From stage to online: Donegal's Michael Gillespie
A self-described songwriter, noisemaker and word pirate, Donegal musician Michael Gillespie is currently undergoing a bit of a rebirth in music.
Selling songs of a “dark lyrical heart” and with a gravel-voiced delivery often drawing comparison to that of the one Mr Leonard Cohen, he is DIYing his way into new musical territories.
With well over a decade spent on the Irish music scene, notably as bass player for the likes of the traditional fusion groups Kintra/Sontas and The Humble Earthworms Band, alongside various other line-ups that have seen him do stints all across Ireland, Europe and America, he is for the first time taking the step from side man to centre stage with his own voice and music.
“It's been a challenging thing to approach music in a new way after so many years in one particular role,” he says.
“It’s a different skill set, but it's such a thrill to feel slightly terrified (in a good way!) by music again. It's brought a newness and excitement back to live performance for me that is just exhilarating. I get such a kick from the creative process and this last year has been a dream for me on that front.”
Citing influences from Alt Folk Rock and Dark Country tinged acts like Waits, Ritter, Calexico, a love for Southern Gothic writers like McCarthy, Faulkner and Proulx, stories and reflections from a marked personal life and just a general love for intriguing sounds, Michael brings them all together in his songs and music to create a sound that has been described as “unique, haunting, lyrical, and exquisite”.
The end of 2019 saw the release of his debut album, All Versions of the Truth. A ten track collection of songs from a two year long process that saw him write, record, perform and DIY the entire release himself from home. Along with undertaking the shooting and editing of both music videos for the single releases.
“It wasn’t an intentional choice to do the album as a home project. It just found its beginnings that way. Writing and creativity has always been something I got a great sense of calm out of and I believe any form of the arts can do wonders for your minds health.
“So what started as an evening pastime years ago gradually saw the recordings build up, and over time body of work and a distinct sound had come together. Honestly the process itself was as rewarding as the end product, both of which I’m very proud of. Both have changed the direction of music for me in a big big way.
“Because of how I’d worked on these tracks, and the groundwork for most of them being laid down without the pressure or influence of the fore-thought of anyone ever actually getting to hear them, I think there's an honesty to the tracks that might not have been there. I can say I made exactly what I wanted to make - and there's a great reward in that in itself.”
Michael performed all instruments and vocals on the record with the exception of some wonderful fiddle playing from local legend Peadar Coll, and harmony vocals from his partner and incredible talent Zara Montgomery.
“We're in strange and unprecedented times right now, and musicians all over are feeling the loss of gigs for the foreseeable future.
“It's all just a little uncertain, but to see such an outpouring of innovation and creativity online has been inspiring. Live stream gigs in just two weeks have almost become the new norm. And for promoting music and the arts online is the scene for now.”
Tomorrow, Friday, April 3 will see the release of the brand new music video for his track, Back Comes the Sun.
“I shot the video with my good friend, and Donegal town based artist, Johnny McCabe at his art studio as he worked on his stunning piece ERIU a few weeks before all the current troubles had begun. The track itself is one of my personal favourites and touches on the theme of isolation, and in only getting the time while under social distancing to cut all the footage together it now seems all the more fitting.”
The video premiered on Facebook on Friday
You can stream Michael’s debut album All Versions of the Truth on all major streaming services or at www.michaelgillespie.hearnow.com
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