MUSICIAN INTERVIEW: Andy Irvine / 3 April 2008
Q&A with Andy Irvine and Nicola Murphy, Draíocht’s Marketing Manager
Andy appears in Draíocht on Saturday 12th April 2008 at 8pm with his group Mozaik, truly a World Music band, which fellow musicians Donal Lunny (Ireland & Japan), Bruce Molsky (USA), Nikola Parov (Hungary) and Rens van der Zalm (Holland, soon to be Australia). He chatted with Nicola Murphy by email from Japan ahead of the gig next week.
Andy Irvine: Forty Years on the Road
Andy Irvine has been hailed as ‘a tradition in himself’. Musician, singer and songwriter, Andy has maintained both personal integrity and highly individual performing skills throughout his 40-year career. From Sweeney’s Men in the mid sixties to the enormous success of Planxty in the 70s, to THE Irish super group, Patrick Street, in the 80s, Andy has been a world music pioneer and icon for traditional music and musicians. Irvine occupies a unique place in the musical world, plying his trade as archetypal troubadour, with a solo show and traveling lifestyle that reflects his lifelong influence, Woody Guthrie. Few others can equal his repertoire, Irish traditional songs, dexterous Balkan dance tunes, and a compelling canon of his own material that defies description.
Taken from: http://www.andyirvine.com
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you’re from and where you live?
I have been playing music for my livelihood for over 40 years. I was a very good child actor who became not such a good juvenile actor. I play the Irish Bouzouki – an instrument that bears little relationship to its Greek origins. I also play Mandolin, Harmonica and Hurdy Gurdy. And I sing. I live in Dublin, though I spend most of my time traveling elsewhere. I am in Japan at the moment.
Q: What or who inspired you to become a musician?
My first inspiration was Woody Guthrie, the Oklahoma balladeer and song writer. Subsequently I became interested in all folk music.
Q: How old where you when you started playing?
I was 13 when I received my first instrument – a very poorly made guitar. I studied classical music for four years but decided it was not for me.
Q: Why did you choose your particular instrument to learn?
I wanted to play all the instruments that Woody played. The mandolin became my foremost instrument but after my good friend, Johnny Moynihan introduced the Bouzouki into Irish music, I gradually became more drawn to that.
Q: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be?
Q: What is the hardest thing about being a musician?
Practising when you haven’t played for a while. It’s like running through a field of porridge.
Q: What type of music do you enjoy playing the most?
Q: Are there any famous musicians that you would really like to work with?
Yes, Woody Guthrie but unfortunately he’s dead.
Q: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played a concert or made a recording?
Kilmainham Jail with all the ghosts looking down from the cells above.
Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like drawing, painting, sculpting or dancing for instance?
No, no good at any of these.
Q: What other musicians or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?
I have been inspired by many people who rose up and fought against injustice. People who spoke for those with no voice. From James Connolly to Joe Hill.
Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
Imagine myself to be in a worse position.
Q: How have you handled the business side of being a musician, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your gigs to promoters etc?
Like most musicians I am not a big self promoter. My first band, Sweeney’s Men was a minor success but my second band, Planxty was a major success. I have never felt the need to sell myself since then.
Q: Do you have any advice you could give to a musician just starting out?
Don’t expect to be a success. But believe in yourself and keep doing what you believe in.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still battering around the globe with any luck.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies in your spare time?
Football, Cricket, Rugby. Anything with a ball except Basketball.
Q: Could you tell us a little more about your forthcoming performance in Draíocht?
It’s with Mozaik, a fiery blend of Irish, Balkan and Old Time American music that should keep the audience in excitement. Between us all the band plays over 20 instruments with Nikola covering a bewildering range of East European instruments that many people will never have seen before.
I started the group 5 years ago, and we rehearsed for the first time in Australia and finished the tour that followed with a live recording at the Powerhouse, in Brisbane. That album conveys the exciting sounds that the band creates on stage. Since then we’ve played at many of the world’s major festivals and concert halls in Australia, Japan, USA, Ireland, Italy and the UK. (Vicar Street, National Concert Hall, Cork Opera House notably). Each member of the band has recorded extensively during their musical careers – Nikola solo and with numerous Balkan bands in Hungary; Bruce with solo albums and collaborations with Pete Seeger, Martin Hayes, Bill Frisell and many others; Dónal with bands ranging from Planxty and The Bothy Band to Moving Hearts, and more than 100 albums that he has produced and played on for other artists; I’ve played with Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Patrick Street, solo and with Paul Brady; Rens has also recorded with me, and many Dutch bands like Wolverlei and Fungus.
Q: Do you have any performances coming up after this one in Draíocht?
Yes, Draiocht is the second gig of a nine day tour in Ireland with Mozaik.
What the Press have said:
“This was glorious music that raised spirits, roofs and not a few pulses along the way. Yet another magnificent musical detour that unleashed our imaginations and our energies, free to roam where passports and language barriers hold no sway.”
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times
Further info about Andy Irvine & Mozaik can be found on his website:
Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Nikola Parov, Rens van der Zalm
First envisaged by venerable vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Andy Irvine (Planxty, Patrick Street), Mozaik is the ultimate global string band- a truly international ensemble who can not only perform music from a wide array of cultures, but interweave their myriad influences into an entirely new sound. Mozaik moves effortlessly from Celtic to old-time to Eastern European music, with intricate string arrangements complementing Andy and Bruce’s vocals. The line-up boasts musicians as versatile and eclectic as the music created between them, whose traditions and styles are distinct, yet blend beautifully to form a cohesive work of art. Long time fans from Irvine’s Planxty days, will be aware that he has been experimenting with Eastern European melodies and rhythms for a long time now, which is a style he incorporates magnificently into this band.
Sat 12 April 2008, 8pm
Tickets: €22 / €20 conc
For media information please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht