Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Niamh Regan find out more about her...
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I’m from County Galway, Ireland. I grew up on a farm and went to a local school that put great emphasis on music. I began to play the tin whistle from the age of 5 and I simply loved it. I had enthusiasm beyond belief for a tune called ‘Maggie in the Woods’ for quite a while. I was also fortunate that my parents have a great interest and love for music. I was surrounded by an impressive collection of cds, tapes and LPs. My mother is very musical also and played a lot of music back in the day with her traditional/folk band. She has a beautiful voice and I think it’s safe to say I got a lot of the drive and inspiration for my music, from her.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Like every kid I grew up listening to a lot of what my parents had so Martin Hayes, Paul Brady, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, Planxty and Tom Waits. Now, I still hold those early influences dearly but as I grew up I found the likes of Josh Ritter and Laura Marling and found a want to write and compose. I think to date however my main influences are Sam Amidon, Bon Iver, The Villagers, Sylvan Esso, Ibeyi and Karen Dalton.
How would you describe your sound?
I think it was rooted and found from my time singing traditional ballads and then over time it watered down and found its own shape when I started to write my own. I had fun forming structures and lengths of new songs that felt good and it’s become I think over time a mix of folk, calm electro and singer songwriter buzz. I see my melody and accompaniment as equal to my words, I strive to strike a good balance most the time. Some people have linked my guitar playing to Nick Drake and that’s a real compliment. I think my sound is warm, strong and honest… well that’s what I would like to think.
What’s your local music scene like?
I think the entire Island of Ireland is booming and oozing with ambitious talented musicians and they set the tone of the scene all over, which I feel is interesting, competitive and friendly. The trad scene in Galway is vibrant and fun and I’m really looking forward to the tunes in the summer. On the other side the open mics are limited in Galway city but the ones that do run are well done and inviting. I think I was spoilt when I spent summers in Dublin where there is so much to choose from when it comes to gigs, venues and opportunities like open mic.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I have just been working away at my EP with a great producer and recording engineer Alex Borwick. I will be releasing the work in April. So I have spent a lot of time preparing my new website, videos and upcoming launch dates for the EP. I’m very excited because for each gig I’m teaming up with great artists such as Emma Langford, Dale McKay and Saramai. Last year I did various festivals such as Electric Picnic, Knockanstockan, Body and Soul but this year I am putting my wellies to the side and focusing on a lot of little pop up concerts that will be announced in late June.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
This is an interesting question I think there are many musicians I would love to sit down with and spend time with and just listen to their take on music and life like David Bowie or Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But right now, I think I would love to collaborate with Bon Iver, their recent album blows me away. I think there’s real tasteful and exciting things going on in there that I would love to be a part of.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Nothing memorable to date, I often do little fluff ups but nothing more than a wee giggle. I guess once when I went all out trying to be ‘glam’ I put on fake eye lashes, by the end of the gig I had what looked like little fluttery spiders falling on my cheeks and my eyes were dribbling eye liner. I’m back to basics ever since.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I’m not sure. I’d like you to know that I am very pleased to be able to play and write my music and that I value every ear and minute given to my music. I’m lucky to play a guitar I love, sing the way I like to sing and get to be the musician I want to become.