How do you manage an 8 member band?

It’s a question I get asked a lot. Often followed with comments like ‘You’re a brave woman’, or ‘I suppose it’s like herding cats’ etc. etc. – I can assure you there is no bravery or herding involved…(well mostly) – It is a team effort.

So how do I manage 8 members in a band?? The simple answer is I DON’T!

I joined Kíla at the beginning of 2018 as they headed into their 30th year in music.   I had worked with 2 of the Ó Snodaighs prior to that and knew Colm.  While I had experience as a promoter and manager, and a strong academic and professional background, it was my first time managing a band as big as Kíla.

So my attitude initially was watch, learn, trust my instincts. I focused on their social media presence, their fees and the types of gigs they were doing..and I concentrated on improving that presence, increasing their fees and finding decent gigs that would afford them time to record more.

It helped that I liked them enormously individually and it helped that the job was bilingual (Gaeilge agus Béarla), and it also helped that I absolutely love their music.

My instinct was to work with them and for them, and not to work without them. In truth I am part of a management team that consists of the band and of me.

Do I express my opinion? Yep I sure do.

Do I say if I think something is a good or a bad idea? Yep I sure do.

Will I really push an idea that I think could work for Kíla? Of course, all the time.

Do I tell Kíla what to do? No I don’t

‘THE WORD MANAGER IS MISLEADING. PEOPLE THINK WE’RE SOMEHOW THE BOSS OF THE ARTIST. IT’S THE OPPOSITE; THEY’RE THE BOSS.’ (Danny Goldberg)

The managers job is to guide them to get the most success out of their art. Personally I could not work with Kíla if it was any other way. I love their music and their creativity.

You can read about Danny Goldberg’s role with Nirvana below. Interesting reading.

‘The word manager is misleading. People think we’re somehow the boss of the artist. It’s the opposite; they’re the boss.’

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The Irish Language – why is it important we maintain it – Cén fáth?

I read an article this weekend in the Guardian about the global dominance of the English language. You can read this article at the end of this blog.

As a fluent Irish speaker, and someone who really wants the Irish language to survive, the article re-enforced my absolute instinct about not fighting this dominance.

While English may be the day-to-day language for many on TV, in music, and online –  as  a bilingual Irish woman , I would say don’t fight the dominance, look at it, listen to it , embrace it as a unifying voice but then look at it and critically assess if the English language really has dominated??

To answer that, I guess that depends on how you define what domination by a language actually is. For me I need language to be able to express how I am feeling, thinking, or reacting in any given moment. I speak Irish and English fluently, hold a degree in French and speak German passably.

Does the English language give me that? Nope

Does the Irish language give me that? Nope

Does the French language give me that? Nope

Does the German language give me that? Nope

Do a combination of all of the above languages give me that?? Yes, Oui, ‘Sea, ja…of course they bloody do , languages compliment each other .

We should be working to protect our older languages, not replace them, we should embrace them and enable people to speak as many languages as they possibly can.

When I was young, I was lucky to be afforded a bilingual education – I spoke English at home and Irish at school. That said bainne (milk) will always be what it is, i.e. bainne Shut the Door will always be Dún an doras..

As a family we managed to incorporate 2 languages into our lives – one for school and one for home. It is a very do-able thing.

Some words are un-translatable to other languages. A prime example of that would be the Irish verb ‘ag machnamh’ – this should directly translate to English as thinking but it doesn’t because it means so much more than that..it could translate as thinking but it could also translate as meditating, contemplating, analysing, strategising, taking a break, chilling,  and much much more…

Below you will find the article that inspired this blog. Language is as beautiful as music, as art, as poetry, as literature..it doesn’t need to be a fight  about which language dominates, it just needs to be about making sure all these beautiful languages survive xo

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/27/english-language-global-dominance?fbclid=IwAR27HAgXVl33SA9PSwEQjC9vlTKBGKMDOHFPPLTPee45wHunx835z79_2QQ/

Travelling with the best super group in the universe: Kíla

c9dbd7f6-7adc-431e-98b3-2d063ee05b1eI spent the last few days over in Switzerland, in Sion to be exact. Kíla were playing as part of the Guinness Irish Festival in a lineup that included Carlos Núnez, The Chieftains and 4 Men and a Dog.

It was the most beautiful idyllic setting for a festival imaginable, with a backstage area that was second to none, including access to a lake that the band spent the afternoon jumping in and out of.

I say this all the time but it makes such a difference when musicians are well looked after and at this festival, they really really were.

I don’t always travel with Kíla, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. It really depends on their schedule and on what other work needs to be done.

But I was really glad I traveled this time..Kíla are playing the best music of their lives at the moment and to hear that music played while standing (and filming) back stage was something very special..I felt very proud to be working for this magical group of musicians.

People talk of trad super groups lately where amazing musicians come together and create music as a group..but in Kíla, there is already a super group, a group that creates outstanding music influenced by the Irish traditional & world music world as much as it is influenced by the funk ,rock and pop music world.

So what do I tell people when I am talking about super group Kíla on these overseas trips?

I tell them they are the best super group in the universe.

Word.

I’m so WOKE, I’m actually asleep..

Are you WOKE? Am I WOKE? What does that even mean?

I remember booking a singer for a gig because I admired his lyrics. He seemed to be singing about something profound, something worthwhile, his lyrics to me held power so I booked him for a gig. The gig was a charity gig and at the bar afterwards this singer told me that I was WOKE…that I got it. He told me that I got feminism, that I got social justice, that I understood equality, that I, Me, was WOKE. He also made sure to let me know that he was WOKE by the way and for a brief moment, I thought to myself that I don’t like that word WOKE. I shut that voice off and said  to myself,  look it Caoimhe, this guy does like the word WOKE, and seems to be very sure being WOKE is a good thing so for a moment there, I thought cool, I’m WOKE. Yay! As the night progressed and I watched  the WOKE singer  look for his WOKEDNESS from whatever he could score, real or chemical, I realised he had no clue what being WOKE meant.

But  did I understand what  being WOKE meant?

I think I understood what WOKE didn’t mean. It didn’t mean awakened, it didn’t mean compassionate, it didn’t mean feminist, it didn’t mean spiritual, it didn’t mean egalitarian, it didn’t mean supporter of human rights, to be honest it didn’t mean anything.

Being WOKE meant absolutely NOTHING. It may mean – still asleep.

It is a term I hear bandied about so often these days. WOKE is the past tense of the verb ‘wake’.. It would be so great if we all woke up to the injustices around us. It would be so great if we all woke up to the inequalities between our genders, races, classes and countries. It would be so great if we all woke up to the fact that in the present moment, how we treat the person standing in front of us is all that matters.  Do that right and then we can tell people we are WOKE!!

On that note and as a bit of an uplifting end to my blog – I will leave you with Dúisigí (and a little more) from Rónán Ó Snodaigh…Dúisigí means ‘Wake up Y’all’ or maybe ‘Would yiz ever just wake up?’

 

Online Trolling and Abuse

Thankfully I have never been and hope I never will be a victim of online abuse. Occasionally since setting up Gardiner Music, I have seen some actions online that have caused me to be somewhat wary, mostly by the odd person looking for my attention in a way that has caused me to question them. Thankfully these instances have been very few and far between, and generally more odd than sinister.

I am a bit of a Moby fan but I have to say reading accounts of his latest book, as a woman I didn’t really like what I read. While I didn’t take to twitter to voice my opinion, I did feel that an apology to Natalie Portman was warranted, given her denial of the claims he made about her, and the fact that he did not inform her or the other women mentioned in his book that he would be including them. I’m glad that he has now apologised.

I saw that several people, including Moby himself, describe some of the comments he received as online abuse and bullying. I looked for some of these comments and while they may have been upsetting for him, and while I don’t agree with trial by social media, the comments are nowhere near as bad as some of the online abuse I have seen women receive on social media. Was it trolling or was it that people were upset to see a musician they admire openly bragging about a possibly fictitious relationship at 33 with a then 18 year old actress?

Recently I worked on a concert that was billed as an alternative to the Eurovision – it was called Palestine ‘You’re A Vision’ – organised by Palfest Ireland… a celebration of Palestine and Ireland’s support of all those people currently living in Gaza, while Israel hosted the actual Eurovision in Tel Aviv.  I looked after the Palfest twitter account and I expected a little bit of trolling, but in fact other than a couple of comments calling the event anti-semitic (which it wasn’t), there really was very little online dissent – it seemed that most people could see it was a celebration of Palestine and embraced it as such.

However, not so for one of the female performers at the event, Mary Coughlan. Mary Coughlan was invited to go on the Late Late Show to talk about the event.  Following her interview on the Late Late Show, she was the subject of horrific comments on social media. Bear in mind that the actual Palfest social media accounts were not subject to similar horrific comments. Comments such as:

‘ F*ck you bitch. Your whole life is hate speech. If I catch a thirty day time out it is worth it to tell a c*nt like you how it is;’

Lovely. There was a lot more like this both on Facebook and on Twitter.

Would a man receive these kind of comments? No

Did these comments come from men who simply HATE women? Yes

Did these comments have anything to do with the event? No

Did Mary do anything other than be involved in a concert celebrating Palestine and stand up for human rights? No

Did any of the men involved in the concert receive comments like this? No

When I saw the extent of the comments Mary received, I rang her to tell her how sorry I was that she had to go through that. At the concert, I gave her some flowers and a hug to again tell her how sorry I was that she had to go through that.  I really believe that had she been a man, there is no way that the comments would have been as hateful and as evil as the comments Mary received.

I don’t have a solution to this, for as long as people can hide behind online accounts, trolling and online abuse will continue. It is up to us to say it is unacceptable.

So Who Was Captain Boycott and How Relevant is He in Today’s World?

When I was in school my favorite subjects were history and languages. In a way they go hand in hand really don’t they? Languages are very much influenced by what is happening in the world around them.

I went to a fairly academic school, and although I did well in my Leaving Certificate, if I’m honest all I really cared about was getting an A1 in history. Points mattered but I didn’t really care. The history exam was such a gruelling exam at the time-  5 essays in 3 hours (although one you could learn off as a project in advance).

I remember so well coming out of the exam, distraught, probably exhausted after sitting Honours Maths 2 in the morning (if memory serves me right). The first person I met  was my history teacher (who at that time was God to me), and I told him I thought I had only got a B1, and cried my eyes out at home much to the bemusement of my parents. All this drama for a subject that I was way better at than honours maths (which didn’t worry me at all).

Thankfully I got the A1 in history and the honour in the Maths. The history result was helped in part by the project I learnt off by heart which was about the Jews in Ireland between 1880-1910. A suggestion from my Dad who had a keen interest in history and Middle East literature and politics (in particular Israeli and Jewish literature).

It is strange that I subsequently visited the Middle East in my thirties (not Israel though), just Jordan and Syria, and I am now assisting with Palfest Ireland’s Alternative Eurovision – Palestine – You’re a Vision on May 18th. The event features a host of Irish stars including Frances Black, Katie Laffan, Christy Moore, Sky Atlas, Kila, Mary Coughlan and many many more.

One of my favorite stories in history was the story of Captain Boycott.  I just absolutely love that us Irish took a period in history and in so doing an oppressor’s name became a word that is used worldwide.

In 1880, as part of Charles Stewart Parnell and the Land League’s campaign for the Three Fs (fair rent, fixity of tenure, and free sale) and opposition to evictions which were numerous and heartbreaking, action was taken against money grabbing landlords.

Captain Boycott was a Mayo Landlord who set about evicting several tenants, often times in a bloody and cruel way. The Mayo branch of the Irish Land League urged Boycott’s employees to withdraw their labor and began a campaign of isolation against Boycott in the local community.

This campaign included shops in Mayo refusing to serve him, and the withdrawal of services. Boycott found himself a marked man, not fearing violence but even worse the scorn, silence, and disdain of simply everyone he encountered.

It worked. He retreated to Suffolk in disgrace and his name became a verb and a term used when wanting to bring down oppressive regimes.

And so this brings me to the boycotting of Eurovision 2019, being held in Israel this year.  Should we ‘boycott’ the event or should we keep art separate from politics?

I have to say given my own love of Irish history, and what we achieved as Irish people in the stance we have always taken against oppression, I believe the right thing to do is to BOYCOTT this event. What is happening to Palestinians is an abuse of their fundamental human rights. The perpetrator of this abuse is Israel.

It is apartheid and I personally am standing with the artists who wish to stand with the Palestinians in solidarity . On May 18th I will be at a concert celebrating Palestine and I will be boycotting the Eurovision (which will be held in Tel Aviv )

The concert is SOLD OUT but will be live streamed. So if you too want to #BoycottEurovision2019, turn off the TV and live stream ‘Palestine – You’re a Vision’ coming from the National Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

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So how did I end up working with Kíla anyway??

Fate maybe?

1988 – I’m 12, bored at lunch and sitting outside in our clós beag (schoolyard) thinking crap I’ve got 5 more years of this!

I went to school in Coláiste Íosagáin in Stillorgan, Dublin. Although Coláiste Íosagáin was a girls school, we shared the campus (and some classes) with a boys school, Coláiste Eoin…so our little schoolyard was a smallish green space between both schools…

A band began to play that lunchtime, they were pretty cool – Rossa Ó Snodaigh, Eoin Dillon, Colm Mac an Iomaire…I began to feel a little more optimistic about the 5 more years that I had ahead of me in secondary school. That band was the beginning of what was to be Kíla…

1995- I am in France studying at University in Poitiers…and we decide to head to Paris for the weekend to catch Kíla. A school friend of mine, Aoife Nic Cormaic was depping for Dee Armstrong. We crashed the car on the way back..but it was a memorable concert.

2004 – I have moved to Melbourne, Australia, and Kíla are touring their album Luna Park in Australia. I head to their gig in St Kildas and Aindrias de Staic is supporting (who also lived in Melbourne). It’s a great gig and we all head out after. A very violent bouncer takes a dislike to the Irish ‘gypsies’ as I think he referred to  us..and we all left. Myself and Colm have a quick chat about getting everyone out of there, into the van and home to bed.

2012 – I return to Ireland having lived in Munich for 2 years. I start to go to Whelan’s once a month to see Rónán Ó Snodaigh who is showcasing each of his solo albums every month for a period of time. I get to know the Whelan’s staff having not frequented Whelan’s much since I was a student. They welcomed me. I felt more at home at those gigs than I had felt in a very very long time. Life seemed to stop for a couple of hours and I could totally immerse myself in Ró’s songs and music.

2015 – I ran my first gig and sold out Whelan’s main venue. I helped out at a second Whelan’s gig and in the course of that work I needed to chat to Colm from Kíla. We reminisced about that night in Melbourne.

2017 – Ró started to do gigs in Whelan’s front bar as part of Donal Scannell’s Call the Dancers. I begged him and/or Kíla to do a gig for me. I spent a long time trying to persuade Colm. I spent a long time trying to persuade Rónán and he caved eventually.  That year I also started working with Rossa at An Puball Gaeilge at Electric Picnic. By December of that year Kila had asked me to come on board.

So in a weird way I was there from the beginning,  I was there at memorable gigs and musically I feel more at home with Kíla’s music than with any other music I have ever heard or listened to (and I love music).

The rest of the band roared laughing when they heard I was at that gig in Melbourne despite it being a long time ago. Everything just seemed to click into place and added to that, I am a fluent Irish speaker. I now have a 100% bilingual job where I speak Irish to half the band…and English to the other half. Agus is aoibheann liom é.

My favourite Kíla album is Luna Park, the album they were touring when I lived in Australia. I listened to it every single day when I was there and it kept me grounded and feeling like I always had my home  and Ireland with me. Go raibh maith agaibh Kíla!

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