A Celebration of Irish Music with Shane Ó Fearghail
Transcript of video:
Hello everybody out there in Fusion land! My name is Shane Ó Fearghail, I come from Dublin in Ireland, and I’m currently living, residing, writing in Vienna.
Could you tell us a bit about your musical journey?
Growing up at home, we’ve always been surrounded by Irish songs. From my grandmother to my aunts to my uncles at the weekends, Irish songs were my first introduction to music. Then came I suppose the Beatles, and the usual, you know, my mum and dad were into the Stones and as I was younger I listened to a lot of music, but I inevitably came back to my roots. It’s almost like the salmon swimming back upstream, to find the inspiration in the deep or shallow rock pools of their own tradition.
Did you study music at college?
I studied animation, art and animation. Storyboarding and graphics, classical animation actually. But my love was storyboarding. I loved concept artwork, and it’s kind of something that’s strangely enough stuck to me, and helped me develop in song writing because you learn to tell a story.
It’s worth its weight in gold to know how a story works: you know start, middle, end, we all know that. But sub-plots, development of characters, development of melody, hook lines, all of these things are little techniques you use maybe in a three minute “movie” while you’re on-stage.
It was only when I went to work in Australia that I really took up the gigging part of it, live. Before that, I was in a band and we’d got approached by four labels in London. And, young, naïve, I didn’t choose that route. I went to Australia to work in animation, but it was really then that I took it seriously, I’d start gigging at night, Irish bars, pubs, trad stations. I really got my teeth into it then, and I think that’s when the real kind of love developed, or maybe longing – who knows? Because it was away from home.
How has your work changed with musical influences and life experiences?
Well it’s not just the music, or musicians, it’s actually the culture. I was brought up in a very, I suppose “Dublin” household, where songs and stories were massive in our growing up and tradition, and as a result from input from my father, my granny, my great-granny and my mother, I just delved into Irish tradition and folklore and mythology, and – I’ve a grá as we would say in Gaelic, I’ve a love for all things kind of Gaelic or Celtic, y’know like standing stones and sacred sites and things like that. I mean that’s the tradition I come from, and it makes a lot of sense to me and even travelling around Austria I find a lot of these places – could be in England, could be in Scotland, y’know even in France or Spain, but I find myself charged by it. I find myself going back into the old traditions, and as I say it’s like that salmon returning home, the more I write now the more relevance it seems to have.
When I gig, I gig around small towns, I might do sofa-concerts, I do bigger venues, but I really get to sit down with the people and hang out and understand them, y’know? It’s not just doing the big gig where you rock in, from town to town and you’re out the next morning. You get to hang around for a day and you move on to the next town… Everybody has a story to tell, I think that’s the point, and learning like in Vienna, or Austria, or Germany, y’know there’s some beautiful nuggets of wisdom in all of these people and you find as well when you’re on in the grass-roots in Europe, just how different and alike we all are.
What does music mean to you?
Music is brilliant. It’s absolutely an amazing art form, it’s an amazing conduit. It’s such a powerful force, and it makes me so happy. And I know everyone around the world really comes together with music, whether you be from Europe, or the Americas, or Asia, Africa, we all love music. And it’s in, I know, if you’re talking about cultures, music is inherent in the Irish culture. It’s part of the backbone and the beat of the land. It’s the rhythm of the rivers, the music is in the wind, it’s in our voice and in our language, even when we’re having a few drinks we just can’t really stop singing. It’s part of what we did as growing up, and my family – it was always about singing, and my granny just used to love to get us out there and sing.
And it brings people together – look, I mean I wouldn’t have met yourself or the gang from Fusion, and they’ve been great for the last couple of years, and I love what they’re doing and even this is quite cool.
I see that you have one of our Fusion bags, any thoughts?
Fusion saved my elbow joints! For a long time, my arms were growing very, very long, and it was actually because of my girlfriend, Sabina who suggested “maybe you should get a good guitar bag for your back” – I literally stumbled across Fusion in Dublin, and I haven’t looked back since. And as you can see, I even have the little baby here (Medium Fuse-On Bag) which is incredible, it goes everywhere with me – I can’t wait until Fusion are doing sleeping bags, ‘cause I’ll never have to put one down – brilliant!
So yeah, and I just want to wish everybody a very happy St. Patrick’s Day, have fun, wear some green agus – yeah, beannachtai la le feile Padraig agus… Bain sult as! Slán.
(Loosely translated: St. Patrick’s Day blessings and enjoy! Goodbye.)
Interview by Will Binns