Kelly Bolger is the frontwoman of Wicklow-based, alternative rock band Look to the Lady, who are embarking on an Irish tour this month. We spoke to Kelly about this milestone, her career with Look to the Lady, and her advice to women in music…
How are you feeling about the upcoming tour?
I’m really looking forward to it! It should be good fun. We’re playing some new material too, songs we’ve never played to anyone before. It’ll be nice to see how they go down. We even have a ballad! Not looking forward to all the smelly boys [her bandmates] for the travelling though. I’m going to bring my Madonna Greatest Hits CD anyway for the journey, I’ll have an ol’ sing song.
This tour is entirely self-funded, is that correct? What is it like being a DIY musician on the Irish music scene?
It is, we fund everything ourselves. I’m not going to lie it’s tough at times. A lot of money goes out from our own pockets and not much comes back in return. Videos, recordings, rehearsals and travel really do add up. It’s fulfilling though, finishing a project. There are so many DIY musicians in this country and I feel like we all help each other out in some way.
What is your favourite song you have written with Look to the Lady and why?
Ahhhh! Oh no, I can’t pick. They’re all so, so different! We recently recorded a song titled ‘Humans’, which is yet to be released. I’m really enjoying singing it and it’s quite personal. At the moment that’s my favourite song. Out of our released tracks I think ‘Distant Waves’ is my favourite, I love the drums and the whole vibe of the song. I think it’s one of my favourites because of how my body reacts to it when we’re on stage, I just begin dancing a certain way and really feel in the groove.
What is the best part about having a career in music?
I think the best part is playing live music to a crowd. Seeing people stick around to watch your set is great. Also I get the chance to sing on a stage and perform. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I feel like I let loose and just enjoy myself when I’m performing and I’m really glad I get the opportunity to do it. I love dancing too and I get the opportunity to do that with my band, which is fab.
And the worst part?
Hmm, the worst part… One thing that bothers me is being told “it will be good exposure”, which a lot of the time is code word for “we won’t get paid”. I understand for certain gigs we won’t but for many when the headline act is paid, the sound guy is paid, the lighting guy is paid, well why aren’t the other bands? Just seems kind of unfair to me.
Which women are influencing and inspiring you right now and why?
Right now… I came across this English rapper called GIRLI a while back on Twitter and I love her style. I saw a picture of her and just related to her so much when it came to fashion. We have the same love for pink and glitter. At Electric Picnic I went to see Wolf Alice, who I had heard about before but never really listened to. I watched their set and was just blown away. Ellie Rowsell is so bad ass and so bloody talented, I left her set wanting to go see her again. ‘Visions of a Life’ is just a phenomenal album. Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande are killing it at the moment so I’m listening to them on repeat.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start out in the Irish music industry?
Be thick skinned and confident. Don’t let little things get to you. Take the critiques on board and learn from them. Not everyone will like your voice, or your guitar playing or your drumming. Whatever it is ladies, make sure that you like what you’re doing. If a woman impresses you in music, well then say it to her. If a woman blew you away at a show, say it to her. If a woman performed well, say it to her. I think jealousy plays such a part in the music industry and if you’re new going into it, don’t let it be a part of you. Learn from the women inspiring you and gain confidence while doing so. Once you have confidence, nobody can knock you down.
Interview by Ema Stapleton