Seán Mathews is an Irish Songwriter and Documentary maker.
With the Fleadh now opened in Mullingar this week, I must say - never underestimate your environment! When I say that I mean, what do we really like? Isn't it more likely that we get into something because we are surrounded by it and grow a liking to it? In my case, rekindle a love for it. This is what happened for me when the Fleadh Cheoil came to Drogheda. Something about going to the Singers Club there made me realise that you can perform a song in any way you desire. And therein is a joy of not feeling like a parrot when a song makes its way into your repertoire. Once I had decided to join the Drogheda Singers, the bug was back. The Fleadh Cheoil can safely put me under the wing of its legacy in Drogheda.
Throughout the whole time I was inactive from 2014 - 2018, I was always writing songs, working the muscle! For the 2019 Fleadh I had decided to stop playing GAA to concentrate on making an Album to launch there. The first group of songs were a group of songs about the Boyne. Songs like "The coming of Connla", "The Guard at Mornington Tower", "Hell than Drogheda" and "Beautiful Boann" were on the list in December 2018. Then another group of songs came along when I began to use DADGAD tuning. In February 2019, I bought a 12 string guitar. With the exception of Beautiful Boann, this is when Dreaming is Allowed came to be written.
Convincing Breifne Holohan to take on a project for the Fleadh wasn't straightforward. First, I had measured up recording with people I had recorded with before. But none of those people had recorded a Folk Album or had a liking for the Genre. Then a chance meeting with Breifne happened at a mutual friends Birthday and I convinced Breifne to listen to the material I had written. Soon after we were hand picking the songs. Then we chose to record in Millmount because I lived practically next door to it and the acoustics were astounding in it.
The Old Drogheda Society run the whole Millmount complex in Drogheda. They are a Historical Society who are much in favour of the arts. They were delighted to allow us to record in Millmount. We began recording in April 2019. Dreaming is Allowed was recorded in three sessions in Millmount and most of the Guitar / Vocals were done live in a few takes. The Album comes out that way and for the purpose of grabbing a natural snapshot of that time, I am still thrilled with it.
In the months that followed the launch of Dreaming is Allowed there was a wider acceptance of it that couldn't have been any more humbling. Creatively, it sparked off a flurry of energy that has not faded up to now. Sometimes getting something out and the fear that comes with it is a demon you need to dance with. Yes, Dreaming is Allowed isn't slick. Yes, Dreaming is Allowed fires a quick jab with the Commuter Song. Yes, Dreaming is Allowed isn't a polished gem. Only, I am living with it because it was much better than Carte Blanche, a bit better than a series of youtube videos and a lot better than sitting on songs for years without ever believing in myself. Go an listen to it for yourself. Listen for the reverberation of the Tower, the rawness in the phrasing and lyrics, the jangle of the 12 string! For it will soon be followed up with something lightyears more calculated in "Welcome to Ballsgrove" (out on 27th August ! ) .
Friends, there is a risk of appearing unprofessional in speaking about this. But I really must. My youtube channel has been Hijacked! An English DJ who shares my name, who is too small to have his socials managed, has decided to ignore my messages and the fact that his published music is being tagged on my youtube channel. Youtube have an Artist separation request from me for a long time. No joy yet!
Reasons I am not a D J !
- I don't own a set of decks
- I dont know the difference between trance and dance
Several things explain how this happened. The first is that in the sub genres of Trance music there are a lot of Labels who handle the publishing side of things for Artists. These Labels can have hundreds of Artists on their rosters and they have a very robust system of maximising reach on multiple platforms. So it is difficult for even the Artist to get things like this sorted - which is understandeable. But hey, the Artists still get plenty of plays!!
So firstly along the lines of my last blog post, if you have the opportunity to let people know I'm not a DJ and the whole "Label" thing please do!
And secondly, please keep your eyes peeled the next few days - something nice coming!
For some artists it is easy to be involved in the art of self promotion. For others there is always a level of discomfort when it comes to it. For myself I tend to like the idea of everything happening organically - but the thing is - it doesn't!
If I had a euro for every band who has a member starting sentences with "she's well in there with", "he has a contact in", "if we could all pay for X". What I have learned is that although there is alot of turn key knowledge, ease of access and privilege for some Music Artists in Ireland, if they don't put the work in they stay at the level they were dropped at.
The shameless self promotion cap is a strange cap to wear. I'm about to release my second album"Welcome to Ballsgrove", a concept Album made from the point of view as if I never left my childhood neighbourhood. Something I worry about is how people will view that lens. Only, at this point, I have to focus a little bit less energy on that because I'm not fuppin Mystic Meg, you know?! It is what it is now!
However I can say with absolute certainty that if I don't work hard making sure everybody in my network can find the Album and listen to it then it WILL be a bumbling failure. And with that in mind every little thing you do - from reading this to sharing the next few weeks with me - is going to count.
The lights coming .... :)