Galia Arad is a Dublin-based singer/songwriter who is back on the music scene after a brief creative hiatus. Creating her name from touring the world with Jools Holland, she is certainly an artist to sit up and pay attention to. On the back of her stunning comeback single ‘Lion’s Den’, Alison Kenny caught up with Galia to discuss her writing processes and dropping everything to move to Ireland.
‘Lion’s Den’ is your first release after your creative hiatus. What about this song made you pick it as your first track to share after the break?
Ok wow. I just got out of the shower where I thought about this question and all of a sudden had a real sense of clarity.. (i have an immersion so this thinking had to happen very quickly) but I am so grateful this was asked because I actually hadn’t thought of it, and it made me connect some dots!
I know this sounds dramatic, but I am now realizing after Trump got elected in 2016, though I never, ever stopped writing, I really only wrote two kinds of songs: protest songs, and songs that I thought might land in a tampon commercial. It makes me want to cry realizing this!!! Thank you for this question!! I think I lost a part of myself that day in 2016 and artistically I veered towards songs that helped me cope with that very particular loss and sadness and anger, which ultimately I didn’t think were songs that “belonged” anywhere, really. Except for maybe my living room where I found it cathartic to get drunk and listen to my own protest songs and cry. 🙂 On the other end of the spectrum, I wrote songs that I could detach from completely, with the purpose of making money from them. (Which… I never did). But that’s how I coped and what I loved doing at the time.
What feels special about Lion’s Den is that we finished recording it in Camden Studio’s in Dublin shortly before Covid hit. Since then I did a ton of writing & producing during lockdown, and have (quietly) released a couple things since, but it was all work that was done in lockdown/quarantine/by myself. Lion’s Den is bigger than me because of the amazing musicians/producers I worked with. And right now, with what seems like light at the end of the tunnel, it feels like the right time to finally let it go.
‘Lion’s Den’ is a deeply personal song – written over the span of a four year relationship. Do you always derive your lyrics from your own life experiences?
Yes, I think I write songs for very selfish reasons! To help me regain power. Is that bad? I’ve also noticed that the more specific I am to a situation, the more it resonates with people. My one great example of this is a time I was pranked by a terrible friend who pretended to be Elvis Costello and emailed me, as him, saying he loved my music. It was AWFUL when I found out that it was just a prank. So I wrote a song called “The Elvis Costello Song” to help myself cope from this very, very specific heartbreak, thinking literally NO ONE would feel this song except me. But for some very weird reason, it is one of peoples’ favorites at gigs and one of the ones I get most messages about. Maybe because the idea of shattered dreams is universal. That’s always a lesson to me!!
You were raised in Indiana but moved to Dublin in 2012. What made you want to move to Ireland? Has the move impacted your songwriting at all?
I actually moved to Dublin from New York City. And I truly don’t have a legitimate/logical reason for leaving my boyfriend, job, apartment, life in NYC to come to Dublin. I guess I thought it would be temporary? My very first connection to Ireland was meeting an Irish guy in a bar in London, we became pen pals, and then I wrote an entire album about him because I am a psycho. But this was years and years prior to moving. I did an Irish tour with the incredible musician-friend Kirsten Thien, and we both fell in love with Ireland. That’s all I got for you! Taxi drivers in Dublin always assume I moved because of a man! This is not at all true. I will say that at the time I was contemplating it, I saw Glen Hansard play at the Beacon Theatre in NY. And at the end of the show I turned to my boyfriend at the time and said, “I have to go to Dublin”… and I did. Yes the move impacted everything about me. Like having to heat up my f*cking showers for example!! This has made me really appreciate every second of a hot shower, more than I ever have before!!
What are your plans for the next year? Can we expect more releases?
Yes my plan is to release in every sense!! (What can I say, I watched Trump take off on a plane back to Florida in January, and I was suddenly ready to write and release a thousand songs!!) One of the things living in Ireland has taught me, is to not be as precious & meticulous with everything. There is magic in just saying “f*ck it”. That is also one thing that 2020 taught me. I feel like an unbearable weight is starting to lift, and I now have the room to re-focus on the beautiful things… like my earth shattering break-up from 2019 that I’m still not over!! But I will also still be trying to get my pop songs into tampon commercials so keep your ears peeled!!
Interview by Alison Kenny.
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