Health project called the Past Times Community Choir for people living with dementia, and who gave me the space to grow so that I could do the same kind of work. Another songwriter friend of mine called Dani who I toured with last year – I think we share a lot in common in terms of what’s important to us in our music careers, and she does amazing work using music as a tool for conflict resolution. In terms of other songwriters who I’ve met and been inspired by along the way I would say artists like Inni-K, Ann Scott, Cathy Davey, Emma O’Reilly and Miriam Donohue all of whom have a real sense of craft and individuality underpinning their work.
What are your plans for 2018?
There are some exciting ideas in the pipeline for a couple of community choirs I work with, which would see them engaging in intergenerational projects and collaborating with professional musicians and songwriters. I’ve also just joined the panel of facilitators for the National Concert Hall’s new outreach programs involving music and mental health, so I can’t wait to see where that takes me. In terms of my own music, I just want to get out there and connect with people as much as I can, and myself and Dani are hoping to tour together again. I’ve got a bunch of new songs in the works which I hope to finish and start experimenting with in terms of arrangement – I might have to apply for a couple of writer’s residencies throughout the year to make sure I set time aside to actually do that!